Physio Massage Guns - Fab or Fad??

November 2, 2021

Social media is full of useful tips and products to help you get ahead of the game, whether that be to improve your sporting performance, speed up your recovery or improve your general health. However, as evidence-based practitioners, we at Physiotherapy Matters do not simply follow the latest fads, instead, we analyse the latest scientific research to determine the best available evidence in order to promote methods that provide real benefits to our patients. It may come as a shock, but not all the things you see on social media advertised by your favourite fitness influencers are supported by that same evidence!

So let’s look at Physio Massage Guns, also known as Theraguns, as an example!…

Massage therapy is seen as a perfect way to relax your sore muscles following an intense workout or just to wind down (for more information on the benefits of sports massage, see our Instagram post). Physio massage guns are sold as an alternative to massage therapy and are supposedly designed to promote recovery and relieve tight muscles. But what actually are the benefits of using physio massage guns and are there any potential negative consequences of using them without correct guidance?

Like traditional massage, massage guns are shown to increase blood flow to the massaged area; aiding in the removal of waste products, reducing muscle soreness up to 24-48 hours post workout. However… mixed results have been shown on the impact of massage guns on the time taken for muscle power to return post workout, suggesting limited impact on actual muscle recovery despite reduced soreness. Improved joint range of motion, following 5-minute use of a massage gun in hamstrings and calves has also been shown by studies, although a stretching routine for the same amount of time has been shown to have equally beneficial effects on range of motion and reduced muscle damage markers or markers of inflammation that can cause muscle soreness.

Incorrect use of massage guns has been shown to be detrimental by a case study of a Chinese athlete who suffered a potentially fatal condition caused by excessive muscle damage after using a massage gun following an intense workout. Although this is extremely rare, it does highlight the possible consequences of using products without full understanding of its effects on the body.

Here at PML we believe in enabling our clients to actively engage with their rehab and recovery.  Active methods are important in giving you control of your recovery and full understanding of your body’s needs and response to exercise. While the research around massage guns has shown physiological benefits, used alone, the benefits are likely to be minimal and short lived and as a passive modality, should be part of a combined recovery programme. Stretching is just one example of a more active method of recovery that should be considered and can provide similar benefits to massage guns.

Not sure which methods are most suitable for you? By booking an appointment with one of our physios here at PML we can provide you with specific treatment, advice and useful techniques to help you optimise your body’s potential.

If you would like further information on how to maximize your recovery- read our blog Great North Run- How to maximize your recovery, or if you would like to discuss anything with one of our physiotherapists, please contact us via email (info@physiotherapymatters.co.uk) or telephone (0333 2200 238).

No matter whether your condition was caused by a sport, work accident or otherwise, we welcome the chance to serve you.

Book an Appointment