Simple Steps To Properly and Safely Use A Handheld Massage Gun
So you recently bought a massage gun because you heard it can help with muscle aches and pains. It’s just a massager so there’s not much to know to get started right?
While there aren’t a whole lot of ways to misuse a massage gun, there are some fundamentals you should know to fully reap the benefits and a couple of key steps to avoid injury too.
Total Time Needed: 2 Minutes
- A massage gun
- Yoga Mat to sit on (optional)
- A timer to keep track of time
- A partner for those hard to reach areas (optional)
Massage Gun Basics: Steps on how to use a massage gun
Step 1 : Turn The Massage Gun On
Step 2 : Assess Your Tolerance
Step 3 : Don’t Press Too Hard
Step 4 : Try To Relax
The Benefits Of Using A Massage Gun On Your Body
Massage guns can be incredibly useful to help treat various musculoskeletal conditions of the body and improve overall function.
Yeah sure, there’s certainly a lot of hype surrounding massage guns. From celebrities to influencers, everyone seems to be praising them as some sort of “miracle device” that will correct all that ails you. Whenever we see that, we tend to pump the brakes with a certain degree of skepticism.
However, now that the dust has settled and they’ve been on the market for a number of years, there seems to be enough evidence to substantiate some of the claims. Here some known proven benefits:
- Using a massage gun can help facilitate the healing process. If used after a workout, research has shown that using a massage gun can decrease the severity of DOMS.
- Using a massage gun can also facilitate lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system is the ductwork within the body that flushes out the “junk” in the body. From toxins to cell waste, everything is disposed of through the lymphatic system.
- If you want to increase blood flow to a certain area of the body, a percussive massager can initiate that process too. In as little as 30 seconds of use, a massage gun on a specific area of the body will relay signals to the brain to vasodilate the blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow.
How Long Should You Use A Massage Gun?
For most individuals, using a massage gun is a very therapeutic experience. While it may feel slightly uncomfortable to use in some spots, it largely should provide some degree of relief.
Is it possible to overdo it? Absolutely.
Some people like to think the “more is better” mantra is the correct way to go. No pun intended, but you might be sorely mistaken later.
The head of the massage gun is delivering micro traumas to the body with every percussion. Short term, yes, it improves blood flow, increases circulation, and knocks out tightness. Extended use does the opposite.
Follow these guidelines for the most benefit:
- Muscle Activation- 30 Seconds: Before a workout or activity, target your muscles with the massage gun for up to 30 seconds to activate the muscles and nerve fibers.
- Muscle Re-Activation- 15 Seconds: Mid-workout and feeling a little tired? Muscles starting to fatigue or spasm? Give them a little boost with another 15 second session.
- Recovery and Pain Relief- 2 Minutes: Post workout or when DOMS set in, you can safely use your massage gun for up to 2 minutes on each muscle group. This process can be repeated throughout the day with at least 1-2 hours rest in between.
How To Use Massage Gun Attachments
Every percussion massager comes with a variety of different interchangeable attachment heads. The 4 you see below are pretty standard. If you’re a little confused as to where to use them, let us clear it up.
- The Large Ball- The most commonly used attachment. Depending on the manufacturer, it’s made of either a dense rubber or hardened foam. Designed to treat both large and medium group muscles, this is the tip to use if you want to use a massage gun on your legs or calves. Overall, the most versatile massage gun tip of the bunch.
- The Flat Head- A great multipurpose attachment. From the pecs to the glutes, the flat head is able to provide a more dense massage over the large ball. Because it doesn’t have any sharp edges, it won’t hurt quite as much if you happen to run over bones while massaging.
- The Bullet- Best used on trigger points or knots. This attachment is great to really focus in on one particular spot on the body. For instance areas of the shoulders or different ligament attachment points.
- The Fork Head- The dual-pronged head allows you to target areas such as the spine, without hitting the bone. This massage gun tip is a great starting point to help alleviate sciatica symptoms associated with tight paraspinal muscles. It can also be used for other places like the calf muscles or along the achilles too.
Using A Massage Gun Pre and Post Workout
As outlined above, using a massage gun before working out can help warm up and activate sleepy muscles. 30 seconds of direct massage is all it takes to reawaken the mind/muscle connection and get your body primed to perform at its best.
After an intense workout, your fatigued muscles are probably spent. Utilizing a massage gun immediately after a workout, can aid your recovery. Not just that, using a massage gun is leaps and bounds easier to utilize than a foam roller.
Remember, your muscles are already stretched, strained, and inflamed. Stick to the 2 minute rule for each muscle group. Overdoing it will only exacerbate the discomfort or result in more injury. You merely wish to use it enough to flush the lactic acid from the muscles.
In addition to the massage gun, drink lots of water. When you exercise, toxins and lactic acid are circulating in the blood. To flush your body of those contaminants, water is the primary transporter.
So there you have it. If used properly, a massage gun is an excellent tool to help speed up your recovery. Used in conjunction with plenty of fluids and rest and you’ll be back to working out at your peak.
Troubleshooting: Common fixes why your massage gun won’t turn on or why the battery won’t charge
Like all electronic devices, sometimes your massage gun won’t turn on or the battery won’t hold a charge. Although it’s not always the case, this issue is more prevalent among cheaper, more inexpensive massage guns.
Massage gun brands that have the most issues with the battery not charging include: Legiral, Renpho, FitRX, Hoposo and Sharper Image. Because batteries are expensive and in an attempt to keep prices low, some of these companies will use inferior battery cells that are prone to burning out.
The larger manufacturers like Theragun and Ekrin aren’t exempt from their batteries not charging, but it’s a much less common issue. That’s likely because they use quality batteries from Samsung.
This is a classic example of “you get what you pay for”. Sometimes paying a little extra for a better massage gun will save you a lot of grief.
How to reset a massage gun that won’t turn on or charge
If your massage gun won’t turn on or hold a charge, for instance, it might just need to be reset. To troubleshoot the issue and before contacting the company for warranty service, here are a few quick suggestions:
- Make sure the massage gun isn’t overheated. Frequent or constant use will heat up the internal motor and trip the massage gun’s heat safety sensor feature. Allow 20 minutes for it to cool off and try it again.
- Double check and make sure the charger is connected properly. Sometimes it’s not plugged in all the way. Try unplugging it and plugging it in again. If that doesn’t do the trick, try another electrical outlet.
- If your massage gun shuts off suddenly after about 10 minutes, that’s normal. That too is an internal safety feature to make sure the motor doesn’t get too hot.
- Overcharging your massage gun’s battery is another reason it might not turn on. Most people tend to put it on the charger and leave it there for days or weeks and that’s a sure way to wear out the battery. Next time you charge your massage gun, set a timer for 3-4 hours to remind yourself to unplug it.
- If all else fails, check the manufacturer’s warranty. Most massage guns come with at least a one year warranty while others have a lifetime warranty. Before tossing your massage gun to the curb, you just might be eligible for a full replacement!
How to properly maintain your massage gun
Like anything, if you want to extend the longevity of your massage gun, there are a few easy maintenance steps you can take to keep it working longer.
- Keep it clean: Periodically cleaning your massage gun is not only sanitary, but will prevent dust and debris from gunking up the motor. Using a mild anti-bacterial cleaner like Method or Mrs. Meyer’s to the exterior shell can assure that you’re not spreading around any nasty germs. Spray the cleaner on a soft rag or paper towel first, and then wipe down the massage gun. Never spray directly onto the massage gun to avoid getting any fluids into the motor, which might short it out.
- Avoid excessive heat: Heat is the #1 enemy of all electronics. Any electrical device that gets too hot, is guaranteed to prematurely fail. Go ahead and throw your massage gun in your gym bag, but if you’re going to leave it in the car on a hot day, you would be better off taking it with you. The same principle applies to overusing it. Most massage guns have a safety feature that will automatically turn off the motor after 10 minutes of use. It can be frustrating if you’re in the middle of using it, but it’s designed that way. Instead, specifically target the muscles or areas of the body that you need it most and then allow it to rest for at least 10-20 minutes before using it again.
- Lubrication: Most massage guns percuss up to 3200RPM…that’s 3200 times the massage head moves back in for in one minute. That’s a lot of friction! Again, to avoid premature failure of the motor because it freezes up from a lack of lubrication, periodically spray a small amount of electrical silicone lubricant onto the reciprocating motor. A little goes a LONG way.
FAQ: Using a massage gun issues and other common questions
I sometimes feel sick or nauseous after a massage. Is that normal?
- It's not very common, but for some people a massage will induce feelings of nauseousness or dizziness. While that may be alarming, in most cases it is normal.
- Although massage is great for loosening up the muscles, it also increases circulation of the lymphatic system too. You see, the lymphatic system is the "sewer", if you will, of the body in that it flushes all of the toxins out of the body. Sounds pretty gross, but it's an important part of how the body functions to help us cope with all the chemicals and pollutants we're exposed to.
- So although that massage is supposed to bring on the bliss, that increase of toxins moving throughout the body results in feelings of nausea instead.
- Our best advice is to consult with your doctor if this happens and to always use caution.
Can a massage gun be used on the stomach to break up fat?
- Wouldn't it be great if we could use a massage gun to pound away the pounds? Unlike tenderizing a steak, percussing your stomach to lose weight is probably not as effective as you'd like.
- Although a massage can assist in breaking up scar tissue and increase circulation, specifically targeting your stomach will likely cause more harm than good.
- Massage guns are great facilitating tools to help you recover and feel your best after a workout and THAT will likely help keep you motivated to keep moving--thus helping your get rid of that pesky fat.
Can I use a massage gun while pregnant?
We're going to put a HUGE asterisk on this when and start by saying, always consult a medical professional first! With that out of the way, yes, it might be possible to use a massage gun if you're pregnant, but on a limited basis.
Areas of the body that might be ok, include:
- The upper back
Basically, anywhere in the extremities and away from your mid-section is probably fine. Again, we're not your doctor and you should consult with one BEFORE attempting to use a massage gun if you're pregnant.
Can a massage gun be used for "personal" use?
- Hey, we're not here to judge, but questioning whether a massage gun can be used as a vibrator is asked a LOT! With all the snickering and giggles aside, the short answer is: probably not a good idea.
- You see, a massage gun is a percussion device with a decent amount of force behind it. Unlike the rhythmic and ultra short amplitude of a vibrator, using a massage gun on the nether regions might be more akin to a Bruce Lee Kung Fu kick. Ouch!
- Tread cautiously and carefully if you're still not convinced.