I’ve noticed a trend in my treatment room at Pinnacle Hill Chiropractic lately, and that is the over use and at times misuse of their massage guns. Don’t get me wrong, they are fantastic tools, and almost all of our providers own one. However, like all tools massage guns have their specific purpose and can be destructive in the wrong hands. 

Massage guns provide ample power in the palm of your hands, and can quickly address knotty soft tissue and rapidly decrease discomfort. They achieve this by providing a penetrative and percussive force to whatever tissue is in their path. This will no doubt have an effect on muscle soreness, but also creates local damage and an inflammatory response. As the saying goes, a little bit goes a long way. 

Follow the Script

This brings us to the first real potential problem with the use of massage guns – dosage. The therapeutic benefit can vary heavily depending upon how long it is used and how much pressure is applied to the area. Hold the tool in that tender area too long, and you might just be creating more damage.   

With that in mind, part of dosage with musculoskeletal care is recovery. Muscle tissue is going to be aggravated whether you get a massage, trigger point therapy, ART, use a massage gun, or even with lifting weights. Taking time to recover from all of those activities is essential to making progress and healing. It’s the exact reason that patients in our clinic follow a course of care and don’t receive daily treatment. Most active folks know they shouldn’t lift heavy for their shoulders 7 days a week, so why on Earth would we use a massage gun in the same area daily? Constant treatment of the same area without adequate recovery will not only not help, but is likely to create a new issue entirely. 

Location, Location, Location 

I hope this is obvious, but there are a number of areas in the body that you don’t want to use a massage gun on. Nerves in particular do not like compressive or percussive force. It could be that the “knot” you keep needing to massage in the upper back is actually a local nerve entrapment. 

Massaging the area will anesthetize it, but regularly pulverizing the area will ultimately provoke and complicate the problem. You don’t need to know all of the associated anatomy, but It is vital that you know the general area you’re working on and why. Which brings us to the last point…

Knowing the why

Why is that muscle sore? Why does it keep coming back day to day? Do you just have a muscle that is prone to knots? 

Pavel Kolar, one of the leading minds in manual therapy famously said “Trigger points are in the brain not the muscle.” Meaning that patterns and motor deficits create soft tissue tension which leads to soreness and injury. You can use massage guns on problematic areas all you want, but if you don’t address the underlying issue, it will persist. 

Which brings us to the why. Why do you need the massage gun regularly? Is the muscle inherently knotted? Is it tight? Is it weak? Those are great questions. And I say that it is worth trying to understand the answer! Overcoming those problems requires adequate assessment, corrective movements, and appropriate soft tissue therapy. At Pinnacle Hill Chiropractic, we thrive on trying to answer those questions. 

So to recap, do you need to abandon your massage tools? Heck no! But, let’s consider getting a better understanding of why you’re using it. If it will be helpful, let us instruct you on where you can safely use it to see progress and complement your goals. If you’re interested in talking more, check out our booking page HERE.