How effective are massage guns? Although the research isn’t yet robust, they use a similar principle to other recovery methods. The popularity of massage guns is increasing. Its benefits are lauded by celebrities, professional athletes, and fitness influencers alike. Is it possible for you to reap their benefits too?
The following information will help you understand how they work, who they might benefit, and how to use one if you decide to use one.
Why Use a Massage Gun?
Massaging guns (also referred to as “percussive massage treatment” or “vibration therapy”) are portable, handheld devices that look and in some cases sound like power drills. They’re almost always wireless – most are powered by a rechargeable battery – and they come with interchangeable attachments.
When the gun is turned on and placed on your muscles, the attachments vibrate at a high frequency and low amplitude, which advocates claim improves recovery from workouts and overall performance as well as reducing soreness.
Sports physical therapist Leada Malek, CSCS, from San Francisco is certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists and recommends using a Massage Gun in Australia whenever you have muscle tension.
The evidence is scant to conclusively connect massage guns to training benefits, but there is research that supports the two methods behind the percussive massage treatment of massage guns. There are two treatments: massage, in which another person kneads and manipulates your muscles, and vibration therapy, in which a vibrating device is placed on certain parts of your body.
Malek says that massage reduces muscle tension and improves flexibility, decreases stiffness, increases blood flow, and decreases muscle pain. Vibration therapy is also said to have the same effect as massage therapy in terms of reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (tightness and aching in the muscles a few days after a strenuous workout).
Muscle recovery options: Massage guns vs. foam rollers
Malek says massage guns perform similar functions, but they do so in a different way. Therefore, they will have a similar effect to foam rolling and massage. It is up to you which one you choose.
Myofascial release is used in foam rolling to reduce muscle tension. A fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. It is possible for fascia to become tight, even inflamed, and when that occurs, movement becomes difficult. Nevertheless, a foam roller can help apply gentle to moderate sustained pressure to tight parts of the body relax or release, Malek says.
If you hold a massage gun to one area you might get similar effects, but because it’s rapid and percussive, it isn’t myofascial release, Malek says.
What are the advantages of guns? You can target specific areas of the body better with a foam roller, especially those that are hard to reach such as your biceps and psoas muscles (from your low spine to the tops of the femur bones in your legs), says Brian Abarca, a personal trainer certified by Passaic County Community College in Union City, New Jersey.