With the holidays behind us, it’s time to focus on New Year’s resolutions, starting with getting in shape. If you have particularly sore or tense muscles, or if you just want to pamper yourself, consider investing in a massage gun.
These devices are designed to relieve tightness and tension through rapid vibrations and infrared heat. They are easy to use and can be extremely effective at releasing your muscles from knots and kinks that would otherwise be difficult to reach by hand massage alone.
Read on to learn more about how they work and how you can use them safely and effectively at home.
Step 1: Start with an Ice Pack
If you have sore muscles, it might be time to break out your massage gun. These handheld devices are relatively inexpensive and make it easy to get at those hard-to-reach knots.
Your first step? Apply an ice pack or heat pack (depending on your preference) directly onto your muscle. This will help calm down inflammation and may lessen some of that initial pain.
Step 2: Roll Out on the Roller
As soon as you get out of bed in the morning, before you do anything else, roll on your massage gun. You’ll receive relief while you still have time to enjoy it before you start your day. If possible, stretch out even further than just your neck and shoulders.
Make sure you roll at least five minutes – or until all knots are worked out – per muscle group (your back will likely require longer) but be careful not to overdo it!
Overstretching can cause more damage than good! Once you’ve finished rolling, go about your day normally, remembering to roll again when you get home at night.
Step 3: Stretch Muscles
A common misconception about massage guns is that they are only effective at killing knots. This is not entirely true. A massage gun can also be used at full strength (10,000 psi) in order to tear apart muscle fibers and promote deep tissue stretching.
A 2009 study published in Science & Sports showed that using strong massage therapy on a particular muscle was directly correlated with an increase in range of motion (ROM).
Because our muscles naturally tighten up over time due to aging, it is important for people who want healthy joints and good flexibility training their surrounding musculature properly. If you want to get more flexible, try performing static stretches post-workout—you can get some extra ROM from your other activities as well!
Step 4: Soak in the Steam
Now it’s time to roll out your tired muscles. Starting with your upper body, place your massager on top of a towel or thin blanket in case you get any oil on them (and then promptly clean it up before moving onto another area).
If you’re working on knots in your back, be sure that there are no protruding nails or other items that might poke you as you work. To start, gently massage yourself at low speed until you feel a good amount of tension leaving your muscles.
Once they’re loose and pliable, use medium pressure and move slowly up and down along both sides of each muscle group. Be sure not to rush things—you want to give each muscle group plenty of time with each setting.
Step 5: Receive a Massage from the Gun (Yourself)
The fifth step is all about receiving a massage from your massage gun. Here you’ll be massaging yourself. This can actually be very therapeutic, and after a week or two of having used your massage gun on others, you’ll probably be ready to use it on yourself.
The most direct route is to simply follow along with whatever moves you’ve made in previous steps as if someone else were performing them on you—this is often most effective. If that doesn’t work out well, there are several other approaches that might help.
Step 6: Get Ready to Roll Out
Now that you’ve found your trigger points, it’s time to roll out those knots! Take note of where they are and use your massage gun to stimulate them.
You may need someone else—like your partner or friend—to help locate them. If so, have them apply pressure with their thumb or knuckle on one side of the muscle where you feel tension. Be sure that their pressure is light and slow enough that you can still feel it through your skin.
Apply light, steady pressure from your own gun on top of theirs and don’t forget to hold for at least three seconds each time before releasing and moving onto another trigger point.
Step 7: Roll Out Muscle Groups in Sequence (Upper, Lower, etc.)
If you’re focusing on releasing tension in specific muscle groups, such as your upper back or your glutes, roll out each of those muscle groups in sequence. This means that before working out one area—your chest, say—you’ll roll out your lower back and quads.
(I do my clients’ backs and legs before they roll out their chest because a lot of people have lower back issues.) Remember: Roll slowly and mindfully, never aggressively. Go up and down ladders on either side of your muscle. If you get stuck at any point during the rolling process, pause—don’t force it.
Step 8: Go Through All Steps Again (Repeat steps 1 through 7)
Treat your entire body with your new massage gun and enjoy how it feels. Going through each step again allows you to treat all of your knots and release as much tension from your muscles as possible.
You’ll feel great afterward! Plus, going through all steps again is an excellent way to get familiar with using a massage gun, which can prove useful if you ever need one in a real massage situation.
Step 9: Cool Down With An Ice Pack
Wrapping up your massage by cooling off with an ice pack is incredibly soothing. The compression and vibration from using a massage gun can cause muscle fatigue, so it’s important to cool down after every session.
Apply an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) directly on any particularly sore spots or pinched nerves that you may have. Hold it there for about 20 minutes, then repeat as needed throughout your day!
Step 10. Give Yourself Some Well Deserved Relaxation Time!
Whether you are giving yourself a self massage or you’ve used a massage gun on yourself, it’s important that you take some time to relax. Stretch out your muscles and roll around in bed or on your couch. You earned it!
You are likely sore from using muscles that aren’t used to being worked out. Your muscles will feel tender for about 24 hours after using your massage gun; however, within 2 weeks of regular use, your knots should be gone!
It is important not to jump right into using an electronic massage gun without first consulting your doctor. Before you start, speak with your physician or chiropractor so they can make sure that it is safe for you to use one.
They will be able to let you know if there are any additional precautions or exercises that you should avoid while using one of these devices.
Additionally, always keep in mind where and how you plan on using yours as well as whether or not it has enough power for your needs before purchasing. With proper research and caution, massaging away aches and pains has never been easier!