Are Massage Guns Safe? (Massage Therapist Weighs In)


Black and white photo of an athletic black male using a massage gun on his bicep

Massage guns are available everywhere now. You may be considering whether or not you should buy one. This Massage Therapist is here to clear the air about massage gun safety and efficacy.

In general, massage guns are considered safe for public use. Massage guns do pose a danger if used over arteries, varicose veins, and the spine by people who have circulatory conditions, certain cancers, broken bones, torn tendons or ligaments, if used for prolonged periods, or by unaccompanied minors.

If you are a massage gun owner or are considering purchasing one, you may have some questions about their efficacy and safety. I will give you the Massage Therapist’s guide to massage guns.

Are Massage Guns Safe?

Are you wondering if massage guns are all that safe? Well, the answer is yes and no. Let me explain. Just like any device, a massage gun can be used correctly or incorrectly. I have found that many of the instructions that come with massage guns leave off many of the contraindications and danger zones for using the machine. It’s important to know whether or not you should even receive a massage in the first place and what areas of the body should not be massaged.

Massage guns are a tool that performs percussion massage. Percussion is part of the Swedish massage modality. The purpose of percussion is to increase blood flow.

Some people should not receive any massage that increases blood flow, as is the case with Swedish massage. These would include those that have certain types of cancer, COVID-19, heart disease, infection, and fever. If you have any of these risk factors, you should consult with your doctor before administering massage with a massage gun.

If you have any broken bones, torn tendons, or ligaments, it is best not to proceed with massage with a massage gun unless a medical professional has specifically prescribed and given directions for use in those specific areas.

Without proper medical guidance, you can do more harm to those areas that may or may not be reversible. Administering massage with a massage gun to other areas of the body that are not affected by these injuries would be fine, but just not near the site of injury.

You must first make sure of your safety before proceeding to use a massage gun. I have created a convenient chart to help you know if using a massage gun is safe for you and which areas should be avoided.

Massage Gun Safety chart created by Galeano Massage

Are Massage Guns Effective?

Massage guns vary greatly in their capability and capacity to perform percussion massage. Depending on the intent of the user and the goal of the massage session you can have a measure of success with the right massage gun. It’s essential to research the massage gun you’re interested in to know if it’s going to meet your needs.

It’s important to note that massage guns are used in professional settings in Chiropractor and Physical Therapist’s offices. However, the massage guns they use cannot be purchased at the local big box store. They are using professional-quality massage guns in the office. Massage Therapists and Osteopaths may also use a massage gun for specific treatments but use a professional-quality massage gun as well.

If you are looking for what would be considered a relaxing massage many of the massage gun options available in stores would fit your needs just fine.

If you are an athlete or in the fitness industry then you may want something with more durability for frequent use and a greater capacity to do a deeper percussion massage. This massage gun available on Amazon.com is a favorite among athletes.

TheraGun Prime Quiet Deep Tissue Therapy Massage Gun - Bluetooth Enabled, Electric Percussion Massage Gun & Personal Massager for Pain Relief in Neck, Back, Leg, Shoulder and Foot (Black - 5th Gen)

If you work out, you can use your massage gun as a warm-up tool. The massage gun is effective at this because it increases circulation. You can also use it after a workout to help move out any metabolic waste that has accumulated in the muscle. This is great for after-workout recovery. Be sure to drink plenty of water and rehydrate as you would normally do.

Massage guns can be effective at percussion massage. It just depends on what you want out of the massage session and the type and quality of the massage gun you are using. If you are desiring a relaxation massage you will want to have your massage gun on a low setting to prevent the massage from becoming too invigorating. If you want a deeper tissue massage you will want a medium to high setting with some pressure to make sure the massage is not too relaxing and light.

How to Properly Use a Massage Gun

Now the fun part. Using a massage gun can be a little intimidating at first. You will want to start slow and steady. Make sure your massage gun is fully charged and you have in mind the areas you would like to work on. This will work best if you have already been up and moving around and your body is warm. Right before bed is an ideal time to dedicate some massage time with your massage gun.

Find a quiet spot and a relaxing position to start your massage. You will find that some areas are difficult to reach on your own. That’s when you may want to employ the help of a family member or friend. Just communicate to them how to use the massage gun, what you would like them to do, and for how long. Some massage guns are better for solo massage because they have more of an ergonomic grip.

Athletic man using massage gun properly for recovery
  • Fully Charge the Massage Gun– If you charge up your massage gun thoroughly before your first use the rechargeable battery may last longer than if you didn’t. I recommend putting it to charge overnight so you can use it when you want to during the next day.
  • Start on the lowest speed– This is Massage School 101 basic information but I realize that most people have not attended Massage School. Any massage session should start by warming up the tissue. This prepares it to receive a deeper massage after the tissues have been warmed up and circulation has improved in the area of treatment.
  • Gradually Increase the Speed– Once the area of treatment has been warmed up you may want to increase the speed of the massage gun to receive a more vigorous massage. Do this procedure gradually. Also, be careful not to over-massage the area to the point of injury. Whatever you do please DO NOT go into the massage starting with a high speed on the massage gun.
  • Go deeper with Pressure– You may not be satisfied with just an increase in speed but feel the need to have the massage gun go into deeper tissues. At this phase of the massage, as long as it feels good to you, it’s appropriate to use more pressure on the massage gun to increase the depth of the massage. Be careful not to go too deep or stay too long with deep pressure.
  • Finish with Lowest Speed– Always finish a massage by returning to the lighter pressure and lower speed you started with. This indicates to your body that the massage is concluding and will decrease the amount of circulation in those tissues that you worked on.

How Often Can You Use a Massage Gun

Some sources say that you can use a massage gun every day, however, I would advise against using them every day if you can. Just the same as exercise breaks down the muscle fibers, massage also breaks down the muscle fibers, especially a percussion device like a massage gun. If you are using a massage gun for daily muscle tension it’s best to use the massage gun on a low setting and with minimal pressure.

If you are an athlete, you may be using a massage gun for your warm-up and recovery from exercise. Just be sure that on your rest day, you also refrain from using the massage gun. This will allow your muscle tissues the chance to repair and rebuild.

For each area of the body that you are using the massage gun on, perform no more than 2 minutes of the massage gun on each area. If the area starts to feel tender, irritated, or painful, stop using the massage gun in that area. Allow the area to fully heal before using a massage gun again in that area. If you have sensitive skin, you may find that a massage gun will not ever be appropriate for your skin type.

You may find that after consistent and regular use of your massage gun, you are able to handle higher percussions or pressure. If you are using a massage gun in between professional massage sessions with a Massage Therapist then consult with them on how they would like you to use the massage gun and how often.

You CAN absolutely OVERMASSAGE. Getting your Massage Therapist’s professional opinion is important to avoid injury. They most likely already have a treatment outline for you. The same goes if you see a Chiropractor or Physical Therapist. Communication is vital to have the best treatment outcome.

As you become more accustomed to using your massage gun you will discover the frequency of massage gun use that feels good to you. Always respect your own personal boundaries.

If your body is letting you know that something doesn’t feel good then it’s best to yield to that signal. If you feel like you could benefit from more massage then you may experiment with increasing the frequency of your massage gun use.

How Massage Therapists Feel About Massage Guns

Are Massage Guns going to put Massage Therapists out of business? Is this the END of Massage careers as we know them? Uh no, not going to happen. Massage Therapists do not need to fear the public’s new fascination with massage guns. As I have made clear earlier, massage guns only perform ONE type of massage technique from one modality of massage- SWEDISH PERCUSSION.

Just like Physical Therapists and Chiropractors, Massage Therapists also welcome the use of massage guns. It’s a great option when we’re choosing clients’ at-home healing protocol (one they’re ACTUALLY LIKELY TO DO) and employ in our Sports Massage sessions.

A massage gun is a great additional tool to the Massage Therapists’ toolbox. Massage guns also create an income opportunity if we choose to sell high-quality massage guns to our clients for home use.

In short, massage guns DON’T DO EVERYTHING. You are also looking at the skill of the user. If you compare the quality of a massage given with a massage gun by a non-massage-educated person and a Massage Therapist well…there’s no comparison. The extensive education and skill of the Massage Therapist are no match to the kind of massage given by someone who’s not a Massage Therapist. PERIOD.

I am a Big Fan of massage guns. I personally bought a non-professional massage gun for an international flight and I have to say IT SAVED ME. I usually feel completely devastated and as if I was hit by a Semi and set on fire after international flights. It gave me a SECOND WIND!

However, I chose to purchase one that also could do heat and ice massage. I just wanted more for my investment. These are the ones I have:

Brookstone Hot/Cold Massage Gun from Walmart

In summary, a massage gun can be a great safe massage tool if used correctly. It isn’t essential to your self-care kit but you may find it to be the best investment you’ve ever made. If you can afford it, go with quality and the one that has the features that you will use.

This article was written by and is the intellectual property of www.galeanomassage.com. If this article appears anywhere else on the internet it was stolen from the copyright owner.


MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

The content in this article is for informational, entertainment, and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a trained qualified physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Galeano Massage nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, or supplements or those diagnosed with a medical illness should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

Sarah

I've been practicing Massage Therapy since 2014. I'm a health and wellness enthusiast. I'm always learning and experimenting with different techniques, recipes, and healing modalities. I believe that we need to approach health and wellness from a WHOLE-listic point of view and understand that it will constantly be changing and is never stagnant. We are all unique and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another person. As I grow, change, and experiment I will share what I have learned as it may help someone else in need.

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