If the ability to give yourself a muscle-pummeling massage sounds appealing, a massage gun might be for you. These devices promise to amp up a home massage and soothe your body by melting away knots, increasing circulation, decreasing muscle pain and soreness, and reducing inflammation, among other claims. “As long as you’re not causing any detriment or harm—whether that be to the body or to the pockets—if it makes you feel better, then go ahead and use it,” said Christopher Hicks, MD, clinical associate of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation medicine at University of Chicago Medicine.
What is a massage gun—and how does it work?
A massage gun is a handheld device that delivers percussive massage: quick, repeated strikes to the body patterned after a Swedish massage technique called tapotement. You’ll notice three terms typically mentioned within massage gun specs:
- Amplitude: This term refers to how far the shaft of the device moves in and out in order to make contact with your body. The greater the amplitude—measured in millimeters—the deeper the massage, theoretically.
- Percussions per minute: Abbreviated as ppm, this is the speed at which the device drums into your body.
- Stall force: This measurement indicates the amount of pressure (in pounds) that you can apply to the device during use before the motor stops.
Most massage guns come with a variety of interchangeable attachments that allow you to target particular muscles or deliver a particular kind of massage. For instance, smaller, narrower attachments work well on areas like feet, hands, and calves; rounder, wider shapes work well on larger muscle groups such as quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Nearly all massage guns are relatively noisy and, depending on your level of sensitivity, fairly intense.
They work by quickly and repeatedly punching the body, triggering blood vessels to dilate. This action assists in hydrating muscle tissue with blood and can help release knots, explained Ericka Clinton, dean of the massage therapy program at the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences and a New York State–licensed massage therapist. “I’ve really seen amazing results with the percussion tools,” she said. “The percussion gets you that rush of blood and separation of congestion in the muscle fibers very quickly.”
Massage guns promise to speed athletic recovery, increase circulation, decrease muscle pain and soreness, reduce inflammation, and increase mobility. Scientifically, however, the validity of those claimed benefits is a bit murky.
A massage gun cannot flush lactic acid. It can’t eradicate cellulite. It can increase circulation—but so can taking a walk.
Evidence shows that manual massage (using the hands only) helps decrease pain and improve function, at least in the short term. Other research has found that vibration therapy can have a positive effect on the nervous system and help prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness. But vibration therapy—a shaking or trembling sensation that can come from equipment like vibrating foam rollers—differs from the percussive massage that massage guns offer.
What we do know is that a massage gun can also help work out a tight spot in your shoulder at the end of a workday, contribute to an energizing pre-workout warm-up, or soothe your legs as part of a post-run recovery. Therapeutically, using one can feel great—and that might be one of the most important factors. “The very most basic level of recovery is just rest and rejuvenation, and anything that facilitates that is good,” said Aschwanden.
Who should use a massage gun?
Nearly anyone can use a massage gun. One might appeal to you if you feel the effects of hunching over a phone or computer regularly or any other work-related aches and pains.
There have been two published case studies of people who have developed severe medical conditions after using massage guns. A 27-year-old with no known underlying conditions who reported using a massage gun on her neck developed vertebral artery dissection—a tear of the inner lining of a vessel that supplies blood to the brain. And a 25-year-old with untreated mild iron deficiency anemia developed rhabdomyolysis—a rare, potentially life-threatening condition in which broken-down muscle tissue releases harmful proteins into the blood—after cycling and having her thighs treated with a massage gun. While the authors of both case studies note that causality is difficult to pin down, they advocate for additional research on massage gun safety.
Those willing to pay top dollar for a powerful, well-designed massage gun with an upscale feel. Anyone who appreciates some guidance should like it, too. Reaching deep muscle group of 6mm, the deep motion of pound phosphorus constantly impacts the body, making the exciting pleasure sweep eve muscle cell. Eight massage heads Take care of every muscle group. It is suitable for the relaxation of various muscle parts and the deep stimulation of shaping legs and buttocks.
This device best for deep relaxation, relieve muscle stiffness, improve the pain after exercise. High speed noise reduction motor, strong power and low noise vibration; use increased power motor, bring strong and surging power; 3200 rpm high speed impact, relieve muscle pain after exercise. Intelligent mute chip, craftsman core drive, high efficiency mute; imported, short circuit overload protection, rapid response to instructions. Key touch adjustment, palm control 6 gear speed change; up to 6 gear vibration intensity adjustment, can easily cope with various use conditions, to meet the needs of different groups of people. High efficiency lithium battery, built-in pressure feedback system, ensure intelligent and lasting output power.
This device best for increasing blood circulation and effectively reduce muscle stiffness and sore pain.
Sphere head: For gentle deep tissue massage. Also best for large muscle groups and overall massage therapy.
Fork head: For precise spinal massage, Achilles, traps, or anywhere surrounding joints or bones.
Hammer head: For flat muscle groups and light deep-tissue massage, especially around the IT band and glutes.
Bullet head: For precise trigger point therapy, especially around hip flexors and lower back.