How Effective Is a Massage Gun for Recovery?
Massage guns are one of the most modern tools in the fitness industry today. Dedicated athletes and fitness enthusiasts use massage guns before and after training, on off days, and whenever they experience muscle pain. But how effective are massage guns?
Using the available research and knowledge of massage gun expert Dan Kozak, co-founder of Ekrin Athletics, a massage gun manufacturer, we will share the purported benefits of massage guns and whether or not these modern devices work.
How effective are massage guns?
"Unless you have the knowledge and equipment of a physical therapist scientist, it is very difficult to quantify the effects of vibration and percussion therapy," says Kozak.
While there have been recent studies showing the effectiveness of percussion therapy and showing benefits such as reducing lactic acid build-up and pain, "the best way to maximize the benefits is to know how to use a massage gun correctly." says Kozak enthusiastically.
Later, learn how massage guns are effective for different uses, including recovery from exercise and musculoskeletal medical conditions.
For muscle recovery
You can use a massage gun for anything from posture-related pain to stress relief. Most people use their massage gun primarily for training-related pain and stiffness, especially late-onset muscle soreness (DMIT).
Turns out, it's not about using a massage gun, but when. "If you're trying to decrease muscle soreness after exercise, it's best to use your massage gun immediately after your workout to help reduce the build-up of lactic acid and toxins in your muscles," says Kozak.
"A quick application again the next day will increase blood flow, delivering oxygen to the muscles while loosening the hardened fascia." However, doing this sporadically and inconsistently probably won't help much. "Like exercises, the benefits of using a massage gun only last with regular use," says Kozak.
For best results and long-lasting relief, keep your massage gun in your gym bag or near your workout equipment at home so you can remember to use it when cool.
What the survey says
- Vibration therapy is likely to be as effective as therapeutic massage in reducing muscle pain, an impressive finding given the extensive evidence supporting therapeutic massage for muscle recovery.
- When used immediately after a workout, massage appears to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DMIT), the type of pain that appears 24 to 48 hours after exercise.
These findings are promising, but overall, more research is needed to determine the true effects of massage on muscle recovery. Studies like these have limitations, including the fact that pain is self-reported.
For athletic performance
Using a massage gun before training offers as many benefits as using one after training. By increasing blood flow to specific areas, you can prepare your muscles for exercise with increased oxygen and nutrients.
What the survey says
- Using a massage gun as part of your warm-up can reduce your perception of muscle fatigue during workouts. Scientists aren't sure whether percussion therapy reduces actual fatigue, but even if it doesn't, the placebo effect can be very powerful.
- One study found that using a massage gun before exercise can reduce the total volume of micro tears in the muscle (the muscle damage that causes pain) compared to using a massage gun after exercise.
- Research has shown that vibration therapy effectively increases range of motion, which can help you access deeper positions during your workout. For example, increasing the range of motion of your ankle helps you reach a deeper squat position.
Percussion massagers are the new compression socks. The hammer-like mechanical action of a massage gun increases blood flow to selected areas, effectively reducing swelling and eliminating circulation-related sensations such as numbness and tingling.
For those suffering from poor blood circulation, Kozak recommends holding two to three full sessions per day, not to exceed 15 minutes per session. Using a massage gun in the morning, afternoon, and evening will help increase and maintain blood flow during the day, he says, and you'll get the best long-term results if you do it every day.
What the survey says
Certain types of soft tissue therapy, including massage therapy, are believed to increase blood flow to specific areas. However, no studies have found a relationship between improved circulation and massage arms specifically.
While there is no solid evidence yet that massage guns improve blood circulation, that doesn't necessarily mean they don't help that purpose.
If you notice poor circulation, such as in your lower legs from sitting too long on the table, a massage gun can help remove fluid build-up. If you have significant or severe swelling, speak with a doctor before trying a massage gun.
Massage guns can be an effective treatment option for fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes widespread pain in muscles and joints, as well as stiffness, fatigue, and headaches.
Massage guns treat fibromyalgia by gently massaging the firm adhesions of the fascia (a type of connective tissue) and breaking the muscle knots, which relieves pain and improves mobility.
What the survey says
- One study found that "deep rocking massage" was well tolerated by fibromyalgia patients and that it "significantly improved" quality of life and symptoms.
- In general, long-term therapeutic massage is considered an effective tool for the management of fibromyalgia symptoms, but massage guns specifically do not have as many studies to support them.
Massage guns can help people with fibromyalgia manage their pain, but you should definitely talk to your doctor about their proper use before trying percussion massage.
People with sciatica can also find relief with a percussion massager. Sciatica involves compression and inflammation of the sciatic nerve, a large nerve that runs from the lower back to the legs. When the sciatic nerve becomes inflamed, it can cause sharp pain, tingling, and numbness. Percussion massage helps loosen tight connective tissues that may be compressing the sciatic nerve. Nerve decompression should relieve pain and other symptoms of sciatica.
What science says
Deep tissue massage is believed to relieve sciatica, but even research on this relationship is limited.
Again, the scientific evidence is not strong, but anecdotal evidence is sometimes the best indicator. If you have sciatica, your doctor has authorized the use of a massage gun and thinks it helps, use a massage gun for pain relief.
Along with sciatica and fibromyalgia, Kozak states that "massage can be effective for anyone suffering from muscle cramps and spasms, myofascial pain, tennis elbow, chronic pain or anxiety, carpal tunnel syndrome, or protruding discs."
Of course, you should first consult your doctor to make sure a massage gun is suitable for its intended use, Kozak says, especially if you've suffered injuries related to inflammation, fractures, varicose veins, high blood pressure, osteoporosis they're taking off blood thinners or pregnant.
Enjoy Watching This Video About Massage Guns
Source: Squat University
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