Massage Gun Benefits & Uses
Massage guns—otherwise known as percussive massage treatments or vibration therapies—are popular among athletes and office workers alike. But are these portable massage devices actually worth the hype? Here's a closer look at the most common massage gun benefits, along with tips for proper usage.
Massage Gun Benefits
When considering how well massage guns work, you should know that many studies have shown the benefits of these hand-held muscle recovery tools. From relieving muscle tension to cutting down on soreness after a run, these high-intensity portable devices can be a great part of your self-care routine. Consider the following reasons why you might want to add a massage gun to your workout regimen.
Relax and Soothe Muscles
Through releasing the tight connective tissue around your muscles and bones and stimulating the skin's sensory cells, the vibrations from a massage gun can stop nearby muscles from contracting.(1) They can also help to reduce your perception of muscle pain in the area, like when you might rub your toe to distract yourself from the pain of stubbing it on a chair.
Helps to Heal Injured Muscles Faster
Using a massage gun can help increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to sore muscles, which promotes faster healing.(2) If you apply it before your workout, it can also reduce muscle damage, inflammation and swelling .
Reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
If you're wondering if a massage gun will help with muscles or if you’re better off seeing a massage therapist instead, you'll be pleased to know these treatments are actually on par. Studies have shown that vibration therapy from a massage gun can have the same or better effect as traditional massage therapy when it comes to reducing the aches you feel in your muscles in the days that follow a workout.(3)
This tightness, otherwise referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), could be prevented altogether through the improvements in muscular strength and performance that result from regular use of a massage gun.
Increases Blood and Lymphatic Flow
Through reducing muscle knots and tightness, using a massage gun can increase not just blood flow but also lymphatic circulation. Boosting your body's ability to excrete toxins and waste products like lactic acid and deoxygenated blood allows your muscles and your immune system to perform more effectively.(4)
Helps With Muscle and Joint Flexibility
By stimulating nerve receptors, releasing lactic acid buildup from intense exercise and encouraging the healing of atrophied muscles, the massage gun can help improve muscle and joint flexibility. As a result, it improves your overall range of motion and your posture, while also reducing the risk of strains or sprains.
Reduces Scar Tissue
The deep constriction-relieving massage you get from using a massage gun can break up and improve the appearance of scar tissue after a sports injury or even help prevent injury. This can help you regain mobility and strength in the damaged area while also reducing any pain.
Promotes Stress Relief and Overall Wellness
Using a massage gun regularly can improve your sleep and immune system, relieve stress and reduce anxiety. When you release the tension and fluid stored deep in the muscles through massage, your body releases feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals contribute to your overall well-being, happiness and relaxation.
How to Use a Massage Gun
While your massage gun can be used for muscle tension relief any time you wish, you may experience the most benefits right before your workout or within 48 hours of it afterwards. Knowing how to use a massage gun on yourself will give you the best benefits and help avoid injury. Follow these steps for the most optimum way to reduce soreness and activate your muscles:
- Start slow on the lowest speed setting and increase the level of pressure to what you can tolerate.
- Glide the gun over any sore or tight muscle areas, adding pressure as tolerated and making sure not to press too hard.
- Get familiar with the different massage gun attachment uses and switch between them depending on the body part you're treating.
- Do not stay in the same spot for more than 15 seconds. You can sweep over a general area for up to two minutes.
- Stop if you feel pain or your skin is showing redness or signs of irritation.
- For best results, take deep breaths and remember to relax.
- If you're not sure how often you should use a massage gun, you should know a little goes a long way. Use it no more than two to three times per day, either pre- or post- workout.
When Not to Use a Massage Gun
While massage guns are generally safe to use, there are exceptions when it comes to certain parts of your body or medical conditions. Body areas on which massage guns should not be used include:
- Sprains or strains
- Bony areas
- Wounds, scabs, lesions or bruises
- Body parts with impaired sensation or peripheral neuropathy (often caused by diabetes)
- Face, throat, or neck
- Nerves and major blood vessels
- Varicose veins
If you have the following medical conditions, you should consult with your doctor before using a massage gun as it may not be the right fit for you:
- Inflammation-related injuries
- Conditions that require taking blood thinners such as warfarin and heparin
- Conditions affecting blood vessels such as peripheral artery disease or deep vein thrombosis
Massage guns can be great on-the-go tools for anyone with an active lifestyle or for anyone who wants to experience their muscle-strengthening effects, whether after a workout or surgery. Just like anything else, you will only see optimum long-term massage gun benefits if you use it regularly. Make sure to consult with a doctor before use, especially if you have any doubts or pre-existing conditions.
1. "What You Should Know about Using a Massage Gun," Hospital for Special Surgery. Accessed April 6, 2022. https://www.hss.edu/article_how-to-use-massage-gun.asp
2. "Massage helps injured muscles heal faster and stronger," The Harvard Gazette. Accessed April 6, 2022. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2021/10/massage-helps-injured-muscles-heal-faster-and-stronger/
3. Imtiyaz, Shagufta et al. “To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)." Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR vol. 8,1 (2014): 133-6. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/7294.3971
4. Weerapong, Pornratshanee et al. "The Mechanisms of Massage and Effects on Performance, Muscle Recovery and Injury Prevention." Sports Med 35, 235–256 (2005). https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200535030-00004