How to Use a Massage Gun
Massage guns are the latest and greatest way professional athletes and casual gym-goers alike are reducing pain, improving recovery, and improving their movement to lower the risk of injury.
Unlike traditional deep tissue massages, which can take an hour or longer, massager guns work in a matter of minutes—or if all you are going for is muscle activation, seconds. Sounds great, right? But if you’re still wondering how to use a massage gun, don’t worry. We’re here to help!
Proper Massage Gun Usage
To use your massage gun, follow these steps:
- This may sound tedious, but the first thing you need to do is turn the massage gun on while it is NOT on your body. Naturally, this is not a life or death thing to remember. But if you are experiencing any kind of major muscle pain, it can be jarring to immediately begin using a massage gun on the sore muscles. So, do yourself a favor and turn the device away from your body first and then ease into it.
- The next thing to remember when using a massage gun is to simply float the head of the device over your muscles. You do not need to push to add extra pressure. The best massage guns work via a technique called “percussive therapy," the key to which is rapid repetitive motion over your sore or injured muscles. If you have a high-quality massage gun, it will easily get deep enough to provide you with the needed relief without the extra pressure from you pushing on the device. Floating works great, but the best massage gun allows you to vary the force you apply without stalling to provide the pressure your muscles need whether you’re a 280lbs professional athlete or a 110lbs dog walker.
- Go slowly over your muscles. Based on the effect you want, you’ll apply a varying speed to the targeted muscle group. A good rule of thumb is 30 seconds to 2 minutes per body group.
- If you come upon an area of sharp or acute pain, hover the massage gun on and around that area for a few extra seconds. Keep in mind there is no added benefit when used beyond a certain amount of time.
- Finally, remember to breathe. Breathing will help you relax and will amplify the results of the massage gun.
Massage Gun Attachments
The highest quality massage guns come with a number of massage heads, all designed with a specific shape and density.
- Dampener: A dampener attachment can be used on sore or injured areas near the bone. This is an ideal attachment for everything from Bursitis to tennis elbow, and muscle tightness in the shoulders.
- Large Ball: Massage guns are great for the activation of large muscle groups in the upper and lower parts of the body. The large ball attachment is especially effective on large muscles like those in the glutes, lats, and quads.
- Standard Ball: The standard ball is your classic massage gun attachment. Regardless of what you need, the standard ball attachment has you covered.
- Wedge: The wedge attachment is particularly effective when you need your massage tool to perform a “scraping" motion. This can be used on the hamstrings, shoulder blades, or on your IT bands.
- Thumb: The “Thumb" massage gun attachment is perfect for the lower back as well as for trigger point therapy—which is a type of massage specifically designed to reduce pain through multiple rounds of highly targeted manual stimulation.
Can a Massage Gun be Used to Help With Injuries
If you have a specific ailment that is causing chronic pain, you may be resorting to anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers to help. While such methods can sometimes be useful, massage guns offer an all-natural, side-effect free alternative that can not only help treat your immediate muscle tension but can also help your body heal.
Ailments common to massage gun users include:
Bicep tendonitis might begin as a minor ailment, but it is not a problem you want to ignore. Why? Because chronic muscle tension from bicep tendonitis may be an early warning sign that you are vulnerable to a more serious muscle tear. Complete or partial bicep tear is the type of injury you should do your best to try and avoid, especially if you are a professional athlete or high-level weightlifter.
There are small, fluid sacks that pad and cushion your joints. These sacks are called a bursa. Sometimes due to overuse or trauma, your bursa can become inflamed. This is a conditional called Bursitis. Bursitis can be painful and reduce your mobility as it is most common in areas like the knees and elbows. Massage guns can potentially help those suffering from Bursitis by stimulating blood circulation and blood flow to the areas surrounding the inflamed bursa. While direct massage is not generally recommended for Bursitis, massaging the area around the pain center can be beneficial both in pain reduction and in reducing inflammation.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. Many different types of people suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, but it is perhaps most associated with office workers who spend lots of time typing on their computers. Carpal Tunnel may not qualify as a major ailment. But, for those who suffer from it, the syndrome can be quite a nuisance and can, in some cases, even affect your work and productivity. Thankfully, with the help of a percussion massage gun, you can alleviate symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome both immediately and in the long-term.
Hamstring injuries can be quite serious for athletes and those required to spend a lot of their time standing up or walking around. Often the result of “cold" movements, many hamstring injuries can be avoided with the use of a massage gun prior to physical activity. Massage guns work as an effective way to activate muscles prior to a performance, which helps prepare them and reduces the chance of injury. For those who have already sustained a hamstring injury, a massage device can help you manage the pain and may even improve your muscle recovery time.
Plantar fasciitis occurs as the result of an inflamed band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. Those who suffer from plantar fasciitis experience major foot pain and may even have trouble walking. The regular use of a massage gun on your feet can help address plantar fasciitis pain.
Shin splints are highly common among runners, basketball players, football players, and other athletes. If you spend lots of time running, jogging, or sprinting, you are potentially at risk for shin splints. While proper footwear and good running form will both help you avoid shin splints, a massage gun can help treat existing shin splints and, if used prior to physical exercise, can help activate the muscles in your legs to avoid developing shin splints in the first place.
You don’t need to be Roger Federer to develop tennis elbow. The condition occurs when tendons in and surrounding your elbow become overloaded. Tennis elbow is usually located on the outside of the elbow and happens after continuous repetitive movements. Massage guns are becoming a go-to tool for sufferers of tennis elbow as they provide immediate relief as well as a long-term alternative to pain-killers and anti-inflammatory medications.
Upper Body Massage Gun Usage
People find it beneficial to use their massage guns on the following upper body muscles and muscle groups:
- Chest: The pectorals (pecs) in the chest are large muscles involved in a variety of movements. A massage therapy gun can be used on your chest muscles either to reduce lactic acid build-up after a hard day in the gym or for muscle activation prior to working out.
- Deltoids: Your deltoids are a large muscle group located in your shoulders. While it is important to train your shoulders, overhead exercises are especially risky and can lead to injury if you and your muscles are not prepared. Massage guns can help “wake up" your deltoid muscles and prepare them for exercise.
- Neck: Neck injuries are common, not just among athletes and bodybuilders, but also drivers and office workers. Massage guns can provide tremendous relief to those suffering from major or minor neck injuries.
- Arms: Your biceps, triceps, and forearms muscles are all big considerations in the gym and may often be sore from lactic acid build-up and general muscle breakdown. Massage guns can help reduce muscle soreness and amplify your results.
- Upper or Lower Back: Back pain is one of, if not the, most common medical complaint. Whether you have an acute injury or experience chronic back pain during your commute or at work, a massage gun can help alleviate your symptoms and offer pain relief to help you get back to living pain-free.
Lower Body Massage Gun Usage
You can use a massage gun on your lower body muscles as well, including:
- Hamstrings: It is especially important to use stretching and a massage gun to activate your hamstrings prior to intense physical exercise.
- IT Band: IT band injuries are common and can be painful. You can reduce your risk of injuring your IT band by using a massage gun for muscle activation, or if your IT band is already injured, a massage gun can help reduce your pain and improve your recovery time.
- Glutes: Your glutes are one of the largest muscle groups in the body. A massage gun can help reduce the soreness you may experience in your glutes as a result of sustained weightlifting and exercise.
Massage guns offer natural, side-effect free results to sufferers of acute and chronic pain. They are also good for muscle activation and injury prevention. By incorporating a massage gun into your daily physical routine, you will feel better, perform better, and be less likely to get injured in the future.