Massage guns are a growing product in the world of people searching for pain relief, sports therapy and recovery. In this article, we will answer the what and how of massage guns.
What Is A Massage Gun (Percussion Massager)?
A massage gun is also known as a percussion massager. It is a relatively new trend and has been growing in popularity since 2019. If we look at google trends, the search volume spiked right before December in 2019 and even surpassed the foam roller.
A massage gun is a device that is shaped like a gun with various attachments that can extend and contract at a fast rate. Growing up, you may have been given a massage by a friend who performed a series of rapid karate chops to loosen your muscles; the massage gun has a similar effect but is more effective.
How Does A Massage Gun Work For Pain Relief In Muscles?
It helps with pain relief in muscles by sending successive short bursts of concentrated pressure to an area through the massage attachment. Your body receives these vibrations and responds in 2 main ways:
- An increase in oxygen by circulating blood flow
- Loosening of tight muscles
Increase In Oxygen
Oxygen is the key to any recovery. Our bodies need oxygen to help repair damaged tissue. The massage gun helps to increase oxygen to the targeted area by delivering rapid bursts of concentrated pressure to an area - causing tissue to stretch and contract.
As your tissue lengthens and shortens, the friction creates heat between muscle tissue. By elevating the temperature, surrounding blood vessels expand due to the increase of temperature and circulation.
Your blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all other parts of your body. This allows the surrounding cells to have ample amount of oxygen to draw from and use in repairing the body.
Loosening Of Tight Muscles
To illustrate how the massage gun can loosen tight muscles, we will use an example of tenderizing meat.
Tenderizing is the process of pounding or delivering a high energy blow to tissue causing the matrix of structural protein (collagen) to break down. And as you may already know, non-tenderized meat is tougher than tenderized meat.
Likewise, a massage gun applies pressure at your muscles at a constant and rapid speed to break down unwanted formation of collagen that may be causing tight muscles. When the collagen is broken down, your muscles are able to relax and your body’s posture is restored.
Another benefit includes relieving pinched nerves (that are pressed upon by the tightened muscle) which reduces pain around the area of the tight muscle.
Collagen and it’s function in the body:
Collagen is essentially a matrix of structural protein found in all soft tissue: skin, tendons, muscles, etc. Your collagen structure is continually being updated by the body based off your body position and muscles movements.
If you are sitting in a certain position for hours during the day, your body will form collagen in your muscles to keep your body in that position. For muscles that are lengthened, the collagen will form to keep the muscle in that extended position and for muscles that are contracted, the collagen structure will tighten to keep the muscle in that state.
When you come out of that state's position, you will feel tight due to your body’s new collagen structures that were formed. This is not desirable because that will cause muscle soreness and/or pain.
A massage gun works at muscles that are tight and will break down the collagen structures, thereby relaxing a muscle. This will bring relief to your body as its muscles are not locked in those extended and contracted positions anymore.