Everywhere you look, someone is trying to tell you that having a massage gun in your training bag is a must – but should we consider buying one, and if so, what are the advantages of owning one?
So let’s turn the clock back ten years. If we had a niggle or a knot in one of our muscles, the ‘go-to’ solution would be to stretch, roller or maybe book in a not-so-relaxing sports massage. These are all good options to help with tired or achy muscles, but the latter can sometimes take a while before it happens, at which time the problem could have worsened or sometimes gone away.
In the past 5-10 years, portable massage guns have become the craze. You can pick one up for as little as £30, so you can see why the average gym-goer may have one tucked away in their locker. But, are they any good?
Well, as a sports masseur who has carried out hundreds of sports massages in my time, I transitioned to a massage gun around seven years ago. Mainly because my hands were getting tired, and doing massage after massage for an hour at a time took up a lot of time.
I first took ownership of the Theragun Pro G2, their first model, and I still have and use it today-its an incredible piece of kit that still works as good as the day I got it, but with an original price tag of £999, its enough to empty your kids piggy bank for the next five years. Thankfully, Therabody (who I feel are the best brand on the market due to quality, durability and options) now offers various models to suit everyone’s budget.
So what are the advantages of a massage gun?
- A massage gun can relieve muscle soreness and stress by releasing tension. In addition, it can help relax muscle fibres, and in a 2021research, it has shown that in just 10 minutes, lower limbs could promote flexibility.
- Reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS is the stiff or achy feeling you get after intense, new or unfamiliar exercise. DOMS is a by-product, typically through overtraining or trying a new type of exercise. Whilst you cannot avoid DOMS, massage guns can help reduce the soreness, which increases recovery. Past research showed that using a massage gun for 5 minutes after an arm workout was significantly better at reducing post-training stiffness than a traditional massage
- Promotes blood flow. Using a massage gun causes the skin to ripple, which increases the rate of blood getting to that area. By increasing blood flow, this area receives an increase of fresh blood and, as a result, an increased level of oxygen and nutrients, Leading to a reduction in swelling and inflammation which is essential for recovery.
- Boost lymphatic drainage. Like traditional massage, a massage gun boosts lymphatic drainage, which helps remove waste and toxins.
Now purchasing and using a massage gun comes down to preference and budget. It’s also good to remember that not only using a massage gun immediately after training can provide all of the benefits above, but can be used before training or at any time if needed. The other significant advantage is that it’s very time efficient. For example, using a massage gun for 10 minutes on your back can be as good as 20-30 minutes on a traditional massage.
One of the other plus points is that, unlike a traditional massage, you can use a massage gun through clothing, making it perfect for those quick recovery sessions!
Now, which one to buy? There are hundreds on the market to suit every budget. I love the Therabody range for reasons previously mentioned, but I use mine often with my clients. If you fancy giving it a go, do your research, but I have found that the cheaper ones often lack power, and the attachment options are inferior. If you can, purchase a model which has a variable speed function. You can lower the speed for those more delicate or sore areas and increase speed for those bigger tighter muscles.
To summarise, I suggest investing in a massage gun, and once you start using it, you will never go back!