Nearly everyone lives with some level of pain on a daily basis. Performance athletes experience muscle soreness in the days following grueling training sessions. Desk-confined office workers suffer through chronic neck and back pain for months, even years on end. This pain can be extremely irritating and have a negative effect on the quality of your life.
No one likes being in pain. That’s why so many people are motivated to visit massage therapists, physiotherapists, and chiropractors on a regular basis. You might even have experience being treated by a combination of all three of these health professionals!
But wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t always have to book an appointment or visit a clinic to receive quality care and relief from your pain? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to supplement your practitioner care, at home?
Luckily, as technology develops, new research-based self-care alternatives are being created to help supplement traditional practices like the ones mentioned above. One of the areas where exciting new developments are taking place is in the field of percussive massage.
Percussive massage involves the use of an electric handheld device – called a massage gun – to deliver a series of rapid blows to various areas of your body in order to promote pain relief by targeting the deep soft tissue of your muscles.
Let’s take a closer look at how these massage guns can help to deliver effective pain relief to your problem areas.
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How does a massage gun work?
Massage guns are very popular right now. Everyone is talking about how they have opened the door to a whole new realm of possibilities in the world of self-care and pain reduction.
So… what’s their secret?
Both massage guns and traditional therapeutic massage apply various amounts of pressure and motion to the surface of the skin to impart the following effects:
- Increased blood flow
- Elevated temperature
- Relaxed muscle tissues
- Improved lymph circulation
- Improvements in ROM and flexibility
Where massage guns differ from traditional massage methods, however, is in the frequency at which they operate to deliver the intended result. Massage guns pulsate like a jackhammer up to 2500 times per minute!
Massage guns are designed based on what is known as “the pain gate theory,” which asserts that a series of rapid non-painful sensations (provided by the massage gun) actually overpower the pain sensations and prevent them from being transmitted to the central nervous system.
This theory was echoed by the words of Dr. Jason Wersland, founder of Theragun, in an article written by Elie Sports Performance. Let’s take a look!
“This isn’t really massage. It’s actually tricking your nervous system. Healthy nerve impulses will react to pain in milliseconds but if you put something on the area that moves faster, your brain can’t keep up.”
This information helps us to understand the mechanism at work when using massage guns and how they are so effective in reaching our deep tissue to provide much-needed pain relief!
What are the benefits of percussive massage?
Massage guns have become a common fixture behind the benches of countless pro sports teams. From basketball to football to hockey, training staff professionals have begun to see how valuable these tools can be for the treatment of common in-game pains like muscle cramps, muscle soreness, and other performance-inhibiting issues.
But you don’t have to be an elite level athlete to experience the benefits of percussive massage. Many regular people have made claims expressing how the use of massage guns have helped them to alleviate irksome symptoms of pain.
Benefits of percussive massage include:
- Increased blood flow – According to the New Zealand Institute of Sport and Recreation Research, the pressure created through massage helps to increase blood flow in congested areas. Interestingly, this increase in blood flow seems to have an effect on the circulation throughout the entire body, not just the sore area.
- Elevated temperature – As we are well aware, scientific law states that applying friction to any surface will raise the temperature of that surface. This occurs during percussive massage and also aids in improving blood flow in the body.
- Relaxed muscle tissues – Generally accepted by massage therapists everywhere, the “relaxation response” occurs when we experience the sense of touch. After touch is experienced, your brain sends a signal to your body to reduce breathing rate, lower blood pressure, and release hormones like oxytocin. Muscles also become relaxed in the process.
- Improved lymph circulation – Similar to how the pressure resulting from massage increases blood flow, surface pressure can also help disperse lymph fluids throughout the body.
- Increase ROM and improved flexibility – Percussive massage helps to elongate muscle fibers resulting in improvements in range of motion and flexibility.
How do you use a massage gun?
Although anyone can learn how to use a massage gun to receive effective pain relief, like anything, there is a proper technique required to have success.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Sit or stand in a comfortable, relaxed position (whichever gives you the best access to the area you would like to target).
- Turn on your massage gun while holding it at a distance from your body.
- Before beginning treatment, be sure to address your breath. Similar to when stretching, long and slow inhales and exhales are best.
- Lightly place the mallet of the gun against your body on the area you would like to treat (don’t apply pressure).
- Slowly slide the mallet up and down the problem area, spending extra time on any knots or tight spots you may notice.
- Once you have released all tensions and knots, continue a little farther away from your starting point as this helps to increase blood flow to the initial area.
What are some common injuries or conditions that percussion therapy can help with?
Although far from a one-size-fits-all solution, massage guns and percussive therapy can have a positive effect when used to treat several injuries. Fortitude Sports Therapy, a leader in injury prevention and recovery, claims that percussion therapy can help with:
- Muscle Soreness
- Muscle Cramps & Spasms
- Shin Splints
- Herniated/Bulging Disks
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
But you don’t have to wait until you’re injured to benefit from the use of a massage gun. Because of their ability to increase ROM, flexibility, and promote muscle elongation, massage guns can actually aid in the prevention of injury!
What is the best percussion massager on the market?
As a massage therapist, I am very supportive of home care and self-massage tools. After its inception in 2016, the massage gun industry has evolved and there are many different options and brands to choose from. My research found the following massage guns to be the superior choice for those looking to get started with percussive therapy at home.
Theragun was established after its founder, Jason Wersland, was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in 2007. After the crash, he began searching for a self-care method of pain relief and realized that there weren’t many options available. Thus, he decided to create Theragun – a leader in self-applied percussive therapy.
One of their latest and most popular products is the Theregun G3Pro.
Theragun’s G3Pro massage gun penetrates deep into the muscles to reduce soreness and promote full recovery. G3Pro allows you to see improvements in strength, coordination, flexibility, and performance in as little as 30 seconds per muscle group. Among its top features are:
- Adjustable arm for full body reach
- 2 options for speeds
- Interchangeable batteries
- Capacity to deliver up to 60 lbs. of force
- Ergonomic handle
- Multiple attachments for use on various body parts
Email [email protected] to receive a unique COUPON CODE for 10% OFF any Theragun Order!
Hyperice Hypervolt Plus
Hyperice has been making a splash in the therapeutics industry with its wide range of high-tech self-care solutions, including the Hypervolt Plus massage gun.
The Hypervolt plus features 30% more pulsating power than the previous model, making it the world’s most powerful percussive massage device. Along with this abundance of pain-relieving power, Hyperience’s Hypervolt Plus includes:
- A brushless high-torque 90w motor
- Their very own Quite Glide technology
- Cordless, lightweight design that makes it 100% portable
Hyperice’s Hypervolt Plus is a great option for athletes or individuals who need a quick solution to their pain while on the go!
TimTam Power Massager
The Tim Tam Power Massager is trusted by top-level professional athletes like Georges St. Pierre and Dominique Blake to help relieve pain that results from an intensive training schedule. Tim Tam’s Power Massager Pro provides:
- Automatic heat infusion – Power Massager Pro’s automatic heated tip provides improved access and increased blood flow to deep tissue.
- 2X the battery life – Recieve top of the line continuous-care for up to one hour with Tim Tam’s extended battery life.
- Quieter operation – Use this device anywhere without fear of disrupting those around you. This model has just 10db on the lowest setting!
- Convenient one-touch trigger – Makes it easy to effortlessly apply pressure to those difficult-to-reach areas.
Whether you’re an athlete or not, this option provides a fantastic combination of power, battery life, and ergonomic features to assist in your pain-relief pursuits!
This portable massage gun weighs just 2.2 pounds, making it a great choice for those who would benefit from a convenient self-care device to use while traveling, on the sidelines, or at home. Features of the KraftGun include:
- Adjustable arm to reach lower back
- 10,000+ hour lifespan
- Extended battery life – 3.5 hours per single charge
- Compact design
- Tri-speed design
- Various attachments
KraftGun also features an ultra-quiet design – just 65db on its top speed!
These are all great options to begin giving your body the treatment it deserves. It’s important that you select the one that best aligns with your lifestyle and intended use!