If you’re asked to describe a massage session, you’d likely talk about the typical session in which a masseuse runs their hands against the muscles to relieve muscle tension and improve blood flow. While you won’t be wrong, muscle massages have now evolved beyond the use of hands, and now, there are equipment that allow you to self-administer massages. One such tool is the massage gun.
Massage guns, also known as percussive massage or vibration therapy, are handheld and portable tools placed on the muscles to help recover quickly from workouts stress and also help athletes improve their overall performance. This device has the shape of a gun and sometimes sounds like a power drill. Most massage guns are wireless, but they work with a rechargeable battery and interchangeable attachments for proper functioning.
A massage gun works by vibrating at a high-frequency level with low movement amplitude on the part of the body, helping that part of the muscle recover quickly from pain. Massage gun helps the body reduce recovery time and increase mobility after injury. They are also effective in increasing blood flow to a specific area in the body, thus, helping to reduce muscle tension and inflammation. Athletes mostly use them to help reduce muscle tightness and soreness after rehearsals or training. Massage guns are a viable alternative to regular hand-delivered massages and aid the self-delivery of massages. These tools deliver a similar sensation to that produced during massages and have been shown to be effective.
A massage gun is a percussive therapy that helps loosen muscle stiffness and increase blood flow. When a muscle is stiff, it affects mobility and movement, limiting your range of motion within that area. However, this stiffness affects other muscle parts, putting such individuals at risk of more severe injury.
Massage guns, when turned on, vibrate at high frequencies, up to 2500 vibrations per minute. While it is not exactly clear how this high-frequency vibration affects the muscles, several theories exist. One such theory is that the vibration of the guns stimulates the Golgi tendon organ. The Golgi tendon organ is a structure that inhibits muscle contraction. Thus, by stimulating this structure, massage guns will cause the muscles within an area to relax. Massage guns may also stimulate the nerves in the area where it is applied, thereby reducing pain.
A massage gun helps to loosen up muscle tightness, reduce recovery time and improve range of motion. They penetrate the soft tissues, stimulate the release of hormones like serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine, and wake up inactive muscles. Like any other massage technique, massage guns primarily act neurally, forcing the brain to focus on an area with muscle tightness and then let go of the site.
Massage guns are efficient in helping the body relax and improve the state of mind and the body. These tools achieve this effect in numerous ways, including:
- Relieve the body of stress: massage guns help the body to release dopamine and serotonin, which are responsible for happiness, hence, relieving you from stress and promoting relaxation.
- Helps to improve sleep: when a massage gun is used correctly, it helps the body relax, promoting a good sleeping pattern. Massage guns help the body release serotonin, which keeps the body relaxed, and melatonin which aids sleep. Sleep deprivation is linked to extensive neurological and physiological damage. Thus, massage guns by helping to improve sleep allow the body to stay relaxed and alert. Better sleep quality also increases libido, focus, and attention span and improves cognitive function and cardiovascular health.
- Helps boost the immune system: massage guns help improve blood circulation, resulting in improved distribution of lymph, white blood cells, and other immune components. Thus, they enhance immune response, keeping the body free of diseases.
Using a deep tissue massage gun can help reduce recovery time. For someone looking to increase muscle mass and engage in a high-impact workout like heavy weightlifting, the massage gun is essential to minimize the time spent recovering between workouts. Thus, massage guns help athletes stay consistent and achieve their goals faster. A massage gun also helps in reducing muscle soreness and reducing pain by helping to loosen tightness in the muscles and around the joints. This allows your tissue to relax and improve movement in the joint.
A massage gun is commonly used among endurance athletes. They help athletes feel relaxed before the event and help relieve stress, pain, and muscle soreness they might feel before the competition. Hence, massage guns help athletes to improve their overall performance. The circulation of blood when a massage gun is used helps reduce tension, improve tissue metabolism, prevent injuries, increase muscle and joint flexibility, and accelerate recovery.
Massage guns are used as post-injury care therapy. They are used as rehabilitation therapy to help accelerate recuperation time and prevent re-injury. They are used to treat muscle damage caused by medical illnesses or trauma. A massage gun effectively treats sciatica, shin splints, TMJ syndrome, muscle spasms, cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome, nonspecific low backpack, etc.
Massage guns must be used accurately for a positive result to be recorded. Here are a few tips on accurately using a massage gun to get the best result.:
- Massage guns can be used before, between, and after workouts. However, you should use your massage gun within 48 hours after workouts to ensure rapid post-workout recovery.
- Use a massage gun on the specific area where you are feeling pain or where you are feeling muscle stiffness.
- Add little pressure to the area, but avoid being too aggressive on your body.
- Stay on that spot for at least 15 seconds before switching or removing the massage gun.
- Avoid using the massage guns on the bony areas of your body.
- Avoid using your massage gun on an area where you feel excruciating pain or where you have an open injury, as the massage gun can worsen it.
- Consult your doctor before using a massage gun if you are pregnant or have nerve sensitivity or deep vein thrombosis.
- You should also be careful with the speed and the attachment if your body bruises easily.
- When using a massage gun on your neck, be very gentle and avoid blood vessel and nerve areas on your neck.
- Use your massage gun in sessions, preferably short sessions, then keep the power settings of your massage gun on low.
- It is essential that you note how your body responds to the vibration. The massage gun should be on a tolerance level that your body can take.
Massage guns are considered safe, but when handled incorrectly, they can be harmful. Hence, there are precautions to avoid damage or injury to the arteries, muscles, internal organs, and nerves. If you feel unusual pain when using a massage gun, it is advisable to stop using it. When massage guns are handled in the wrong way, they can cause certain conditions like:
- Muscle sprain: when the muscle is stretched beyond the limit, it can cause painful muscle strains. Extensive or improper use of massage guns, especially with excessive force, may cause the muscle in the area to overstretch, thus causing sprains.
- Damaged blood vessels and formation of blood clots: Some studies suggest that using massage guns increases the risk of thrombosis (formation of blood clots). The exact reason for this is not known. However, it is known that applying too much pressure on muscles can cause damage to the blood vessel, which eventually leads to blood clot formation and other thrombolytic complications. Thus, it is advisable to apply massage guns with light pressure.
- Inflammation: using a massage gun on an area with inflammation or swelling can reduce your recovery time and cause more pain and inflammation to the affected part.
- Fractures: avoid using massage guns if you have fractures or are recovering from a fracture. Massage guns worsen the fractures and cause further damage to the bone.
- Putting too much pressure can cause excessive muscular contraction increasing the flight-for-fight symptoms.
- When a massage gun is used aggressively, it can cause increased nerve sensitivity, which increases heart rate and blood pressure.
- Mishandling massage guns can cause damage to the muscle fiber. When too much pressure is placed on the muscles, it can cause damage to the muscle fibers and connective tissues, resulting in increased muscle tension and decreased body strength.
Massage gun is becoming a popular and widely used device among athletes. They are efficient in helping to reduce pain, relieve stress, accelerate recovery, increase circulation and loosen muscle stiffness. Using massage guns is safe and helpful, provided you properly use them.
Avoid the “no pain, no gain” mentality when using massage guns. These devices should relieve pain, not cause more. If a massage gun is causing more pain for you, then you are using it the wrong way. Ensure to apply light pressure when using a massage gun and ensure that you do not use them in certain conditions like fractures and blood clotting defects. Importantly, ensure to consult a doctor before picking up a massage gun. Happy workouts!