In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to use a massage gun properly. We’ll also take a look at why you should (or shouldn’t use) percussion massage in particular circumstances. Massage guns are an awesome way to warm up before exercise, speed up muscle recovery or relieve muscle pain and soreness. They’re popular with everyone from athletes and fitness buffs to office workers and are an excellent investment in your muscle health. To get the best results though, your massage device needs to be used the right way.
Who can benefit from using a massage gun?
A massage gun can benefit anyone who suffers any type of muscular pain or soreness. Whether you’re a fitness novice, or a professional athlete or sports person, percussion massage can help with muscle warm up and recovery. It’s suitable for all fitness levels, and for people young and old (age 18+). They’re not just popular with the fitness crowd any more though. Pretty much everyone is getting on board with massage for pain relief, particularly those in jobs requiring long hours in poor posture e.g. office workers sitting at a computer all day. So whether you exercise or not, a massage gun can work wonders on any muscle area that’s giving trouble.
How to use a massage gun
The following are just a few simple steps to using a massage gun the right way:
- Turn the massage gun but do not have it anywhere next to any body part when you first switch it on. This might seem like a minor point, but it is important for complete control of the massager. If you switch the gun on while it’s resting on your skin, it could cause slight jarring.
- Gently rest the massage gun on the area you want to treat, there is no need to apply any force or pressure. Just allow the device to automatically float over the area.
- Move the massage gun in a gliding motion – slow, steady and gradual movement. The movement should be about one inch a second or even slower.
- If you hit a knot or area of muscle tension allow the massage gun to rest on that spot for a few moments. You do not need to apply any force or pressure – the device will do the work.
- It’s important to inhale and exhale, breathing calmly while your massager is working to relieve muscle tension, soreness or tautness. You should remain calm and relaxed during the whole percussion massage.
Here’s a video showing how the popular Hypervolt percussion massager being used (all massage guns are used in the same way):
Can a massage gun be used on all areas of the body?
Generally, the massage gun is used on the shoulders, the glutes, the back, the neck, the thighs, the calves and hips. It works through your body tissues to relieve muscle soreness and unlock any stubborn knots which may be causing niggling pain. Do not use it on your face or head area.
There are various injuries and conditions where the use of a massage gun is not recommended. For certain muscle strains and injuries, the massage gun will not help and might end up doing more harm than good. If you’re not sure about whether or not you should use it for a particular injury, consult a medical professional.
Injuries where you should avoid using a massage gun
Pulled Muscles – you cannot use a massage gun on a bad hamstring or other pulled muscle. This will not help a muscle that has already been damaged by overstretching or overuse.
Ligament Sprain – this occurs when you have stretched the muscle beyond its normal range of motion, usually you hear a pop sound when this happens.
Inflammation injuries such as tendonitis, bursitis, fasciitis, periostitis etc.
Broken Bones – This might seem the obvious one but do not use a massage gun anywhere near or on broken bones. Even if your cast is gone the area might still be weak so you should always consult your doctor or physiotherapist before using a massage gun.
How long should I massage a specific area?
This all depends on the needs of the particular muscle group. When deciding how to use a massage gun (how long) on a particular area you should use your own discretion. There are times while using the massage gun you will come up against stubborn muscle knots which require extra time to bring relief.
The recommendation is minimum of 15 seconds and maximum of 2 mins on any particular muscle group. You may want to keep the massage gun hovering over a specific spot for longer if you feel it’s necessary.
The 30 Second Muscle Activation – This is done before you start your workout. It wakes the muscles up ready for exercise.
The 15 Second Muscle Reactivation – This will be done during the workout you use the massage gun for 15 seconds on the chosen muscle group. This will reenergize and recharge the muscle stopping it from tiring fast and keeping you going for longer.
The 2 Minute Pain Relief and Recovery – This is when you hover and float the massage gun over any sore, tired, aching or tight muscle group for 2 minutes after you have finished the workout. Target the muscles which need immediate recovery therapy.
Which attachment should I use?
There are many different attachment heads available and different models will have different attachments. You usually get 2 – 10 attachments included with your gun. You may be able to purchase more depending on the model. The following are the 4 most popular interchangeable attachments that you should look for when buying a massage gun – a ball head, bullet head, flat head and fork head. These will help you to target just about any muscle group in the body successfully. More attachments than these main 4 aren’t really necessary.
- Ball – You can use the ball on your large muscle areas e.g. pecs after or before a chest press or chest workout. It can be used on your arms inner and outer. It is good for the back of the neck and bottom of your foot.
- Fork – The two pronged fork attachment mainly used around the neck and shoulder area and for the spine.
- Bullet – It is known as the advanced attachment best use is for targeting your trigger points in the body. Your focus should fall on the tight spots with this attachment. It smooths and releases niggling muscle knots the best.
- Flat – It looks like a hammer tip and is probably the most popular attachment as it’s suitable for nearly all body parts. You can use this attachment to breakdown muscle tissue in dense areas of the body. These could be the pecs, quads and back. It is more suited for the larger areas of your body and really good for all-round use.
Safety tips for using a massage gun
- Use the massage gun only as instructed by the manufacturer. Read and follow the manual which comes with your purchase. Do not make any attempts to open or repair it and only use the attachments which are supplied by the manufacturer.
- Not to be used by children. It cannot be used by any person who has reduced sensory issues and is suffering from reasoning capabilities. The massager is not a toy so cannot be given to children to play with. You must pay close attention if using it near children.
- Do not try and remove or tamper with the batteries when the massage gun is in motion.
- Only use the charger which is supplied by the manufacturer. A different charger could cause personal injury or damage. The massage gun should never be plugged into a power supply plug or any car cigarette charger outlet. This will damage the internal battery permanently.
- There are specific batteries for each individual massage gun model, do not use any other type of batteries. This may result in personal injury through electric shock.
- When charging your massager, it should be done indoors in a well ventilated and dry location. Do not charge it outdoors or in a bathroom or within 10 feet of a bathtub or pool. Do not use the device or charger on wet surfaces. The charger should never be exposed to any moisture, rain or snow.
- Never use the massage gun near any explosive atmospheres (gas fumes, dust or flammable materials), there is the danger of sparks generating a fire.
- Ensure your charger properly cared for, do not leave it plugged in all the time. Keep the charger plugged out when not in use for extended periods. When you do charge it keep the cord away from possible trips or being stepped on. If your charger or cord get damaged in any way you must replace it immediately.
- Do not block any of the vents on your massage device and do not use it if any of the vents are blocked. Keep the massage gun free of dust, hair, lint or any other objects which may reduce the air flow. Always keep your hair, loose clothes and fingers clear of vents and moving parts.
- Never try and burn, incinerate or expose the massage gun or the battery to flames. This will cause personal injury and will cause the release of toxic fumes from burning of battery.
- Do not overcharge, recommended charging time is one hour for most models. Overcharging will have an adverse impact on the battery life.
- Do not crush, drop or damage the charger. If your charger has received a sharp blow, been dropped or has been run over by anything refrain from use.
- Your massage gun should never be used under any bed covers or pillows. This will cause over heating and may cause a fire.
If you don’t already own a massage gun I definitely recommend you try one. Once you see (and feel) the benefits for yourself you probably won’t know how you lived without it! Just make sure you read the manual and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe usage. And if you’re ever unsure about how to use a massage gun (particularly if you’ve experienced an injury) make sure to consult a doctor or physiotherapist.