Massage guns help ease the aching, burning, and soreness you experience in your muscles after working out. These sensations are called delayed onset muscle sores (DOMS). They occur because exercising causes tiny tears in muscles and nearby soft tissue.
As a result, the muscles become inflamed. Scientists aren’t yet clear on how soreness and pain result from these processes. However, they all contribute to pain and recovery that causes your muscles to grow.
Like many athletes and fitness enthusiasts, you may have sought the services of a massage therapist to perform various forms of massages on your muscle to relieve the pain and soreness. A well-trained and experienced massage therapy certainly helps.
However, if you didn’t already know, you can receive the benefits of massage therapy and get roughly the results with a massage gun.
What Is a Massage Gun?
Also referred to as vibration therapy, percussive therapy, or percussion massagers, a massage gun is a device that enables you to perform massages on yourself. It’s becoming increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts, especially those who have no longer been able to visit their massage therapist physically due to the physical distance resistance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Massage guns are handheld devices powered by rechargeable batteries. Many models look like a power drill. With a starting price of about $100, these tools feature components and settings that together deliver a deep tissue massage. One of the distinct components of massage guns is balls with different degrees of firmness.
Who Uses Massages Guns?
Massage guns are popular among ultramarathoners, triathletes, and other endurance athletes. Fitness enthusiasts such as people who are into Crossfit and weight-lifting often use these devices. However, anyone can use a massage gun and enjoy its benefits.
Initially, massage guns had rudimentary designs. Manufacturers have since designed multiple iterations of these devices to meet the growing demand for innovative recovery tools such as e-stims and foam rollers.
If you haven’t already used one, it’s about time you gave it a try. Find out why it’s popular by using it to massage your tight muscle groups, such as your quads, upper traps, and calves. With this device, you can cover a large muscle group. It provides temporary relief from soreness and pain by increasing circulation and loosening tissue.
How Massage Guns Work
It is believed that muscle recovery tools like massage guns may relieve muscle soreness by stimulating the Golgi tendon organ, the part of a muscle that inhibits contraction. These devices may ease muscle in a manner similar to how rubbing your forehead dulls the pain when you hit it on something. The gate control theory of pain explains this effect.
Researchers believe that massages may have a neurological effect on soft tissue. Consequently, massage tools and techniques may impact the ability of your brain to sense laxity or tightness in soft tissue such as fascia, tendons, or muscles. The massage gun, foam roller, or therapist's hands direct your attention to the tight muscle and help you let go of the tightness.
Vibration vs. Percussion
Massage guns rely on back-and-forth oscillations to massage target tissues. Depending on the size of the oscillations, the massage gun delivers vibration massage therapy or percussive massage therapy.
Early models of massage guns used small oscillations to stimulate blood flow and relax muscles. These models delivered vibration therapy. Recent models take it a step further and perform percussive massage therapy, targeting deep tissue for more intense stimulation.
Effects of Massage Guns
Research suggests that performing vibration therapy before exercise may help prevent soreness.
Massage guns enhance blood circulation and supply muscles with nutrients. Increased blood flow also drains away blood that may have accumulated in the muscle. Long periods of inactivity may cause blood to pool in muscles and result in swollen extremities.
Using a massage gun post-workout may aid the removal of the exercise-related waste products that cause the burning sensation in muscles. Many weight-training enthusiasts report that using massage guns reduced the ill effects of weight-lifting, making their post-workouts feel more like those of light exercise or yoga.
Best Way to Use Massage Guns
Massage guns enable you to get more of the benefits of massage therapy with less effort. You can cover a large muscle group in one or two minutes. To get the best out of your massage gun, avoid over-stimulating the muscles. The right amount of stimulation facilitates the optimal flow of blood into and out of the muscles.
Massage guns are powerful tools, so you might want to start off on the lowest setting and work your way up from there, just like you did with our workouts. The highest settings are most suitable for people on the higher end of the muscle mass spectrum.
Some massage gun users have noted that the effects may diminish as you use the tool more frequently. So, it might be a good idea to space out your use rather than using the tool every day. These devices are best used alongside other muscle recovery tools and techniques such as foam rolls and contrast baths.
A Final Word About Massage Guns
Many massage gun users mistakenly apply a no-pain-no-gain approach to using the device. However, physical therapists recommend stopping if you experience pain to avoid injury. If you can use your massage to compliment the massage therapy you receive from a well-trained massage therapist, all the better. A skilled and experienced massage therapist knows how to perform a deep tissue massage safely.
In short, when you get your massage gun, start off easy and avoid painful areas. Use it to massage specific muscle groups for a few minutes after a workout. You can also use the device on your rest days to aid muscle recovery.