We could all use a massage. Everyone has kinks and tightness in their muscles that need some work. For many, a professional massage therapist is expensive and time-consuming. Thankfully, a new era of professional massagers can offer quick relief at home.
New massagers are part of a growing category of health tech products. A variety of different massage devices are available, ranging from foot massagers, handheld massagers, and even massage cushions. Massagers are a great way to relieve stiffness and soreness across the entire body. Handheld massagers in particular, are becoming a critical tool for fitness recovery and injury prevention.
Let’s take a deep dive into handheld massagers for fitness recovery. We’ll start by understanding how they work, who it’s for, and some of the benefits and options to get the most out of a massage gun.
How portable massage guns work
Massage guns are a form of percussive or vibration therapy. They provide rapid bursts of vibration to muscle tissue through an oscillating head.
If you’ve ever tried a portable handheld massager, you can really appreciate how they work. The vibration pulses warm muscle tissue. The repeated impact on the soft tissue causes blood flow to increase in that area. This gentle pressure decreases any tight muscle tissues and helps extend the length of the muscle fibers.
It’s important to remember that massage guns can’t completely eliminate muscle soreness. Nevertheless, increasing blood flow to a specific area can help reduce inflammation, muscle tension, and tightness.
Virtually all handheld massagers are battery-powered and shaped like a gun. They’re easy to hold and can reach different areas of the body with both hands.
Benefits of a portable massager
Portable massagers provide a safe and effective relief to areas of the body that carry a lot of stress. For most people, these are the shoulders, neck, and lower back. For injury prevention, they can also be used to warm up muscles before activity and during cool-down.
Using a massage gun post-workout is an effective method to prevent DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness. With a massage gun post-workout session, you’re less likely to experience muscle soreness 24 to 72 hours after an intense workout.
Many myofascial fitness recovery tools such as foam rollers can produce similar results to portable massagers. The big difference is that massage guns can hyper-target a specific problem area during warm-up or cool down. This makes it a good choice for people with nagging or recurring injuries.
Massage guns are also a great option for people who find foam rollers uncomfortable or time-consuming. They offer a quick, effective, and portable solution for fitness therapy for busy, on-the-go individuals.
Portable massager options
There are no shortages of portable massagers on the market today. The price range is between $100 and $800. The big difference between budget-friendly massagers and high-end massagers are the options, speed levels, and attachments.
Most handheld massage guns like the EZ-X Massage Gun will come with attachments. These interchangeable tips help target different muscles and joints. Combined with varying speed ranges, users can create optimal settings for targeting specific areas and muscles.
With multiple attachments, it can be hard to know which one to use. Many high-end massage guns from brands like Theragun come with an accompanying app.
These apps can guide you through a routine for a specific body part. The app tells you the optimal attachment to use, where to hold the massage gun, and how to move it around. Built-in timers let users know when to switch areas.
Who can benefit from a massage gun
Virtually everyone from professional athletes to weekend warriors can benefit from a massage gun. They provide a quick way to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness after a hard day’s work. As a portable, battery-powered device, it lets people use them anytime, anywhere.
Many professional basketball players use massage guns while sitting on the bench. This helps keep their muscles warm and loose. At home, most people can use it while watching movies or TV shows.
Choosing a massage gun
When choosing a massage gun, there are four things to consider: speed, weight, noise, and battery life.
Having multiple speeds makes a massage versatile, but pay special attention to the low-speed settings. These are the ones you will be using the most. Higher settings are ideal for bigger people and larger muscle groups.
Weight is an important consideration, especially as it relates to the grip design. With the massage gun on, you should be able to comfortably hold it for 5-10 minutes. Look for massage guns that weigh between 2 and 4 pounds.
By their very pulsating nature, all massage guns will make some noise. If you need a massage gun that is quiet, look for models with a brushless motor like the Theragun PRO. As long as you don’t find the sound distracting, many people find the low pulsating noise to be soothing and relaxing.
Tips to get the most out of a massage gun
To start, keep your massage gun on a low setting and work up slowly over time. Higher settings should be used sparingly. It can cause unnecessary pain and soreness.
It’s important to remember the effects of a massage gun may diminish over time, especially if you use it often. Rotate your massaging schedule with plenty of rest and recovery time. Too much of anything can be harmful. That also applies to massage guns. Avoid over-stimulating the muscle. If your muscle tissue is getting red quickly that means you have a lot of blood flow in the area. At that time, it’s best to work on another area.
Hold the gun in a position for a few seconds and move it around in a small circular motion over an area. If you keep the massage gun on one spot for too long, your skin may become tender and sore. Also remember that massage guns are designed to be used on muscles, not nerves, bones, joints, and tendons.
If you’ve been experiencing muscle soreness for some time, a massage gun can make the world of a difference. You can find a variety of different handheld massagers at Best Buy here.