This holiday season saw the highest sale of handheld massage devices than ever before.  Brands like Theragun and Hypervolt saw sales rise, but many similar devices from overseas also made their way into homes across the country.  Do massage guns work?  Are they dangerous?  Should I purchase the expensive one, or is a cheap knock-off model just as good?  Before you buy, and before you use a massage gun, read this first.hypervolt, theragun, massage gun, percussive massager

What Is A Massage Gun?

A massage “gun” is a percussion-based massage device that somewhat looks like a handgun.  The Hypervolt is a popular model (often seen courtside in the NBA).  The Theragun is a similar device but looks more like a triangle shape.  Both types of guns offer percussion massage by massaging the body with a reciprocating impact.  Customers can change the type of impact by intensity or by type: different interchangeable tips can offer acute or more rounded effects on different areas of the body.  Percussion massage in any form is effective to increase blood flow, relax tight muscles, and help muscles prepare for exercise.

Do Massage Guns Work?

Massage guns are extremely effective for non-professional therapeutic massage.  While they do not compare to a deep tissue or sports massage performed by a licensed massage therapist, they do offer quick relief for anyone who has sore muscles or who enjoys vigorous exercise.  Many professional athletes such as LeBron James use a massage gun before, during, and after exercise.  Our personal experience has been that having a massage gun at home, or in the car during long trips, offers a simple method of pain relief for momentary muscle soreness.

It is important to point out that massage guns have limitations.  They are also not designed for anything other than moderate personal enjoyment.  Massage guns also cannot do the following:

  • Massage guns do not prevent injury
  • Massage guns do not cure a condition
  • Massage guns do not offer a permanent alternative to physical therapy

Are Massage Guns Dangerous?

Massage guns are not inherently dangerous if used correctly as described by the manufacturer’s instructions.  You should never use the massage gun on any “hard” parts of your body, such as your outer elbow, spine, kneecap, or skull.  As the manufacturer of the Hypervolt instructs it should only be used on soft tissue or muscle areas, such as your calves, thighs, biceps and triceps, and trapezius muscles.  If you have any questions about proper use, call us today and we can show you advanced methods on how to use a massage gun effectively.

Why Are Massage Guns So Expensive?

Many of our patients ask us if they should spent hundreds of dollars on a Theragun or Hypervolt when they could buy an imitation device for as low as 30 dollars online.  Our advice is buyer beware.  The Theragun and Hypervolt have been extensively researched, used by professionals, and designed by engineers with orthopedic and body movement specialists.  These massagers are expensive because they have the top scientists working on them and they are made with quality materials by exacting craftsmen.  They are professional grade devices.  Other imitation products are not professional grade and can break, short out, or worse, cause injury.  If you are injured by a device that does not have an American company counterpart (i.e., an overseas imitation device) you will not be able to pursue any recourse for your injury.  We have also found that the quality of the percussion is more consistent with professional devices, and the intensity remains strong after hundreds of hours of use.

Will A Massage Gun Be As Good As Physical Therapy?

No.  Physical therapy will always be a more intense experience and has the benefit of an objective opinion from your therapist.  If you think you may need physical therapy, or if your condition gets worse or does not improve after using a massage gun, contact us for an appointment today.  We can help.