What is Percussive Therapy?
Recovering from an injury or a workout is faster and easier with the use of percussive therapy. This form of massage provides many benefits that lead to enhanced muscle recovery and strengthening. Used by professional athletes, chiropractors, physical therapists, and trainers, percussive therapy is a trustworthy tool that’s worth looking into.
How it Works and How it Helps
Percussive therapy is performed with a massage gun, a hand-held device about the size of a power drill. The massage gun is equipped with a motor that sends strong, steady pulses through the head of the gun in order to provide quick bursts of pressure to the body.
At MOTUS Specialists Physical Therapy, we use TheraGun, a professional-grade massage gun with multiple speeds that lets us target our patients’ specific needs. Percussive therapy essentially massages soft tissues as it pulses fibers with pressure, but in a way that allows a person to target specific areas by aiming the head of the gun. The power of the machine can penetrate deeper than human hands in traditional massage, and works out deep muscle tension, while increasing blood flow to the area. This action leads to a long list of benefits that apply not only to the professional athlete, but to anyone experiencing tension, pain, tightness, or immobility.
Percussive therapy can improve a wide-range of lifestyles with its numerous benefits. One of the main reactions caused by percussive therapy is an increased blood flow and improved lymphatic circulation.
Better blood flow leads to more oxygen, which helps reduce swelling and stiffness after a workout. Lots of trainers and athletes have recognized this benefit, and applied percussive therapy in order to enjoy faster post-workout recovery, and a reduced risk of cramping and pain after an exercise.
TheraGun provides a deep massage that can warm up the muscles ahead of activity. Athletes can actually enjoy a decreased risk of injury in their performance by using percussive therapy to warm up muscles and take pressure away from joints.
Since the stimulation reduces muscle stiffness and gives the joints more room to move, you’ll see a greater range of motion after regular use of percussive therapy. The process elongates muscle fiber, so it can be effective in addressing muscle spasms, along with tightness.
Is Percussive Therapy Right For Me?
Just about anyone can find a way to apply the benefits of percussive therapy to their lifestyle. The tool has become increasingly popular for athletes, professional or not, but it’s just as useful for people who aren’t athletic at all. Consider the office-bound worker. Sitting still at a desk all day can cause stiffness in the muscles, and is a major cause of lower back pain.1 The muscle stiffness that’s often caused by sitting all day at a computer can be targeted by percussive therapy. Remember, percussive therapy increases blood flow and lymphatic circulation, which helps loosen up these tight muscles and decrease stiffness. This effect was demonstrated on the lower back in particular in a 2009 study that found participants in regular massage therapy had reduced back pain, stiffness, and anxiety.2 A study from 2014 tested vibration therapy on non-athletic subjects to see whether it could be an effective way to prevent sore muscles. The conclusion was the vibration therapy effectively reduced the early onset of pain after exercise.3 Those in jobs that require them to be on their feet constantly can also use percussive
therapy to combat their work-related discomforts. Percussive therapy will help relieve the tight tissues and fascia that form from constant standing and walking. Making percussive therapy a part of your regular treatment can address current pain-inducing conditions, or help you treat an old injury that still gives you aches and pains. Percussive therapy is also a fitting treatment for patients that are currently rehabilitating from a trauma or surgery, or those with partial or full paralysis. The stimulation causes muscle contractions that are powerful enough to help the muscles strengthen. People who are otherwise unable to perform physical therapy activities or exercise can use it to work out their muscles despite their limitations, while preventing atrophy in the process.
Of course, athletes are also a main target group for percussive therapy. The tool enhances sports training and muscle strengthening by producing strong contractions up to 30 times more powerful than voluntary contractions.4
When muscles are tight during performance, it can add stress on the bones and the joints. When athletes use percussive therapy ahead of their workout, they reduce stress to the joints and in reduce the likelihood of injury because of it.
Common Injuries & Conditions Treated
In addition to providing general advantages that target muscle soreness, spasms, and cramps in athletes and non-athletes alike, percussive therapy is often used to treat specific conditions and common injuries. Its benefits target pains from Fibromyalgia, Sciatica, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Percussive therapy is also good for overuse injuries, like tendonitis, bursitis, shin splints. The team at MOTUS Specialists Physical Therapy has seen percussive therapy work wonders on many of our patients from all walks of life. We believe TheraGun can make a big difference in the way you’re feeling, especially when used with the guidance of one of our professionals.
1. Burdorf A et al – Occupational risk factors for low back pain among sedentary workers.
2. Maria Hernandez-reif et al – Lower Back Pain is Reduced and Range of Motion Increased After Massage Therapy
3. Shagufta Imtiyaz et al – To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)