Sports Recovery: Benefits of Percussive Therapy

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Recovery – The Benefits and Considerations of Percussive Therapy

by Warren Lucas

Research Consultant – Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA)

In recent years, percussive therapy through massage guns has gained popularity as a tool for sports recovery, promising benefits ranging from reduced muscle soreness to enhanced flexibility. This blog post aims to delve into the scientific evidence supporting the use of massage guns, while also exploring potential considerations.

The Mechanism of Massage Guns
Massage guns operate on the principles of percussive therapy and vibrations. This method targets muscles and fascia, said to aid in the release of tension within the muscle while improving blood circulation. It is claimed that this dual action makes massage guns a promising tool for post-exercise recovery.

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Evidence-Based Benefits

  • Reduction of Muscle Soreness: Recent studies have demonstrated that the use of massage guns post-exercise can significantly reduce muscle soreness (1). The percussive action appears to help in mitigating the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
  • Improved Flexibility: Regarding flexibility, recent research posits that the regular use of massage guns may contribute to increased joint range of motion and improved flexibility, enhancing overall athletic performance (2).
  • Enhanced Blood Flow: The positive impact of massage guns on blood circulation. The percussive therapy seems to stimulate blood flow, aiding in nutrient delivery and waste removal in muscles (3).
  • Accelerated Recovery: Evidence from the systematic review support the notion that massage guns also play a role in accelerating the recovery process between training sessions, potentially allowing athletes to maintain higher training volume.

 

  • (4).Considerations and Best Practices
    While the benefits of massage guns are evident, it’s crucial to consider certain factors:
    – Individual Differences: The effectiveness of massage guns can vary among individuals. Factors such as age, fitness level, and the nature of the exercise should be considered.
    – Contraindications: Caution is advised for individuals with certain injuries or medical conditions (5).
    – Comprehensive Recovery Strategy: It’s essential to integrate the use of massage guns into a broader recovery strategy, including proper nutrition, hydration, and adequate sleep (1,2,4).In conclusion, massage guns are a controversial topic within the clinical and scientific communities, but some research reveals positive results even though this area of muscular recovery is still being tested and unpacked by academics and clinicians respectively. It is worth mentioning that users should be mindful of individual differences and potential contraindications. By incorporating massage guns into a comprehensive recovery routine, athletes and fitness enthusiasts can harness their potential benefits.

    For more evidence-based articles and information related to training, exercise and sports science, check out Research Digest by the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA)

    References:

    1. Sams L, Langdown BL, Simons J, Vseteckova J. The Effect Of Percussive Therapy On Musculoskeletal Performance And Experiences Of Pain: A Systematic Literature Review. Vol. 18, International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. North American Sports Medicine Institute; 2023. p. 309–27.
    2. Skinner B, Dunn L, Moss R. The Acute Effects of TheragunTM Percussive Therapy on Viscoelastic Tissue Dynamics and Hamstring Group Range of Motion. J Sports Sci Med. 2023 Sep 1;496–501.
    3. Needs D, Blotter J, Cowan M, Fellingham G, Johnson AW, Feland JB. Effect of Localized Vibration Massage on Popliteal Blood Flow. J Clin Med. 2023 Mar 1;12(5)
    4. Ferreira RM, Silva R, Vigário P, Martins PN, Casanova F, Fernandes RJ, et al. The Effects of Massage Guns on Performance and Recovery: A Systematic Review. Vol. 8, Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI); 2023.
    5. Chen J, Zhang F, Chen H, Pan H. Rhabdomyolysis after the use of percussion massage gun: A case report. Phys Ther. 2021 Jan 1;101(1).