There’s nothing better than seeking the services of a health professional if you regularly suffer from aches and pains, especially if they’re self-induced by strenuous workout sessions. However, with time and money being equally tight at the moment, it’s also worth looking at the best massage guns.
These great little gadgets offer percussive massage as and when you need it and are a great way to supplement treatment from a massage therapist or physiotherapist if you’re in a position to use one. Buying yourself a percussive massage gun certainly can’t replace the skillset of a trained professional, but if you’re looking for relief after sports sessions, or simply want to tackle everyday aches and pains, they’re a handy item to have at home or in your gym bag.
Using a percussive massage gun is pretty straightforward too. Depending on the model, you should get a selection of interchangeable attachments. These heads can be used to tackle different areas, which work in tandem with different speed or intensity settings from the motor in the gun to deliver massage therapy.
It’s crucial to follow any instructions supplied with the massage gun: you should also use it for shorter periods of time, rather than prolonged periods of massage. A supporting manual or app that comes with the gun will offer guidance on this front, and it’s also vital to concentrate on massaging muscle tissue, as opposed to bones, joints, tendons, or nerves.
1. A massage gun can help with post-workout recovery
Jessica Stevens, top personal trainer and ambassador for Snap Fitness and Core Balance, recommends using a massage gun to speed up recovery. She said: “Regular use of a massage gun will attain better results in the long run and aid muscle recovery faster.
Research from the University of Winchester reviewing 39 different studies agrees, finding: "It was found that handheld percussive massage devices are the most effective method of increasing lower limb range of motion compared to foam rolling and other self-myofascial protocols." It's the most effective form of post-exercise self-massage, getting you back in the gym faster.
2. A massage gun can help reduce DOMS
Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, can frequently remind you just how much you’ve been working out. DOMS can be experienced for up to 72 hours after the exercise is complete, especially if it has been a particularly intense workout session.
If you’re not able to get access to a physiotherapist, then massage guns can be a great go-to solution for reducing pain and soreness. In turn, this improves your performance in the gym as your exercise routine isn't frequently halted by persistent pain.
3. A massage gun can boost mobility
While it’s not good to use a massage gun on bones and harder joint areas, if you concentrate on the right muscle it can help with the bigger picture of improving overall mobility. Research into osteoarthritis has found massage to be beneficial for improving your range of motion, which has more to do with tight muscle than it does bone health.
A relaxed, warm muscle allows a free range of motion, reducing your risk of injury. Of course, it's important to make sure you're performing some stretching exercises regularly alongside massage to take advantage of this newfound mobility. A good stretch not only reduces your risk of injury, but also improves blood flow and muscle health.
4. It reduces inflammation
When our muscles are sore, they become inflamed due to micro-tears in the muscle tissue caused by exercise. Don't worry: this is perfectly normal. Massage works on DOMS because it can reduce this inflammation, not because it clears lactic acid from your muscles or anything else.
Research from McMaster University has found that "while massage is well accepted as a therapy for relieving muscle tension and pain, the researchers delved deeper to find it also triggers biochemical sensors that can send inflammation-reducing signals to muscle cells."
However, this goes deeper than DOMS. Massage might be able to reduce or slow down life-shortening chronic inflammation caused by age, poor diet and other lifestyle factors, so a regular session with a massage gun could literally lengthen your life.
5. A massage gun can help promote blood flow
The ‘pummeling’ effect of a massage gun can help with blood flow, which is instrumental in speeding up muscle recovery. One study found that there were benefits associated with vibration massage including skin blood flow and the production of nitric oxide, which is essential for circulation.
“An effective way to loosen muscles and therefore any pain would be to massage the affected area,” Stevens explains. “The difference with a massage gun is the rate and depth the device is able to achieve in comparison to a masseuse.
"Using the device increases blood flow to the treated area, which can help you to achieve enhanced flexibility, range of motion, and a faster recovery time post-workout. Some unsung benefits [of better circulation] include ease of stress, general tension, and better sleep.”
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Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.