Massage Guns – Do They Really Work?

Posted: | Category: Massage

Massage guns are mainly known as a workout recovery tool, but it was initially developed for pain management by Dr. Jason Wersland, a Los Angeles-based Chiropractor. Wersland is the founder and CEO of Theragun, and he created the first working device in 2008, after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident. The market has since become flooded with different massage guns, and they have risen in popularity over the past few years. They look like a power tool and some models can pack a serious punch, in terms of their percussive intensity. The handheld gun massages muscles, tendons and fascia by providing rapid bursts of pressure in concentrated, short-duration pulses. Think of it like a mini-jackhammer action.

What Are Massage Guns Used For?

They can be used as a warm-up before your workouts, helping to loosen tight muscles that are stiff from any previous activities. Although further research needs to be done, percussive therapy has been shown to increase the range of motion in athletes prior to exercise. It does this by stimulating blood flow and softening the tissue in the area you’re massaging. A massage gun before exercise provides a similar effect to foam rolling, but it’s less painful and combines the effects of a conventional massage with vibration therapy. By warming up your muscles before exercise you’ll move better and minimise the chances of getting injured. When used post exercise, percussion massage guns can help temporarily increase blood flow to the muscle. Increased blood flow helps speed up the recovery process by helping to remove waste products from the damaged tissue.

So, Let’s Take A Look At The Research

However, whilst this all sounds great – as always there are things to be made aware of. Currently to date, there are no large third-party clinical studies that prove its efficacy to a great degree, though there have been some promising results drawn from some scientific articles. The research pool is quite small at present and more work needs to be done in this area to further prove their effectiveness. Although, many users do report positive effects online from using a massage gun. However, there are sportspeople claiming that a massage gun can have a significant impact on your athletic performance, and I think this is debatable at this point. All the professional athletes giving testimonials are receiving healthy sums of sponsorship money from each company. Large, peer-reviewed studies need to back up these claims. It’s a big leap to say that you’re going to get a noticeable increase in performance from a few minutes on the massage gun. Personally, I feel that some claims have been overblown to help sell devices.

How To Incorporate the Massage Gun Into Your Recovery Days

Personally, I find it works best when incorporated into a deep tissue/mobility/stretching session on the treatment table, as opposed to being used as a self-massage tool. If you solely used the massage gun all over your body for 10-15 minutes I just don’t think it is effective enough by itself. If however, you were to foam roll alongside it, or have a therapist use it alongside other tools like the metal ones used in the Graston Technique then I think it can come into its own. I’ve had treatments in the past where a therapist used a variety of techniques including Trigger Point, Soft Tissue Release and Graston – all effective ways of manipulating the soft tissue. However, anyone that has experienced these forms of tissue release will know and appreciate just how painful they can be at times. And the massage gun can offer a welcome break from the intensity and deep pressure of a therapy session. Whilst the gun will not be as directly painful, it will still be vibrating at high speeds and causing disruption to scar tissue, adhesions and knots. The oscillating action will still be having positive effects on the muscle and fascia.

Do Your Research

There are now many massage guns out on the market, and you must do your research to find one that you like, based on specifications, customer reviews, recommendations and warranty periods.

…And Don’t Forget Safety First

Please note that massage guns should not be applied to bones, bruises, or infected areas. If you do choose to use it try not to target any single muscle group for more than two minutes in a session. When you’re just starting out, I would recommend focusing on one area for 10 to 30 seconds. Finally, there is no harm from using a massage gun on a daily basis if you wish, however listen to your body and always use pain as your guide.

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