A massage gun is a great addition to your workout routine, but to get the best performance, it’s worth reading a bit before diving straight in.

If you’re unfamiliar with massage guns (also known as percussion massagers), they’re handheld devices similar in shape and size to a power drill. Don’t let that put you off, though – they’re perfectly safe to use and deliver a soft tissue massage that’s as gentle or firm as you want it to be.

The pulsating action breaks up adhesions, promotes blood circulation and helps eliminate lactic acid that builds up during a workout.

When you buy a massage gun, you will usually find that it comes with a variety of interchangeable massage heads designed for different muscle groups. These twist or push into a socket at one end and are driven by a motor inside the handle causing them to pulse up and down.

Consumer massage guns run off a rechargeable battery that typically gives between one and two hours of operation on a full charge. They come in a range of sizes, but if you want one that’s handy to carry to the gym, sports club, and office, we recommend looking for a small model like the Power Plate Mini+ or the Renpho R3 Mini Massage. Gun.

Do you want to invest in a massage gun? We’ve rounded up the best prices on a range of devices here:

Safety first

First, a word about security. Be sure to only use your massage gun on muscles – never on bony areas or joints. Don’t use it on injuries either – a muscle that’s a little sore after a strenuous exercise session is OK, but not a strain or sprain. Also, do not use it on broken skin.

Do not hold the massage gun in one place for more than a few seconds to avoid causing bruising, and if it feels uncomfortable, stop immediately. Using the device should never be painful, and there’s no need to use the highest settings if you find them too much.

If you have a medical condition like arthritis, osteoporosis, or fibromyalgia, be sure to talk to your doctor before using a massage gun or starting a new fitness routine.

When to use it

After a workout is the most obvious time to use your massage gun, but that’s not the only time it can come in handy. To find out how to get the most out of your massage gun, TechRadar spoke with Scott Hopson, Power Plate Master Trainer and Advisory Board Member.

“Massage guns apply rhythmic pressure currents to tissues in our bodies, improving tissue quality, fluid flow, and state of mind,” Hopson told TechRadar.

He suggests using a massage gun to prep before working out, training or competing “because it improves the tissues and prepares them to move with more quality.” You can use it again after training “to stimulate the recovery process as soon as possible. Eliminate toxins, decrease pain and stimulate relaxation”, and between sessions “to ensure that we” clear “our tissues stressors of everyday life, closure and postures that create problems.”

Woman sitting on grass using massage gun on leg

(Image credit: M-Production/Shutterstock)

Karen Brown, EMEA Product Design and Development Manager at HoMedics (another of the biggest massage gun makers) also offered some advice on when to use your device.

“HoMedics massage guns are ideal for use before and after training to help relieve tension and pain,” Brown tells us. “They’re handy to take with you to the gym and even use in the middle of a workout if you’re feeling some tension.

“HoMedics Massage Guns are also great for winding down after a long day at work to re-energize and awaken areas of the body that may have been sitting in the same position for a while!

“By offering a range of power settings and a variety of different interchangeable massage heads, each treatment can be tailored to your specific needs, targeting different areas of the body for fast results and maximum effectiveness.”

Where to use it

When you’re ready to start using your massage gun, turn it on before placing it on your skin (turning it on while it’s against your body can be shocking) and glide it over the muscle you’re on. you work.

Before a workout, you can use your massage gun to target the major muscle groups you’ll be working and warm them up.

For example, if you are preparing to ride a bike, you can use it on your quads (the muscles in the front and sides of your thighs), your hamstrings (in the back of the thighs), your calves and lower back. Keep the gun head moving and move on to the next muscle group after a minute or two.

It’s the same after a workout; focus on the muscles you used and glide the massage gun over each group for up to two minutes before moving on to the next.

If your shoulders feel stiff during the day, you can use your massage gun to target the trapezius muscle. Be careful not to place the head of the device directly on your shoulder blade and away from your spine.

If you’re having trouble reaching, one of the benefits of a massage gun is that someone else can give you a helping hand, even if they have no experience. Ask them to hold it lightly against your skin and let the machine do the work; it is not necessary to press it. If you feel a “knot” you can hold the gun in place for about 20 seconds or so to help loosen the tissues.

This article is part of TechRadar’s Get Fit in 2022 series – a collection of ideas and guides to get you started on your health goals for the new year, no matter what your current fitness level.