Percussion Massage Guns – Thoughts from our SW Portland Chiropractor

December 4th 2020

Dr. David Juratovac | Chiropractor and founder of Elevate Wellness

Percussion massage gun self use in SW Portland park by woman

Massage Guns – Do They Work?

There’s a good chance that sometime over the last few years, you’ve heard of massage guns as they’ve been all over the internet and TV. These devices – also known as “percussion guns” – have been making waves in the worlds of both DIY and professionally-administered physical therapy. Their ease of use, along with their overall effectiveness in helping tense, tight, muscles loosen and finally relax, has helped them skyrocket in popularity. While on the surface they appear like just another one of your dad’s old power tools, there is quite a bit of science involved in their effectiveness.

What do Massage guns do?

Naturally, reducing muscle tension is the main goal of therapeutic massage, and in my experience here as a chiropractor in southwest Portland, massage guns have proven up to the task and I’m using them constantly in my work. I realize they sometimes sound too good to be true, and you might worry they’re just the latest fad. However, I and many other doctors are here to assure you that, yes, they do work and are a valued tool of chiropractic medicine.

They function in the same way as a traditional massage, applying pressure where needed. From what I’ve seen though, massage guns tend to get deeper and do a more thorough job than a masseuse’s fingers, attacking the problem of tense muscles at its roots.

Nobody wants tense muscles – they result in issues like localized pain, reduced circulation, and overall soreness. Doctors and patients should use all viable methods at their disposal to deal with knotted muscles, and massage guns tend to be one of the most cost-effective.

Let’s look at some of the clearest benefits of using a massage gun.

What muscle problems can Massage Guns Help With?

If you’re using a massage gun at home, they have the same benefit as “real” massages but are available 24/7.

For example:

Do you work out but have problems with inflammation? It’s not uncommon for people to find themselves feeling sore after a moderate or intense workout.

Fortunately, with a massage gun, you have the equivalent of a personal physical therapist who’s constantly on stand-by – it’s always available to loosen muscles, whether that’s after or before your workout.

Before a workout, massage guns help to “wake up” your muscles in two ways: firstly, by stimulating blood flow to the area in question and, secondly, by priming nerve impulses, which “wakes up” those muscles on a neurological level.

As I mentioned earlier, the area around tense muscles are subject to less than optimal circulation levels – blood gets “bogged down” by a stressed nervous system, and this can itself cause pain. By using a massage gun, you help flush that slowly-moving blood back into the rest of the body.

You’ll also help release the lactic acid that builds up after a workout, and drain the lymph system of excess waste.

This is part of the reason why using a massage gun can have you feeling reinvigorated, as if a bunch of “gunk” were just cleared out of the targeted areas – most likely, it was! Finally, a massage gun can even help to smooth out cellulite in some cases.

woman using percussion gun at home

How to Use a Percussion Massage Gun

You’ve seen that massage guns can be incredibly useful, in more ways than one. However, as they are applying a lot of pressure to your body, you do need to be careful with them.

First of all, do not hold the gun in one spot – move it around the problem area, massaging it as a massage therapist would. Helping a tense muscle to relax is much like kneading dough, turning a hard ball into something softer and more pliable. Encouraging good muscle pliability is a huge part of keeping your muscles healthy.

Next, be sure to watch out for bone and joints – massage guns are only meant to be used on muscles and this rule must be followed to avoid pain or soreness, or even injury.

Safety Tips for Percussion Massage Gun Use

Can you use a massage gun on your face?

Obviously, you should also watch out for any wounds or vulnerable areas. Do not use a massage gun on your facial muscles – use your hands or otherwise visit a massage therapist if you have issues with facial tension.

Using a percussion gun too much

Massage guns are powerful, but this is a double-edged sword – the phrase “too much of a good thing” can definitely apply here. Using the massage gun too much in a certain tense area can result in bruising. Therefore, I recommend using the gun in each targeted area for no more than 5 minutes at a time. Let at least 4-5 hours pass before using the massage gun in that same area again.

Before or after using the massage gun, try moving the muscle that you wish to soften – this won’t only help it loosen but also train the brain to reconnect with that muscle, making it more responsive to stimulus.

How do you know if you’re applying too much pressure? Well, listen to your body – if you find yourself tensing, clenching your jaw, you should reduce the amount of pressure. Allow yourself to breathe freely and easily.

Make sure to relax (breath!) before using a percussion gun

It’s important to note that being tense will also reduce the effectiveness of the treatment as it will make it harder for the hammer in the gun to access the areas of muscle it needs to. While massage can be painful, you should do your best to relax – this is a regenerative, healing treatment. Let go of tension and allow the massage gun to do its work.

Keep in mind that – in contrast to certain massage gun myths you may see online – using a massage gun is not the end-all and be-all of having healthy muscles. You still should continue with strength training, stretching, and overall muscle and skeletal health which will help muscles relax.

Advanced Chiropractic massage percussion guntools being used at clinic in Portland

Schedule an Appointment with our experience SW Portland Chiropractor and try Percussion gun treatment

Although massage guns can certainly be used effectively at home, it’s often easier – and much more relaxing – to have another person use it on you. Who better than someone with an expert understanding of the musculoskeletal system?

When a chiropractor treats you using a massage gun, you don’t have to worry about using the device incorrectly, either in a way that’s ineffective or one that could cause damage. In the hands of an experienced practitioner, the massage gun turns into something like a magic wand as technology and their knowledge of human anatomy and pain points mesh together.

I’ve been quite happy using my high-quality massage gun to help my patients effectively deal with their muscle tension problems. It has become an essential part of my practice here at Elevate Wellness & Chiropractic.

For many, using a massage gun at home will help, but it might be lacking that personalized attention you get when visiting a doctor who can assess what exactly is going on. Not to mention that, as versatile as massage guns are certain problem spots may be tough to reach on your own.

In my opinion, massage guns are best used at home in addition to regular therapy visits, for instance, before or after exercising (as most doctors won’t make daily or thrice weekly house calls).

So if you find massage gun self-use just isn’t working out for you, or feel you need the help of someone with a deeper understanding of how best to utilize these tools, feel free to set up an appointment today. I promise that after your visit, any skepticism you have about how effective a massage gun can be will be washed away just like that tension!

So Do Chiropractors recommend percussion massage guns?

If you couldn’t tell so far, massage guns are something I highly recommend. Once again, however, you must be careful if using one on your own. If you came to this page asking “Should I buy a massage gun?” I would say yes, as long as you follow the safety tips laid out above when using them.

After you use your affordable massage gun once or twice, you’ll find yourself experiencing greater levels of bodily (and probably mental) relaxation and a feeling of vitality and reinvigoration. From us here at Elevate Wellness & Chiropractic, best of luck and, if you have any more questions or would like to schedule a massage gun appointment, feel free to contact us.

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