Is it worth buying a massage gun?
In this blog post we discuss the benefits of using a percussion massager.
There is a reason these massage gun and vibrating devices are so popular for people looking for pain relief. They feel amazing, they are easy to use, and the results are quick. In this article I want to talk about how percussion massage works and how it fits into our understanding of pain reduction and recovery. This is part of the reason we use in a massage gun in almost all of our treatment sessions at PHYT For Function as we work to help you get to the root cause of your pain problem.
1. Pain Relief or interruption. Pain is a signal to the brain to make it aware that something is threatening the system. We have this modern day perception that pain is always bad. It’s really not. It is a productive mechanism, can you imagine not knowing if something was hot or sharp? We need to know something is wrong so that we can make corrective decisions. Pain is very valuable information to the system.
The real problem is that pain is not always convenient and sometimes it doesn’t go away when it should.
1. Applying a different signal. If we can provide a different sensation to the system sometimes the brain will perceive that instead of the pain signal. That is why you instinctively rub things that hurt. The rubbing stimulation changes the signal to the brain. Massage guns provide a vibration stimulation. Vibration and percussion are a great input because they tap into different types of sensory nerves and even travel through a different tract to the spinal cord up to the brain. This creates a different perception in the brain and may be able to distract from the pain.
2. Inflammation and swelling
Inflammation is another word that always seems to have this negative perception, but without it we would be in big trouble. When we get injured your body sends an inflammatory mix to the area full of things to heal, repair, and clear out waste from the injured area. Part of this inflammatory mix contains substances that activate pain receptors. Again, this is not bad, it’s part of healing, and let’s us know we should protect the area.
The key here is that as the injury heals the inflammatory process should stop and those pain substances should clear out. If there is any congestion in the vessels that clear the inflammatory mix out the inflammation may sit. Think of this like a clogged pipe drain.
The good news is that these pipes tend to run pretty shallow in the body, just under the skin, and we can get to them pretty easy with our massage gun. We want to use the massager to help move this fluid through the tissue, into the pipe, and out. The vibration helps thin the fluid, relax the surrounding muscles, and may help clear out some of that stagnant fluid and inflammation causing pain.
3. Muscle relaxation. Muscle knots are another way your body tries to protect itself.
The muscle contracts to protect something in the area. The problem is this requires energy. If you can’t get enough energy to the muscle it starts to get tired and hurt. Just like when you try to run further than you should and your legs start to burn and cramp.
To complicate the problem when the muscle contracts it squeezes the pipes that get blood and nutrients . This may play a factor in part of the congestion we described above. As you may suspect, the pipes are blocked, and it’s harder to get blood and the energy supply to the area. Without energy supply, the muscle gets fatigued, and you have another source of inflammation and pain. No wonder you feel tired when things hurt.
The vibration and percussion of the Hypervolt is a great input to try and interrupt the nerve stimulus causing the muscle guarding. It is also going to increase blood flow to the area to help improve the energy supply and relax the muscle. Sometimes just breaking this cycle, even in the short term, is enough to get you out of pain.
Part of the equation to feeling better is figuring out exactly what the brain is trying to protect. If it’s a new injury it may be as simple as going through the healing process. I always use the smash your thumb in the door analogy. Your thumb is going to hurt, but as long as you let it heal, the pain is going to go away. Keep smashing it, and well, it stays annoyed. If it’s a pain that is more chronic or not related to some kind of trauma event then you need to figure out what is causing the threat to the system. It could be stress from a consistent posture, an injury to a different area, or even some kind of perceived threat to the system. You really need a movement evaluation to figure that part out.
To get long term relief for more chronic problems you need remove the trigger that’s causing the guarding. Think of this like walking with a stone in your shoe. You can rub your foot for pain relief all you want, but if you don’t take the stone out of your shoe that pain with walking is going to come back. This is where you need to peel back the layers to get to the root of the problem. If you get the roots you kill the weed. Your therapist at PHYT For Function will use movement screening and our PHYT Assessment to help you get to the root of the problem. The massage gun becomes part of the tool set of treatments we use to help you accomplish the goal of peeling those layers away.
To schedule a session with PHYT For Function that includes Hypervolt massage as a part of your treatment plan visit www.phytforfunction.com/book to schedule a free phone consult to discuss your plan to feeling better.
If you would like to purchase a massage gun we do work with Hyperice. It's a great company with a great product line. We trust and use them daily! Here's an affiliate link. we get a little commission if you buy through this link at no cost to you. Every little bit helps us out! https://amzn.to/3oTcPin
If you are a clinician or coach that wants to learn more about pain, inflammation, and a neurologic treatment model that includes Hypervolt percussion massage, cupping, and Instrument Assisted Massage please visit www.integrativedryneedling.com/nrt-landing. Our two day, Neuro Release Treatment course will expand your understanding of pain, neuroinflammation, and treatment using a hands on, patient centered experience.
Dr. Nicholas Sanders PT, DPT, CSCS, CIDN.
Nick is the founder of PHYT For Function a one on one specialty, physical therapy clinic in North East Ohio and Co-Creator of the Neuro-Release Treatment Course, a nervous system based cupping, percussion massage, and IASTM manual therapy course presented by Integrative Dry Needling. Nick is both a doctor of physical therapy and certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is driven to find the best combination of manual therapy, exercise, and lifestyle habits to improve pain, stress, aging, and performance.