Whether you’re a professional athlete or a hobbyist fitness enthusiast, the importance of looking after your physical health can’t be overstated. If you don’t make sure you’re tending to any injuries or problems that arise as a result of working out, then you could not only impede your ability to work out in future, but also do serious damage to yourself.
One of the ways in which athletes and fitness lovers often look after their health is with a massage gun. These are devices that stimulate tissue with percussive therapy, and many personal trainers and coaches swear by them. With that in mind, though, what exactly is a massage gun and how are they supposed to be used? Here’s our rundown of the most popular uses for a massage gun. If you’re looking to buy your own gun and want to know what the best options are, then you can read more here for more info on that. Let’s get started!
Alleviating muscle stiffness after a workout
The number one use for a massage gun is to help you relieve some of your muscle stiffness after a workout. It’s a well-known fact that if you work out too hard – especially if you’re not used to working out – then your muscles can seize up, leading to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) hours after you finish your workout. A massage gun can help you to alleviate these symptoms by targeting the sore muscles and making sure they’re still being stimulated, thus potentially reducing some of the pain you might feel from DOMS. It’s not completely foolproof – there is, after all, no way to completely remove DOMS short of working out more slowly – but a massage gun should help if you’re struggling.
Limbering up before a workout
As well as using your massage gun to help you out after a workout, you can also try to use it in order to prepare you for a session. This can be especially helpful if you’re experiencing DOMS from your previous workout; DOMS can be one of the biggest reasons people don’t want to hit the treadmill or lift weights again after a particularly gruelling session, so using your massage gun can help here. Make sure you’re not being too harsh on your muscles, because you could actually do more harm than good if you punish yourself too much. Lightly and gently apply your massage gun for a few seconds at a time to get the maximum effect if you’re feeling sore.
Improving your motion range
You can use a massage gun to significantly improve your range of motion, which can be hugely helpful if, for example, you’re about to go for a run. When used in conjunction with stretching, a massage gun has been found to improve range of motion by up to 80%, so they can be extremely useful additional tools when you’re trying to improve the quality of your next workout. Again, be sure not to apply the percussion therapy too liberally; use the gun for a few seconds at a time on the muscles you’re going to be stretching, then perform your stretching routine as normal. You’ll likely find that stretching is more effective because you used the gun.
Improving your sleep quality
While the use of a massage gun to improve sleep quality isn’t necessarily a direct correlation, it’s certainly extremely helpful. If you use a massage gun regularly, it can help to stimulate your sympathetic nervous system’s receptors, which will in turn release tension and assist you with relaxation. Similarly, if your muscles are in intense pain, using a massage gun to alleviate that pain will mean you have a higher quality of sleep because you won’t be tossing and turning. Massage guns can also improve your immune system for similar reasons, so they’re not just little workout wonders – they have myriad other health benefits too!
Boosting your flexibility
Have you ever started a workout, only to realise that you simply can’t move your arms or legs the way you need to? A massage gun can help you with that. Research has shown that massage guns boost your flexibility thanks to muscle spindle synchronisation. This has the added benefit of improving your sense of balance and your overall posture, which is something that many of us need. When your flexibility is better, you’ll also find that your workout is easier and less arduous, which, in turn, will lead to better results. As such, a massage gun can also be used to help you maximise your potential during a workout and emerge with a higher overall level of fitness.
Boosting blood flow
One of the massage gun’s key benefits is that it improves your blood flow. When you undergo a particularly taxing workout, lactic acid begins to build up in your muscles, which is largely what causes the pain you feel. You can help to counteract this effect by boosting your circulation, which is something vibrational therapy (which is what you’re doing when you use a massage gun) can assist with. By applying percussive force to your muscles, you’ll improve your blood flow, which, in turn, will help to combat lactic acid buildup and DOMS. You can even use the massage gun if you’re not working out – if you find you have sore muscles for any other reason, the massage gun will work just as well in that scenario!