The body’s musculoskeletal system consists of bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues. These parts get pushed to the extreme with everyday wear and tear, job, school, house chores, and tasks. All the flexing and contracting cause tightness, strain, and soreness that can contribute to negative muscle behavior that holds the muscles in an unhealthy position and in a semi-flexed or tightened state. An example is an unhealthy posture that becomes the norm for an individual. A percussive massage can release tightness, maintain flexibility, relieve discomfort, alleviate stress, and improve circulation.
Percussive Massage Therapy
A percussive/percussion massage is a form of physical therapy that utilizes vibration through repeated pressure bursts to massage muscles. Percussive therapy offers more control over targeted muscle groups than foam rollers and other static massagers. The treatment involves using an electric massage device to relieve muscle tension. Different massage heads for various therapeutic purposes move rapidly and forcefully, applying pressure directly to the soft tissues while the vibrations help release and loosen the areas.
How The Massage Works
- Fascia, which wraps around the muscles and joints, can become tight and inflamed, causing soreness and pain.
- Research shows that tight fascia can limit mobility and proper range of motion.
- When a muscle group is stiff and limits the range of motion of a specific part of the body, the rest of the muscles and body will overcompensate. This increases the risk of serious injury.
- Percussive therapy loosens the tissues and increases blood circulation.
- Once the stiffness and soreness are relieved, continued percussive therapy can prevent tightness from reforming, improve the range of motion, and speed up muscle recovery.
- Massage guns can penetrate up to an inch into the soft tissue, stimulating the muscles and helping release tension.
- Percussive massage distributes the thickened fascia fluid to relieve pressure and tightness.
- Repeated pressure at high speed thins the fluids, making the fascia more workable so the muscles can move easily and efficiently.
- Lactic acid builds up in the muscles after working, physical activity, and exercise.
- This build-up causes soreness and pain.
- The percussion forces muscle fibers to release the lactic acid, reducing the soreness.
Decreased DOMS/Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- It’s common to experience pain and soreness 24 to 72 hours after unfamiliar physical activity, such as a new job, exercise routine, or rehabilitation after injury or surgery.
- This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, which results from tiny muscle fiber tears.
- Percussive therapy increases skin temperature, blood flow, and hormonal responses to reduce inflammation and pain.
- After work, school, physical activities, and working out, a percussive massage session can help the body wind down and relax.
- A percussive massage will help the muscles release and relax when the body is exhausted or overwhelmed.
How To Use A Percussive Massager
- Before starting a new medical treatment, including percussion therapy, talk to your doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor.
- Ensure you know the difference between normal muscle soreness and pain from an injury.
- Don’t use a massager on an injured muscle or body part, as the aggressive motion could aggravate the injury.
- Avoid using the device on bones or joints.
- Never use a massage gun directly on the neck; perform the massage on the shoulders and upper back.
- Start with the lowest intensity level.
- The low and medium settings should provide plenty of power for most users.
- As you become more comfortable with the device, you’ll understand how your body reacts then you can try out the higher settings.
- A percussive massager should be used in short bursts on small, targeted areas.
- It is recommended to perform treatments for only a few minutes.
- Seeing the muscles turning reddish during the massage signals that blood is flowing and it’s time to move on to another area.
- If the massage gun makes the skin sore or sensitive, make tiny circles instead of holding the massager in one spot.
- Some massagers have pressure-sensing technology to help apply the right amount of pressure.
Combined with chiropractic and professional massage, percussive therapy can help individuals maintain a relaxed musculoskeletal system.
Best Massage Guns
Cafarelli, E et al. “Vibratory massage and short-term recovery from muscular fatigue.” International journal of sports medicine vol. 11,6 (1990): 474-8. doi:10.1055/s-2007-1024840
Cerciello, Simone, et al. “Clinical applications of vibration therapy in orthopedic practice.” Muscles, ligaments and tendons journal vol. 6,1 147-56. 19 May. 2016, doi:10.11138/mltj/2016.6.1.147
Cheatham, Scott W et al. “Mechanical Percussion Devices: A Survey of Practice Patterns Among Healthcare Professionals.” International journal of sports physical therapy vol. 16,3 766-777. 2 Jun. 2021, doi:10.26603/001c.23530
García-Sillero, Manuel et al. “Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment on Movement Velocity during Resistance Training.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 18,15 7726. 21 Jul. 2021, doi:10.3390/ijerph18157726
Jack Martin, “A critical evaluation of percussion muscle gun therapy as a rehabilitation tool focusing on lower limb mobility.” A literature review. Department of Health and Wellbeing. The University of Winchester. osf.io/preprints/sportrxiv/j9ya8/
Imtiyaz, Shagufta et al. “To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR vol. 8,1 (2014): 133-6. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/7294.3971
Konrad, Andreas et al. “The Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment with a Hypervolt Device on Plantar Flexor Muscles’ Range of Motion and Performance.” Journal of sports science & medicine vol. 19,4 690-694. 19 Nov. 2020
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