You’ve likely happened across startling slow-mo videos of handheld machines pounding into jiggling calves, biceps, and quads with the barbarity of a jackhammer.
While it may look like some form of muscular abuse, what’s actually going on deep beneath the epidermal curtain is tissue strengthening and healing via percussion massage.
Massage therapy has helped athletes and everyday individuals alike for thousands of years. But specialized therapies like percussive massage by way of powerful, localizing devices are amplifying the benefits of normal massage. Let’s find out why.
Percussive massage is a percussion-based massage therapy technique that stimulates muscles by way of a handheld device that penetrates deep into tissues through rapid, pressurized pulsations. The machine produces systematic and evenly-timed bolts of pressure, while vibrations simultaneously permeate soft tissues.
Percussive massage originated non-mechanically and is called tapotement, a technique in Swedish massage that involves tapping and rhythmic blows with one’s hands, fingers, and closed fists. Percussive massage by way of a device has advanced in the last 100 years, moving from vibrating chairs to ones with percussive elements, and finally evolving to handheld devices that provide better localized relief.
Percussive massage guns work off three components — amplitude, frequency, and torque. Amplitude is how far the head of the massage gun moves forward and backward — usually between 10mm and 16mm. Frequency is the number of percussions that hit your body per second. Lastly, torque is the power of the machine itself and its ability to withstand pressure forced back toward the device.
Use Percussive Therapy to Reduce DOMS and Ease Muscle Soreness
Massage has compelled praises for centuries, stretching back to times before Hippocrates and Plato, who each lauded massage application for its benefits to the body. The ancient physician and philosopher were indeed correct — but technology and modern clinical trials have given us an even deeper understanding of bodily benefits through percussive massage.
A recent study found that massage and vibration, which are key components in percussive therapy, are antidotes for DOMS — Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This is because percussive massage techniques increase blood flow and oxygenation to important tissues like tendons, muscles, and fascia, delivering vital nutrients that help structures heal quickly and get you back to activities faster and pain-free.
Sure, there are some unethical performance enhancers out there. But percussive massage is effective — and it won’t get you in trouble.
Using a percussion massager before activity — whether you’re working out or lifting boxes all day — has been shown to trigger muscles into hyperdrive by stimulating blood flow. Both range of motion and overall performance improve seconds after using percussion therapy techniques.
While your muscles are prepped for battle with a percussive massager, they’re also on defense. Before strenuous activity, loosening up muscles with a percussion massager has been shown to effectively decrease injury risk and prepare muscles for action.
Our lymph nodes, which flush out and “drain” all of the bad stuff in our body — biochemical waste, toxins, extracellular fluids, and more — jump into gear during and after percussive massage, helping the body to excrete buildup of unnecessary sludge that slows us down and becomes a harbinger of inflammation and disease.
Connective tissue, or fascia, hardens and builds up in the areas we use most. People engaging in repetitive motion all day — athletes, laborers, and more — are likely to experience pain and soreness related to used-and-abused fascia. Percussive massagers are perfect for stimulating and loosening fascia, returning it to a state where it can help the body achieve peak performance.
Scarring and adhesions from injuries, overuse, or even surgical treatments can impair movement, range of motion, and can create unnecessary pain and soreness. Precision beats from the massage gun break down and expel scar tissue and other unwelcome invaders.
As an added bonus, massage guns help to break down and do away with cellulite. Fat cells gather around fibrous tissues, and percussion massagers chisel away at excess buildup, removing the cottage-cheese dimpling appearance that is cellulite.
Percussive massage is praised by athletes across the globe. It loosens them up for activity, helps shield their bodies from injury, and makes them less sore, cutting down the time needed for recovery between workouts. But percussion massage is not made exclusively for professional athletes — it’s for everyone. Whether you’re tense from staring at a computer in an office all day or work tirelessly on a farm, the health benefits of percussion massage don’t discriminate and work their way into all bodies. Everyday use of percussive massage is a benefit to everyone, no matter what you do — or don’t do.
If you’re an athlete, you’ll snap back quicker and last longer with a percussion massage gun. If you’re sedentary, the increased blood flow via percussive massage helps to keep your heart and body healthy. Percussive therapy is also the perfect massage for back pain, which afflicts half of all working Americans every year and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Like comparing apples and oranges, all percussive massagers are not created equal. If you’re serious about getting real benefits from percussion massage, you need a quality machine. There are key features to look for in a percussive massager, and we’ll overview them here.
-Power. Will your massage gun hold up under (literal)pressure?
-Speeds. Adequate speed diversity is integral for different stages of strengthening and healing.
-Noise level. Can you hear yourself talk over your percussion massager, or is it a nuisance?
-Attachments. There is no one-size-fits-all attachment. Your machine should come equipped with a range of attachments geared toward specific areas of the body.
-Travel case. Going somewhere? Your percussion gun needs a compact case for itself and its accouterments.
-Weight. A machine that’s too heavy can make you strain, but top-shelf materials help a quality device stay feather-light.
Tired of sore muscles? Feel and move better with Ekrin Athletic’s state-of-the art B37 Percussion Massager.
Written by Morgan Sliff
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