Modern problems typically require modern solutions. This is what stood behind the idea of modern-day massage guns that are one of the newest inventions designed to enhance recovery and increase our muscles’ capacity to deal with harder tasks. Nowadays, massagers are very affordable and almost everyone can get one. Learning how to use a massage gun, however, might be tricky, and you will need to know a few things before you start using one on yourself. There are two things that we will discuss here – the time frames in which it is the most appropriate to use your gun and which muscle groups benefit the most from it.
Massage guns have the best benefits when they’re used around your workouts. Still, they can also be used on rest days to improve your body’s recovery capabilities. Here are the four periods that we will discuss in this article:
- During your workout
- On Rest days
If you want to learn more about massage guns in general and find out which are the best models for this year, make sure you check out my full Buyer’s Guide! Now, let’s dive into some of the muscle groups that you should be familiar with before you start using your new gun…
Muscles and Muscle Groups That You Should Know
While the larger muscles take similar levels of pressure during workouts and physical activity, massage guns are often much better suited to attack the larger muscles on your body. These muscles are also the easiest to work on and are a good place to start if you want to get deeper into physical therapy and recovery further down the road.
The most important muscle that massage guns were initially invented for is the rectus femoris. It is the biggest muscle at the front of your upper leg and it is used to bring your knees closer to your stomach. It starts at the upper part of your knee and ends around your iliac spine.
Other important muscles that you should learn about are your glutes (gluteus), calves (gastrocnemius), biceps femoris, pecs (pectoralis), lats (latissimus dorsi), triceps (triceps brachii), biceps (biceps brachii), traps (trapezius), and deltoids.
Initially, massage guns were designed for post-workout recovery of the larger muscle groups. Still, more and more people use them for pre-workout warmup of specific locations around the body that might benefit from the loosening. Rolling foams have a similar principle behind them but are a bit harder to use and require more practice.
The massage gun will increase the blood flow to that muscle group and can even heat up as some massage guns can. The TimTam Power Massager Pro actually has a heated head exactly for that purpose. The pulsating effect of the massage gun will also activate all the motor neurons in that muscle better preparing it for what’s about to come. The best pre-workout massage results come when you specifically target the muscles that you are going to work on during your workout. If you’re going to be bench pressing, work on your pecs, and if you are going to rows and pulldowns, work on your lats.
Try staying on the thickest part of the muscle without touching the joints and bones around it. Don’t spend more than 25-35 seconds on a single muscle and work your way back and forth along the length of the muscle from tendon to tendon.
During your workout
While a bit unorthodox, some people have embedded the massage gun into their workouts. Like, literally within the duration of their workout. The loosening advantages of the massage gun can be used in between your sets to relax the muscle if it has tensed up a little too much from the efforts. This works great for bodybuilders that isolate and push certain muscle groups to the extreme.
A lot of people stretch between sets but there is already a pile of research that shows that stretching a muscle can reduce its output potential. This is where massage guns come into play. They can relax your muscles without the need to stretch. Typically, around 20 seconds on a single muscle will be enough to loosen it and prepare it for the next set of reps.
Using your massage gun after your workout is where the magic is at. When you’re done training, you will typically be tensed up. Apart from loosening up your muscles, the massage gun will increase the blood flow to and from your muscles, effectively eliminating any potential risk of lactic acid buildup. It will also activate your parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your body’s state of relaxation and rest.
In this particular instance, you will have to use your massage gun for longer durations on each muscle group. Try spending at least 1:30 minutes on each muscle group moving back and forth. Heated massage heads are a good thing to have here but aren’t mandatory.
If you’re looking for a good massage gun that is durable, comfortable to use, and highly effective, I suggest checking out my Theragun G3Pro Review!
On Rest days
If you’ve had a particularly hard workout the previous day, then you will most likely be experiencing some muscle aches, strains, and other issues. To help the muscles handle their rest day better, you can use the massage gun over your large groups for a minute on each muscle. You can also use narrow massage gun heads if you want to work on specific areas or knots that you feel are painful. If you have someone that can lend you a hand, you can use this opportunity to massage the muscles around your spine. Those get often overlooked mainly because they will require an awkward angle of your gun to get a good massage.
Massage guns on your rest days also do wonders for muscle aches since they reduce the lactic acid build-up inside your muscles by increasing the blood flow. A quick 10-minute massage followed by a 15-minute active stretch is almost guaranteed to help you out with any aches and mobility issues that you might be experiencing due to overworking yourself the previous day.
Even though massage guns are really helpful in a lot of situations, there are still some instances in which you should proceed with care or not use the massager at all. Let’s discuss that now…
When to avoid the massage gun
Certain things will require a higher level of caution or not using the massage gun as a whole. For instance, conditions such as muscle strains, sprains, some injuries, and inflammation aren’t suitable candidates for your massage gun therapy. Broken bones and inflamed tendons are also a big no-no in the world of physical therapy, especially one with massage guns.
Pregnant women are also susceptible to a certain level of risk when using a massage gun on their bodies. Lastly, there are also some zones on our bodies that certainly won’t benefit from getting pounded by countless of percussions per minute. Those are the area on and around our heads and our genitalia.
When you first learn how to use a massage gun, you should consider which are the different muscles that you can and should target. Typically, we use these massagers on the guns that we exercise the most. Whether you are using the gun pre, during, or post-workout, it will always have certain sets of benefits. Lastly, make sure you are aware of the situations in which using a massage gun isn’t recommended.