Handheld massagers and massage guns offer a great way to relieve tension and stress in your muscles. They are small, portable devices that can be used on your neck, back, shoulders, arms, legs, and other muscle groups.
Using a handheld massager can help improve blood flow, reduce muscle soreness, contribute to muscle recovery, and promote relaxation. While you can get those benefits on your own with a handheld massager—but you’ll only get the desired results if you know what areas to target.
Here are the key areas to aim for:
- Lower Backs
Do Handheld Massagers Really Work?
Massage guns typically use percussion technology to deliver rapid, high-frequency vibrations to the skin and muscles. This can help to break up knots and adhesions in the muscle tissue, which can reduce pain and improve flexibility.
Additionally, massage guns can increase blood flow to the affected area, which can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who are recovering from injuries or who are managing chronic pain conditions.
However, it’s important to note that massage guns can be powerful tools, and they should be used with care. You need to know the safety precautions required to operate them properly and safely.
If you are seeing your physical therapist, it’s also a good idea to ask how you can safely add it to your treatment plan, such as orthopedic physical therapy.
Some people may experience discomfort or pain when using a massage gun, especially if they are new to the technology. It’s important to start with a lower setting or even the lowest speed if possible.
Once your muscle groups are used to handheld massagers, like percussion massagers, you can gradually increase the pressure as needed.
Benefits of Using a Handheld Massage Gun
Massage guns may be small but the list of benefits that they offer is actually quite long. Below are some of them:
Reduces Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS): Handheld massagers can help reduce muscle soreness after a workout, leading to faster recovery and better performance.
Boosts Circulation: The gentle kneading and rolling motion of handheld massagers can improve blood flow, delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to muscles, promoting healing and growth.
Relaxes Muscles: Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and stress, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.
Enhances Muscle Flexibility: Handheld massagers can help increase muscle flexibility, allowing for a greater range of motion and improved performance in physical activities.
Targets Specific Areas: Handheld massagers come with various attachments, such as balls, forks, and foam rollers, allowing for targeted massage on specific muscle fibers and bony areas.
Relieves Shoulder Pain: The massage techniques used with handheld massagers can help alleviate tension and pain in the shoulder blades and muscles.
Improves Posture: Massage therapy can help improve posture by reducing muscle tension and promoting relaxation, allowing for better alignment and reduced pain.
Increases Range of Motion: Massage therapy can help increase range of motion in joints and muscles, allowing for greater flexibility and improved physical performance.
Reduces Lactic Acid Buildup: Massage therapy can help reduce the buildup of lactic acid in muscles, leading to faster recovery and reduced muscle fatigue.
Helps Manage Chronic Pain: Massage therapy can be an effective tool for managing chronic pain, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain.
8 Key Areas to Massage Daily
The nice thing about massage guns is their convenience. You can actually experience all those benefits in your own home and without seeing massage therapists. If you are seeing one, you’d know how expensive a regular visit to a massage therapist can get.
To get the most out of your massage gun, you need to target the following key areas:
Your pectorals are large muscles in your chest. Even if you aren’t doing any heavy lifting, these muscles are essential for the way your arms move during daily activities.
If your pectorals get sore, stiff, or strained, it limits what directions you can move your arms and your ability to keep your shoulders straight.
To help keep your pectorals limber and pain-free, you can use a handheld massager to massage trigger points in this muscle group. Massaging the area will relieve pain by promoting blood flow and easing muscle stiffness.
It’s also great therapy for enhancing your shoulder positioning and overall posture.
Your neck contains a lot of muscles that control your ability to swivel your head, among other things. If the muscles in your neck become sore or stiff, it will limit your ability to look around. It can be quite painful too.
Stiffness in the neck can be caused by an accident or bad posture from bending to look at a computer or handheld device all day. A handheld massager will alleviate soreness and stiffness by relieving the tension in your neck.
Even if your neck muscles aren’t sore, using a neck massager will increase blood flow within the muscles, keeping them limber. There are also handheld massagers for the neck and back area.
You can also look for self-massagers that are designed for the neck and shoulders if you are struggling with multiple painful areas, such as your upper back, trapezius muscles, and other larger muscle groups.
Sitting in a hunched position, bad posture, or heavy lifting can easily cause injury. Using a handheld massager frequently and properly can help take the load off the tensed muscles on your shoulders.
By using a massager to ease tension in your shoulder’s stress points, you decrease the likelihood of experiencing shoulder stiffness that may extend to your arms and neck. It can also relieve emotional tension since you’ll recover faster.
To make it more effective, you can use your massager’s fork attachment. It’s an add-on designed to help you target more specific areas on your body.
You’ll never know how hard the muscles in your abdomen work until there’s something wrong with them.
Using a handheld massager to relieve stress points and increase blood circulation within your abdomen’s muscles is a good way to avoid injury. An abdominal massage can also help with toning and strengthening your abdominal muscles, releasing physical and emotional tension, and relieving abdominal muscle spasms.
A handheld massager lets you give yourself a lower back deep tissue massage. Since most people experience some form of lower back pain at least once in their lives, a handheld massager can be a real lifesaver.
Lower back pain can be caused by sudden strain, stiffness from bad posture, or spending a lot of time sitting or bending over. By using a handheld massager daily on your lower back, you will increase blood flow and give flexibility to the muscles, making them more resistant to injuries.
Frequently using a handheld massager can also aid the recovery of hurt muscles in your lower back, decrease tension, and increase the release of endorphins.
There are a variety of muscles in your arms, from your shoulders to your wrist. All these muscles can benefit from a regular self-massage that relieves tension and strengthens them.
It is especially useful for keeping the load-bearing muscles in your forearm and upper arm healthy and limber. If you are new and you feel that your massager is too much for your muscles, you can use its ball attachment.
Working with your hands for long hours every day can lead to aching fingers and more. You can use a handheld massager to increase blood flow to your fingers, relieve tension, and help the muscles in your hands heal.
Whether you are standing still or moving, the muscles in your legs are working hard. You don’t have to wait for something to go wrong with these muscles before you decide to give them a massage.
By using a handheld massager for your legs, you can maximize blood flow in the muscles, healing sore muscles and keeping the tendons and muscles strong. It will also help shorten your recovery time after a strenuous activity like running, jogging, jumping, and so on.
There are also massagers that are recommended for particular areas of the legs depending on your pain. Calf massagers are a popular choice to relieve any tightness, muscle fatigue, and soreness that has built up from playing sports or a workout session.
How to Use a Handheld Massager Properly
Getting the best massage gun would be pointless if you don’t know how to use it properly. As a guide, below is a list of steps you can follow to make sure you’re using your handheld massage gun properly and safely:
Choose the right type of massager: There are many different types of handheld massagers available, including rollers, balls, and percussion massagers. Choose the type of massager that is most suitable for the needs of your body and your preferences.
Start with a gentle massage: If you are new to using a handheld massager, start with a gentle massage to allow your body to adjust to the sensation. You can increase the intensity of the massage gradually as you become more comfortable with it. Get your body ready before you increase the intensity of your massager.
Know the right position. Your massage gun head should be at a 90-degree angle while your hand should be perpendicular to the handle. This position allows you to move your massager with ease and without causing strain of your wrists.
Apply oil or lotion to your skin: Before using the massager, apply a small amount of oil or lotion to help the massager glide more smoothly and reduce friction.
Apply pressure to the massager: Apply pressure to the massager in the direction of the blood flow. This can help to increase circulation and reduce muscle tension.
Move the massager slowly: Move the massager slowly over the affected area, paying attention to any areas of pain. You can also try moving the massager in circular or back-and-forth motions.
Take breaks: If you are using a handheld massager for a longer period of time or if you are targeting bigger muscles, take breaks to allow your body to rest and recover.
Store the massager properly: After each use, clean the massager with soap and water, and store it in a dry place. Avoid exposing the massager to excessive heat or moisture. Take note that proper storage will depend on your unit. Check the manual to know how to properly clean your device.
Understanding The Different Modes of Handheld Massagers
There’s more than one way to use a massage gun properly. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you can use the massager by choosing one of the modes below:
The tapping mode uses rapid bursts of tapping motions to massage the skin and underlying tissues. This can be helpful for relieving tightness and increasing circulation in the affected area.
Tapping involves pounding specific muscles repeatedly to stimulate blood flow and increase your muscle’s elasticity.
This mode uses long, gliding motions to massage the skin and underlying tissues. This can be particularly effective for targeting deep tissue and promoting relaxation.
Kneading will compress your soft tissues against one another or the bone beneath it. The more intensely you press the massager against your skin, the deeper the device will knead your target muscle group.
Using this mode can help in relieving pain and tension while increasing the flexibility of your muscles.
Like tapping, percussion involves pounding the muscles, this mode uses rapid, impact-like movements to massage the skin and underlying tissues.
A handheld percussion massager will hit your muscles in short alternating sequences to stimulate muscle and skin reflexes and improve local blood circulation.
This mode keeps the massager at a consistent level of vibration, allowing you to massage a specific area for an extended period of time.
This mode creates a rhythmic pulsing sensation, which can be particularly effective for targeting specific areas of the body.
This mode switches between a constant and pulsing vibration, providing a more varied massage experience.
This mode adds heat to the massager, which can be helpful for loosening tight muscles and increasing circulation. The warmth can also help your body relax.
Deep tissue mode provides deeper, more intense vibrations. They are designed to penetrate the deeper layers of muscle tissue.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using A Handheld Massage Gun
It’s not enough to know how to use handheld massager. To get the maximum benefits of the device, you should also know the common mistakes people commit when using it.
Using the massager on a bony area: Using the massager directly on bony areas or joints can be painful and can cause injury. It’s important to use the massager on the muscles and tissues surrounding the bone or joint.
Not knowing where to use a massage gun: In addition to bony areas and joints, you should also avoid your carotid artery, spine, and the front of your neck when using you device. Using a massager on these areas can cause injuries and damages.
Applying too much pressure: Applying too much pressure can be uncomfortable. It’s important to start with light pressure or low intensity and gradually increase the pressure as needed to avoid injuring yourself.
Not warming up before using massage guns: Warming up the muscles before using the massager can help prepare the muscles for the massage and reduce the risk of injury.
Not using the massager for the recommended amount of time: Using the massager for too short a time may not be effective, and using it for too long can be uncomfortable. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for how long to use the massager.
Using the massager on a sore or injured area: Using the massager on a sore or injured area after an exercise session can be uncomfortable. Apart from the discomfort, it can also add to your muscle soreness.
To avoid making your injury worse, it’s important to wait until the area is fully healed before you use a massage gun.
To avoid these mistakes, it’s important to read the instructions manual carefully before using the massager, start with a light pressure, warm up the muscles before using the massager, use the massager for the recommended amount of time, and avoid using the massager on sore or injured areas.
When Should You Not Use A Massage Gun?
If you have any open wounds or sores on your hands or wrists, it is best to avoid using a handheld massager until they have fully healed. You should also not use a massage gun on sprains and strains. If you really want to do so, tread carefully and ask your doctor first.
If you have recently undergone surgery or have a medical condition that affects blood flow, it is important to consult with your doctor before using handheld massage guns.
If you are experiencing pain in your hands or wrists, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause before using a handheld massager.
If you are using any medications or supplements that could affect your blood pressure, it is important to avoid using a handheld massager, as it could further lower your blood pressure and cause dizziness or fainting.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider before using massage guns, as it could affect the circulation of blood and lymph fluid in the body.
Using a handheld massager regularly can minimize the occurrence of sore or injured muscles by increasing the flexibility of those muscles. This makes performing various exercises and your regular activities less hazardous.
However, if you really want to get the best benefits, try to rotate your methods. For example, you can use your foam roller in your next workout after using your massage gun.
Our review of the best handheld massagers provides more in-depth information about the individual products available on the market. For best results, though, be sure to follow instructions when using a massager, especially around your neck and head.