Do Massage Guns Actually Work?
You’ll never know how it feels until you try it. For some, the sensation feels akin to transcending this realm. For others, an inscrutable pain. Some massage guns even advertise that they can recreate a deep tissue massage session. But how do massage guns work for knots and sore muscles? Are they actually effective? Do massage guns actually work? Here’s our take.
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How do massage guns work?
Sometimes called percussion massagers or percussive massagers, these seemingly miraculous handheld devices are thought to offer the many benefits of a massage without the expense, or the hassle, of visiting a massage therapist. Plus, experts recommend that you use it on yourself because only you can tell how much pressure is the right amount, or how much pain you’re experiencing.
Its slew of benefits has made it another quintessential piece of equipment in locker rooms across the globe. A massage gun is a godsend for those of us who have to face a desk every day. Because a massage gun can relieve the muscle knots from sitting in front of a computer all day.
Here’s how a massage gun works: the power-drill like tool turns on and vibrates, usually at a high frequency and low amplitude. And as it’s placed on your muscles, it percusses against your muscles and helps relieve muscle tension and muscle pain. Some advocates even said that this kind of percussive massage can promote muscle recovery and reduce soreness if you use it after workouts.
It works just like a normal massage, where massage therapists and physical therapists reduce inflammation by flushing extracellular fluids, like venous blood and lymph fluids, out of the muscle tissue. An oft-cited study discovered that percussive therapy can be as effective as massage therapy in preventing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
But Before You Get It…
Don’t forget there are other ways to relieve muscle tension too. There’s always the trusty foam roller. Foam rollers are better for covering large areas, like your back, thighs or buttocks. And the effect of foam rollers is gentler than a massage gun. Though, foam rolling is usually a more focused, deeper massage.
Then there’s the good old static stretching. You could also relax your muscle and reduce tightness by doing slow, sustained stretches too. Plus, static stretching has more research to support its benefits too.
Be Careful With That Gun
While it seems miraculous, the massage gun does has its limitations. If you’re prone to having muscle strain or ligament sprain injuries, then it’s best to avoid using massage guns too. The same goes for if you have inflammatory-related injuries such as osteoporosis, tendonitis or bursitis, as well as autoimmune conditions.
You should also avoid using these massage devices if you have conditions that affect blood flow, such as deep vein thrombosis or arteriosclerosis. In that same vein (pun not intended), don’t use it when you have a prescription for blood thinners, or when you bleed and bruise easily. Though taking daily aspirins shouldn’t be an issue.
Another precaution you should take is to make sure that the area you’re massaging doesn’t have any impaired sensation, particularly if you are diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, a condition often caused by diabetes. Because when you’re without accurate sensory feedback, you could be causing damage without realising it.
Though it may be tempting, never apply the massage gun to the neck. That might cause a carotid dissection—a tear in the carotid artery that affects blood flow to the brain, thereby causing a stroke.
How to Use a Massage Gun (Properly)
The most important rule: only use it on your muscles. It’s not created to be used on your nerves, bones, joints or tendons. So do be careful when you have muscle strains or ligament sprains. Using a massage gun should never, ever cause pain. At most, your muscles won’t be able to relax after a painful massage with the tool.
Start slow, with a lower speed setting or power setting. That way, your body can adjust to the pressure. If you go in fast, your muscles might just tense up again, preventing the massage from reaching the deeper tissues. Just gradually get comfortable with the sensation before you gradually increase the speed.
As you massage a spot, stay there for a minute or two before you move on to the next area. There might be discomfort as you first use a massage gun. But, there shouldn’t be any sharp pain or a stubborn, lasting discomfort.
Stop using it if you notice the pain worsening or when there are signs of swelling. If you experience something akin to an electric shock or like an electric current, you should be putting that gun down.
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