Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS

Author, Expert Board Member

  • Education: University of Washington, Bastyr University
  • Expertise: Physical Therapy, Orthopedics, Fitness

Bio:

Alex Stone is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA). He currently practices orthopedics in Bellevue, Washington, and manages an online health coaching business via social media (@dr.alexstone). He is passionate about health science education and general health/wellness optimization.

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A woman holding on her hand a Theragun Mini Massager to relief tension from her tired Shoulder

12 Massage Gun Benefits Revealed: Drawbacks & Things to Keep in Mind

Hello, and welcome to another article on percussion massage guns.

In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of massage guns and cover their drawbacks. If you’re considering purchasing a massager, then understanding the benefits and limitations of how percussive therapy works is necessary before choosing your device.

Percussive Therapy Basics

Massage guns are electronic devices often used to relieve pain and improve blood circulation. They do this by producing powerful vibrations that are applied to the skin with the help of a massage gun head.

Hand-held massagers are a fantastic alternative to other wellness tools like the foam roller.

Unlike high-end foam rollers that use vibration therapy, massage gun therapy provides deeper relief. Known as percussion therapy, massage guns offer similar benefits and relief to what a massage therapist could provide.

So, let us see just how beneficial percussive therapy is. We will discuss both the health benefits as well as practical benefits.


Massage Gun Benefits You Should Know

Let’s start with health benefits, shall we?


1. Relaxation and Overall Wellness of Body and Mind

There are many ways a massage gun can improve overall wellness, and we’ve listed them below.

  • Stress Relief
    A massage gun can help the body release dopamine and serotonin when done correctly, especially by a massage therapist. 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
    It’s no secret that quality sleep is essential for maintaining overall wellness.  Sleep is vital 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 are limited studies on how percussive therapy impacts the immune system. However, we know percussive therapy helps to improve blood circulation (we’ll talk about this later). Because of enhanced circulation, white blood cells and other immunity factors can travel through body tissue more effectively, potentially improving the body’s immune response during stress.
  • Increased Focus
    Because percussive massage therapy may improve circulation and blood oxygen levels, your ability to maintain focus may also improve.
A Woman holding with her hand a Theragun Mini Massage Gun to relief Shoulder pain
Massage guns can help in general body relaxation.

The great thing is that to achieve all this, all you need is a good percussion massager. Now, to get better results for some of these benefits, you’ll probably need a therapist or someone with some deep tissue massage therapy knowledge.

What you won’t need is a big, expensive device. A compact mini massager like the Ekrin Bantam has all the features to give you a thorough massage.

For the full-size version, check out the B37 model, which we voted this year’s best value massage gun.

A woman having her back massaged with an Ekrin Bantam hand-held massager.
A percussion massager is a wellness tool for your body and mind.

2. Increased Blood and Lymphatic Circulation

A less-talked-about but equally important advantage of massage gun therapy is improved blood circulation.

Efficient circulation assists the transportation of blood, which delivers nutrients to promote a healthy body.

Additionally, improved blood circulation also means better oxygen supply throughout the body. These nutrients and oxygen are needed for muscle repair and efficient body function.

Hand-held massagers are known to improve the blood flow (citations 2 & 3) to the section of your body to which the device is applied. However, a full body massage with a massage gun may lead to better circulation throughout the body.

Poor blood circulation has adverse effects on your overall health. Some signs that your circulatory system is impaired include:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Swollen legs and arms
  • Lack of focus and concentration
  • Painful muscle cramps
  • Cold feet and arms
  • If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult a licensed medical professional before participating in exercise or percussive massage therapy.

Lymphatic stimulation is also very important for maintaining a healthy body and mind.

The lymphatic system(7) includes several lymph nodes placed throughout various areas of your body. These nodes act as little bunkers that store lymphocytes needed to fight infections.

Massage gun therapy has the potential to stimulate these nodes, which in turn may help circulate the lymphatic fluids to areas of the body where they are needed. 

Since each individual body has a different amount of skin, fat, muscle, and connective tissue, the size of a massage gun will vary widely depending on treatment goals. A larger person looking for deep stimulation may need a larger, more powerful massage gun, while a smaller person may only require a miniature massage gun with less power.

We have a separate post dedicated to massage guns for lymphatic drainage – check it out.


3. Muscle Strength and Mass

Anyone who works out, especially those who lift weights, knows that you must lift heavier weights more often to increase muscle strength and mass.

However, pushing the envelope means you have to endure the aftermath. Usually, these are painful aches within the muscles – we call this Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMs), which we will discuss later.

This is where a massage gun can greatly benefit, as massaging your body after strenuous activity helps alleviate soreness and promote recovery(4,5).

This means you can keep challenging yourself in the gym even more. This will typically result in more strength and bigger muscles.

Obviously, there are other important recovery factors, such as diet and rest, but having a gym massage gun at your disposal is a huge plus.

Our Advice

We recommend a deep percussive massage gun for improved muscular recovery. We have reviewed some, such as the Ekrin B37 or the Achedaway Pro (the one from the photo).

A man self-treating Sciatica Pain with an AchedAway Pro Massage Guns
A deep tissue massage gun in action (Achedaway Pro).

4. Muscle Soreness

DOMs can be a real pain and can rage on for up to three days after a heavy workout. Deep tissue massages can greatly reduce this pain and get you going again.

According to a 2014 study(1), vibration therapy can:

  • Greatly improves muscle endurance,
  • increase power, and
  • improve kinesthetic awareness.

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 works directly over muscle tissue and has the potential to provide much stronger, specific results. The current research on vibration therapy is a good indicator that percussive therapy may be a much more effective treatment option.

When you are actually experiencing real-time muscle pain, percussive therapy can help 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.


5. Improved Sports Performance

Massage guns have become extremely popular in recent years, mostly thanks to athlete endorsements. High-performing athletes have promoted the benefits of hand-held massagers for pain relief and improved performance.

And we’re not talking about just any athletes or sports people; top performers have endorsed these devices – Marcus Rashford (the world-famous soccer player) is a good example. 

A man using an Urikar Pro 2 massage gun on his Biceps to treat muscle soreness
Massage guns can improve sports performance.

6. 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.

Using them during rehabilitation is supplementary to the standard methods of rehabilitation therapy. They assist in achieving improved healing and recuperation of atrophied or damaged 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 may be quicker.

Some examples of conditions which may benefit from the use of a massage gun are:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • TMJ syndrome
  • Nonspecific low back pack
  • Shin Splints 
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A man using A Massage Gun to help Break Up Scar Tissue
Percussion massagers are recommended for rehabilitation treatment.

Related posts worth reading:


7. Pain Relief

It’s not all painkillers, needles, and rigorous dietary supplementation when it comes to relieving pain. There are many less-invasive and comforting ways to alleviate chronic pain.

According to our chiropractic expert Gary:

Finding the right massage gun, along with the guidance of experienced rehabilitation specialists ((such as massage therapist, physical therapist, chiropractors, etc.), may be just what you need to treat your pain effectively.

With the help of your massage gun, you can target the painful area to improve circulation and reduce stiffness around joints and muscles. Although the area may be slightly uncomfortable initially, our chiropractic expert assures us that it will become more tolerable as it relaxes.

Over time, and with the careful use of your massage device, you may begin to notice significant improvements in tissue relaxation and enhanced function of muscles or joints, as confirmed by our chiropractic expert’s observations in clinical practice.


8. Nervous System Stimulation

Nerve function is crucial for leading a long and healthy life. Deep tissue massage therapy can stimulate the nervous system and potentially improve certain essential functions.

One potential effect of percussive therapy is simulating the production or release of feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Optimal levels of these hormones(5) mean sharper focus and a generally elevated mood.

The conclusion is that percussion therapy may help you chill out in the evening after a long day, feel better the next morning, and overall improve your mental wellbeing over time. The key to success is to use it regularly in your daily routine.


9. 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 feel tuckered, nauseated, and cramped.

This happens when there isn’t enough oxygen in the body’s muscles, which is essential to convert newly formed lactate into energy. As a result, lactic acid build-up happens faster than the body can burn it up.

A massage gun can help dispel the extra lactic acid in the circulatory system and get you going again. This also can potentially reduce DOMs, which may happen later.


10. 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. More importantly, however, percussive therapy has been reported to ease the pain around these tissues.

As a result, this technique is not only recommended for sports injuries but for post-surgery scar tissue treatment as well.

We have a dedicated post on this topic. Make sure to check it out here: Massage Gun for Scar Tissue – What a PT Wants You to Know.


11. Improved Flexibility

Deep tissue massage provided by massage guns can help push out waste, improve blood circulation, and release tension. This, in turn, helps improve tissue metabolism. This healthy exchange aids in preventing injuries and also likely hasten tissue repair.

Improved tissue health will support more regular exercise and, with the correct training, can lead to improved flexibility. Massage guns are also frequently used while stretching to help improve the depth of stretch, potentially leading to improved muscle and joint flexibility.

Additionally, we recently published an article on massage guns for arthritis, highlighting the possible benefits to joint pain and range of motion.


12. Injury Prevention

Not only can massage guns be used to promote recovery post-workout, but they can also be used for injury prevention before your workout. A percussion massager can be used on the muscle to warm up.

The additional blood flow created from using the device is a great way to prime your muscles for training (runners can greatly appreciate it).

This greatly reduces the risk of injury.

An athlete holding on his hand an Air 2 Mini Massager Used To Warm Up Muscles Before Running
Massage guns can be used to accelerate warm-up and recovery.

Practical Percussion Therapy Benefits

Apart from the health benefits percussive therapy can provide, there are practical reasons why you may want to own one.

Some of them are:

  • They are good substitutes for a massage therapist. We recommend getting a massage from a professional, but if you know what you are doing, a massage gun is an inexpensive therapist or chiropractor. You can use one anytime you need to without worrying about the cost associated with a practitioner.
    IMPORTANT: We are not suggesting these tools are better than or can replace the expertise of professional therapists. We advocate for massage guns in addition to your wellness routine, offering support alongside the skilled care provided by therapists or chiropractors.
  • They are at your disposal at home. Sometimes, leaving home for a massage can be a hassle, especially when you are not feeling like it, it’s too late, or you 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 ones. Again, this emphasizes how cheap having a massage gun can be. If visiting a therapist 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 almost anywhere. Sure, some are heavy and bulky, but mini massage guns offer portability.
  • You get direct feedback when massaging yourself, and you learn about your body as you do so. This is highly recommended if you want to achieve a healthy life.

Are There Any Cons of Massage Guns?

OK, we just discussed some key massage gun benefits, but what about the cons?

  • The risk of incorrect use.
    You’ll notice that we have insisted on knowing what you are doing with a massage gun. It’s a tool, meaning 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, using a percussion massager on injuries like sprains, broken bones, or large swellings is not recommended. Chronic pain conditions like hypertension, varicose veins, rheumatoid arthritis, and others could become worse. Find out from a doctor about your condition before using one.
  • Potential for causing itchy skin.
    Itchy skin can occur if you use the massage gun for an extended period of time or in a high setting. This is often due to increased blood flow and stimulation of nerve endings. If you experience this, adjusting the device use or consulting our detailed post on managing itchy skin after using a massage gun may help mitigate the issue.
  • Massage guns can be heavy and bulky.
    This is true; some massage guns can be rather bulky and heavy, which makes using them a tough task. However, some are compact and light. You can also have mini massage guns should the full-sized ones prove too heavy for you. 
  • High initial price point.
    This was an issue when these devices first entered the market. However, we can confirm that prices have significantly decreased with the availability of many devices.

    Still, some options, like the Theragun Pro, remain a bit pricey. Yet, it’s worth noting that Theragun offers premium quality. There are, however, alternatives that are just as effective and often of comparable quality but at a much lower price. In fact, the device we voted as the best massage gun for 2024 (Ekrin B37) is actually half the price of the Theragun Pro.
two arms holding a theragun pro & an ekrin b37s side-by-side for comparison purposes
A high-quality massage gun doesn’t have to cost $600 – Ekrin B37S is half the price, but just as good as the top-shelf Theragun Pro. Learn more: Ekrin B37S Review.

Is Percussion Therapy Safe?

Having gone through all the rap about how beneficial massage gun therapy is, can we recommend it? Absolutely!

When used correctly, percussion therapy is one of the top methods for muscle recovery. Moreover, we believe it wise to consult an expert if you have doubts about your own ability to use these devices.

Lastly, avoid overdoing it. When you notice the area you’re massaging turning red or losing sensation, it’s probably a good sign that you need to move on to another body part.

Don’t hold the device over one spot for more than 20 seconds. Keep it moving over the skin. Many companies recommend limiting time spent on any single area of the body to a few minute at most.

A seated senior person having his back pain treated by a massage therapist using a Theragun mini
Percussion therapy is safe and effective for our beloved seniors (pictured: Theragun mini).

General Precautions / Things to Keep in Mind

  • Massage guns can cause pain.
    A new onset of pain usually means you are applying too much pressure or the speed is too high. Check that you are applying just the right pressure based on the body area you are massaging.
  • Avoid touching nerves.
    When you feel an electric shock-like pain, stop immediately.
  • Do not use them directly on bony areas.
    The spine, neck, fractures, or wounds.
  • Only use them on muscles for completely assured safety; otherwise, consult an expert.
  • Do not use them on an area that has impaired sensation.
    Don’t continue massaging that area if you are not getting precise sensorial feedback. You risk causing more damage than repair.
  • Do not use massage guns if you are on blood thinners
    For example, heparin and warfarin prescriptions. 
  • Seek medical advice first before using a massage gun if you have:
    • An inflammatory disorder
    • Warfarin and heparin prescription
    • Muscle strain, varicose veins, ligament sprain, high blood pressure, and conditions affecting blood vessels like thrombosis.

Why You Should Get the Right Massage Gun

We may spend ages debating the benefits and how you should take care of them when using them. However, it goes without saying that different people have different needs. That’s why getting the right device makes a huge difference, not just in addressing your pain points but also in avoiding injury in the process.

There are a few things that you should know when you go out to buy one. 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 device. The higher the number here, the deeper it can hit. This usually combines with the following:
  • Amplitude: Which is the distance 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 device can do.

If you have big muscles, then a device with a higher stall force and longer amplitude will serve you well. The Achedaway Pro has a stall force of 60+lbs. and a 16mm amplitude. These are the top features of a hand-held massager.

On the other hand, if you are looking for something to relax or get the blood flowing, then you probably just need a mini massage gun. The Ekrin Bantam will be perfect. Smaller devices have lower stall force and shorter amplitudes compared to their larger counterparts, offering a more vibrational experience; plus, they are very portable.

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.


Conclusion

As you can see, the number of massage gun benefits vastly outnumber concerns or disadvantages. For us, however, and I’m sure most users as well, one of the greatest benefits of percussion massagers is that you can perform deep tissue therapy on yourself.

Sometimes, you 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 heal your muscles and relieve pain efficiently.

We all get stressed from daily life activities. However, failure to manage this stress properly could hurt your health over time. A tool like a massage gun could be a hack to manage stress successfully and in the most convenient way while getting the other benefits.


Article Sources
  1. 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
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939523/
  2. 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
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4764225/
  3. 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
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21042329/
  4. 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
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21849376/
  5. Vibration therapy: clinical applications in bone
    William R Thompson, Sherwin S Yen, Janet Rubin
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25354044/
  6. Short-term effects of vibration therapy on motor impairments in Parkinson’s disease
    Lauren K King, Quincy J Almeida, Heidi Ahonen
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20037223/
  7. Lymphatic System Flows
    James E. Moore, Jr. and  Christopher D. Bertram
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5922450/

NOTE: We only use high-quality sources and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to support the facts within our articles.

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Post Update History

Here's a quick rundown of all the tweaks and edits we've made to this article to keep it accurate and up-to-date!

Current version.

February 15, 2024 Some text changes and corrections for content clarity and improved readability. New in-house photos for better visual experience. Enhanced linking and improved navigation. (Author: Greg)

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luke massagegunadvice

Luke Deszczulka

luke massagegunadvice
Luke Deszczulka

Hi! I'm Luke, a Biomedical Engineer with a passion for sports. I'm a lead reviewer for massage guns and wellness tech products at Massage Gun Advice. Alongside a dedicated Experts Board, I ensures each review is the result of thorough testing, in-depth research, and rigorous fact-checking, providing our readers with reliable and comprehensive insights.

Articles: 68

3 Comments

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