As someone who has worked as a massage therapist and a strength coach, I know the lengths people go to try and get even the slightest edge in their performance. Whether you practice yoga, MMA, play a professional sport, or participate in bodybuilding competitions, there’s always a way to boost your performance.
For anyone I meet that wants to improve their performance, recovery, and overall physical health, I recommend they try out a massager that uses percussion therapy. Much research has come out in the past few years that show the benefit of this therapy which has brought on an onslaught of manufacturers making percussion therapy massagers. That’s why I’ve been digging through the research, reviews, and testing products myself.
To help athletes, trainers, and passionate fitness gurus, I’m writing this post to give some insight into percussion therapy. I’m going to discuss percussion massages and get into the nitty-gritty about how they work and what they offer. Specifically, I want to explore the exact benefits for athletic performance. Do they really work? And if so, how much can they help?
Alternative Means for Athletic Performance
Whether you’re a serious athlete or someone who likes to take care of their body, exercise is fundamental to your health. In fact, regular exercise has numerous positive effects on the human body including emotional well-being and brain health. While many people know the benefits of exercise, many may be forgoing the recovery steps. With regular exercise, the need for proper recovery comes along too, and it cannot be skipped. This means proper nutrients, rest, stretching, and more.
Furthermore, as physical exercise becomes routine, you may find yourself wanting to improve your performance—even if that means jogging an extra mile or doing 10 more squats. Whatever your goal is, there are ways that you can reach them. And it may just be more relaxing and enjoyable than you thought.
If you watch professional sports or keep up with professional athletes, you’ve probably heard how many have begun looking to massage therapy for that edge. For example, Lebron James spends over a million dollars every year on his recovery. That money goes towards massage therapists, trainers, chefs, and other professionals who can help him.
While that may be extreme for someone like you or me, that doesn’t mean we can’t improve our athletic performance. Throughout my time as a therapist and strength coach, I’ve found the most promising method to get that edge is through percussion therapy, also known as vibration therapy.
At the most basic level, percussion therapy is a technique that many massage guns use to relieve muscle soreness, stiffness, and pain. Percussion therapy has even been shown to improve overall recovery, performance, flexibility, and range of motion.
How Does it Work?
Most often, people use percussion therapy through a massage gun. These guns are massage devices that have a plastic or silicone head that provides a massage-like experience for your muscles. Percussion therapy and massage guns utilize motors that deliver quick bursts of force on a specified area of one’s body.
For example, you could use a massage gun on a sore squad or chest muscle, or you could allow someone else to use it on a knot in one of the muscles on your back.
The head of the massage gun will oscillate up and down, rapidly, to put pressure on your muscles. The idea is that these quick successions of pressure help tight muscles relax, knots to dissipate, blood flow to increase, and reduce overall tension.
Through various studies, researchers have found percussion therapy to have several benefits on the body. In one study, participants used percussion therapy before exercising to see the effects afterward. Researchers found that when percussion therapy was used before a workout, delayed onset muscle soreness was significantly decreased.
As a trainer, I have witnessed just how impactful this reduction in soreness can be. When an athlete is sore, they’re much less likely to want to participate in a workout as it induces muscle pain. By using percussion therapy to reduce soreness, athletes can improve their workout routine as they’re not burdened by pain. However, the benefits do not stop at a reduction in pain and soreness.
A full list of benefits from percussion therapy is as follows.
- Reduces pain from DOMS
- Eases muscle tension
- Breaks up scar tissue
- Increases blood flow to muscles and surrounding tissue
- Improves the range of motion in joints
- Increases muscle flexibility
- Reduces stiffness and tightness in muscles
- Decreases lactic acid content in muscles
As you can see, percussion therapy provides numerous benefits that can all be said to improve athletic performance. When I use a percussion massager, I receive all the same benefits, plus a little more.
I find my favorite percussion massager, the Theragun Pro, can significantly improve my ability to recover from a tough workout when I use it afterward. Plus, when I use the percussion massager before I work out, my muscles are primed and activated which reduces the risk of overtraining and injury.
Who Should Try Percussion Therapy?
Anybody who wants to get an edge in athletic performance should try percussion therapy. Specifically, they should try out a percussion massager, like a massage gun. These devices are for anybody who is a regular exerciser. You could be a marathon runner, yogi, football player, martial arts student, weightlifter, or something else.
No matter what you do or how serious you are about training, you’ll find a percussion massage gun to provide you with awe-inspiring benefits. You’ll find it helps you get ready for a workout, recover from a workout, or even relax after a long day of work. Check out my previous post to see more about who these tools are for.
While all percussion massagers will provide you with benefits, you likely want the best percussion massager.
The Best Percussion Massager
After reviewing, researching, and testing several products, the best percussion massager that I’ve found is the Theragun Pro. While Theragun makes numerous percussion massagers, this is a high-end model that has all the bells and whistles any athlete, trainer, or self-care aficionado could wish for.
The Theragun Pro is hands-down the best tool on the market for percussion therapy. This massage gun is well-built, feels great in your hands, and has a unique design, which alone helps it stand out from its competitors. The Theragun Pro uses an ergonomic grip that provides three different grips that allow you to use the gun at various angles.
What’s more, the device has a rotating arm, so you can customize the angle of use even more. This is one of the features I love, as I can use it on my back without help from someone else. Plus, the Theragun Pro comes with 6 different head attachments. Thus, when I dig deep into a sore muscle, I can take the Supersoft attachment and put on the Cone attachment.
Beyond the design and attachments, the Theragun Pro has some incredible power that I have not found matched in other guns. For one, this percussion massager has an amplitude of 16mm, meaning it can dig further into my muscles than any other gun.
It can also deliver up to 60 pounds of force at a time. This is while the head oscillates at a range of 1750 to 2400 RPM. In this range, you can choose a speed of 1750, 1900, 2100, 220, or 2400 RPM. You can even change this speed from your phone using Theragun’s smartphone app.
As I’m sure you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about the Theragun. I’m not the only one who feels this way though. Plenty of professional athletes, trainers, and massage therapists all use it as well. If you’d like to read some further reviews that I’ve written on the Theragun or other percussion massagers, check out this post.
Uses of a Percussion Massager
At this point, it’s no secret how useful a percussion massager can be. Percussion therapy has countless benefits for our bodies, and it has several uses. For example, percussion therapy can be used in orthopedic practices, massage therapy, sports medicine clinics, and much more.
For me, I have found the best time to use a percussion massager to be right before and right after a workout. When I use my Theragun Pro before a workout, I’m priming my muscles for a great workout. I can increase blood flow to my muscles, warm them up, and activate them for use. After a workout, I can release any tension or stiffness in the muscle, reduce the likelihood of developing soreness, and help speed up recovery.
The Bottom Line
All in all, percussion therapy and devices used to deliver the therapy provide an effective means to gain an edge in athletic performance. People who use these devices, like me, have experienced these benefits firsthand. Because I know how useful they are, I recommend all my friends and family to try them out too!