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What Is Percussive Therapy Massage?

We all know that our muscles can ache after long and/or hard runs. Runners are always looking for ways to soothe those aches and help their muscles recover faster. Percussive therapy massage is one of those options.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about percussive therapy massage, particularly for those who are using a percussive therapy massage gun at home.

Percussive massage therapy is something that you can do in the comfort of your own home. Rather than getting a massage every couple weeks, you can use a handheld device to do it yourself. You can get pain relief without ever having to walk out your door.

Percussive therapy targets pulses that concentrate pressure into your muscles, much like soft-tissue massage techniques. In other words, it’s a consistent, rapid-pressure movement that stimulates your muscles.

Many experts see percussive massage therapy as a more comprehensive way to get relief to both soft and deep muscle tissue fibers. Some say that it is akin to foam rolling.

What are the Benefits of Percussive Massage Therapy?

Scientific research has proven the importance of massage therapy in recovery. You’ll recover significantly faster, and percussive therapy specifically is known for being the best. In addition to muscle recovery, you’ll help to reduce muscle pain and lactic acid build-up.

You’ll also improve your range of motion and flexibility and promote a better blood flow, which means that your heart won’t have to work as hard. Additionally, you may even be able to improve your sleep and reduce your stress with percussive massage therapy.

While traditional massages or foam rolling also help your muscles recover, percussive therapy is supposed to do it more effectively and more efficiently. While results vary depending on the individual, massage guns are low risk and can produce substantial results for many people.

This is especially if you’re sensitive to deep tissue massages. You might be able to use a percussive therapy massage gun instead, since it’s less painful. Massage guns aren’t super cheap, but they are cheaper than several massage therapy sessions.

What Can Percussive Therapy Massage Treat?

Percussive therapy can be used for injury correction and prevention as well as sports performance. Some common injuries percussive therapy is used to treat include shin splints, muscle soreness, tendonitis, and bursitis.

More broadly, percussive therapy helps with breaking down internal scar tissue, increasing circulation, elongating muscle fiber (important if you’re experiencing stiffness), and relieving joint stiffness.

How Do You Use a Percussive Therapy Massage Gun at Home?

You’ll likely want to return from a run or a hard workout and use the gun immediately. Use it for two minutes on muscles that are either sore now, or muscles that you think will be sore later. Target other muscles for 30-60 seconds. Don’t forget to stretch too!

And you don’t have to be a bodybuilder to use one. Just “float” the device over sore muscles. You don’t have to apply much pressure. If you want a more intense massage, change the device attachment. The smaller the area, the more intense a massage you will get.

You can also use massage guns pre-workout, but for shorter periods of time because you’re just trying to “wake up” the muscles and get blood flowing. Simply target muscles you’ll be working for 30 seconds or less. Any massage gun you purchase will come with directions.

Finally, you should be careful when using massage guns on injuries or broken bones. You’ll likely want to talk with your doctor.

In the end, percussive therapy massage is a technique that many athletes and even business people use to alleviate pain from stress and muscle tension and to promote recovery. It’s worth looking into to see if percussive therapy massage might help you!

Massage Gun Buying Guide

Now that you’ve decided that you want to purchase a percussive therapy massage gun, you might be wondering what to look for when buying a gun. Let’s dive in:

Motor Speed

The success of percussive therapy massage comes from the speed at which it is able to target your muscles. Make sure that any massage gun that you purchase has a sufficient number of RPMs. Typically, a minimum would be about 1,600 rpm.

You may also want to consider if the massage gun that you are considering has several different speeds, so that you can adjust as needed. This means that you’ll be able to use it successfully on multiple parts of your body.

Volume

Volume comes down to personal preference. Because it is rapid, mechanical movement, there is going to be some noise coming from the gun, so it won’t be silent. However, is the gun quiet? If it’s excessively loud, does that bother you?

You might want to see if you can try out a couple different models in the store to see what noise level you can accept. You might also want to factor in when you’ll be using it.

If your house is full of kids and already noisy, maybe a little bit louder isn’t an issue. However, you might want something quieter because that’s more relaxing.

Weight

Obviously, a massage gun is going to be easier to use if it’s lighter, although if you’re a stronger man, this might not be as important. Typically, massage guns weigh a couple pounds. If it’s closer to 2 lbs, that’s on the more lightweight end.

Attachments

Some massage guns come with different attachments so that you can put more on less pressure on your muscle fibers. Hint: the smaller the attachment, the more pressure it will provide. Some experts recommend having at least five different attachments.

If you aren’t looking for a lot of versatility, the number of attachments probably doesn’t matter. But if you want your massage gun to be able to reach a lot of different areas, then the greater number of attachments, the better.

Portability

If you’re only planning to use the massage gun at home, it’s probably fine if it isn’t super portable. However, if you’d like to take it to the gym, or if you work out a lot when traveling, you’ll want something more portable.

You might also want to consider to see if it comes with a carrying case to make it easier to haul it from place to place (and keep it safer and in good condition).

Battery

If you are buying a battery-powered model, consider how long the battery lasts and make sure that it meets your needs. You’ll be able to use it anywhere, but you’ll always need batteries.

Other devices work exclusively on electricity, meaning that you can use it without having to worry about batteries. You will need to worry about access to electricity.

If you’re just planning to use your massage gun at home, though, an electrical massage gun might work just fine since you should always have access to a plug at home.

Cost

Massage guns can vary in cost. Nicer ones can be a couple hundred dollars, although you can get massage guns for cheaper than that. You might want to consider a nicer model if you’re planning to replace a monthly $100 massage with a massage gun.

If that’s the case, maybe splurge. But if you just want an alternative to massages or if you don’t want the most expensive massage gun, you certainly don’t have to spend several hundred dollars.

In the end, the type of massage gun that you purchase all comes down to your preferences and how you’re planning to use the massage gun. The clearer an understanding you have of what you want to get from the massage gun, the better you’ll know what type of gun to get.

The Wired Runner