Being able to administer self-massage with a percussive massage gun has proved to be of great benefit to both professional athletes and anyone looking for a way to relax tight muscles without having to visit a massage therapist. Many users report that using a massage gun helps them to iron out muscle knots, relieve muscle cramps and inflammation, improve flexibility, and generally give them an enhanced feeling of wellbeing. But do massage guns actually work?
While studies have not yet reached a definitive conclusion on whether the vibration and percussion therapy provided by such guns can help you to recover from exercise, they do concur that using massage guns as a recovery tool can help to increase blood flow to the muscles, reduce DOMS – the muscle soreness caused by exercise - and may increase the range of motion of the joints. So, as such, they are regarded as a useful piece of apparatus to include as part of an athlete’s recovery work.
Do Massage Guns Help with Muscle Knots?
Let us, first of all, define ‘muscle knots’ or, to give them their correct name, myofascial trigger points. As the muscle fibers or fascia stretch or contract, weak spots and knots/bumps develop within the muscle. These knots can compromise your range of motion and cause considerable pain. So, as you can imagine, they need treatment sooner rather than later.
Muscle knots can appear due to injury or trauma to the area, incorrect or poor posture when sitting or sleeping, sitting in the same position for too long and causing strain and tension in the muscles and even due to mental stress and pressure. The most common places to develop knots are in the muscles of the shoulders, neck and back.
Unfortunately, there is no quick way to treat myofascial trigger points. It takes time to tease the fibers apart and break down the knots. Regular use of a massage gun is extremely beneficial in this instance as it allows you to apply the deep pressure needed to gradually ease the knot apart and restore the fibers into correct alignment.
Using the power of percussion therapy, the muscles will also benefit from increased blood flow to the area. The blood delivers oxygen to the muscle fibers and removes any toxins, relieving soreness and tension.
For best results, simply take the gun and apply pressure to the affected area being sure to massage it with a consistent pressure.
Do Massage Guns Speed Up Recovery?
While studies cannot definitively confirm that massage guns speed up recovery, there is no doubt that the increase in blood flow and improved circulation does help to release tension and reduce the pain felt in tired and sore muscles. Most of us have experienced the feeling of sore muscles after a workout. We’ve suffered through the pain of DOMS and know all too well how it feels when our muscles have been damaged. But we accept this as part of strength and conditioning training. The exercises we perform break down the fibers in the muscles and then the body repairs these fibers so that the muscles are stronger and larger.
To ensure that we can continue to exercise and train, we need strategies to increase the speed at which the muscles repair themselves and also to relieve the pain. Many athletes report that using a percussive recovery tool helps to relax the muscle and reduce the pain, making it possible to return to training quicker. Percussion therapy also stimulates natural hormones and proteins to repair the muscle fibers.
How Often Should You Use a Massage Gun?
When you first use a massage gun you should start with it on a low setting and only use it for short periods until you get used to the pressure. However, once you are accustomed to the percussive and vibrating action, it is recommended that you use them frequently albeit for short sessions, keeping the head moving to avoid any skin sensitivity.
When using the gun prior to a workout, you can activate the relevant muscles by using the massager over the area for thirty to forty seconds. The gun can also be used during activity for ten to fifteen seconds to re-activate muscles if they are tired or in spasm. Following activity, the massager can be moved across the required areas for up to two minutes to assist with recovery. It’s not recommended to use the gun for over two minutes on any one muscle as it may cause bruising or injury.
Is it Bad to Use a Massage Gun Every Day?
You can use a massage gun every day regardless of the stage of your recovery. However, you should always remember that the percussive action of the gun provides a deeper massage than vibration or a massage therapist’s hands. So, as previously stated, always start on a low setting for short periods of time and don’t concentrate on any one area for more than two minutes.
Even though it’s not bad to use a massage gun every day, many athletes prefer to rotate using a gun with using a foam roller as they find that this combination benefits the muscles and their recovery more than just using either a gun or roller alone.
The Bottom Line
Using percussion therapy to provide deep tissue massage means that you are treating muscles at a deeper level, and this can significantly reduce both the recovery duration and the pain and inflammation caused within the muscles from extreme effort and strain. A high-grade massage gun offers a more intense massage than hands and can be more effective than a manual massage for stubborn and chronic aches, pains, and inflammation. Plus, deep tissue massage is known to release endorphins, increase serotonin and reduce anxiety – so it’s a great recovery tool to have at your disposal whether you’re a professional athlete, a weekend warrior or just want to keep your body relaxed and functioning well.