Massage guns work, but they need to be used correctly

Aug 22, 2022 by Daniel


After the massage gun appeared, it is no longer just a standard match in the gym, but also become one of the necessary tools in every family to some extent.

In addition to the rapid growth of HYPERICE, more brands have emerged, including Legiral Massage Gun and Dacorm Massage Gun, which attract users with price advantages.

Modern people who choose to buy massage guns do not want to achieve exercise recovery, but to achieve DIY massage after busy work, but the need to relax muscles is almost the same.

But the utility of massage guns needs to be further discussed from the perspective of sports science. We can draw the conclusion that massage guns are effective, but not where the pain is.
massage gun
Massage-gun brands are promoting a relatively focused benefit -- the use of percussion therapy, which involves tapping a patient's skin quickly and rhythmically to relieve DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise) and other similar muscle ailments.

Based on product principle alone, massage gun is effective.

Massage guns generally use mechanical principles to imitate impact therapy. Through high-frequency vibration, the force is transmitted to deep fascia to achieve relaxation effect, help muscle and soft tissue recovery, promote blood circulation, effectively dissipate a large amount of creatine produced by exercise, and improve fascia problems [1].

However, the same massage gun in the hands of different people, may not produce the same effect. The use of a massage gun has a professional threshold.

For example, without the knowledge of rehabilitation treatment, most users will only unconsciously use the massage gun to massage the musculofascia after the end of exercise, forming the wrong thinking of "pressing where the pain is".
This is not only ineffective, but may even lead to significant numbness at the stress site, which may lead to further injury.
Because on the one hand, the human fascia is like a net that can contract and coil the whole body. The wrong use of a massage gun to press a single point is like using external force to knead a local point of this net into a ball, leading to pain.
On the other hand, massage guns are not suitable for all parts of the human body, the parts with less muscle coverage, the parts with dense nerves and blood vessels, and the vicinity of the spine are all restricted areas.

The massage gun is an effective tool, but it still requires the user to have basic knowledge to operate it.

Massage guns are popular around the world

Massage gun may have exceeded massage chair, massage hammer in sound volume, as the most popular small appliances for relaxing massage.

This "gun" relaxes the soft tissue of the body through high frequency impact, stimulates its proprioceptive function, and then plays an effective role in relieving muscle tension, to achieve the purpose of pain relief.

Shock therapy, which is the basis of the massage gun, has actually been around for a long time, dating back to the 1800s.

During this time, percussive massage in various forms was introduced to the public. Take Tapotement, which was founded in 1868. This rapid, rhythmic tapping of the patient's skin. Has proven to be of great help to exercise tables.
The concept was gradually modernized until the 1970s, when the first percussive massages were developed and patented to release muscle pressure in chiropractic patients.

Jason Werseland, a Los Angeles chiropractor who suffered a herniated disc and back pain from a motorcycle accident in 2008, created the first massage gun so he could carry a tool with him to give himself a massage.

So massage gun is not a new phenomenon, its concept from being used, to popular worldwide, experienced two centuries.
But there are always doubts about massage guns. The uneven pricing standards make many people unable to choose. What is the difference between "massage guns safe? Is it an IQ tax? . And the feedback on the Internet is often confusing. Some people even ask, Can sports injuries be relieved by massaging guns?

The massage gun exploded, but its basic rules of use and taboo range, but the merchants did not first popularize. For many ordinary consumers, it is likely to backfire and cause harm.

The effect of massage gun

If you want to maximize the utility of the massage gun, the premise is that the individual happens to have a basic knowledge of physical therapy, otherwise it is difficult to achieve the effect of massage gun.

Recovery after exercise

The first step to relieving DACHE is to use a massage gun immediately after exercise to help reduce lactic acid and toxin buildup in muscles.
Reapplied the next day, it will help increase blood circulation, bring oxygen to the muscles, and relax hardened fascia.
But if used only occasionally, and the length and range of massage is not standard, it is likely to not bring any positive effect.

Improve Athletic performance

What many people overlook is that the benefits of using a massage gun before a workout are as good as those after.
Vibration therapy can effectively increase the range of motion, which can help to expand the range of motion during exercise [2]. For example, increasing ankle range of motion can help achieve a deeper squat position.

One study found that using a massage gun before exercise may reduce the total amount of microtears in muscle compared to using a massage gun after exercise [3].

By promoting blood flow to the target area through massage, you can improve the storage of oxygen and nutrients in your muscles in preparation for subsequent exercise consumption.

Improve blood circulation

Certain types of soft tissue therapy, including massage therapy, are thought to improve blood circulation locally [4]
While there hasn't been concrete evidence that massage guns improve circulation, that doesn't necessarily mean they're not helpful for that purpose.

The mechanical pounding action of the massaging gun increases blood flow to the target area, effectively reducing swelling and eliminating circulation-related sensations such as numbness and tingling.

If you have calf problems from sitting at your desk for too long, a massage gun may help get rid of some of the fluid. But if there is significant or severe swelling, always consult a doctor before attempting to use a massage gun.

In addition to the potential advantages mentioned above, a large number of studies have proved that deep massage can help fibromyalgia patients "significantly improve" their quality of life and symptoms [5], while long-term massage therapy is regarded as an effective symptom management tool for fibromyalgia, but the research related to massage gun is still insufficient [6].

Guide to massage gun use

Even if the effect is not obvious, massage guns are relatively safe. The main risk of massage guns is associated with improper use.
The general public can follow these four rules when using a massage gun:
  • 1. Slow start: The characteristics of mechanical conduction and electric hitting of massage gun make it impossible for many people to quantify its strength. It is recommended that all bodybuilders start from the lowest intensity to massage, and then gradually increase the intensity;
  • 2. Avoid touching bones: Massaging a bone with a massaging gun is equivalent to hitting it with a hammer and does not provide any benefit. It is recommended to start massaging the larger muscle groups, such as the gluteus maximus, quadriceps, calf, latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles, with the aid of one hand to help identify bone areas to avoid.
  • 3. Keep moving: Make sure you don't press too hard or stay in one place for too long, which can easily cause local damage. Keep the gun moving as much as possible for best results;
  • 4. Longer is not always better: although after 90 minutes of manual massage, the results are very good. But for the massage gun, try to control the massage area of each part between 3 and 5 minutes.
In addition, master basic anatomy knowledge and understand the direction of muscles and blood circulation. It's a prerequisite for using a massage gun. Massage gun should be used along the texture and fascia of human muscles, not just on the muscle pain.

Also, massage guns are not suitable for all parts of the human body. Areas with less muscle coverage, densely packed nerves and blood vessels, and near the spine are all off limits. The head, the front of the neck, the collarbone, the armpit, the spine, the inner side of the upper arm, where there are a large number of nerves and blood vessels, cannot be used massage gun.

There are people with joint discomfort, want to use a massage gun to help recover, that in the specific process of use, the part played can not be the joint, but according to the direction of the muscle to find the distal end suitable for applying force. How far is the distal end, and which part should be hit, which involves professional rehabilitation medical knowledge, for ordinary people can not operate.

After purchasing a massage gun, you can learn the basics of how to use it by reading the instructions. But many brands of massage gun will inform consumers, can help improve muscle contusion, spasm and other problems through massage gun. It must be clear that the massage gun must not be used in the acute period of contusion and strain, which will only aggravate the injury.

In addition, the battery life capacity of the motor and battery will be different because of the different prices. The massage gun that is too cheap on the market may not play an effective massage role.

Massage guns may seem simple and easy to use, but more in-depth research is needed to realize their effectiveness.


Chen, J., Zhang, F., Chen, H., & Pan, H. (2021). Rhabdomyolysis after the use of percussion massage gun: a case report. Physical Therapy, 101(1), pzaa199.

Martin, Jack. "A critical evaluation of percussion massage gun devices as a rehabilitation tool focusing on lower limb mobility: A literature review." (2021).

Lai, Anthony Chuk-Him, Eva Wai Nam Wong, and Frank Hiu Ping Lai. "Massage gun-induced ocular injury–A case report." Indian Journal of Ophthalmology-Case Reports 1.4 (2021): 702.

Park, Seol. "Effect of local vibration on triceps surae flexibility compared to static stretching." The Journal of Korean Physical Therapy 32.4 (2020): 245-249.

Roehmer, Christian, Samir Khan, and David Sherwood. "ID: 15833 Paracervical Muscle Edema After the Use of High-Percussion Massage Gun." Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface 25.4 (2022): S56.

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