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Everything you need to know about massage guns

Your guide to choosing the best massage gun.

If you want to enhance your training and post-workout experience, consider purchasing a massage gun. These gadgets help to loosen up your muscles and keep your movements fluid. A massage gun can also shorten your recovery time while delaying the onset of soreness after a workout.

You may be asking,do massage guns work?” Massage guns can be used before a workout to activate your muscles and can also help as muscular support when recovering after the physical activity. Massage guns can ease muscle tension; one way this is possible is by increasing circulation.

Massage guns offer tons of other benefits, too. They alleviate pain, improve muscle strength, and support the musculoskeletal system. With greater flexibility and power, you’ll have better stamina and endurance as you engage in your workout regimen. 

Massage gun.
Liam Moore/Pexels

Benefits of massage guns

Muscle strength

You may see upgraded muscle strength and decreased likelihood of injuries if you use the massager before a workout. This will also benefit your balance and flexibility, positively supporting how thoroughly you engage in your exercises. You could feel pumped and energized for your activities, as this positive attention to your muscles can improve agility and even sharpen reflexive abilities. 

If you consider improved muscle strength and muscle mass, utilizing this tool as you age may be helpful. A massage gun’s vibrations can be useful for maintaining muscle function in older individuals with sarcopenia, a loss of muscle mass.

Enhanced range of motion

Another advantage of a massage gun is the improved range of motion, which cuts down on some pain and strain you may feel during a workout. This can take you further as you do your workout because you’ll be able to accomplish deeper and even more thorough workouts. With a better range of motion in your ankles, you could achieve deeper squats and deadlifts, too.

Improved blood flow

Another benefit of using a massage gun is greater blood flow. One plus is that this tool works directly on your muscles, whether you need to get your muscles in gear to start your workout or relax your muscles slowly after exercise. It acts as a deep-tissue massage, benefiting lymphatic flow and flexibility.

With better blood flow, there’s an increase in the oxygen within your tissues and your blood. When your blood is pumping, there’s a better chance that oxygen is being delivered to crucial places, like the brain. As the massage gun improves circulation, this can help build muscle mass and expedite recovery time, ultimately serving as preventative measures against exercise-related injuries.

If it is pertinent for you, it’s important to note that a massage gun can be used for a lymphatic drainage massage. This would entail moving lymph to areas of the body with adequately functioning lymph vessels, and doing so would help to alleviate the swelling that results from lymphatic blockage. The emphasis on circulation is vital because this lymphedema occurs because of fluid retention when blood is delivered to the tissues and organs. 

Combats muscle soreness

The vibrations of the massage gun can put direct pressure on the target muscle area and release fluid accumulation related to tension. For instance, the massage gun can lessen the buildup of lactic acid in the muscle, which is usually responsible for experiencing muscle soreness. The massage gun’s vibrations and actions can revitalize the muscle fibers’ function.

Versatile application

A massage gun provides all these physical benefits for your muscles and the execution of your exercises, but it can also be used in other avenues. With your physician’s guidance, a massage gun could be used in physical therapy. 

A massage gun, such as the Theragun, can be therapeutic after a long workday or time spent in the same position. Massagers can help loosen tense muscles and serve as an excellent tool for stress relief, especially when addressing mental health or sleep issues.

Man using a massage gun on shoulder.
Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels

How to use a massage gun

Massage guns utilize percussive therapy, in which muscle tissues are warmed up by the vibrations allowing blood distribution to the target areas. When you have sore muscles, the light pressure of the vibrations and the back-and-forth motions can break through fluid buildup and alleviate the tension.

Opting for a percussion massager can be more than just a purchase; it may be an excellent long-term investment. As previously mentioned, the vibrations of the percussive therapy positively influence the metabolic activities of the muscles, like increased blood flow and oxygen saturation. This results in physiologic reactions that can foster increases in muscle strength.

To safely use the massage gun, you’ll want to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and massage each target area for two minutes. Using the machine briefly is crucial for your safety and is necessary to prevent it from overheating. Other helpful guidelines include avoiding bony areas like joints or the spine and refraining from using on areas of severe pain.

You can use the product before or after a workout, with pre-workout usage seeming to be more favorable to preventing muscle stiffness and soreness. Stretching before using the massage gun can also help your muscles acclimate. This can be done in the morning to start the day or relax into a restful sleep at night.

Person holding a massage gun.
naipo.de/Unsplash

Massage gun features to look for

Intensity

Think about the intensity and speed offered because the product is usually capable of various settings. For those of us who are novices, we’ll want to start with lesser intensity. Those with more experience with massage guns may want a device that can offer higher intensity with varying speeds. 

Weight

Another essential factor to consider is the weight. If you’re going to use this device often, you’ll need to be able to support its weight for the duration of use. A two to four-pound massager may be comfortable to hold for the desired period each time you use it.

Sound

For instance, the massage gun is used for therapeutic purposes, like stress relief, so you’d want to purchase one of the more silent devices. If you plan to use the device to take care of muscles, mental health, sleep, and general stress relief, you’ll want a massager that is conducive to a relaxed environment. A quieter massage gun may be more convenient if you use it quickly in a space around other people.

Price and battery life

You’ll want to make sure you buy a massage gun that possesses a reliable battery life. Also, look for a cost-effective machine. You wouldn’t want to buy an extremely expensive massager but would also like to get your money’s worth. 

Consider that massage guns that have batteries that can be replaced and recharged tend to cost more but may allow you to save money in the long run. For context, the Theragun is expensive, but it operates quietly and has batteries that can be removed and recharged. It is considered the Cadillac of massage guns and can penetrate muscles 60% deeper than other devices for relieving muscle tension

Woman using massage gun.
Liam Moore/Pexels

When you shouldn’t/who shouldn’t use a massage gun

Massage guns may not be beneficial in certain conditions, like pregnancy. Additionally, you may want to avoid using massage guns if you’re dealing with conditions like neuropathy or diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and muscular dystrophy. You may also want to hold off on massage gun therapy if you are treating rashes, wounds, or infections. In addition to these conditions, using massagers may not be wise if you have bone conditions like osteoporosis or fractures.

It would not be wise to use a massage gun if recovering from an existing injury. Massage guns may only exacerbate intense pains, strains, or tears, so avoiding using them while you recover would be best. On the flip side, if you use your massage gun regularly and begin to feel pain, you may want to stop using it and consult a professional. Avoid excessive use to prevent muscle damage or bruising. Overuse and inadequate handling of the product may cause it to be counterproductive, creating complications rather than alleviating them.

Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
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