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Is a massage gun an alternative to a therapist

Known also as percussion massagers or percussive therapy, massage guns offer many of the benefits of massage but without having to visit a massage therapist – something currently prohibited because of physical distance. A power drill-like electric tool that delivers a vigorous massage typically sells for about $100 and typically includes a variety of attachments, including balls with varying firmness and fingertips, and various settings. While massage guns can be used by anyone, they’re often used by endurance athletes like triathletes and ultramarathoners, according to marketing director Hugh Williams at Addaday, a manufacturer of massage guns. There are also risks associated with the benefits. Here are some tips before you use one.


Boulder massage therapist Josh Shadle and CrossFitter Josh Shadle, both of whom are avid users of massage guns, credit their effectiveness for their own recovery. “Sometimes it takes me hours to use it,” Shadle says. I like it almost as much as a good massage.”

In an effort to reduce inflammation, the gun removes extracellular fluids from the muscle tissue and puts them into the bloodstream. Muscles can be relaxed, scars can be broken up, adhesions broken up, and tension can be minimized by massage. Percussive therapy was found to be as effective as massage in preventing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in a small study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 

Unlike many forms of bodywork, percussive massage can be done on yourself and is actually recommended. Regardless of their credentials, skill, or experience, if someone is using a gun on you, the other person will have no idea of how much pressure or pain they’re exerting. He says, “You could injure somebody.”.

The opposite is true if you use it on yourself, since “you have that direct feedback loop and you won’t apply as much pressure,” Novick says.

Shadle says that if you feel electrical sensations while using the rifle, such as [from] your funny bone to your hand, you should not use it any longer.

Massage guns are used before and after workouts to facilitate recovery and to “wake up” muscles. Non-athletes can also use them to stay in shape. They’re easy to use and reduce muscle tension, so he recommends them for people of all ages, from injured athletes to software developers who sit at a computer all day.

How much is too much?

Massage guns don’t always perform better when they are used more frequently. When does too much become too much? “If the tissue becomes really red, really quickly, [that means] there’s a lot of blood flow,” Shadle says. When that happens, the massage gun is moved to another part of the body. Also, the massage gun may cause bruising if left on one spot for too long (in some cases over a couple of minutes). He recommends moving the gun around in a small radius in one area rather than holding it stationary for more than a few seconds at a time.


Anatomy and massage are areas of study for massage therapists, who are licensed professionals. Alternatively, you can own a massage gun with only a credit card and Internet access.

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