Hello and welcome to yet another post on our percussion massage gun blog. In this one we’ll look at massage gun benefits. Now, we’re Massage Gun Advice and we love talking about massage guns.
Massage guns are electronic devices that are often used by massage therapists to relieve pain and improve blood circulation. They do this by producing vibrations that are applied to the skin with the help of a massage gun head.
But really, it’s not just vibrations with massage guns. Unlike the high-end foam rollers that have some sort of vibration therapy, massage guns offer something deeper than that.
These deeper vibrations is what is famously known as percussion therapy. This is actually why they’re also called percussion massagers. A therapist may be able to offer a deep massage, but a massage gun in hand takes it a notch higher.
These devices, however, are not just found in spas and massage parlors, they’ve actually made a name for themselves because of the endorsements from athletes and celebrities. Because of this, they’ve become sort of DIY therapists in themselves.
They’re a great alternative to other wellness tools like the foam roller. If you cannot carry your therapist a long, you can definitely bring a massage gun with you.
So let us see just how beneficial percussive therapy with massage guns is. We will discuss both health benefits as well as practical benefits of massage guns.
Massage Gun Benefits You Should Know
- Relaxation and Overall Wellness of Body and Mind
- Increased Blood and Lymphatic Circulation
- Muscle Strength and Mass
- Muscle Soreness
- Improved Sports Performance
- Rehabilitation – Post Injury Care
- Pain Relief
- Nervous System Stimulation
- Facilitates Lactic Acid Release
- Breaks Up Scar Tissue
- Improved Flexibility
- Injury Prevention
- Practical Percussion Therapy Benefits
- Are There Any Cons of Massage Guns?
- Is Percussion Therapy Safe?
- General Precautions / Things to Keep in Mind
- Why You Should Get the Right Massage Gun
- Massage Gun Benefits – The Bottom Line
Massage Gun Benefits You Should Know
Let’s start with health benefits, shall we?
Relaxation and Overall Wellness of Body and Mind
You can never understate the importance of having peace of body and mind. In fact, the reason we work so hard is to find a certain level of bliss within and outside of ourselves.
What else matters, right? A percussion massager is a wellness tool that does a good job to give you that body and mind peace. How?
- Stress Relief
When done correctly, especially by a massage therapist, massage guns can help the body release dopamine and serotonin. These two chemicals are responsible for happiness and general body relaxation. But you need to know the right spots to hit and with just the right amount of pressure.
- Improved Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a real menace especially today. There’s just so much to do that irregular sleeping patterns have become something we have to deal with constantly. We won’t go into how much you need to sleep well but we’ll mention that sleep is important for focus, alertness, libido, cardiovascular health, and cognitive function. Massaging your body regularly releases serotonin which keeps you relaxed. If you get it right, the body also releases melatonin, a chemical responsible for keeping you asleep when you need to be.
- Overall Boost On The Immune System
There is yet to be intensive studies on how percussive therapy impacts the immune system. However, we know that massage guns help improve blood circulation (we’ll talk about this later). This means that white blood cells and the lymphocytes that fight off bacterial infection can get through the body faster. The relaxation effect of percussive therapy generally means that the body is always ready to fend off attacks.
- Increased Focus
Because percussive therapy helps improve blood circulation, it also then means that your brain is receiving the right amount of oxygen it needs to perform at optimum levels. An increase in oxygen within the brain helps improve cognitive function which brings about a heightened sense of focus.
The good part is that to achieve all this, all you need is a good percussion massager. Now, for better results for some of these benefits, you’ll probably need a therapist or someone with some deep tissue massage therapy knowledge.
However, what you’ll not need is a big expensive massage gun. A nice mini gun like the Ekrin Bantam has all the features to give you a thorough massage.
Increased Blood and Lymphatic Circulation
This is probably the biggest advantage of massage gun therapy. Everything is centered on efficient blood circulation.
The pathway to a lively body is within the blood vessels, the better the pathways the faster the transportation of blood and nutrients and consequently the healthier the body.
Massage guns are known to improve the blood flow(2,3) within a section of your body. However, a full body massage with these devices ensures better circulation throughout the body.
Better blood circulation also means better nutrients and oxygen supply within the body. The nutrients and oxygen are needed for muscle repair and efficient body function.
Poor blood circulation has adverse effects on your overall health. Some signs that your blood is not flowing as it should through your body include:
- Constant fatigue
- Swollen legs and arms
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Painful muscle cramps
- Cold feet and arms
Lymphatic stimulation is also very important if you are going to have a healthy body and mind. The lymphatic system(7) barely gets a mention by those who talk about these things.
However, there are several lymph nodes hidden away within the human body. These nodes act as little bunkers that store the weaponry needed to fight infections within the body.
They are tucked away deep within the body or sometimes underneath the skin. These weapons are known as lymphocytes.
Massage gun therapy helps stimulate these nodes which in turn release the lymphatic fluids to areas of the body where they are needed.
Here also, the choice of a massage gun is important. For blood flow stimulation you’ll probably just need a mini massage gun.
For deep lymphatic stimulation, you may need a slightly powerful massage gun. Also, note that the level of intensity needed for both cases may vary.
Muscle Strength and Mass
Anyone who works out, especially if you are into lifting weights, knows that if you want to increase muscle strength and mass you have to go heavy and longer.
However, pushing the envelope means you have to endure the aftermath. Usually painful aches within the muscles – we call this Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS, which we will discuss later. Really gives the meaning to the “no pain no gain slogan”.
But since you have your massage gun to take care of yourself after a heavy workout, there is no reason to worry about the soreness(4,5).
This means you can keep challenging yourself in the gym even more. Results will be bigger muscles and a powerful body.
Obviously there are other things such as diet and rest, but a massage gun is a huge plus.
DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness can be a real pain, and can rage on for up to three days after a heavy workout. Massage gun therapy can greatly reduce this pain and get you going again.
According to a study in 2014(1), vibration therapy can greatly improve muscle endurance, give you power, and improve kinesthetic awareness. This in turn greatly improves muscular performance thus rendering DOMS a non-issue.
But wait a minute, I thought percussion massagers offer percussive therapy and not vibration therapy? Well, don’t overthink this too much.
Both these therapies use the same mechanism. However, percussive therapy goes a long way within the muscle for even better results. If vibration therapy works well, percussive therapy is even better.
In the case where you are actually experiencing real-time muscle pain, percussive therapy works by breaking up the pain signals sent by your brain to your body.
It’s more or less the same thing as what happens when you hit your head on a hard object and rub the painful spot with your hand. Maybe not exactly, but you get the point.
Improved Sports Performance
We know about massage guns because athletes just will not shut up about them. In some way these devices wouldn’t have gathered any traction if they didn’t talk about them. And we’re not talking about any athletes or sports people, top performers have endorsed these guns – Marcus Rashford is a good example.
Because massage guns are great for pain relief and reducing muscle soreness, it’s easy to train better and consequently perform better.
Efficient blood circulation offered by percussive therapy means the body works in tip top form. Any athlete who is a top performer will tell you just how important it is to have a relaxed body.
Rehabilitation – Post Injury Care
Massage gun therapy is highly recommended for rehabilitation treatment because it not only hastens recovery, but can also prevent re-injury.
Apparently massage gun use during rehabilitation is supplementary to the standard methods of rehabilitation therapy. They advance healing and recuperation of atrophied muscles caused by trauma or illness.
Because percussion therapy facilitates efficient circulation within those areas (fascial tissues and muscles), flexibility is enhanced and the healing process is hastened.
It’s recommended to use massage guns if your injuries are related to:
- Muscle soreness
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- TMJ syndrome
- Herniated or bulging discs
- Shin Splints
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
It’s not all painkillers, needles, and rigorous dietary supplementation when it comes to relieving pain. There can be a more natural and soothing way to alleviate chronic pains.
What you need is the right massage gun and perhaps an experienced massage therapist.
You can gently massage the pain area to soften stiff joints and increase circulation. The initial feeling may be pins-and-needles sensation as the muscle enlarges and contracts round the distended joints.
But with time, and with careful targeted therapy, the tissue relaxes as new oxygenated blood flushes in.
Nervous System Stimulation
Nerve function is crucial if you want to lead a long and healthy life. Massage gun therapy can stimulate the nervous system and get it working in tip-top form.
The nervous system works directly with the brain to give our body the feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. A good amount of these chemicals(5) means sharper focus and a generally elevated mood.
Facilitates Lactic Acid Release
Literally every athlete or gym enthusiast will tell you how frustrating it can be when you are working out and suddenly you feel tuckered, nauseated, and cramped.
This happens when there isn’t enough oxygen in the body prompting the body to convert newly formed lactate into energy. The lactic acid build-up happens faster than the body can burn it up.
A massage gun can help dispel the extra lactic acid into the circulatory system and get you going again. This also helps to reduce DOMS that may happen later on.
Breaks Up Scar Tissue
There are accounts, though not backed up by scientific research, that massage gun therapy can be very effective in reducing scar tissue. And not just that, percussive therapy has been reported to ease the pain around these tissues.
As a result, massage gun therapy is not only recommended for sports injuries, but for post-surgery scar tissue treatment as well.
Deep tissue massage provided by massage guns can help dispel harmful fluids, improve blood circulation and release tension. This in turn helps improve tissue metabolism. This healthy exchange aids in preventing injuries and also hastens tissue repair.
This means that as you keep exercising and practicing better dieting, your muscles and joints get stronger and your flexibility soars.
Massage guns can be used before a workout to wake up the muscles. This is a great way to warm up (runners can appreciate it a lot).
Massage gun therapy as a warm-up ensures that your muscles are supplied with enough oxygen.
The massage can also help to raise your muscle temperature which increases flexibility.
This greatly reduces the risk of injury.
Practical Percussion Therapy Benefits
Apart from the health benefits of massage gun therapy, there are practical reasons why you may want to own one of these devices.
Some of them are:
- They are a mirror of a really good massage therapist. We have recommended getting a massage by a professional, but if you know what you are doing, a massage gun is a cheaper therapist or chiropractor. You can use one anytime you need to without having to worry about paying for it any time you have a massage.
- You can use a massage gun at home for self-care. Sometimes leaving home for a massage can be a hassle especially when you are not feeling like it or are simply tired. Just rev on your massage gun and get to work on your muscles.
- You can use them on your family or loved one. Again this just emphasizes how cheap having a massage gun can be. If visiting a SPA is expensive for you, taking your entire family there is even more expensive.
- Have a massage on the go. You can carry a massage gun with you anywhere. Sure others are heavy and bulky, but mini massage guns offer you the option of portability.
- You get direct feedback when massaging yourself. You get to learn about your body as you self-massage. This is highly recommended if you want to achieve a healthy life.
Are There Any Cons of Massage Guns?
OK, so we just discussed some key massage gun benefits, but what about the cons?
Yes, there is a downside to massage guns. However, these can be easily remedied and you can get back to enjoying these famous tools.
Here are some cons of massage guns you should be aware of:
- The risk of incorrect use.
You’ll notice that we have insisted on knowing what you are doing with a massage gun. A massage gun is a tool, and that means it’s only as good as the user. You run the risk of injuring yourself or not getting the desired results. Luckily we have a post on how to use a massage gun properly and effectively. Also, don’t forget to read the instructional manual on how to use the device.
- The risk of aggravating injury or other chronic conditions.
Apart from the injuries we have listed above, it’s not recommended to use a percussion massager on injuries like sprains, broken bones, or large swellings. Chronic pain conditions like hypertension, varicose veins, rheumatoid arthritis, and others could become worse if you use a massage gun. Find out from a doctor about your condition before using a massage gun.
- Massage guns can be heavy and bulky.
This is true, some massage guns can be rather bulky and make using them a tough task. However, there are some that are compact and light. You also have the option of mini guns should the full-sized ones prove too heavy for you.
- High initial price point.
This was a problem when these devices had just hit the market. We can confirm that with many devices now flooding the market, the prices have gone down quite significantly. There are other guns that are a bit pricey still like Theragun Pro. The thing about Theragun though, is that they’re a top gun offering premium quality to the user. But there are alternatives that work even better and very fairly priced.
Is Percussion Therapy Safe?
Having gone through all the rap about how beneficial massage gun therapy is, can we recommend it? Absolutely!
Percussion therapy is one of the top ways for muscle recovery. However, we recommend that you use the gun properly for better results. It’s also wise to consult an expert if you have doubts about your own ability to use these devices.
However, too much of something can be poison and you’ll do well to take care not to overdo the massage. When you notice the area you’re massaging turning red, it’s probably a good sign that you need to move on to another part of the body.
Do not keep the massage gun head over one area for more than 20 seconds. Keep moving the gun over the skin.
General Precautions / Things to Keep in Mind
- Massage guns can cause pain. Too much pain usually means it’s too much. Check that you are applying just the right pressure based on what area of the body you are massaging.
- Avoid touching the nerve. When you feel an electric shock-like pain, stop immediately.
- Do not use a massage gun directly on bony areas, the spine, neck, fractures or wounds.
- Only use them on muscles for complete assured safety. Otherwise consult an expert.
- Do not use a massage gun on an area that has impaired sensation. If you feel you’re not getting precise sensorial feedback, don’t continue massaging that area. Chances are you are doing more damage than repair.
- Do not use massage guns if you are on blood thinners (esp. heparin and warfarin) prescription.
- Seek medical advice first before using a massage gun if you have:
- Inflammation related traumas
- Warfarin and heparin prescription
- Muscle strain, varicose veins, sprains, high blood pressure, and conditions that touch on blood vessels like thrombosis.
Why You Should Get the Right Massage Gun
We may spend ages debating massage gun benefits and how you should take care when using them. However, it goes without saying that different people have different needs. That’s why getting the right gun makes a huge difference, not just in addressing your pain points, but also avoiding injury in the process.
There are a few things that you should know when you go out to buy a massage gun. We have discussed them in most of our guides but these are important:
- Stall force: This is the amount of pressure it takes to stall the motor of a particular gun. The higher the number here, the deeper the massage gun can hit. This usually combines with the;
- Amplitude: Which is the length that the massage gun head travels back and forth as it hits the skin in what we call percussions per minute. The combination of the stall force and the amplitude will often clue you into what the gun can do.
If you have big muscles, then a gun with a higher stall force and longer amplitude will serve you well. The Achedaway Pro has a stall force of 80lbs. and a 15mm amplitude. These are top features for a massage gun. On the other hand, if you are looking for something for relaxation or to just get the blood flowing, then you probably just need a mini massage gun. The Ekrin Bantam will be perfect. Smaller guns have low stall force and shorter amplitudes compared to their larger counterparts.
There are other things to look out for such as the percussion range, the number of speed levels, the number of attachments and others that we have discussed in length in our guides.
Massage Gun Benefits – The Bottom Line
As you can see, the number of massage gun benefits vastly outnumber concerns or disadvantages. For us, however, and I’m sure also for most users as well, one of the greatest benefits of percussion massagers is that you get to perform deep tissue therapy on yourself.
Sometimes you just don’t have the time to visit a masseuse or chiropractor, but need relief immediately. In that case, individualized therapy is your friend. You can combine passive and active recovery methods (the active recovery being you massaging yourself) to get efficient healing of your muscles and relief from pain.
We all get stressed from daily life activities. However, failure to manage this stress properly could hurt your health over time. A massage gun could be a hack to successfully managing stress within the shortest possible time and in the most convenient way while getting the many other benefits attached to it.
List of references:
- To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Shagufta Imtiyaz, Zubia Veqar, and M.Y. Shareef
- Effect of Whole Body Vibration on Skin Blood Flow and Nitric Oxide Production
Paula K. Johnson, MS, J. Brent Feland, PT, PhD, A. Wayne Johnson, PT, PhD, Gary W. Mack, PhD, and Ulrike H. Mitchell, PT, PhD
- Effects of whole-body vibration on blood flow and neuromuscular activity in spinal cord injury
A J Herrero , H Menéndez, L Gil, J Martín, T Martín, D García-López, A Gil-Agudo, P J Marín
- The effects of whole body vibration therapy on bone mineral density and leg muscle strength in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Ricky W K Lau, Lin-Rong Liao, Felix Yu, Tilda Teo, Raymond C K Chung, Marco Y C Pang
- Vibration therapy: clinical applications in bone
William R Thompson, Sherwin S Yen, Janet Rubin
- Short-term effects of vibration therapy on motor impairments in Parkinson’s disease
Lauren K King, Quincy J Almeida, Heidi Ahonen
- Lymphatic System Flows
James E. Moore, Jr. and Christopher D. Bertram