Pregnancy massage is a time-tested method of providing relief to pregnant women from the pain and anxiety that so often comes along with pregnancy.
Perhaps this is why DIY massage guns are becoming popular among pregnant women. These guns use a combination of percussion and vibration to soothe muscles and promote well-being.
But, can you use a massage gun while pregnant? After all, pregnancy is a sensitive time, and you don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.
This article will tell you all there is to know about using massage guns during pregnancy.
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Benefits of Pregnancy Massage
Research on massage therapy has proven that massage therapy is beneficial in many ways, including reducing prenatal depression and other symptoms related to pregnancy. It can help with:
- Reducing anxiety
- Relieving fluid build-up or swelling that comes with pregnancy
- Treating sleeping disorders, thereby improving sleep
- Reducing back and leg pain
- Reducing norepinephrine (stress hormone) levels
A 2020 study that evaluated the effectiveness of massage for reducing pregnant women’s anxiety and depression suggests there are certain psychological benefits of pregnancy massage, including:
- A rise in the levels of “feel-good” hormones serotonin and dopamine
- Reduction in cortisol levels, indicating a reduction in stress levels.
- An overall feeling of well-being
In addition to biochemical, physical, and psychological effects, massaging therapy also benefits the immune system immensely, protecting pregnant women from viruses and bacteria. It’s worth noting that it’s important to find trained and experienced hands to get the best results.
What Is a Massage Gun?
Massage guns are portable, handheld devices that vibrate or percuss at a high rate to imitate traditional massage effects. As with massage therapy, they effectively work on muscles to increase blood flow, ease pain and promote overall well-being.
Wireless, rechargeable massage guns are convenient and easy to use. You can either use them yourself or ask your partner or a friend to give you a relaxing massage. While massage guns can be used without precautions by healthy individuals, pregnant women should take some precautions.
Pregnant or not, you must select a quality massage gun to get the best results. We’ve rounded up our picks for the best massage guns on the market so you can zero in on the best massage gun for your needs.
Massage Gun vs. Hand Massage
The main goal of using a massage gun is to stimulate muscle tissue to improve blood flow rapidly. Similarly, vibration or percussion triggers pressure points, ultimately reducing body aches, muscle stiffness and stress.
Percussion massage therapy is also beneficial in conditioning muscles and increasing your range of motion. In fact, this is a prevalent technique widely used in the fitness industry.
Consult your doctor before opting for any form of massage therapy during pregnancy. Your doctor is in the best position to advise you on whether you should get a massage gun or hand massage.
Generally, a healthy pregnant woman will get her doctor’s approval after her first trimester. Once the approval is received, you can consult a licensed and certified massage therapist and schedule your massage sessions accordingly, or safely use your own device.
Can You Use a Massage Gun While Pregnant?
Simply put, yes, you can enjoy both hand and gun massage during pregnancy. But the devil is in the details.
If a change in diet, physical activity, or medication can directly affect you or your baby, then massage is no exception. Again, it’s advisable to consult your doctor before opting for any kind of massage, especially during the first trimester.
We strongly caution you to massage only your shoulders, neck and back. Using massage guns on the lower parts of your body is ill-advised.
Areas to Avoid Massaging During Pregnancy
Certain areas are to be completely avoided when massaging a pregnant lady. Massaging these areas not only serves no purpose, but can also prove harmful for you and your baby.
In addition to maintaining the correct posture while receiving a massage, care should be taken to avoid massaging the below-mentioned areas of the body during pregnancy:
Untrained hands shouldn’t massage the belly and the nearby areas of a pregnant woman. Doing so could hurt the mother and even the baby. You can apply anti-stretch mark creams gently, but avoid putting any real pressure on that region.
Pregnant women are more likely to develop DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) due to increased blood volume from the pregnancy. Applying deep tissue pressure could dislodge a clot in the legs, posing a severe health risk.
Massaging pressure points in your wrist, ankles or between fingers should be avoided, as they’re believed to cause contractions in the body.
When Should Pregnancy Massage Be Avoided?
As previously mentioned, it’s crucial that you discuss your medical condition and history in detail with your doctor before using a massage gun. Pregnant women having one or more of the following medical conditions should avoid any form of pregnancy massage altogether, though:
If you’re expecting a preterm delivery or your doctor has deemed your pregnancy “high-risk,” any type of massage should be avoided.
Preeclampsia is a medical condition associated with pregnancy that results in high blood pressure and associated symptoms. Generally, this condition begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but some pregnant women may face it earlier.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
An increased blood volume and decreased circulation in the legs could significantly raise the risk of DVT. The pressure resulting from a massage may dislodge a clot, leading to embolism. Therefore, it’d be wise to avoid massaging your legs completely.
Pregnant women should regularly monitor their blood sugar levels to monitor gestational diabetes. Massage guns should be used only after the doctor’s approval in such conditions.
Furthermore, pregnant women with medical conditions such as placenta previa, placenta accreta, or placental abruption should also avoid massaging.
How to Use a Massage Gun Safely During Prenatal Massages
If your doctor has approved of a massage gun and you don’t have any of the medical conditions mentioned above, the next step would be to select a quality massage gun.
After that, you can enjoy the massage on the recommended areas of your body by following the below safety tips:
- Go slow, steady, and gentle.
- Give the massage gun adequate time in a particular area before moving it to the next one, but don’t keep it on for too long either.
- Don’t put too much pressure on any area.
- If you feel any pain or swelling in an area, withdraw the massage gun immediately.
- Use a massage gun at the lowest possible speed.
- Avoid using a massage gun on bones, joints, or nerves.
Things to Consider With a Hand Massage
Chances are you might be in one of the categories mentioned above that are not permitted the use of massage guns. If your doctor has given the green flag to traditional or hand massage, keep the following points in mind:
- Only trust a licensed and certified massage therapist. It’s essential to check the experience and reviews of the therapist before your first session.
- Professionals specializing in prenatal massage should be given priority.
- The therapist should be friendly and communicative. Your body will go through many changes during pregnancy. Effective communication helps in conveying your problems and ideas better.
- If you feel uncomfortable or in pain during the session, immediately discontinue the process and contact your doctor.
What Is the Risk Factor of Using a Massage Gun While Pregnant?
A systematic review of different studies conducted on the effects of massaging during pregnancy established that complications from massage are rare in healthy pregnancies.
On the other hand, massaging can do more harm than good in the case of high-risk pregnancies, so avoid them if possible if you find yourself in this category.
It’s prudent to mention that most studies stress avoiding massage therapy during the first three months of pregnancy, referred to as the first trimester. This is because the risk of miscarriage is the highest in these three months. Moreover, massaging can increase blood flow, which may affect the fetus.
All in all, percussion guns are safe, given that you follow all the associated precautions and advice. If you’re unsure about your own capabilities while handling a massage gun, feel free to reach out to a massage therapist. If everything’s in place, there’s no reason for you to miss out on the opportunity to reduce pregnancy stress, anxiety, and depression.
Perhaps the most memorable phase in a woman’s life, pregnancy comes along with a high degree of uncertainty, discomfort and pain. Massaging is a powerful tool that can make this journey more comfortable.
If done correctly while following all precautions, using a massage gun during pregnancy can be wonderful. But we strongly recommend consulting with your doctor before making the final call.
Avoid putting undue pressure on the massaging area to ensure more safety. End the session immediately if you feel any pain or discomfort. In the case of a hand massage, selecting an adept pregnancy massage therapist will unlock the full potential of the process.