In the fitness world, there are always new pieces of equipment and devices that promise to help you reach your goals faster. One such device is the massage gun.
The percussion massager has become increasingly popular in recent years to aid athletes in their recovery and alleviate muscle soreness and stiffness, injury pain, etc.
There are plenty of models available, like the popular Theragun, and many are available at affordable prices.
If you’re wondering whether the percussion therapy from a massage gun actually works, the definitive science behind it is a bit scarce. Yet, many athletes swear by them!
So what gives?
They are convenient and easy to use from the comfort of your own home. When used and stored properly, massage guns can be used for years and are often recommended to many different kinds of athletes.
In this article, we explore some facts and benefits of percussion massage guns and whether they live up to the hype.
We also review some of the most popular brands on the market to answer the question, do massage guns really work?
What is a Massage Gun?
A massage gun is a powerful at-home massage tool that is easy to handle and you can use to stimulate and massage specific areas of your body/muscles that are suffering. It almost resembles a gun or a drill – and is thus a lot more targeted than a full body massage mat (another recent craze).
Massage guns feature attachable heads that you can change, depending on what part of your body you’d like to target with the massage gun. Often these attachments include standard or large balls, spinal, wedge, hammer, and bullet options, with each designed for use on different parts of your body.
As an example, large balls are great for a larger muscle group, whereas bullet attachments are for the pinpoint treatment of smaller muscles.
Massage guns also offer a range of flexible speeds and settings, meaning you can utilize the gun and enjoy its full potential no matter what your comfort level for massages is.
Your warm-up and relaxation speed will likely be different than your deep muscle tissue speed, as your intended outcome may be different. Having the flexibility of a massage gun at your disposal whenever you see fit makes it a great tool.
The theory behind using a massage gun is that it can help to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. This, in turn, can aid in muscle recovery after a workout.
The science behind this is continuing to develop, but some studies suggest massage guns can be helpful to athletes or any individuals suffering from sports-related muscle tension or minor injuries.
Massage guns can improve performance and aid in healing by reducing muscle soreness and improving inflammation.
How Are Massage Guns Used?
Massage guns are used by placing the gun directly where you are having discomfort. You use your movement and strength to work the gun around the area, while the pulsing settings on the gun help stimulate circulation and movement and reduce stiffness in tissue and muscles.
Massage guns are used by placing the gun directly where you are having discomfort. You use your movement and strength to work the gun around the area, while the pulsing settings on the gun help stimulate blood circulation and movement and reduce stiffness in tissue and muscles.
Most massage guns are charged with a USB or charger attachment and can be used wirelessly for a few minutes–typically 2-5– depending on your preference. They are lightweight and easy to maneuver.
In short, once you learn how much pressure to apply and how to produce a comforting and effective circular motion with your massage gun, you’ll be in total control of the pressure, motion, and duration of your massage.
Using a massage gun is generally more effective than a foam roller, or even a Chirp Wheel, because you can really isolate the area of discomfort.
This is great because if one muscle is particularly sore and another is stiffer, you can alter how you approach your massage to ensure all areas get the custom care they need.
Benefits of a Massage Gun
Massage guns are affordable and simple tools to use that help alleviate muscle stiffness and tension. While prices vary, massage guns typically cost about the same as a meal at a restaurant or small grocery order; on the more expensive end, your massage gun may cost you as much as a few hundred dollars.
Their lifespan and warranty can vary as well, but most models–sometimes more expensive models tend to last longer. When cared for and used properly, most models have the potential to last several years.
They’re also easy to store and operate. Most massage guns come with a charger (or USB attachment) and, once charged, can remain charged for several hours, meaning you get many uses out of one charge!
Massage guns are great for athletes of all ages and body types. Even if you’re tender, you can customize your massage settings based on your preferences to ensure that you’re applying the proper amount of pressure to your irritated area.
As noted, there are several settings/attachments available on massage guns, so you can choose which one feels best for you.
Flexibility is one of the biggest benefits of owning a massage gun, next to owning a device that can lead to immediate pain relief and serve as a recovery aid.
Considerations Before Buying
When you use a massage gun, you must operate and handle the unit for the duration of your massage. You’re in charge of intensity and movement. If you suffer from mobility issues or trouble with flexibility, you may require a buddy to help you get the most out of your massage gun.
While massage guns are thought to be quite safe and effective, there are still ongoing research studies regarding these products. As with any product or service that has to do with the spinal cord and cerebral/neck area, you must proceed with absolute caution when using a massage gun.
Using a massage gun on a sore muscle in your lower back, for example, is less risky than using a massage gun on, say, the base of your neck. If you apply too much force or pressure on your neck, you risk discomfort or even a neck injury.
Always proceed with caution and use minimal pressure when getting started; you can always increase the intensity with a massage gun, and understand that if you’re in pain, you should cease operation immediately.
Speak to your trusted sports or physical therapist or another specialist if you’re unsure about using your massage gun.
Best Massage Guns Available Now
Arguably the most recognizable brand name in the massage gun market, Theragun manufactures several durable, powerful models of percussive therapy instruments to help relieve your pain.
The Theragun Prime, seen here in Best Massage Tech’s review, is a great option for those looking to invest in a quality massage gun.
The Theragun Prime offers five speeds and two hours of continuous use. It’s also ergonomically designed so it fits all grips and easily maneuvers around all bodies. This massage gun also connects to your device through Bluetooth, meaning you’ll be able to customize your massage routine and let the Therabody app understand your preferences and needs with each use.
We like the simple-but-unique design of the Theragun Prime; it’s lightweight, but the curves and handle make it easy to access hard-to-reach spots on your back, upper shoulder area, and lower legs.
Theragun has been used by over 250 sports teams globally, thus making it a top-quality product for percussive therapy that can be trusted by amateur and longtime athletes alike to relieve muscle pain and stiffness.
It’s also been spotlighted on some of the world’s top podcasts – like The Tim Ferriss Show.
This low-cost unit includes settings for 30 different speeds and has ten attachments for different heads. Not only is this option affordable – but it’s quiet and lightweight.
Having a quiet unit is particularly helpful if you’re looking to use your massage gun and don’t want to wake a sleeping family member or in an office. We found that, despite being lightweight, this massage gun was particularly great for legs and calves, specifically when using the round massage head or the crescent massage head.
Additionally, this model holds a charge for up to 10 hours. While you may only be using it for a few minutes at a time, this is a great option for those who may be too busy to remember to constantly charge their massage gun or who want to let fellow gym mates, family members, or friends use their massage gun for relief, too.
The FlyBy deep tissue massage gun features six interchangeable heads to allow maximum relief from your feet and lower legs up to your upper cervical region and all the space in between.
It’s lightweight (1.8lbs) and has four hours of battery life with one charge, so you can easily use it throughout each day and on the go. It’s easy to transport, so you may even opt to bring the FlyBy to the gym to massage away soreness before and after your workout.
We like this model because it’s quiet (about as loud as an electric shaver) and easy to handle. It boasts great features and flexibility without breaking the bank.
It also features three speeds – warm-up, relaxation, and deep tissue – so that you’ll be able to control what level of massage you’re receiving and utilize this gun for all sorts of days. Whether you’re warming up for the gym, healing sore muscles and relaxing, or looking for a deep tissue, intense massage that will aid you in your recovery from a sports injury, this massage gun will get your blood circulating accordingly.
We also love the six different heads (hammer, wedge, spinal, bullet, large ball, standard ball) designed for specific parts of your body.
So Do Massage Guns Really Work?
The anecdotal evidence is certainly strong.
There’s no denying that massage guns are becoming more and more popular.
Celebrities, influences, coaches, professional athletes, and everyday gym-goers alike use them.
Recently, you can find massage guns in many gyms, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, and chiropractic clinics.
So, what’s all the fuss about?
The science is still fairly inconclusive in that there is no definitive proof or study that concludes with confidence that massage guns will aid in healing and improve function.
However, massage guns are regarded as credible and useful by people worldwide, whether they’re professional coaches, healthcare workers, and physical therapy professionals, or athletes, countless people swear by massage guns.
You don’t have to search far to find the positive case studies. And they surely can’t all be placebo.
Because massage guns offer a similar experience to traditional massage therapy (and are backed by the same claims), many see it as a small investment with numerous benefits.
If you aren’t sure which massage gun best suits your needs, any of the products we mentioned are highly regarded. The FlyBy model has many great features, excellent reviews, and tons of benefits for a very average cost.
If you’re looking to invest in a very high-quality item, check out the Theragun.
So long as you’re careful and aren’t feeling any more pain from your massage gun, it’s a worthwhile investment for athletes for workout recovery or to work out a muscle knot or tight muscle.
If you have a history of muscle damage or suspect you may have a serious injury, always seek advice from a healthcare professional.
For everyday soft tissue and muscle tension, massage guns are great.