How to Use a Massage Gun the Right Way

If you're someone who's just getting into sports and exercise, you're probably get sore after training. Chances are that you're overworking your muscles, or your body just isn't used to it. Whether you're new to exercise or not, one thing that has become a mainstream recovery tool is the massage gun.

Massage guns are ingenious tools that allow you to provide physical therapy to yourself, with the aim of relieving muscle soreness, improving recovery time, and more.

However, massage guns need to be used the right way, and using them improperly can result in more harm than good. Let's find out how to use a massage gun.


What is a Massage Gun?

How to Use a Massage Gun the Right Way

A massage gun is a home or a personal therapy tool that allows you to give yourself a deep and relaxing massage without having to go out and pay a professional. 

Massage guns have motors built into them which cause the head or attachment to move back and forth at various speeds and with various power levels. This is also known as percussive therapy, as massage guns use repeated force or percussions to provide your muscles with relief and healing benefits.

Depending on the massage gun you have, it will have rubber, foam, or plastic heads and will often have different shape heads to choose from.

Massage guns are touted for their beneficial capabilities, such as helping to improve blood flow and circulation, decreasing muscle recovery time, improving flexibility, decreasing muscle pain and soreness, and more. Let's move on and take a closer look at exactly how massage guns work.


How Does a Massage Gun Work?

Massage guns use what is known as percussive therapy, or in some cases vibration therapy, and in rare cases, both together. With that being said, percussive therapy and vibration therapy aren't quite the same things, so let's find out what makes them different.

First we have vibration therapy, which applies a very small amount of force to soft tissue. It's known as vibration therapy because the movement is very minimal. Vibration therapy is all about using a very low amount of force to penetrate to a maximum depth of 10mm in your muscles or soft tissue. It's almost like a Swedish massage.

We then have percussive therapy, which involves the use of repeated strikes or percussions on your muscles and soft tissues to help provide relief in various forms. 

Percussive therapy goes much deeper than vibration therapy, often 16 millimeters into your muscles or deeper, therefore allowing for a good deep tissue massage. Massage guns that use percussive force are generally considered better for extreme pain relief and for improving overall athletic performance.


How to Use a Massage Gun Before Exercise

How to Use a Massage Gun the Right Way

One mistake that many people make is thinking that massage guns can only be used after workouts to relieve muscle soreness. However, this isn't the case, because using a massage gun is also helpful in terms of warming up your muscles.

If you plan on taking part in a heavy exercise routine, warming up is very important to increase muscle flexibility. If you don't warm up properly, chances are that you'll suffer some kind of injury.

You might think that stretching is the only way to warm up, but massage guns make for a great warmup tool as well. If you plan on using a massage gun as a warm up method, turn it to its lowest settings and spend up to two minutes on each muscle group, as well as up to 30 seconds on supporting muscles.

Generally speaking, if we are talking about recovery purposes and to reduce muscle soreness, it's not recommended to spend more than 15 or 30 seconds on a single muscle group.

However, if we are talking about a warm up, as long as the massage gun is on its lowest settings, up to two minutes should be fine. This will help warm up your muscles, improve your flexibility, improve circulation, and decrease your chances of injury during your workout.


How to Use a Massage Gun After Exercise

How to Use a Massage Gun the Right Way

If you're feeling sore after your workout, then using a massage gun is certainly recommended.

First, many people use percussive therapy not as a form of healing, but to cool down their bodies after a workout. Massage guns may be able to relax the nervous system by dulling pain signals, therefore allowing you to cool down and achieve a relaxed state after a heavy workout.

Using percussive therapy after a workout is also beneficial because it helps increase circulation and blood flow, therefore delivering more protein and oxygen, as well as other nutrients to your fatigued muscles.It also helps to decrease lactic acid build-ups, ultimately relieving pain and decreasing muscle recovery time, so you can get to your next workout faster and perform better every time.

To use a massage gun on sore muscles, start with the lowest settings to avoid any unneeded pain. If using a massage gun to loosen up sore muscles, it's recommended to not spend more than 15 or 30 seconds at most on a single muscle group. If you do, you might end up causing more pain and damage than you originally had. Spend 15 to 30 seconds on each muscle group while applying moderate pressure, but not so much to cause yourself extreme pain.


Things to Avoid When Using a Massage Gun

How to Use a Massage Gun the Right Way

Here are a couple of things that you want to avoid doing when using a massage gun. Remember, these tips are for your own safety and well-being.

  • Do not use a massage gun on open wounds.
  • Bruises and other injuries, particularly musculoskeletal injuries, should be avoided.
  • Do not use a massage gun on any joints or bones.
  • If a massage gun causes you extreme pain, stop using it immediately and consult a healthcare professional.
  • Unless you first talk to a healthcare professional, do not use a massage gun if you have any muscular musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis, osteoporosis or fibromyalgia.

How Often Can I Use a Massage Gun?

As long as you stick to the recommended usage time, which usually involves not using a massage gun for more than 15 or 30 seconds on a single muscle group (for pain and soreness relief), up to three times per day, you should be just fine. With that being said, specific massage guns come with their own instructions, which should be followed.


Final Thoughts

How to Use a Massage Gun the Right Way

The bottom line is that massage guns are exceedingly simple to use. They provide you with a way to warm up your muscles and to heal sore muscles after an intense workout. If you're always feeling sore, but you don't want to invest big bucks into weekly physical therapy sessions, getting a massage gun is a fantastic option to consider.

Author's Photo

William Parrett

Will, co-founder of Home Gym Supply, launched the company in 2019 after 15-years in the fitness industry. His expertise stems not only from his professional background but also from his athletic pursuits. A former competitor in the World Beauty Fitness & Fashion (WBFF) and a competitive rugby player, Will has always been dedicated to health and fitness.