The 411 on Massage Guns
by Nick Travers, DPT
AzOPT Doctor of Physical Therapy
Have you recently turned on a sporting event and seen an athlete on the sideline with a massage gun? Maybe you have watched the thousands of slow motion videos on social media. Regardless, massage guns, which are a form of percussive therapy, have become quite popular in the last 5 years.
We all know that massages have long been used to help with recovery and pain. But finding a massage therapist, or even finding time to go every day is not realistic for most people. By comparison, a massage gun is a handheld device that utilizes high speed, repetitive impact that pounds your muscles in rapid succession. This aims to reduce tension, which helps manage pain and recover faster.
Massage guns have shown to reduce inflammation by mobilizing extra cellular fluid back into the venous system. Within physical therapy, your therapist may utilize a massage gun to relax tight muscles and break up soft tissue adhesions that cause pain or restrict motion. These actions promote blood flow to a localized area, thus accomplishing these benefits.
Research has shown that massage guns can be effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and improving short term muscle length. Chronically tight muscles may benefit from use of this therapy in conjunction with a well-established stretching program. Acute muscle injury has not been well studied at this time but several case studies indicate pain reduction and improved function with use after injury.
Many of you may benefit from incorporating a massage gun into your therapy program; however, not all muscular pain is addressed with this intervention. Be sure to consult with your physical therapist prior to utilizing any new equipment. After a thorough evaluation, your physical therapist will develop the best, personalized plan to get you back to the activities you need and love to do.