What Is Percussion Massage Therapy And Its Benefits for Athletes?

People who get a regular massage will agree on how relaxing and therapeutic the whole process is. As soon as your tired and knotted muscles are kneaded, you feel an instant sense of relief. Percussion massage therapy takes the whole experience and results to a new level, involving the use of ‘massage guns.’ It is regarded as a breakthrough treatment for soft tissue pain and to alleviate soreness quickly.

Due to the many therapeutic and medical benefits of percussion massage, it is preferred by athletes for many reasons. Percussion massage therapy helps improve muscle balance and tone, dismiss muscular tightness and drop the physical stress placed on joints and bones.


‍What is the Percussion Massage?


A percussion massage is a type of massage or treatment that involves short and rapid strokes with the use of a tool to the soft muscles so that they can travel deep through the tissues. Its goal is to alleviate pain and offer relaxation to sore muscles, enhance muscular performance and function, and relieve muscular fatigue.

This can also be done manually by a therapist who will deliver percussion strokes through rapid strikes of his/her wrists and hands. However, a percussion massage gun is preferred as it also saves money and having to travel to your therapist.

Though any massage that incorporates a quick drumming motion is an ideal way of giving your blood vessels, nerves, and joints a much-needed stimulation, masseuses are now resorting to the use of massage guns for their percussive therapy sessions.

You can benefit from a percussion massage if:

  • You are simply getting older and tired muscles, and aching joints are now a part of your life.
  • Medical conditions.
  • You are involved in vigorous sports activities and need to give your muscles a sense of relief.


What Does A Percussion Massager Do?


A percussion massager or a ‘massage gun’ is a handheld device used in percussive therapy to relax and soothe tense muscles. It comes with many different attachments, including different sizes of interchangeable heads that cater to different types of muscle groups and needs.

Let’s look at a percussion massager in more detail:


The Function of A Percussion Massager:


A massage gun is used to offer what we call a vibration or percussive therapy. The massager delivers a quick blow of pressure to the body's muscle tissues through its oscillating head. Traditionally, masseuses and masseurs use their wrists and hands to deliver a series of light strokes to mimic this effect. However, a percussion massager allows athletes to experience better results due to rapid motorized action.


What Makes It Different From Other Massaging Tools?


Unlike other types of massage tools like foam rollers, massage guns target a specific area. Moreover, some people aren't big fans of foam rollers owing to their low-comfort and manual process. Percussion massage guns, on the other hand, are automatic and deliver a streamlined solution.

Although percussive therapy doesn't entirely eliminate muscle soreness, it helps reduce muscle tension and inflammation. As it increases the blood flow to a specific area, it helps in breaking up knots and tight areas in the muscles as it pulsates. This is why percussive massagers are mostly used before any intense activity or workout to warm up the muscles.


Benefits Of A Percussion Massager


Percussion massager has become a hit owing to the many benefits it holds. Its fame and the rising number of users is not due to some anecdotal evidence but results backed by scientific findings. Several studies conducted to measure its effectiveness have revealed that the percussion massager’s thumps and taps are beneficial in several ways.

Let’s discusses some of the benefits of percussion therapy:


Instantly Relaxes Tight Muscles:


A percussion massager helps to relax thickened connective tissue and tense muscles. The percussion massager’s quick and striking motion delivers an intense and deep myofascial release.

A percussion massager will aid in eliminating muscle soreness and a stiff feeling that many athletes feel after an intense activity session. It also targets the areas that are otherwise difficult to reach. This is one of the reasons why athletes use it for its fast and effective results.


Prevents DOMS:


DOMS occurs when a person undergoes excessive physical activity that puts undue pressure on their muscles. Not only is it painful, but it may last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after you complete your workout. However, the good news is that a percussive massage can have you feeling good in no time.

A 2014 study revealed that vibration therapy enhances power development and muscular strength and helps avoid DOMS. Even though percussive therapy and vibration therapy are two separate treatments, they have the same working mechanisms.


Increase in Flexibility:


The study mentioned above also revealed that other than reducing pain, vibration therapy also gives your muscle spindles synchronization, which in turn enhances your flexibility and range of motion. Once your muscles are flexible, they won't be at a risk of pain and injuries associated with physical activities. Your newfound flexibility will also improve your balance and posture.


Improved Lymphatic Flow:


There is no doubt that athletes need to feel super fresh and healthy to achieve their athletic goals. Less muscle tightness and fewer muscle knots ensure that there is improved lymphatic drainage. As the lymphatic drainage is improved, the waste and toxins in the body can easily be excreted.

All of this leads to improved metabolism and a healthier immune system, all of which are crucial for an athlete's performance.


Improved Blood Circulation


All athletes know how overtraining the muscles can cause severe pain. However, did you know an excessive build-up of lactic acid causes this pain in your muscles after you perform any intense workout?

The good news is that all of this can be prevented by improving your blood circulation. Studies in 2011 and 2014 showcased that vibration therapy actually aids in increasing the blood flow in your body. In sports recovery, especially, an increase in blood circulation helps to minimize inflammation and muscle stress.


Other Benefits


Apart from these benefits, percussion massagers help improve the quality and quantity of sleep by reducing anxiety and stress due to relaxed muscles and down regulated nervous system.

Also, percussive massagers are lightweight, making them portable and easy to use. Many of the percussion massagers don't weigh more than three pounds. As a result, they can easily fit in your gym bag and accompany you wherever you go. Another bonus is that it is effortless to use. You don't need to lie down on the floor, eliminating the need to carry a floor mat around with you.


How Does A Percussion Massager Work And Who Is The Ideal Candidate For Using It?


So how does a percussion massager work, and which settings should you choose?

Many percussion massagers or massage guns have different amplitudes and frequencies that the user can adjust according to his/her needs. A higher frequency is used when targeting bigger muscles like your glutes and hamstrings. Similarly, a lower frequency is used for smaller muscle groups like biceps and triceps.

The massager's head oscillates back and forth and delivers quick vertical strokes that travel deep through the muscles. This process allows the deep-lying mechanoreceptors to be targeted, which ultimately generate neuromuscular reactions. Moreover, the deep and rapid strokes increase blood supply to the targeted area, ultimately promoting recovery and tissue growth.


Who Should Use A Percussive Massager?


Percussive therapy works great for people who have a super active lifestyle, such as gym buffs, athletes, and so on. Percussive massagers are ideally used when you are suffering from any of the following injuries:

  • TMJ syndrome
  • Muscle soreness
  • Herniated or Bulging discs
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Shin splints
  • Muscle cramps and spasms


It is common for most athletes to use a massage tool to wake up the muscles and prepare them for the activity or workout. Percussion therapy can be used by anyone who is super active. Even if you don't fall in an athlete’s category, you can still benefit from percussive therapy and rejuvenate your body and muscles.

For example, Geniani Massager is an excellent choice for everyday use. With 3700 percussions per minute, this compact handheld massager facilitates deep, focused relief from muscle spasms and pain. The percussion massager provides up to 120 minutes of usage time, which is fantastic for several complete muscle relaxation sessions.


Are Percussive Massagers Or Massage Guns Actually Effective And Who Should Avoid Using Them?


With an increase in percussive therapy’s popularity, several studies have been conducted regarding its benefit. It is an excellent method of preventing DOMS, which means that you are less likely to experience any muscle tightness or pain after your intense workout with a percussive massager.

Although there are several benefits of percussion therapy, it is always best to consult your doctor before starting any new form of treatment. The same is the case with percussive therapy; you must consult your doctor if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. People encouraged to seek medical consultation before using a percussive massager are:

 

  • Anyone with inflammation issues.
  • People suffering from a sprain., varicose veins, muscle strain, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, fractures, and any other medical condition that directly affect the body's blood vessels.
  • ‍‍People suffering from autoimmune conditions.


Percussion Therapy FAQs


Let's look at some of the most frequently asked Percussion therapy questions and their answers.

Is Percussive Therapy Safe?


This is typically the first question that pops up in everyone’s head as soon as they hear about it. Generally, this therapy is safe and offers several health benefits. However, it is vital that you use it correctly and not exceed the advised time limit. It is also essential to consult with your doctor regarding its use if you suffer from any pre-existing medical conditions.


Is It Normal For Skin To Turn Red Or Pink After Percussion Treatment?

 


It is quite common for the skin to turn red or pink where the percussion massager is used. This usually happens because the blood vessels and muscle cells dilate due to this treatment.

A tissue getting really red really quickly can also mean you have got a lot of blood flow in there. Therefore, it is advised to monitor your skin changing color and move the massage gun to another area to avoid getting bruises or sore skin. If you feel that your skin has become inflamed and turned red for an extended period, immediately stop using it and consult with your doctor.


Is It Safe To Use A Percussion Massager During Pregnancy?


It is never recommended to use a percussion massager when pregnant and especially avoid your tummy area. Intense and pressure-related treatments like acupressure, shiatsu, and percussive therapy are never advised to pregnant women.

During the first trimester, women are especially advised to avoid massages to limit the chances of a miscarriage during the first 3 months of pregnancy. In place of percussive therapy, pregnant women have the option of getting a prenatal massage that focuses on relieving stress, reducing back pain, and soothing the muscles.


‍Can I Use A Percussion Massager On Myself?


You will be surprised to know that not only can you use a percussion massager on yourself, but it is recommended that you do.

A prominent physician, Alan Novick, states that if another person uses the percussion tool on you, they don't really have an idea regarding how much pressure they are delivering on your body. Moreover, they wouldn't be able to tell if you are feeling any pain, regardless of their experience and skills. When you use it on yourself, you have everything under control and can apply pressure according to your preference. Ultimately you can enjoy the benefits of percussion massage.


When Is A Better Time To Use A Percussion Massager?


A percussive massager is the best device for healing sore and tired muscles and rejuvenating your tired body from the inside. There is no wrong or a right time to reap the benefits of this glorious handheld massage device. It all comes down to your preference of when and at what time you want to use a percussion massager.

Many athletes prefer using it to warm up their muscles before they start their workout or intense activity. Some people prefer going for a percussive therapy session before hitting the bed to ensure a long night of peaceful sleep.


In What Areas Of My Body Can I Use The Massager?


You need to be careful when using the percussive massager on your body and avoid certain areas. You can always use it to massage different muscular areas of your body; however, remember to never use it on your neck, major blood vessels, throat, or face. Moreover, you should be more careful in avoiding areas where you have wounds, fractures, and scabs.

Be mindful of how you feel when you are using this massager. If you feel a prickly or an electric sensation at any point in time, the chances are that you have hit a nerve. Immediately stop using the percussive massager and book a consultation with your doctor.


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