Massage guns produce a rapid drumming sensation that effectively stimulates your blood vessels, nerves, and joints and increases your range of motion. However, under certain conditions, massage guns can be harmful if not used properly the result can be counter-effective, and they can result in strains and sprains as well.
Before you indulge in these devices, it pays to know how safe they are. Allow us to explain.
Benefits to Using Massage Guns
A massage gun goes a long way in alleviating muscle stiffness and pains. These devices stimulate the muscle tissues, enhancing blood circulation, reducing pain and relieving tension.
However, for a regular, it’s not always possible to operate a massage gun like a massage therapist or physical therapist might. And if you fail to use one as indicated, it can do you more harm than good.
Percussive therapy aims to boost your blood flow, thus enhancing nutrients and oxygen transmission to your muscles. But using massage guns in the wrong way can lead to inflammation due to blood vessels rupturing.
With these pathways disrupted, you’d be deprived of the potential benefits.
Massage Guns & Older Adults
Younger people will likely find that they successfully resist any potentially harmful effects of massage guns producing high-frequency vibrations in their tissues.
But, as you grow older, your tissues and skin become softer and less elastic. Because of this, elderly adults might find it uncomfortable to use massage guns. It’s best to consult a medical professional first.
How Can Massage Guns Be Harmful?
Yes, massage guns can be harmful, especially if handled poorly. Therefore, you need to take precautions to prevent injuries to your internal organs, nerves, arteries, and even the muscles themselves.
We caution you to stop using a massage gun immediately if you feel any unusual pain or suspect that the gun may be worsening a condition.
Let’s take a deeper look at the issues associated with inexperience while handling massage guns:
Stretching a muscle beyond its capacity can lead to painful muscle strains. This often results from sudden or improper movements or overworking your muscles.
You might strain your muscles due to the strong pulsation of a massage gun. Stay away from a massage gun if you’re already experiencing muscle strains.
A sprain is what happens when you tear a ligament or muscle. And just like strains, they result from excessive muscle stretching or sudden movements.
If you hear a popping sound while using a massage gun that also comes with a sensation of pain, chances are that you might have sprained your muscle. At this point, put the device down immediately.
Damaged Blood Vessels
If you’re using excessive pressure with your massage gun, this may cause ruptured blood vessels. Such scenarios may result in bruises on the skin.
People with broken or fractured bones should refrain from using massage guns — the hammering motion of these devices can further deteriorate the condition.
If you’re recovering from a fracture, try not to expose the weak bone to these guns. If you have any issues related to fragile bones at all, it’s best you stay away from massage guns altogether.
An injury is often followed by inflammation. The inflamed area will also experience more blood flow. Some common inflammation conditions include bursitis and tendinitis.
So, if you already have inflammation, refrain from using a massage gun, as it’ll only slow your healing process, both aggravating your muscle pain and increasing inflammation.
Excessive Muscular Contractions
When exposed to a massage gun, your sympathetic nervous system may be activated, stimulating the fight-or-flight signals to the muscle nerves. This can result in extra contractions in your muscles.
When you’re trying to relieve tension or relax a muscle, experiencing more contractions under external pressure can actually do the opposite of what you want.
More Sensitivity in Nerves
Your nerves may experience excessive pressure when put under a massage gun. This is because the machine delivers rapid blows to your body, resulting in an increase of signal transmission from the nerve endings to the brain.
As a result of this increased sensitivity in your nerves, your heart rate might increase. Some individuals may also experience a hike in their blood pressure.
Damage to Muscle Fibers
The cells present in your muscles are very durable, but they’re not necessarily meant to absorb rapid blows. Massage guns produce a pounding effect that can damage muscle fibers’ connective tissue and myosin and actin proteins.
This can diminish the body’s strength and increase the tension in your muscles.
How to Use Massage Guns Safely
Massage guns are, for the most part, very safe. They only pose a danger for someone who doesn’t know how to go about using one.
With that in mind, here are a few tips that’ll help you use a massage gun safely:
- Use a massage gun slowly and in short sessions. Keep the power settings low, and note how your body is responding to it.
- It’s easy to use the device on your calves and thighs, but be vigilant when using massage guns over your bony areas. Apply light pressure to prevent bruising when covering skeletal areas like elbows and knee joints.
- Be gentle when you massage your neck and steer clear of significant blood vessels and nerves.
- Consult your doctor if you’re unsure whether you should use the device under conditions like pregnancy or deep vein thrombosis.
We also strongly recommend reading the massage gun’s user manual to equip yourself with the proper know-how of your specific device.
Having answered the question “can massage guns be harmful?”, you might be wondering whether it’s worth purchasing a massage device at all.
The decision largely depends on your body conditions and existing ailments. After all, there’s no denying the several health benefits that massage guns offer.
Take care not to overdo a massage, and avoid using the gun altogether if it isn’t suiting your body. Remember, massage guns aren’t magic tools to help you overcome body pain (though they certainly can help!).
If you’re unsure whether or not a device is safe for you to use, consult a medical professional.