Do you always suffer from muscle soreness after a good workout? Most people complain about muscle pain after strenuous exercise. While this is normal, especially if you’re not used to working out or had increased the intensity of your exercise, you shouldn’t suffer that much. A good massage is usually an effective remedy to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and pain. But let’s face it, who has the time to visit a massage therapist after each workout?

It’s true that it is not always possible to do that, aside from lack of time, it can also be expensive. However, you don’t have to go to the spa to receive massage therapy. A massage gun is a great option for those who want to save money and time.

How To Use A Massage Gun Properly

A percussion massager is fairly simple to use. Anyone can use this, even if you are not a certified massage therapist or physical therapist. You don’t need special training or skills to benefit from a percussive massage treatment.

1. Before you place the percussion massager on your body, you need to turn it on first. Start at a low setting. Most massage guns use a single button or need to long-press to turn on. It is also important to find the right head attachment. Newer models come with different head attachments, so be sure to choose the right one. If unsure, you can always start with the standard or most common one, the spherical or ball head.

2. Find the areas or muscle groups that have muscle knots or stiff muscles. Let the massage gun rest on the areas you need to treat for a couple of seconds. No need to apply pressure, the massager will do that for you.

3. Glide or move the massager slowly on your body. You can increase the speed settings as long as you feel comfortable with it.

4. For areas that are extra knotty or stiff, let the massage gun rest on those areas for at least a minute or two. If needed, you can also apply a little pressure.

Different Massage Gun Attachments and Uses

Massage guns come in different sizes, shapes, and forms. They differ in stall force, speed, and intensity and also the gun attachments included in the package. Some only come with the standard ball attachment or fork head, while others may include several more attachments. To make yourself familiar with the different head attachments for the massage guns, here are the most common ones and how and where to use them.

Ball Attachment

The ball head attachment is the most commonly used since it can be used on almost all areas of the body and is also perfect for sensitive muscle groups. Depending on the brand, some ball attachments can be made of hard rubber, plastic, or foam. The good thing about the ball attachment is it can adjust the intensity and force by tilting the head away and applying it at different angles. While it is great to use in all areas, you’ll find this head attachment more suitable on areas such as the shoulder, foot, and forearm.

Fork Head Attachment

Aside from the ball or spherical head attachment, the forkhead is also a common massage gun attachment on most massage guns. It’s a two-pronged fork attachment that is typically used on the spinal area (but never on the spine itself or any other bony area), feet, ankles, and large muscle groups. Those suffering from tight muscles and are looking for ways to speed up their muscle recovery can benefit from the fork attachment. It also works best for deep tissue massage.

Bullet Head Attachment

As the name suggests, this massage gun attachment looks like a bullet. It gives the same intensity as the fork attachment but with a precise single point. It is suitable for trigger points or target spots and to activate deep tissue. It is great to use on hands, feet, legs, and back muscles.

Flat Head Attachment

It’s a flat attachment that is round and covers a large area for bigger muscle groups but is also suitable for smaller muscle groups. Although the flat head attachment is great to use on IT bands and shoulder blades, it is also perfect for a full-body massage. It is also safe to use on sensitive or painful areas and bony areas because of its smooth surface.

These 4 massage gun attachments are the most common. However, depending on the brand and model, some massage guns may include more attachments. Here are other massage gun attachments you might encounter.

Arrowhead

It is a narrow attachment that has a rounded point which is almost similar to the bullet head attachment. The only difference is its tip is more pointed. It is perfect for trigger points and deep soft tissue massage.

IT Band Blade

It has a wedge shape that is flat. The IT band blade is ideal for stripping soft tissue and loosening IT bands that are too tight and stiff.

Padded Round

If you can’t help but massage bony areas in your body, the padded round head attachment is great for those areas. It is safe to use on bony parts as it uses air to absorb its vibration or percussion. You can use this on the shoulders, upper neck, and spine.

It is important to use the right massage gun head attachment for each part of the body to prevent further damage to soft tissue and worsen sore muscles.

When To Use Massage Guns

There’s really no specific time to use a massage gun. You can use it anytime whenever you have sore muscles. However, most people find it beneficial during:

Before Exercise

While most people in the fitness world use massage guns as recovery tools after a workout, they can also be beneficial before exercising. Using a massage gun before working out can help prepare the muscles before the workout to stimulate blood flow. Apart from that, massaging your muscles before a workout can help elongate the muscle fibres, which helps prevent muscle strains.

It has the same effects as warming up before a workout. When muscles are stiff and rigid, they are more susceptible to injury. When using a massage gun before a workout, massage the muscle groups that you plan on exercising for at least 30 seconds. If you plan on performing a bench press, massage your pectoral muscles for 30 seconds.

During Exercise

It is also safe to use a massage gun in between your workout. Whenever you feel muscle tension while working out a muscle group, you can use a massage gun instead of stretching. No need to massage a particular muscle for 30 seconds, 15 seconds will do. The goal here is to excite or awaken the muscle.

After Exercising

Since massage guns are meant as a recovery tool, many people use them after a high-intensity workout. Since during this time, the body’s condition is heightened you would want to make it relaxed. Massaging the tensed muscles for at least 1 to 2 minutes can help. However, don’t do it right after the workout. Allow your body to rest for several hours before reaching for your massage gun.

If you are not used to percussive therapy or vibration therapy, best to start at a lower setting and work up to higher settings when you’ve got used to it. You can also try pressing the massager deeper into the muscles to help reduce pains, increase blood flow, and repair the muscles faster.

After A Stressful Day’s Work

Massage guns are not just for fitness buffs, but also for anyone who needs some time to relax after a tiring day at work or at home. Whenever you feel muscle stiffness and pains, you can use a massage gun to help relax the body. It is faster, more convenient, and more affordable than seeing a massage therapist. You can use a massage gun for a full body massage in just 10 minutes. Just keep in mind that a minute or less is all you need for each muscle group and avoid going too intense.

People who sit for hours in their work may experience muscle tightness like stiff upper back, shoulders, and neck. Applying a massage gun on the shoulders, lower back, and the back of the neck can help relieve pain and stiffness. Just make sure to use low settings and avoid bony areas of the body such as the spine. Use a massage gun anytime you need to increase mobility and flexibility and to promote relaxation after a tiring day.

When Not To Use A Massage Gun

Just like any other recovery tools, massage guns are not advisable to be used in certain conditions. Here are some situations where a massage gun should be avoided.

  • People who are suffering from musculoskeletal injuries, like strains and sprains. Using a massage gun on sprains may increase pain and worsen the condition.
  • Areas that are bony such as the spine, unless using a padded head attachment. But it should still be used with care.
  • Without asking for professional medical advice, especially those who are suffering from a medical condition.
  • Never use a massage gun where there are open wounds or bruises. It may worsen the bruises and may cause infections on open wounds. A massage gun may delay healing on open wounds.
  • People suffering from unexplained or severe pain should stay away from massage guns. While massage guns are known to help alleviate pain, if the pain is too severe and the cause is not clear, using one may only make the situation worst.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you use massage gun?

You can use a massage gun several times daily. The recommended frequency of use is 2 to 3 times a day when needed. You can use a massage gun before and after a tough workout or when you want to relieve muscle tension.

How long should you use a massage gun for?

Massage guns should only be used in brief sessions. You can use a massage gun for at least 15 seconds minimum to a maximum of 2 minutes for every muscle part. For pre-workout, you can use it for around 30 to 40 seconds to stimulate the aimed muscle group and 2 minutes for post-workout for best recovery. Do not go above 20 minutes for a full-body session.

Can I overuse my massage gun?

Do not overuse your massage gun. Keeping the massage gun for too long on one part of your body can make your skin sore. Overusing or incorrect usage of a massage gun can have harmful risks such as ruptured blood vessels, damaged muscle fibre, increased nerve sensitivity, and increased muscle contractions. It can do more harm than good if you do not know how to use it properly.

Conclusion

Massage guns work the same way as you’d expect from massage parlours but with no extra cost. It is more convenient and more affordable than going to the spa or hiring a massage therapist. They are handy, so you can also bring and use them anywhere with you. Unlike a foam roller which is bulky and cannot be used anywhere. However, always remember that you should always ask your doctors before using a massage gun, especially if you are suffering from fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal condition.

Emma Pyke
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