Massage guns are all the buzz among athletes and wellness enthusiasts lately. And whether you’re an elite athlete or a casual gym-goer who wants to keep their body in tip-top shape, you might be wondering: What are the benefits of using a massage gun, and are they really worth it?
People who prioritize their health rave about these tools. And maybe you’ve even heard your favorite pro athlete talk about them. But before you decide to dive in and spend your hard-earned cash on a massage gun, you should know about their advantages (and how to use one safely.)
Below, learn about the benefits of massage guns, how they work, and the best tips for getting started.
How Do Massage Guns Work?
A massage gun is a tool that uses a bursting, pulsing motion to strike your muscles, fascia, and other soft tissue.
In essence, it’s like a more targeted, powered-up version of a body massager.
You’ll often see massage guns with a round foam ball at the end, but many of them come with interchangeable heads for different uses. Some are good for large muscle groups, while others are better for pesky knots and trigger points.
The rapid-fire striking these guns use is called percussive therapy. This phrase refers to the quick “percussing” of the muscles. This motion helps you knead deeply into tense muscle fibers and soft tissue with total control.
The best part about owning a massage gun is that your massage experience is all up to you. You control the speed and pressure in real-time. If it’s not strong enough, you can turn it up, and you can also dial it back when the pressure is too high.
Massage Gun Benefits
So, are massage guns good for you? To find out, it all starts with learning about their potential benefits and how to obtain them.
Disclaimer: Although massage guns may provide a wide range of benefits, it’s important to note that this page shouldn’t be used as personal training or medical advice. Always be sure to check in with your physical therapist or healthcare team before getting started.
Without further ado, here are nine ways a massage gun can improve your training routine and support your well-being.
1. Muscle Tension and Ache Relief
A massage gun can help you melt away the tension in achy muscles — and this benefit isn’t just for athletes. These tools can help with all kinds of aches, whether they’re from hunching over a desk all day or training hard at the gym.
Repeated striking can help break up muscle fibers that are stuck or tight. In turn, this can relieve some of the pain that stems from that tension.
If you decide to use a massage gun for muscle tension, remember not to spend too much time in one spot. Many experts note that a few 10-to-15-second sweeps over a single muscle is enough to do the trick.
2. Healthy Blood Flow
Many types of massage have the power to boost blood flow — even light, gentle massage. This is because friction on soft tissue can help get stagnant blood moving. At the same time, it makes room for new blood to flow in.
Thanks to a massage gun’s high intensity, it can be one of the best ways to promote circulation in the areas where you need it.
3. Range of Motion and Flexibility
One of the worst nuisances for athletes is stiff, achy muscles that don’t allow for a full range of motion. Muscles can become rigid due to inflammation and tension, which are all too common in today’s world.
The good news is that massage guns can support flexibility and range of motion. It’s thought that this benefit is possible because they:
- Promote healthy blood flow
- Relieve tight muscles around the joints
Better flexibility is helpful for anyone. But for athletes, it’s crucial. This benefit is one of the main reasons so many athletes swear by using a massage gun.
4. Simple Stress Relief
Like other forms of massage, massage guns are excellent for simple stress relief. Of course, they provide many health benefits — but at the end of the day, they simply feel good.
The best attachment to use for general relaxation is the airiest, lightest head that your device comes with. Simply run your massage gun along the tensest areas of your body for a couple of minutes to enjoy stress relief.
5. Muscle Knots
Massage guns are great for targeting small problem areas, like stressed-out knots and trigger points. This is because they can loosen up tight tissue and muscle fibers that may be contributing to the discomfort.
To work out a knot, use your device for steady 10-to-15-second spurts near the area. Be sure not to press down or add additional force while doing so. This can help you break up tight spots without using too much pressure.
6. Better Sleep
The magic of massage guns may also help you get better sleep. When used intentionally, they can promote your body’s relaxation response and ease stress before bed.
Simply set your device on low-to-medium pressure and gently glide it along your shoulders, arms, and legs for a couple of minutes. This can bring you a boost of feel-good relaxation and prepare you for a deep night’s rest.
7. Healthy Recovery After Exercise
One of the top benefits of using a massage gun is that it can promote healthy recovery after exercise.
Many athletes use a massage gun after their workouts to stimulate the muscles they used that day. This promotes healthy circulation and oxygen-rich blood flow to the area, which may help with the recovery process.
A bonus is that massage guns can also ease stress and promote healthy sleep — both of which are key for recovery.
8. Warms Up the Muscles Before Exercise
One of the most valuable benefits of using a massage gun is that it can help your muscles fire up before exercise. Its rapid-striking motions can:
- Promote blood flow
- Stimulate your muscles
- Support mobility
Together, these benefits can greatly amp up your fitness routine. Before you dive into your workout, you can try spending 30 to 40 seconds floating over each muscle group to warm them up.
To get the best results from your massage session, be sure to combine your favorite stretching routine along with it.
9. Boosts Your Overall Well-Being
The benefits of better sleep, healthy recovery, flexibility, blood flow, and de-stressing make for the perfect combination to promote general well-being.
Many athletes swear by the benefits of using a massage gun for this very reason. They’re easy to use, great for your muscles, and in some cases, are game-changing for how your body feels and performs.
Tips for Using a Massage Gun
After hearing about the benefits of using a massage gun, you might feel tempted to run to the store and pick one up. But be patient — there are a few things you should know before you get started.
Here are five key tips to remember while using one of these tools.
- Turn your device on before applying it to your body. This allows you to have better control of your session (and avoid any mishaps from too much pressure!)
- Start on a low setting. This gives your muscles a chance to warm up to the motions. After a few seconds, you can increase the intensity to your desired level.
- Pay attention to your body’s signals. Of course, working out knots and trigger points can feel slightly uncomfortable at times. But if something feels painful, ease off of it and focus on other areas. You can always come back to that spot another day.
- Choose the right attachment. Any high-quality massage gun will come with different head attachments. Be sure to read the manual to determine which one is right for your needs.
- Be mindful when deciding how long—and how often—to use your device. Massage guns can feel incredible, but they shouldn’t be used for an excessive amount of time each day. When in doubt, check in with your physical therapist or doctor to see what they suggest.
Using a Massage Gun on Arms and Shoulders
Arms and shoulders do all the heavy lifting in your day-to-day life, and that’s why massage can feel so good in these spots.
Here are a few tips for using a massage gun on some of your busiest upper body muscles:
- To reach your shoulders, hold the device behind your head, with your elbow pointed to the sky. You can spend 20 to 30 seconds floating it across the shoulder muscles for tension relief.
- To work your arm muscles, you can pass over your upper arm region for 10 to 30 seconds. When massaging your forearm, stay focused on the meatier areas. Avoid the crux of the arm and the wrist.
Glutes and Legs
Your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves are some of the hardest-working muscles in your body, and it’s important to take care of them.
Here are some tips for using your massage gun on each of these areas.
- To use a massage gun on your glutes, it’s best to start from a standing position. With the massage gun in hand, you can then lower your arm to reach the muscle, gliding over it for up to two minutes.
- To target the quads, start in a seated position on a chair or couch. Sweep your device over the muscle, pausing for a couple of seconds to work on extra sore spots.
- To massage your hamstrings, stand and reach behind your body. Glide the device across the muscle fibers several times, for up to two minutes.
- To reach your calves, start in either a seated or standing position. Begin with low pressure and sweep the gun along the length of your calf for several seconds.
Upper and Lower Back
If you’re like most people, your upper and lower back are home to occasional aches and pains. Here are some helpful tips for reaching these spots with your massage gun:
- Don’t be afraid to ask a partner for help. If working with a partner to get those hard-to-reach areas, be sure to create an open line of communication so you can talk about what feels good and what doesn’t.
- Focus on the areas around the spine, rather than the spine itself. There are tight muscles and tissues around the spine that can benefit from a massage gun. However, these tools should only be used where there is soft tissue. Using them too close to your spine (and other bones) could lead to bruising or injury.
Choosing a Massage Gun: Features to Know About
Ready to dive in and purchase a massage gun? Here are a few features to consider before you settle on one.
Portability (and Battery Life)
One of the greatest benefits of using a massage gun is the ability to use it any time and anywhere — at home, in the gym between sets, or even on a pause mid-bike ride.
Make sure the tool you end up with is portable with long-lasting battery life, so you can use it whenever you need it most.
Speed and Pressure Settings
Your massage gun should have easy-to-adjust settings, ranging from light pressure and slower speed to strong pressure for deep relief.
Quality massage guns like the MedMassager Accuvibe Mini offer adjustable settings on a touch-screen to help you customize your massage with ease.
Most massage guns will come with a range of attachments for different uses. The larger, rounder heads are perfect for targeting large muscle groups. On the other hand, the smaller ones are typically better for knots and other small aches.
Things can go wrong with even the best of products — it happens. So, make sure to buy from a reputable brand that offers a warranty in the case of mishaps. A one-year warranty should be plenty to protect you from any malfunctions or breakdowns.
How Often (And for How Long) Should You Use a Massage Gun?
A massage gun can feel amazingly soothing, and once you get started, you might want to use it forever. But how often — and for how long — should you really use one of these tools?
With these devices, it’s important to know that more isn’t necessarily better. Many experts agree that it’s safe to use massage guns for up to two minutes per muscle group, up to a few times per day. Any longer (or more often) than that, and you may risk bruising.
Because the relief is so deep and targeted, 10 to 45 seconds in each spot is often all you need to reap the benefits.
Risks and Precautions
There can be too much of a good thing when it comes to nearly anything in life — yes, even massage guns. Here’s what you should know about the risks and preventative measures you should take while using one.
Watch Out for Irritating Injuries or Skin
The fast, in-the-moment relief of a massage gun makes it tempting for nearly any occasion. But for some injuries (particularly fresh ones), using one is probably not your best choice.
For example, you should avoid using a massage gun directly on new muscle strains and sprains. In these cases, their powerful striking force can do more harm than good.
Aside from that, avoid use and/or check with your doctor if you have:
- Broken bones or other acute musculoskeletal injuries
- Chronic conditions like arthritis, varicose veins, or high blood pressure
- Bursitis, tendonitis, or fasciitis
- Autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis
- Any other conditions, diseases, or injuries that you feel unsure about
Massage guns are powerful, and that’s why it’s important to make sure you know all the facts before getting started. Here are some precautions to keep in mind:
Don’t push down or add extra force.
One of the benefits of using a massage gun is that it does all of the massaging for you. For this reason, you don’t need to push down or use additional force, as this could irritate or even injure your soft tissue.
As you use your device, remember that your only job is to glide it along your muscles while it does the work.
Avoid bony areas.
Percussion massagers go deep, and there usually isn’t enough tissue in bony areas to warrant their use there. Overall, it’s best to only use your massage gun in places with thicker layers of muscle tissue.
Don’t use a massage gun on your neck, chest, face, or head.
These areas don’t have much protective tissue. And in some cases, using a massage gun on them comes with added risks.
For instance, the neck is home to your carotid artery, making deep massage dangerous there. The side of the neck is also very tender, so it’s best to stick to the surrounding muscles instead.
As for the chest, face, and head — there isn’t enough tissue to protect these spots from (or even benefit from) high-pressure massage.
Avoid areas with sensory issues.
Sensory feedback is vital while using a massage gun. Without it, you could irritate or damage parts of your body. If you have a condition such as peripheral neuropathy, be sure to check with your doctor before trying one of these tools.
Frequently Asked Questions About Massage Guns
As you now know, there are nearly countless benefits of using a massage gun. But these tools are relatively new to the world, and there are a lot of myths floating around about their use.
Here are a couple of common questions and answers to clear things up.
Can Massage Guns Help with Weight Loss?
You might’ve heard that massage guns can boost weight loss. However, the anecdotal stories surrounding this are likely due to the other health benefits that these tools can offer (rather than promoting weight loss directly.)
Of course, massage guns can support your fitness routine and overall health. And better sleep, less stress, and enhanced exercise recovery could certainly aid in a person’s weight loss journey. But there isn’t enough evidence to say that a massage gun alone could help you burn calories and slim down.
Should a Massage Gun Hurt?
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to feel any pain to reap the benefits of massage guns. Sometimes, it might feel a little uncomfortable, but it should never be downright painful.
All in all, it’s supposed to make your body feel good, so keep that in mind while you use one.
The Bottom Line on the Benefits of Massage Guns
Massage guns use percussive therapy to provide remarkable whole-body benefits. Using one can promote healthy blood flow, support muscle recovery, and even warm up your body before a workout.
Best of all, massage guns fit in the palm of your hand — making them the perfect on-the-go tool for instant relief.
These devices are powerful, so it’s essential to use them mindfully and intentionally. You can reap plenty of benefits simply by gliding one over your muscles for a minute or two at a time. And if you’re feeling unsure about anything, be sure to talk to your doctor to determine what’s right for you.