I don’t have great posture – perhaps because I’m tall, perhaps because I’m lazy, or perhaps a combination of both. It’s something that’s only been made worse by working from home, without the watchful eyes of my colleagues to keep me from slouching over my keyboard. That, combined with extra time spent indoors generally, has meant a reappearance of some shoulder pain that first emerged when I was a student.
Avoid bony areas
Only use a percussive massage gun on muscles
Don’t use on injuries
Using a massager on a strain or sprain will make it worse
Keep the head moving
Don't hold the massage gun in one area for too long
Stop if you feel discomfort
Trust your own judgement if it doesn't feel right
I’d always thought of massage guns as something to use after a tough workout to help encourage good blood flow and help recovery – and they certainly are good for that – but over the last year I’ve found that the percussive therapy they deliver is also extremely handy after a long day slumped at a desk.
I’ve been fortunate enough to test quite a lot hand-held massage guns recently, and they all tend to have one thing in common: even on the lowest settings, they give you a real pummelling that can be a little too much for stiff shoulders. That might be fine for large muscle groups, but if you want to work on smaller areas or prefer something a little more gentle.
A mini massage gun like the Power Plate+ is just the ticket, and has become my constant companion while I’m working from my spare bedroom. Its higher settings give you a good, deep massage (despite its long battery life and small size, it’s no weakling), but its lower power options are much more gentle than full-sized massage guns.
It’s also super compact, so you can stash away pretty much anywhere. I found it ideally sized for keeping in my desk drawer, ready to attack tense muscles whenever they strike. It’s just important to be sure you’re doing it properly.
Gently does it
Many massage guns come with booklets describing how to target specific areas, but they’re often tiny and hard to read. Power Plate has its own smartphone app to guide you along the way; select your massage gun from the list provided and you’ll get detailed instructions on the best way to use it, complete with videos. It’s a nice touch that makes life a lot easier.
It pays to be careful, though. Using a massage gun on a bony area is a bad idea, so don’t hit your shoulderblades or (even more importantly) your spine. It’s also important not to use a percussive massager on injuries. It’s fine on muscles that are sore from hard work, but using one on a strain or sprain will only make things worse. Don’t use one if you’re having unexplained pain either – see a doctor instead.
Makers of massage guns also recommend not holding them in one area for too long, to avoid bruising yourself. Instead, keep the head moving – and if it ever feels painful or uncomfortable, stop.
This article is part of TechRadar's Get Fit in 2022 series – a collection of ideas and guides to help get your new year's health goals off to the right start, whatever your current level of fitness.
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Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)