11 massage guns you can use to relieve sore muscles

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You don’t have to be a serious athlete or fitness enthusiast to appreciate a massage gun. Of course, their intention is to loosen tight muscles and increase mobility, but they can also help if your neck gets sore from sleeping on the wrong pillow or if your hips feel tight after a long hike. And a muscle massager costs less than going to see a massage therapist.

Tony Gentilcore, co-founder of the Cressey Sports Performance high-performance training center and certified strength and conditioning specialist, said the convenience of using a massage gun is a big plus. “People working out, working out, are going to hurt, and a massage gun gives them easy access to soft tissue therapy that doesn’t require them to travel or pay the price of a massage therapist.”

How do muscle massage guns work?

Massage guns offer a different type of therapy than you would normally get from a masseur or physical therapist, even those who specialize in sports. These massage guns offer a percussive massage treatment, which combines elements of traditional massage and vibration therapy, Leada Malek, a licensed physical therapist and board-certified sports specialist with her own practice, told BuzzFeed News. Virtual.

“Massage can reduce tension in muscles and impact flexibility by reducing muscle stiffness, increasing blood flow, etc.,” she said. “With the massage gun, the idea is that you combine these treatments to prepare for activity and/or prepare for recovery.”

Gentilcore says massage guns can temporarily improve your range of motion, but those improvements won’t hold unless you also incorporate other methods to help maintain that new range. Muscle massagers generally provide short-term, transient benefits, though that’s really all they’re supposed to provide, he said.

In a small 2020 study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicineresearchers examined the effect of five minutes of hand percussive massage on the calf muscles of 16 healthy men who were recreational athletes. They found that there was an increase in range of motion similar to what you would get with a conventional massage. Massage in general (using the hands rather than a massage gun) has been associated with small improved flexibility and delayed onset muscle soreness.

How and when to use a muscle massager

Laura Pachnos, senior trainer at Solidcore in New York, who is also a certified vinyasa, spin, and Pilates yoga instructor, recommends using a massage gun if your muscles feel tight upon waking or before a workout. She incorporates it into her own stretching routine, especially after days of heavy lifting.

“Basically, if you feel you need it, do it,” Pachnos said.

While they’re a great option for relaxing tight muscles, Malek advises against using massage guns on any acute injury or area of ​​inflammation, such as muscle strain. You should also avoid using them on a bony prominence, which is any part of the body where the bone is directly under the skin with no padding of fat or muscle.

She suggested staying away from bony points and smaller joints, and using the softest attachment wherever sensitive. “If you feel more soreness, pain or bruising, you’ve definitely done too much,” Malek said.

Which massage gun to choose?

Personally, Malek likes massage guns that beat at an above-average amplitude. The Theragun Pro, for example, beats at 16 millimeters in amplitude and 40 beats per second, while other cheaper options may not have comparable motors, so they operate at a different level of impact. This intensity is her preference, but she noted that a slightly weaker motor probably won’t change the effects dramatically.

One thing she recommended is a massage gun that comes with different head attachments. Different muscles and body parts require different types of pressure, so having multiple options allows you to target each area safely and effectively.

Our experts specifically mentioned Hypervolt and Theragun as the strongest and most reliable massage guns, and they also have the strongest motors and number of attachments. Both companies manufacture a wide variety of muscle massagers that meet different needs and also have different price points.

Pachnos favors Hypervolt because it’s cheaper than Theragun and offers all the same features and results (in their experience). However, she also bought a generic massage gun on Amazon for her dad and found it to be just as good.

The best muscle massager for you may depend on your activity level, the type of exercise you do, how and where you plan to use it, and your budget. All of these options are great, including Theragun, so you really can’t go wrong.