How Do Massage Guns Work? Ultimate Guide to Percussive Therapy
Massage guns have taken the fitness world by storm, from professional athletes massaging their muscles on the bench to regulars at your local gym jumpstarting their recovery after a hard training session.
The percussive therapy that massage guns like the Theragun Pro and Hypervolt provide have found their way to being a staple in many athletes’ gym bags. But how do these devices work, and are they worth the investment?
This article will break down everything you need to know about massage guns and percussive therapy, including:
- What Is Percussive Therapy?
- How Massage Guns Work
- The Benefits of Massage Guns
- When to Use Massage Guns
- Are Massage Guns Worth It?
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What Is Percussive Therapy?
Percussive therapy stimulates nerve receptors in your muscles by delivering rapid pulses of concentrated pressure, at various amplitudes, directly onto the targeted tissues.
The stimulation of the nerve receptors can improve the flow of fluids in your body’s circulatory and lymphatic systems. The percussive pulses also aid in releasing thickened fascia and connective tissues.
Improved blood flow in the circulatory system provides your muscles with increased levels of oxygen and the essential nutrients they need to repair themselves. Additionally, improved lymphatic circulation improves your body’s immune and inflammatory responses.
Combine the two and add in the benefits of fascia and connective tissue release – and you have an excellent environment in your body to promote tissue repair.
How Percussion Massage Guns Work
Massage guns take the principles of percussion therapy and package them into small, simple to use handheld devices. It’s a convenient tool that provides relief and promotes recovery in even the hardest-to-reach locations on your body.
Traditionally, to get the benefits you can receive from a massage gun, you would have to regularly book a trip to see your massage therapist. Since that’s unrealistic for most people, having a device you can use yourself allows you to work it into your daily routine. Just like foam rolling and stretching, consistency can help you get the long-term benefits from percussive therapy.
With massage guns that come with a wide variety of head attachments and adjustable handle angles, you can now have a powerful tool that conveniently improves your mobility and recovery right in your gym bag.
Most massage guns on the market provide different vibration amplitudes, which lets you dial down the intensity to prime your muscles before a workout or increase the pressure to jumpstart your recovery after a hard training session.
Massage Gun Benefits:
- Improving blood and lymph circulation
- Releasing muscle fascia and connective tissue
- Accelerating muscle repair and workout recovery
- Improving range of motion
- Clearing lactate (lactic acid)
- Reducing soreness
- Relieving muscle stiffness and spasms
- Activation of the nervous system
- Improving immunity
- Reducing stress and improving sleep
- Reducing pain
When to Use a Massage Gun
Before starting any new fitness or recovery protocol, suspect an injury, feel any form of pain, or have significant immobility, you should always begin by talking with your doctor or preferred healthcare professional right away.
Because of the versatility of massage guns that come with an array of device attachments as well as variable speeds and pressures – you can find benefits spanning the timeline from before your workout to right before you go to bed.
- Before Training: To warm up and prime your body for optimal output and opening up your range of motion.
- During Training: To help improve circulation and re-oxygenate fatigued muscles.
- After Training: To accelerate the recovery process and aid in removing lactate (lactic acid.)
- When You’re Sore: To help break down fascia and connective tissues that are keeping you tight and immobile.
- Before Bed: To help downregulate the nervous system to relax and jumpstart the recovery process while you sleep.
Are Massage Guns Worth It?
An investment in a massage gun is an investment in maximizing the hard work you put into each training session. If you’re looking for a fantastic buyer’s guide to the Theragun lineup, checkout this comparison here.
But unlike less expensive myofascial release devices like foam rollers, massage guns come with a much larger price tag. So it’s a reasonable step to evaluate the return on your investment before making the leap.
It’s a good idea to take a look at your personal health and fitness goals. If you’re a serious athlete already laser-focused on your mobility and recovery, the answer to that question is a no-brainer.
But if you’re just getting started discovering the benefits you can get from improving your mobility or from self-myofascial release. In that case, there could be more inexpensive ways to start. If that’s you, take a look at our full overview of self-myofascial release.
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