Everything you should know about massage guns
It looks like a power tool and may sound like one, but a massage gun can be a great way to recover from a hard workout, or to get a good warm-up.
Many professional athletes have been seen using massage guns, e.g. NBA star Kyrie Irving. But athletes aren't the only ones who can benefit from using massage guns because the gun can help you release muscle tension, which we all experience from time to time.
What is a massage gun?
The massage gun is relatively new in fitness. You may know foam rollers and vibrating foam rollers. The theory behind the vibrating foam rollers is that the vibrations evoke something called "Golgi tendon response (Gori Tendor Reflex)", which creates a reflex that causes the body to relax in tense muscles.
The massage gun looks like a power tool and when turned on, it also sounds like a muted power tool. The use is quite simple, simply placing the massage gun on a sore spot on your body and let it pulsate back and forth. This will make the muscle relaxed and promote blood flow - in the same way that a vibrating foam roller does.
Some theories also suggest that massage guns may act as pain relief. Pain normally having a certain frequency, when you use a massage gun, the vibrations will go in and block this frequency, this is called "pain gate theory".
How to use a massage gun
A massage gun is incredibly easy to use. You turn on the gun, choose how much it should pulsate and point it where you are tens. To get the most out of your massage gun, however, there are a few basic things to keep in mind.
1. Choose the right "head" for the massage gun. Massage guns often come with different heads. Each head is typically good for different areas of the body.
2. Once you have turned on the gun and selected the right speed for the vibrations, move it along the desired muscle that you want to loosen / warm up. It is not necessary to press hard - it is the impulses that do the work. If you find a trigger point (an area that is more tender / tense than the rest of the muscle), keep at this until you can feel it loosen.
3. Move the massage gun slowly, there is no need to speed up the process.
How can a massage gun help you?
It is generally said that a massage gun can help relieve pain, loosen muscles and achieve greater blood flow. Here is a list of points massage guns are said to be able to help with:
- Release and reduce lactate - via an increased blood flow.
- Help with muscle recovery - via an increased blood flow.
- Improve blood flow in tight muscles.
- Pain relief / Reduce muscle soreness.
Massage guns are primarily considered as a tool for recovery and injury prevention, but you can also use the gun to worm up.
The massage pistol primarily does two things when you use it before training.
First, it increases blood flow to the affected muscles. Second, the impulses of the gun, turn on your sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight system that prepares your body for activity and sports.
If you want to use the massage gun before training, you should focus on the muscle group you need to train.
If you need to make bench presses, for example. focus on your chest muscles, cycle. If you are going for a bike ride, or run focus on thighs and calf muscles.
Use the massage gun along the length of the muscle. Do not focus on the muscle attachments, but let the gun go back and forth along the entire muscle.
If you train intervals or strength training, you can also benefit from a massage gun. Here, the gun can help loosen tense areas so you can get more out of your next interval / strength set.
For example, you may feel that the chest muscle is tightened a little after a set of bench press repetitions, and you therefore feel like stretching the muscle. However, research shows that static stretching of a muscle can reduce the potential and power output. Instead, you can use your massage gun on the area that is tender / tense for 15 seconds. This will increase blood flow and loosen the muscle up for the rest of your workout.
When you finish your workout, your body is in a state of alarm. The theory is that a massage gun will be able to help your muscles relax again.
The sooner your body relaxes again, the sooner your recovery will begin. To achieve this, use the gun the same way as when under warm up, namely by walking slowly along the muscle and not focusing on the muscle attachments.
Recovery / Rehabilitation
If you feel muscle soreness or incipient injuries, you can also use your massage gun. Start by warming up the muscle by running the massage gun along it.When you feel that the muscle is warm, you can start to find trigger points (sore and tight areas) and focus on these.
You can also test if the muscle attachments are sore. The gun will loosen your muscle and increase blood flow in the muscle, thus helping to remove waste products.
Greater flexibility and range of motion
Massage helps reduce inflammation and stiffness affecting the muscles and helps you move more easily. This can also help prevent further damage from occurring in the future.
Targeted pain relief
Massage guns are particularly good for targeted pain relief. The vibrations can be tuned to help loosen stiff joints and increase circulation to fight inflammation and stiffness. By reducing inflammation, there is less pressure on nerve endings in the shoulders, which means fewer pain signals are sent to the brain. This reduces your discomfort.
If you feel muscle soreness or a beginning injury, you can also use your massage gun. Start by warming up the muscle by running along it. When you can feel that the muscle is warm, you can start to find trigger points (tender and tight areas) and focus on these. You can also test whether the muscle attachments are sore. The gun will loosen your muscle and increase blood flow in the muscle, thus helping to remove waste products.