If you are one of those people who are fond of getting body massages, then you will definitely know how amazingly life-changing a good massage can be. So whether you are an athlete who frequently deals with body aches and pains or even just a regular person who sits for hours at work so you struggle with the common low back pain, you surely will want a satisfying massage from time to time. Because with a few hand movements in your back and a several sweeps over those pressure points, you are immediately in a lot less pain which makes you definitely less stressed.

Today, there is an increasing new trend of alternative massage therapy in commercial gyms, physical therapists’ offices, or even in social media. So if you have been inside these facilities recently, or just scrolled through your social media feed, you have mostly likely come face-to-face with the massage gun. Massage guns are taking the fitness gadget and sports rehabilitation world by storm. These percussive therapy devices target sore muscles with rapid-fire pulses, with the aim to provide the benefits of massage therapy from the comfort of your home. These rapidly growing popular tools look like power drills and are innovatively designed in order to aid recovery, decrease soreness, and increase range of motion by pleasurably beating your muscles into compliance. 

Furthermore, several massage gun users have observed that their muscles have been more relaxed when they used the massage gun. They also swear with  gadget’s ability to help promote post-workout muscle recovery, and even prevent delayed onset muscle soreness after exercises by increasing blood flow to the soft tissues and reducing lactic acid buildup. However, it must be noted that further studies are still yet to be conducted in order to confirm the efficacy of massage guns. More specifically, those studies that support the therapeutic capabilities of vibration therapy and massage, both of which are part of percussive therapy.

What is a Fascia Gun and what does it do?

A Fascia gun is one of the massage guns available in the market. Just like any other massage gun, it offers what is known as percussive or vibration therapy. This is a type of therapy or a type of massage where it sends rapid bursts of pressure into the body’s muscle tissue as its head oscillates back and forth. This produces the rippling effect of massage guns. In traditional massages, masseurs and masseuses utilized a series of light strikes from the hands or wrists to the given muscle group in order to provide the same effect as what the massage gun does. With the advent of technology, massage guns being available in the market allows athletes and even regular people to get the exact same benefits in the comfort of their own homes, without having to spend so much for expensive spa services. Furthermore, massage guns can specifically target and address muscles with problems unlike those other massaging tools available in the market such as foam rollers that can yield similar results. So for those people who find foam rollers uncomfortable or too manual of a process, you will surely benefit from a massage gun because it offers a more streamlined, automatic solution.

It must be noted however that percussive therapy does not fully remove muscle soreness. There are studies that prove that it does stimulate the blood flow to the muscle area of concern. This increased blood flow can then aid in reducing inflammation and muscle tension and break up those tight tendons that seem to last after an intensive exercise.  Most people recommended to use massage guns such as a fascia gun prior to doing an intense workout in order to help warm up muscles ahead of activity. These are just some of the benefits of a fascia gun and massage guns in general. In order to give you a more detailed background, this article will discuss the pros and cons of massage guns such as fascia guns. 

Pros of Fascia gun

As stated above, there are several benefits in using massage guns. There are several studies that provide evidence on the health benefits in using these fitness gadgets before and after an intensive workout. In order to give you a thorough explanation, here are the benefits of using a fascia gun:

  • Increase the release of Lactic Acid

Immediately during and after an exercise, lactic acid starts to accumulate in the bloodstream because the oxygen levels in the body are relatively low during such activity. This causes the body to have difficulty in removing the lactic acid which can then result in cramps in your muscles. By a fascia gun or a massage gun, you can aid your body in releasing lactic acid and other toxic accumulation post exercise. 

  • Decrease the occurrence of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)

One of the problems of most runners are delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. It is an occurrence where the muscle becomes tight and sore and appears within 24 to 48 hours after an intense workout or race. Medically, this happens because there are microscopic tears that naturally occur in muscle fibers during an intense activity such as an exercise. In most cases, DOMS is really uncomfortable and can also cause future workouts or daily activities to be delayed and disrupted because you feel either too sore to workout, or you feel that your movement patterns are inhibited because of muscle soreness. Moreover, it must be noted that even as simple as changing your running gait because your hamstrings are sore can actually lead to further injury elsewhere in the body. With that, it is important to prevent the occurrence of DOMS. According to scientific studies, vibration therapy using massage guns such as a fascia gun can actually reduce the onset of DOMS because it can reduce mechanical overload of the muscles which result in less microscopic tears of the muscle during exercise or intensive activity. 

  • Can promote vibrational healing

As stated above, massage guns in general are able to deliver deep vibrations in your muscles using a percussive therapy method that aids in improving blood circulation in your body. This results in more oxygen and nutrients to be available for utilization of your muscles. With that, studies have stated that this can be a major help in order to alleviate muscle pain and also promote recovery in damaged muscles. Most people who utilize fascia guns have observed that their body was able to recover faster from workouts. 

  • Prevents Injury 

Sports studies have found out that many sports-related injuries are actually secondary to muscle cramps and the lack of adequate recovery time for damaged muscles before straining the muscle again. By using a fascia gun, there is an improved blood and oxygen circulation, which promotes healing and also prevents the injury of muscle due to overtraining and wearing it out too fast.

  • Promote muscle rehabilitation 

If you do have an injury, a fascia gun can aid your muscle to speed up its recovery and make it heal faster through increasing blood and oxygen circulation to the muscle of concern. However, it must be noted that a massage gun should not be the only or even the main treatment you use in order to recover damaged or strained muscles. It should only be an additional therapeutic method to assist the recovery process. 

  • Helps to counter muscle spasms

After a workout, your muscles tend to become stiff. You are also more prone to having muscle spasms after an intensive workout. By applying pressure to your muscles through a fascia gun, your muscles become more relaxed which causes it to become less stiff and less prone to spasms. Studies also found out that because your muscle is less stiff, your joints become more flexible. 

  • Breaks down scar tissue

The main purpose of a scar tissue is to help repair damaged muscle fibers in your body. However, these scar tissue has a different elasticity compared to non-injured and normal muscle tissues in the body. The fascia gun aids in breaking down this scar tissue in order to help alleviate pain and also promote better elasticity of recovered muscle fibers. 

Cons of Fascia gun

Just like there are pros, there are also cons of fascia guns. Here are some of the disadvantage of massage guns:

  • It can exacerbate injury or chronic conditions

Even with the proven benefit of promoting healing, some studies also show that in some cases massage guns utilized on injuries including strain, sprains, broken bones, or even extreme swelling can potentially make your injury worse. Some evidence in medical studies warn the use of fascia guns because it can further damage the injured tissue, or even increase swelling rate. In these cases, this will only delay healing time, and may cause even more pain in the area of concern. Moreover, studies also strongly warn the usage of fascia guns or massage guns in general if you have chronic conditions like the  hypertension or high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, varicose veins, atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease, deep vein thrombosis, arteriosclerosis, osteoporosis or bone degeneration, muscular dystrophy or other muscle disorders, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis. Hence, it is always strongly advised to talk first with your physician before starting to use a fascia gun so that you can make sure that no complication may arise while using it. 

  • It is bulky, heavy, and noisy

Fascia guns and massage guns in general are bulky, heavy, and noisy when using. However, it must be noted that this is not the case for every percussion massage gun. There are those available in the market that are lightweight and do not produce heavy bothering noise while using. But it is good to note that these materials are usually heavy and bulky so they have a tendency to be used with difficulty. Most of these massage guns weigh like this because their batteries must be large enough to provide power to the motor that moves pretty quickly.

  • Relies on a battery

As stated above, massage guns heavily rely on a rechargeable battery. Fascia guns that are available in the market are cordless that comes with a battery that must be charged from time to time.  With that a massage gun will not work without a power source unlike those standard foam roller or handheld massage tools that are human powered.  So if you’re taking your massage gun to a longer event – say an ultramarathon or stage race, you have to be aware of battery life.

  • It is expensive

The greatest disadvantage of fascia guns and massage guns in general are its prices. There are relatively cheaper massage guns sold in the market, however if you seek to have quality and effective ones then you must really opt for the more expensive types. Prices of these massage guns can vary from approximately $150 to $1200. The majority of acceptable massage guns are in the $100 to $300 range. With that, they are really significantly more expensive compared to your standard foam rollers, so before buying one you must remember that they are definitely an investment. 

Is a Fascia gun necessary?

With the growing number of people who are curious with fascia guns or massage guns, the question of whether they are really necessary comes into mind. So to answer, maybe.

With the advantages and disadvantages presented above, it is not a surprise anymore that a fascia gun is just simply a tool. To put things into perspective, as already been stated above, fascia guns, just like any other exercise therapy tools, will never completely prevent or solve sore muscles. Moreover, more studies are still to be conducted in order to guarantee the decreased recovery time when using these tools. It is also good to note that while there is several research evidence that suggest effectiveness of percussion and vibration therapy for muscle soreness and recovery time, there are also studies that indicate otherwise.

So in conclusion, if you are interested in buying your own massage gun, you can first try using one from a friend or with a massage therapist. Assess yourself whether you enjoy using it and if you have noticed any significant benefits. It is also important that you do more research before buying your own fascia gun because there are a number of different types in the market which are also very expensive, so they are definitely your investment. At the end of the day, make sure that you actually like a fascia gun or massage guns in general so that when you buy them you can make sure that you will get the most out of it. 

References:

  1. Ached Away. 2019. Top 10 Benefits of Massage Guns. Retrieved from: https://achedaway.com/blogs/massage-gun/top-10-benefits-of-a-massage-gun. Retrieved on 27 August 2020.
  2. Green, K. Outwit Trade. 2020. Massage Gun Benefits and Disadvantages (if any). Retrieved from: https://outwittrade.com/massage-gun-benefits-and-disadvantages-if-any/. Retrieved on 27 August 2020.
  3. Hart, H. Relentless Forward Commotion. 2019. 10 Pros And Cons of Massage Guns For Runners. Retrieved from: https://relentlessforwardcommotion.com/10-pros-cons-of-massage-guns-for-runners/. Retrieved on 27 August 2020.
  4. Tech Times. 2019. All You Need To Know About Massage Guns. Retrieved from: https://www.techtimes.com/articles/245189/20190831/all-you-need-to-know-about-massage-gun.htm. Retrieved on 27 August 2020.