The 10 Best Massage Guns
This wiki has been updated 16 times since it was first published in January of 2019. Massage guns are utilized by a myriad of people, including chiropractors, physical trainers, professional and amateur athletes, those with chronic inflammation, and folks who just want a way to release muscular tension and increase blood flow. While we could go on listing the health benefits of these contraptions, instead, we encourage you to see our curated list of the best models on the market. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best massage gun on Amazon.
February 01, 2019:
As you examine the different massage guns on the market today, you don't find all that many differentiating factors—a model's RPM varies, as does the amount of included attachable tips and massage-heads, etc.—but this all changes when you get to the DMS Professional, which is leagues beyond the others both in terms of performance and price. While the average consumer will likely never need this level of rigor from a massage gun, those who do need it are likely either: a) medical professionals; or, b) those in a position of dire need. In both cases, this product may very well be worth it. For those who fall into the "average consumer" category, the other options we've included are extensive, and frankly, after thoroughly researching them, I too would like a massage.
What Exactly Is A Massage Gun?
Unlike traditional massagers, which knead muscles, these devices utilize percussion as their form of deep soft tissue manipulation.
Anyone who is an avid fitness buff or has spent time in a physical therapist's office over the last couple of years has probably either seen or heard of massage guns, or as they are more correctly referred to, percussive therapy devices. These increasingly-popular therapeutic devices look a bit like the unwanted love child of a handheld massager and a jigsaw. This can make them seem a bit intimidating, but trust us when we say once you try one, you'll wonder how you ever made do without it.
Percussion massagers are designed to fit comfortably in the hand and are usually operated by a simple trigger or button. Most are also battery-powered, though some commercial models may need to be plugged into an AC outlet. Unlike traditional massagers, which knead muscles, these devices utilize percussion as their form of deep soft tissue manipulation. Swedish massage therapists will often perform a similar action with their hands at the end of a session to help reinvigorate the muscles before a client leaves, a technique known as tapotement.
Massage guns feature a hardened plastic or rubber head that they pulsate forwards and backwards, usually somewhere in the range of 1,000 to 10,000 percussions per minute. Some models may allow you to adjust the speed depending on your needs. The rhythmic hammering of the head against your muscles helps to relax the fascia and increase blood flow to the targeted area. Depending on the machine in question, it may come with a variety of head attachments in varying sizes and shapes to suit different needs and target specific areas of the body. These can include large round balls, semi-pointed wedges, cylinders, double-headed forks, and others.
The Many Benefits Of Massage Guns
Anybody who has ever received a professional massage knows just how helpful they can be for a variety of mental and physical ailments. Whether you need to relieve stress, feelings of anxiety, soreness, pain, or muscle tension, a good massage can help. And just like with traditional massages, percussion therapy devices also offer many health benefits.
It may also indirectly help improve performance by allowing people to exercise longer and harder, with less soreness afterwards.
If you workout regularly, you'll be happy to learn that, when used correctly, massage guns can help decrease delayed onset muscle soreness. This is because the vibrations help to increase blood flow to the area, while simultaneously decreasing the buildup of lactic acid — one of the main culprits in muscle soreness and irritation after exercise. By shortening the required muscle recovery period, not only will you be less uncomfortable after a hard workout, but you'll be able to get back to the gym quicker, thereby making quicker progress towards your fitness goals.
Additionally, as briefly touched on in the previous section, massage guns are an effective way to perform self-myofascial release. Studies show that myofascial release can help improve range of motion in the joints, which can reduce the chances of injury while working out and as you go about your daily routine. It may also indirectly help improve performance by allowing people to exercise longer and harder, with less soreness afterwards.
Percussion therapy devices are also effective at softening stiff muscle tissue. In layman's terms, this means they have the ability to remove knots and tension in muscles. Since many people experience knots and muscle tension due to stress, poor posture, and other aspects of our daily life, even those who don't exercise regularly can find this very useful. Not only will this make them feel better physically, but the release of tension from muscles is usually accompanied by a sense of mental relaxation and well-being.
When To Use A Massage Gun
Many people may automatically assume a massage gun is simply a recovery tool for use after a particularly grueling workout or to deal with specific issues, and while they are certainly well-suited to this, they are actually much more versatile than that. For example, percussion therapy devices make great warm up tools for pre-workout use. As mentioned in the second section, massage guns increase blood flow to muscles, much like stretching does. More blood brings more oxygen to muscles, allowing them to perform at their best. Additionally, the pulsating action can turn on your sympathetic nervous system, which is the part of the body that initiates the fight-or-flight response. By doing so, it preps your body for activity.
More blood brings more oxygen to muscles, allowing them to perform at their best.
This next bit might sound strange, but massage guns can also be used during a workout. They can help to maximize your rest periods between sets by loosening tension, allowing you to push a little harder on your next set. If you look around the gym, you'll probably notice many people stretching between sets to work out the tightness, but research has shown us that muscle power can actually decrease after static stretching, thereby hindering your performance on the next set, rather than improving it. Using your percussion therapy device instead will help to further excite the muscle while also loosening it.
Then, there is post-workout use. Moving a massage gun for 90 to 120 seconds along the belly of each muscle you exercised is a great way to decrease the amount of lactic acid that builds up in them. It can also help them to release the tension from the workout and more quickly switch to recovery mode, which is the time when your muscles heal themselves.
Additionally, there is the obvious time of using one whenever you experience a muscle ache or soreness from the stressors of your daily life. If you have some tightness in your neck after a long day at work, or perhaps a bit of pain in the lower back, simply whip out your massage gun and beat those muscles into submission.
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