Part of the reason why massage guns are so popular is how incredibly easy it makes for anyone to reward themselves with a professional-grade massage. Just turn it on, point the moving head over where it hurts, and relax.
That being said improper use can do more harm than good. So, if you want to get the most of your massage gun without the risk of injuring yourself in the process, here are a few things that you should keep in mind.
Basics Tips on How to use a massage Gun
- Always turn on the massage Gun before placing it on your body. This may seem like a trivial thing but very important nevertheless.
- Turing on the massage gun first allows you to place it at the exact spot you want without accidentally pushing too hard on the muscle. Resting the gun on your muscle and then turning it on can be a little jarring.
- It is a good idea to start at the lowest speed and gradually work your way up. Unless you are sure about your tolerance level, starting at high speed can be a bit painful especially you have a sore muscle.
- Rest the massage head on your body and glide it along the muscle. Don’t add extra pressure. Move the massage head slowly – an inch or so a second.
- If you encounter a painful spot, work around it rather than putting the massage head straight onto it.
- Relax your body and breathe easy. As you massage yourself nice long inhales and exhales will help you feel the relief.
Things you should know before you start the Massage
With the basics out of the way. Here are a few things you should know before you get started with a massage Gun.
Different massage Gun attachments and when to use them
Massage guns these days come with 2 – 10 different heads or attachments designed to target different muscle groups.
Here is a list of 4 of the most common massage gun attachments and when you should use them.
Depending on the brand and the model of your massage gun these attachments can be a bit different however, their function remains largely the same.
- Ball attachment: This is probably the most used and most versatile massage Gun attachment. Depending on the manufacturer, the ball attachment is made out of either hardened foam or dense rubber and is great for both large and medium muscle groups. So, you can pretty much use it anywhere be it your inner and outer arms, Back, quads, calves, bottom of your foot.
- Flat Head: The flat head is a great multi-purpose massage gun attachment. It looks like a hammer tip and is made out of hard plastic. The attachment is suitable for the larger areas of your body. So, from the pecs, glutes, quads to the legs, the flathead works wonders. Another nice thing about the attachment is as the flathead doesn’t have any sharp edges. So, even if you accidentally run over bones while massaging, it won’t hurt very bad. This alone makes the flathead excellent for all-around use.
- Bullet: This attachment is a more specialized type. Shaped like a bullet the attachment has much greater penetration and is ideal for targeting specific trigger points or knots deep inside a muscle. For instance areas of the shoulders or different ligament attachment points. However, higher penetration also means that if you use it on points with less muscle mass it can be painful. So, do use it with caution.
- The Fork Attachment: The dual-pronged head of this attachment helps you to target the muscles around the spine. It is very effective if you have lower back pain. You can also use The Fork Head Attachment on the back of the neck but be extremely careful as you can easily harm yourself. Some physical therapists recommend against using massage guns on your neck altogether. Other areas where you can use the fork attachment are the calf muscles or the sides of the Achilles but do not touch the tendon.
Different Speed Settings of your Massage Gun
Earlier massage Guns used to come with only one or two speeds. Now, more brands are offering multiple speed settings.
Choose a speed depending on how tight your muscles feel and your tolerance level. You might prefer different speeds setting on different body parts or muscle groups.
Don’t be afraid to play around with the different speeds to maximize your comfort.
Although most massage guns can be safely used on bare skin some manufacturers recommend wearing light clothing like yoga pants or long-sleeve shirts when using their massage gun.
If you are an elderly person or someone with sensitive skin that gets bruised easily you can always try wearing light clothes while using the gun and see how it goes.
Wearing clothes also makes it much easier to float the gun on your skin especially if you have a bit too much body hair like me.
Just make sure that whatever you are wearing is loose enough and not obstructing blood circulation.
How to Properly use a massage Gun Before, During, and after a workout
Today Massage Guns are known as recovery devices. But did you know massage guns can help you prepare for a workout?
Before you start a workout spend 1-2 minutes massaging each muscle group you plan to hit. Slowly, work back and forth along the span of each muscle. Then spend another 30 seconds on all the supporting muscle groups you feel will be affected by your workout.
To better help you understand, here is an example of a pre-leg workout massage
|Muscle Group Type
|Target muscle Group
|Target muscle Group
A pre-workout massage gun session is beneficial in two ways –
First, it helps you by increasing blood flow to the muscles you plan to engage during your workout.
Secondly, the pulsating nature of the massage may trigger your sympathetic nervous system and prepares your body for activity and sports. Some researchers have also suggested that using a massage gun during your warm-up can improve the range of motion of the muscles.
Massage Guns can be quite handy even during a workout session.
Let’s say after a set of squats, your glutes start to feel tight. A quick massage with a massage gun can help you ease the muscles.
Simply turn on your massage gun and glide the massage head back and forth over the muscles that feel tense for 15-30 seconds.
The massage will increase blood flow, excite the muscles, and will loosen them up for the rest out of your workout.
You can still use a massage gun on specific muscles between sets of an exercise even if you are not feeling tight. This ensures that the muscles remain “awake” when you proceed with the next set of reps and helps you get the most out of them.
Just after a workout, your body is in a heightened state. A post-workout massage gun session can help bring your body back to its resting state and aid in your recovery.
After you are done with your workout turn on the Massage Gun and spend 2 minutes moving up and down each muscle group. Remember don’t put too much pressure on the massage gun and never massage a muscles group for more than 2 minutes at a time.
Using a massage gun after your workout helps you in two ways. Here is how –
First, as we work out and our muscles start to get tight, it gets harder for blood to reach those muscles. Without proper circulation, our muscles are quickly deprived of oxygen and start anaerobic respiration for energy that produces lactic acid as a byproduct. This lactic acid build-up is the reason why you feel your muscles burning after a hard workout.
Using a massage gun just after a workout increases blood circulation to tight muscles. This facilitates the removal of lactic acid and other metabolites from the muscles and brings in oxygen and much-needed nutrients.
Secondly, massage guns may help ease the sensation of pain within a sore muscle by masking the pain signals sent to your brain.
Research also suggests that massage guns may help reduce inflammation in your muscles and are effective to counteract DOMS.
How to use a massage on DOMS
You may have noticed that feel sore and painful a day or two after a workout. This is known as Delayed-onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS in short.
DOMS is a result of your body reacting to the micro-tears in your muscle caused by any high-intensity workout. Although DOMs don’t have any adverse effects on health, they can hamper your workout.
Luckily a massage gun can help reduce the effects to a great extent. A 2017 review of several studies found that people who received a massage 24, 48, or 72 hours after an intense workout showed less soreness than people who didn’t.
To use a massage gun for sore muscles, adjust the speed to a level where it doesn’t cause pain.
A pro tip is to set your massage gun to the lowest speed and gradually increase the speed until you find the sweet spot.
Remember, that your muscles are recovering and you don’t want to cause any more damage. If it hurts dial down the speed.
Once you find a setting that feels good, use the massage gun for 1 to 2 minutes on each sore area.
How to use a Massage Gun for general tension, stress, and sleep
Many Massage gun manufacturers claim that their products work great for treating general stress and helps with sleep. Although there is hardly any scientific proof to back those claims, if you already own a massage gun why not give it a shot?
Theragun recommends using their device for two minutes on each muscle group (arms, glutes, legs) before bed to help you feel relaxed and calm. However, you can try it with any massage gun you have.
Just make sure that you don’t overdo it and follow the general rules of using a massage gun.
For general tension, you can use the massage gun on tense or tight muscles for two minutes to help release the stress.