The massage gun is proving to be revolutionary in performance technology and sports recovery. Nowadays, you can find it from work desks to gym bags and physiotherapist tables.
With how much it does, it might even fit alongside your other essential household gadgets. So what exactly is a massage gun and what will you need it for? Before you try one for yourself, here’s what you need to know:
What is a Massage Gun?
Its design is optimized for accurately targeting pain points and problem areas, hence the name. Additionally, most of these devices are wireless and battery-operated, allowing for plenty of access and portability.
It also goes by the name percussion massager for how it does its job. And it will work on your aches faster and more consistently than any pair of human hands. What you get is a highly efficient deep tissue massage.
What’s inside the box
True to its promise of an all-around and on-the-go solution, every proper massage gun comes in a neatly-assembled package.
The following are what you can expect to find:
- Massage gun
- User’s manual
- Charger (this may include an adapter)
- Attachment heads
- Extra rubber washers for attachment heads
And keeping everything in place is a nifty carrying case that travels well.
Attachment heads and what they do
For starters, the tip that makes contact with your body actually detaches. And a decent massage gun often has a good variety of these. This allows you to tailor fit your massage for different body parts and intended benefits.
Here’s a simple guide to how you can best utilize these different shapes at your disposal:
What makes a good Massage Gun?
Different massage guns would try to outdo each other with one flashy feature after another. But now that you have an idea what to expect from one, let’s go through what really counts.
Speed and amplitude
These are the two features that constitute an effective massage. Speed refers to the revolutions per minute (RPM) and amplitude is the distance in which the head travels.
With how massage gun motors work, higher-amplitude ones tend to be lower-speed and vice-versa. That said, a good design would try to strike an ideal balance between the two.
To emulate a deep tissue massage, a percussion massager must have an amplitude of at least 12mm and speeds exceeding 3000 RPM.
Build quality and components
A certain product could be giving you the most potent massages – but for how long? Consistency and longevity underpin the overall performance of a massage gun.
Your device needs to be made of something that can handle years of internal and external stress. And an ergonomic shape and feel goes a long way to prevent further strain and fatigue.
Another factor you should also consider is quietness. This indicates a hardwearing and energy-efficient motor. The minimal noise also makes for a significantly more pleasant user experience.
A good product offers options, but not too much. We all know about option paralysis and how cumbersome the whole ordeal gets.
A good massage gun makes the experience about you; not about how many features it can cram into one device. That’s why high-end massage guns prefer the likes of single-button operations, for example.
From speed settings to attachment heads, it takes thoughtful design to focus on what makes the actual difference. Because you wouldn’t really want any further stress when you’re trying to get a massage.
In what ways can you use a Massage Gun?
A massage gun can address any problem that can be fixed through your skeletal muscles. And you might find that this approach brings more benefits than you would expect.
Each different purpose has its own nuances in applying the device. A general rule of thumb is to start at the lowest speed setting, and let comfort guide you from there.
Recover from Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Active folks are all too familiar with this. It holds the distinction of only showing up the day after working out. To make matters worse, its highly limiting pain can last for up to 5 days.
This is due to strain-induced micro-tears in the muscles. The massage gun’s pain relief properties and role in blood/nutrient flow make it an excellent recovery solution.
How to use:
- A flat head attachment works best in breaking up general soreness.
- Gently hover the device around each target muscle group for up to 2 minutes. The objective is to encourage your circulation without inflicting further muscle strain.
- For best results, pair your massage session with light recovery workouts.
Boosting your warm ups
A massage gun also affects your muscles the same way dynamic stretches do. As it increases your blood flow, your muscles get warmer. As a result, your range of motion improves and more oxygen reaches your muscles. This lets your muscles work with more intensity and endurance.
How to use:
- The ball attachment would do well in waking up your muscles.
- “Float” the device around each target muscle group for up to 30 seconds.
- Include this in your warm up routine for a more fruitful workout.
Resolving muscle knots
A muscle knot feels like a small, bump-like tightness in your muscles. This is often triggered by overusing certain muscles through physical activity or bad posture. Quickly releasing muscle tension would need deeper and more intense massages.
How to use:
- More focused attachments like the bullet or fork are designed to untangle the tension.
- Rest the massage gun on the tight spot for 15 to 30 seconds or until it releases. You can also press down on it if you need more pressure.
- Do some stretches in between to aid the tension release.
A massage gun can also help you move into a more relaxed state. Its vibration blocks pain signals to your brain, relaxing your nervous system. As a result, your stress hormone and anxiety levels decrease. This makes for an excellent pre-bedtime routine.
How to use:
- Wider and softer attachments like the ball and flat head work best.
- You can stay at the lowest speed setting. There’s no need for intense massages here.
- Gently go over your key muscle groups for no more than 10 minutes.
Treating some injuries
Certain ligament problems, like Tennis Elbow, Bursitis, Carpal Tunnel, and IT band syndrome, can improve with a massage gun’s help. Generally speaking, it focuses on relieving any ligament tension and working on the adjacent muscle groups that support it.
How to use:
- Go for the foam ball attachment for the gentlest massage possible. That said, using the slowest speed setting is a must here.
- As gently you can, float the massage gun on the sore spot for no more than 15 seconds. Stop immediately if it causes alarming pain.
- Slowly proceed to massage the surrounding muscle groups. Improving their mobility will help them protect the injury as it heals.
Remember that most other injuries aren’t suited for massage gun use. We’ll get into that and more in the next section.
Precautions you should take
Major muscle/ligament tears won’t benefit from any additional stimulation. Healthy bones aren’t suited for direct contact with massage guns either, let alone injured ones. Serious injuries should be treated with proper medical care.
You should be wary of certain limitations as well. Your therapist’s hands can distinguish any fractures, major tears, and other serious injuries – the massage gun can’t. Moreover, bone conditions, pregnancy, and disease can also be too high-risk for this type of massage.
Making the most out of the massage gun at your disposal also takes some know-how on your end. While it’s a fairly simple device, its impact on your body shouldn’t be taken for granted.
That said, being careless with it also has its dire consequences. What’s important is to listen to your body so that you stay on your path to recovery. And should anything feel too doubtful, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.