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  • Laurel Sampson MPT

Massage Guns - Trendy Fad or Worth the Investment?

Massage Guns are the new rage and many people may have received them this most recent holiday season, but are they really all they are cracked up to be? To find out if they are worth it we have to first figure out when they are appropriate to use.

There are a lot of things that can cause pain, but much of the blame often lies on tension, myofascial tightness, trigger points etc. The basic concept of treating this myofascial tightness and trigger points is pressure to promote improved blood flow to an area. Massage guns are one viable option to provide that direct pressure for treatment, however, there can be some risk factors to consider.

People tend to approach self treatment from a “more is better” or “no pain, no gain” perspective. This can lead to bruising and injury to blood vessels especially if you are on any medications that thin your blood or increase risk for bruising. Instead, it is recommended you start with the lightest intensity and for 30-60 seconds (2 minutes absolute max) of treatment with the massager for an area.

Some providers have suggested not using the massage guns for pulled muscles, sprained ligaments, inflammatory issues like tendinitis and fractures. I would agree completely with fractures and acute inflammatory issues. There may be a time when massaging eventually becomes appropriate but ideally this would be under the instruction and education of a PT.

When purchasing one, you also need to think about what is easiest for you to use. There are different sizes, designs and weights. You need to be able to easily hold the device in different positions without abnormal postures or substitution of muscles (generally this would be upper trapezius muscles when elevating the shoulders). Even something rather lightweight can become difficult to hold for a longer duration.

Costs: $65 to $1370. In terms of products, like most things you get what you pay for. But it depends your activity level and intensity. If you are a professional athlete who does intense work outs and participates in sports for your living, it might very well be worth the top end investments. If you are having some mild soreness and are average in your activity level, the lower end products are very appropriate, safe and beneficial.

TIPS (from

  • Turn a massage gun on before you touch it to your body. You could bruise yourself if you turn it on while it’s touching your skin.

  • Start with the lowest speed. If you start at a higher speed, it may cause pain and even injury.

  • Don’t press the massage gun into your muscles when you first start treatment. Instead, allow it to glide gently over the skin. You can then gradually increase the pressure as you go back over the muscle.

  • Move the massage gun slowly over your treatment area. You don’t want to cover more than an inch per second.

  • Loosen muscle knots. If you have a knot, allow the massage gun to sit on the area — without pressing into it — for several minutes. This helps loosen up the muscle and soothe any stiffness.

  • Take deep, slow breaths as you use the massage gun. It helps you relax, making the entire treatment more soothing and beneficial.

The biggest lesson with anything new is "everything in moderation". Everyone's body is different and every injury is different. It is important to see what feels good and is helpful with your body at a certain point. Massage guns can be useful and fun, just don't add insult to injury.

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