Manufacturers of massage guns repeatedly report that their devices are supposed to help with recovery and reduce pain. But does a massage gun help with sore muscles? This is the question I asked myself. In this article, I would like to answer it as accurately as possible.
Intensive massages are not recommended for sore muscles. They can further damage the muscle fibers and thus even increase the pain. A gentle massage, on the other hand, can stimulate blood circulation as well as loosen the muscle fibers and thus promote regeneration in sore muscles. Such a gentle massage can also be performed with a massage gun on a low setting. For this purpose, the affected muscle is massaged without exerting pressure for a short time (about 60 to 90 seconds per muscle).
However, the massage gun is better suited for prevention than for the treatment of sore muscles. That could prove at least a study. If the massage gun is applied directly after training on the stressed muscles, the development of muscle soreness can be reduced.
You have now learned in short form that massage guns can help against sore muscles. I would now like to explain this to you in more detail. I’ll show you what causes sore muscles, how they can be treated, and how to prevent sore muscles. In addition, I’ll explain what to consider when using and selecting a massage gun.
What is Muscle Soreness?
Sore muscles are harmless pains in the muscles. Muscle soreness can occur in any muscle, for example, in the biceps, calves, or gluteal muscles. Small fiber tears usually cause muscle soreness as a result of high stress on the muscles or after performing unaccustomed movements.1
The body wants to “repair” the tears in the muscle fibers. This creates small foci of inflammation. As a result, water enters the muscle fibers and accumulates. So-called edema (fluid accumulation) develops. These cause the muscle to swell. Due to the stretching, the pain of muscle soreness occurs.
What causes Muscle Soreness?
Usually, muscle soreness is caused by intense sports. However, this may not be the only cause of the familiar pain in the muscle. Sore muscles can be caused by the following things:
- (Intensive) sports
- Exhaustion and inflammation
- (Epileptic) convulsions
- Muscle relaxant medications.
Sports are probably the most common cause of muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is particularly common in sports with explosive movements. This is the case, for example, with weight training or ball sports (tennis, soccer, etc.). Steady movements, such as jogging, on the other hand, lead to muscle soreness less frequently.
It also plays a role whether one is untrained. The better trained a person is, the lower the risk of muscle soreness. However, new movements, in particular, can lead to muscle soreness even in well-trained athletes.
Rather more rarely, muscle soreness is caused by exhaustion and inflammation. The cause of muscle soreness here can be a marathon run, for example. Here, the small tears in the muscle fibrils are caused by the fact that the metabolism was intensively challenged over a long period of time. When the tears heal, inflammation also occurs here, which leads to muscle soreness.
Cramps in the muscles also lead to overuse of them. The reasons for cramps are varied and can range from a lack of nutrients to epilepsy. During fights, muscles are often stressed heavily for a short period of time, which can cause tiny tears in the muscle fibers, which in turn lead to muscle soreness.
Certain muscle-relaxing drugs can also cause muscle soreness. These are drugs used to induce anesthesia. They cause slight contractions in the muscles, which can lead to muscle soreness.
How can I relieve sore Muscles?
Sore muscles usually heal on their own in a few days without any consequential damage. Sore muscles are often at their worst during the first few days after exercise. After a week at the latest, however, the sore muscles should have subsided.
Accordingly, sore muscles do not need to be treated. However, you can help the affected muscle to regenerate so that the soreness and the associated pain subside quickly. The following can help:
- Avoid heavy loads: Sore muscles are injuries in the muscle fibers. Therefore, the affected muscles should not be subjected to heavy strain. Otherwise, healing will be delayed.
- Heat treatment: Heat stimulates blood circulation. Accordingly, it is little wonder that it also helps with sore muscles. For example, many athletes rely on sauna sessions or warm baths for sore muscles.
- Stretching: Stretching and loosening exercises can temporarily reduce pain from sore muscles. This is probably because the exercises loosen cramps and improve the removal of fluids.
- Light exercise: Even though the affected muscle should not be heavily loaded, some exercises can improve recovery by stimulating the metabolism. For example, walks, quiet cycling, or exercises in the water are suitable for this purpose.
- Proper nutrition: If sufficient protein, as well as carbohydrates, are consumed after exercise, this can reduce muscle soreness. The nutrients help the muscles to regenerate.
- Gentle massages: Massages for sore muscles should be used with caution. If the muscle is massaged too much, it will cause more tiny injuries and increase muscle soreness. On the other hand, a gentle massage can help because it loosens the muscle and stimulates circulation, which in turn promotes regeneration.
So I can use a Massage Gun for sore Muscles?
As described in the previous section, gentle massages can help reduce muscle soreness. In principle, these massages can also be performed with a massage gun. The important thing here is to set a low number of strokes and to massage the affected muscle without applying pressure. Also, the massage should not be too long so as not to put additional strain on the muscle. I have had a good experience with gently massaging the affected muscle twice a day for about 60 to 90 seconds each time.
However, the massage gun is better suited for preventing sore muscles than for treating them. A study with 45 healthy, non-athletic women could show this at least in an experiment. It was found that both classic massage and vibration massage help to reduce muscle soreness.2 Since a massage gun combines both types of massage, it should be able to prevent sore muscles just as well. For this purpose, it is necessary to use it directly after sports.
In any case, before using a massage gun, always pay attention to the contraindications for which such a device should not be used:
- Illness (fever, cold, etc.)
- Skin rashes/diseases
- Varicose veins
- Placental diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
- Acute diseases and herniated discs
- Arterial occlusive diseases
- Open wounds or fractures
In addition, the use of a massage gun is not recommended during pregnancy. But here it is necessary to decide on a case-by-case basis after consulting a doctor. Read more here: Can I use a Massage Gun during Pregnancy?
What Massage Guns are suitable for sore Muscles?
In principle, you can use all massage guns to massage sore muscles. However, I would recommend you to pay attention to the following things when buying:
- Massage for sore muscles should be gentle. Accordingly, you should make sure that the massage gun has a comparatively low number of strokes at a low level (< 1,200 rpm).
- The amplitude should also not be too deep for these reasons. I would recommend a maximum of 12 mm here.
- Since the massage should be rather short, an integrated timer can be helpful. However, this is not absolutely mandatory, as you can also use a cell phone, for example, to keep an eye on the time.
- A pressure sensor is also helpful but not a must. It would warn you if you press too hard.
If I were to recommend a massage gun, it would currently be the Hyperice Hypervolt. It turned out to be one of the best massagers in my practical test. Its features are also convincing for use on sore muscles: On the lowest setting, the shock frequency is just 1,800 shocks per minute. In addition, the device fits well in hand, comes with many attachments for different muscles, and produces a comparatively low volume.
Furthermore, the following massage guns are very suitable for use with sore muscles:
All of these massagers also did very well in my tests.
How do I prevent sore Muscles?
Muscle soreness can be at least partially prevented if it is caused by sporting activity. The following things help here:
- Structured training: When training, start with lighter exercises and increase bit by bit to get your muscles used to the high loads. Also, the same muscle should not be heavily loaded two days in a row, as it needs some time to recover.
- Warming up before training: Warming up before training does not help directly but probably indirectly against muscle soreness. Warming up improves blood flow to the muscles and gives them better elasticity. It also reduces the risk of injury.
- Massages after training: Massages after training also promote blood circulation and loosen the fasciae. This can reduce the perceived muscle soreness.
Conclusion – Does a Massage Gun help with sore Muscles?
Sore muscles and the pain associated with them can be very annoying. That’s why people often look for ways to reduce muscle soreness. The use of a massage gun can be one way to do this. I’ve shown you what to look for when using the gun in the article. I also explained how to prevent sore muscles. I hope that I could help you with this!