While your physical therapist or chiropractor may use a percussive massage gun as part of your treatment, it’s also possible to employ the device yourself. Below, Orendorf shares four tips when going the DIY route.
- Start slow. Massage guns can be really powerful, so be careful, especially if you’re already sore. “I start all my athletes on the lowest setting and increase from there.”
- Avoid bone. If you hammer away at a bone, you likely won’t cause any damage, but it’s not going to be comfortable. Instead, Orendorf suggests starting on the larger muscle groups, like your glutes, quads, calves, lats and traps until you get the hang of navigating the gun. He offers this pro tip: “Use your other hand as a guide to help identify bony sections to avoid.”
- Keep it moving. “Make sure you’re not pressing too hard or staying in one spot for too long,” says Orendorf. “You can easily create more harm than good. Keep the gun moving for the best results.”
- More is not better. While a 90-minute massage by actual human hands can feel amazing, you don’t need 90 minutes of gun work. Orendorf likes to focus on each body part for a few minutes before moving on to something else. This is enough time to get the full benefit of the treatment without causing trauma or discomfort to the area.
BEFORE YOU TRY IT, KNOW THIS
As with all things, you want to be smart and cautious when first using a massage gun. “This seems pretty obvious, but be sure to avoid things like major arteries, nerves and internal organs,” says Orendorf. “Pay attention to how your body is responding, and back off if something doesn’t feel right.”
Orendorf also stresses that massage guns are not a one-stop solution to all your physical ailments. Instead, they’re one part of a holistic treatment plan. “I love using a massage gun as part of an athlete’s rehab program, but they’re not going to magically fix an injury,” he says. “Be sure to reach out to a medical professional if your injury isn’t getting better.”