Should You Be Using Massage Guns To Ease Sore Muscles?
Most gyms now display all sorts of self-massage gadgets. If you are wondering just how effective a massage gun is, you’ve come to the right place. We spoke to an expert and dug into the research to check whether your fitness arsenal needs a massage gun.
Massage guns are all the rage in the fitness industry. Massage gun supporters claim that this percussive massage therapy relaxes muscles. However, the skeptics claim that massage guns are no more effective than any traditional massages. What does research have to say about massage guns and their benefits?
A massage gun is an electronic device that drives a small rubber or foam supplement into and for motion. This handheld device, with the back and forth motion, can rub, pat, and wobble the muscles of the body. To use a massage gun is simple: place the foam attachment on your skin and turn it on. Once the motor is turned on, the device moves the attachment in a circular or back and forth motion.
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To break it down, a massage gun does what masseurs do during massage therapy. However, the difference between the two is that you can use a massage gun any time anywhere. However, it cannot replicate some massage techniques such as effleurage that is stroking gently in a circular motion and kneading movements popularly known as petrissage.
You may use a massage gun for many reasons, but if you look at any manufacturer’s website, it mainly:
1. Improves blood flow and reduces inflammation post intense workout
2. Reduces soreness after an intense exercise session
3. Provides extensive muscle relaxation that in turn helps to increase mobility and reduce stress levels.
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Exercise induced muscle soreness is classified into acute muscle soreness and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Acute muscle soreness is also referred to as immediate muscle soreness. This is often described as a burning pain. It’s caused by a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles. This type of muscle soreness resolves quickly whereas DOMS peaks 24 to 72 hours after exercise. This is the pain and stiffness you feel the day after you exercise, as your body goes to work on the process to repair muscle fibers that were torn during exercise.
“This is where the massage gun aids in helping move lactic acid out of the muscles that you fatigued during exercise, which makes it ideal for quicker workout recovery when compared with foam rollers or massage therapy,” says Dr. Shafali Eugri, Senior Physiotherapist at Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad.
DOMS in addition to being uncomfortable, might change the posture and biomechanics of the body. A recent study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2019 investigated the effect of massage guns on athletes. The study had a control group that did not use massage guns while the other group used massage guns post-workout. At the end of the study, the researchers from the University of Rouen concluded that the massage gun subjects experienced 50 per cent less DOMS in comparison to the control group. Another article published in Springer Journal, 2017 showed similar results about benefits of massage guns on active men.
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Further, Dr Shefali adds that “massage guns are also used in medical conditions like sciatica, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, scar tissue, TMJ syndrome and nonspecific low back pains”. Even though the results support massage guns, we must acknowledge that the dataset is very small (30 and 13). Also, research focusing entirely on massage guns is sparse, so we must consult a physiotherapist before drawing any conclusions.
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