Sainte-Élisabeth Health Care
Five years ago, a massage gun was something you only used with a personal trainer. It was a tool on the sidelines or in the locker room used as part of a warm-up or a cool-down.
But now massage guns are popping up in local gyms, offices, and homes. They are becoming more and more accessible to the average individual and are no longer limited to specialists in sports medicine.
“The use of massage guns has increased in recent years and I see them used in many different contexts. I think that shows how well they work, ”says Nate Clark, certified athletic trainer with St. Elizabeth Healthcare Sports Medicine. “And you don’t have to be an athlete to use one – they do a great job helping anyone recover from activity or get over sore muscles.”
We recently caught up with Clark to find out more about this fast growing trend and how you can safely use a massage gun at home.
How do massage guns work?
A massage gun is a hand-held device that provides a hard-hitting massage to your muscles. It vibrates to help blood, oxygen, and nutrients flow through the muscles, which can promote healing and faster recovery after a workout.
Massage guns can also break down the tissue around the muscles (muscle fascia). This tissue can tighten when stressed, which can lead to muscle stiffness or pain.
Every massage gun is different, but most have different speeds or settings that can adjust the intensity of the vibration.
Who should use a massage gun?
Although massage guns were initially popular with athletes and sports trainers, anyone with muscle pain can benefit from a massage gun.
“If you work a long day on your feet and feel stiff or sore in your legs, a massage gun can help you recover and get you through the rest of the work week,” says Clark. “People who sit at desks or work at a computer all day can also benefit from using a massage gun on their forearms, shoulders, and back muscles. “
For active people, Clark says a massage gun can be a great alternative to a foam roller before or after a workout. Runners can also benefit from using the device for a quick muscle warm-up, which can help prevent injury while running.
When should I use a massage gun?
Massage guns are useful both before and after training, Clark explains.
For a pre-workout routine, Clark recommends using the massage gun on a higher setting for 10 to 30 seconds on each muscle group. This process can help promote blood circulation and wake up muscles, thereby improving performance and helping prevent injury.
“Some people can warm up in five minutes on the stationary bike or by doing a brisk jog – the massage gun can do this warm up for you in about a minute,” says Clark.
For recovery, Clark recommends using a low intensity setting for two to three minutes on each muscle group. But you may not want to reach for the massage gun immediately after your workout.
“You don’t want to completely exhaust your muscles, especially if you’ve just finished a vigorous workout,” says Clark. “With a lot of athletes I work with, I recommend using the massage gun the next day, starting at a low setting and lightly massaging each muscle group.”
How to safely use a massage gun?
Before using a massage gun, it is essential to read the manual and instructions for your specific device. Everyone is different, and knowing the different settings and features can help prevent injury.
It is also important to speak with your doctor, athletic trainer or physiotherapist. They can advise you on how to use the massage gun safely and correctly.
Massage guns should be placed on major muscle groups like the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and upper and lower back. You should not use a massage gun on:
▪ An injury, such as a strained muscle or ligament, fracture, or broken bone.
▪ Abdominal areas.
▪ Bone areas, such as the kneecaps, feet or hands.
▪ Bruises or injuries.
▪ The face or neck.
If someone else is using the massage gun on you (such as your upper back, which you may not be able to reach), be sure to communicate with that person during the massage. Tell them if the setting is too intense or painful, and make sure they avoid bony areas.
“When I use the massage gun on athletes, I make sure I listen to patient feedback so that I can adjust and avoid any discomfort,” says Clark. “The same rule applies at home.”
Clark also recommends starting slowly with the massage gun and increasing the intensity.
Everyone has different tolerances and preferences when it comes to massage, so find what works best for you.
As for frequency, Clark says if you use the massage gun safely, you can use it before or after every workout. “If you follow the directions and use it correctly, you can safely use a massage gun every day,” he adds. “But listen to your body and stop if it hurts.”
What Should I Look For When Buying A Massage Gun?
With the growing popularity of massage guns, there are dozens of options available for purchase. A quick search on Amazon shows nearly 40 different brands of massage guns.
So how do you choose the right one for you?
“If you are a very active person who plans to use it every day, you might want to spend more money on a quality rechargeable massage gun that will last,” says Clark, who uses a Theragun massage gun. with his athletes and at home.
On the other hand, a cheaper option would be fine for someone who only needs the massage gun every now and then. You may also want to consider a smaller, more portable version if you plan to use it at work.
“Before you make a purchase, decide what you need the massage gun for and how often you plan to use it,” adds Clark. “Do your research on the different types of massage guns and find the one that meets your specific needs. “
Find out more or make an appointment
For more information on sports medicine services at St. Elizabeth Healthcare or to make an appointment, visit stelizabeth.com/sports or call (859) 212-5600.