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Muscle recovery nostrums are an evergreen fad in the fitness industry. 

Fancy foam rollers, special kinds of stretching, overpriced medical tape, CBD oil, and gimcrack supplements are all à la mode.

If you stay up to date on these sorts of things, you’ve probably seen one of the latest recovery trinkets: massage guns. 

Although massage guns have existed for about a decade, they’ve become popular recently thanks to stylish new branding, celebrity endorsements, and aggressive marketing. 

And you’ve probably wondered, are they worth it?

Massage gun advocates claim these devices replicate the benefits of traditional massage therapy: soothing sore muscles and boosting blood flow, recovery, flexibility, and mood. 

Skeptics claim massage guns are no more effective than regular massage and not much if any better than cheaper alternatives like a foam roller or lacrosse ball. 

What does science have to say about all this? 

Can massage guns boost muscle recovery and provide other benefits, or are they just an extravagant gimmick? 

You’ll learn the answers to these questions in this podcast, but first, let’s take a closer look at what a massage gun actually is. 


4:39 – What is a massage gun? 

6:45 – What does science say about massage guns? 

22:58 – Which massage gun should I get? 

25:17 – How do you use a massage gun correctly to get the best results? 

Mentioned on the show: 

Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Hey there. Welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. I’m your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. Now, muscle Recovery Gaz are an evergreen fad in the fitness industry. There’s always the next thing, fancy vibrating foam rollers. Special types of stretching, bands and devices, overpriced medical tape, C, B, D, everything and all kinds of pills, powders, and potions that promise far more than they can deliver.

And if you like to stay up to date on these kinds of things, then you’ve probably seen one of the latest and greatest muscle recovery trinkets, and that is the massage. Now these things have existed for quite some time now, at least for a decade, but they have become very popular recently, thanks to good marketing, right?

Stylish branding and celebrity endorsements, particularly athlete endorsements and very aggressive advertising campaigns, particularly online, you know, big direct marketing budgets and so forth. And so you probably have. Are these guns worth it? And it’s good questioning because the high end ones are expensive.

Four, five, $600. Now, advocates of these devices make a lot of claims. They say that they can replicate the benefits of traditional massage therapy, but you can just do it yourself and inexpensively, especially if you amortize the cost over the course of years and you use it. Every day or every other day.

And if you do that, you’ll be able to soothe sore muscles. You’ll be able to increase blood flow, increase recovery, increase even flexibility in mood. I’ve seen a lot of dubious claims now skeptics of massage. Guns say that they are certainly no more effective than regular massage. Probably not as effective as getting a massage.

Somebody who knows what they’re doing. And also probably not any better than cheaper things like foam rollers, 20 bucks or something on Amazon or lacrosse balls. A few dollars on Amazon probably. Now, what does science have to say though? Can massage guns do anything special? Can they boost muscle recovery?

Can they provide other benefits or are they really just extravagant gimmicks? While you are going to learn the secrets in this podcast that they don’t want you to know? Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and all circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster.

Than they ever thought possible, and we can do the same for you. We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger, paint by numbers simple by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you. Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan and watch your body changed day after day, week after week, and.

After month. What’s more, we’ve found that people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shackle, it’s the same with you. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all. That’s giving you the most grief.

Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles, or maybe it’s something else, and whatever it is, here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing, once you figure.

That’s when everything finally clicks, that’s when you start making serious progress. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to That’s bu y p, and schedule your free consultation call, which by the way is not a high pressure sales call. It’s really just a discovery call where we get to know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service and if you’re not for any reason.

We will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, and if you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few months than you did in the last few years, check out my v i p coaching [email protected]

Okay, so let’s start with a quick description of these devices. So massage guns, which are also called percussion massagers or percussive therapy. Guns or vibration therapy. Guns are just handheld electronic devices that look kind of like a power drill, and they have a few parts. They have the handle that contains the motor in the battery, and then they have some other electronic components.

And then you have the attach. Which is a piece of soft plastic or foam, and they come in different shapes and sizes, and that’s what vibrates or reciprocates moves back and forth depending on the model and the settings. Now to use a massage gun, you place the attachment on a part of your body and you turn it on, and the motor then, Moves the attachment either in a circular or a reciprocal back and forth motion to massage your body.

And you can change the vibration speed on most of these guns, and you can, again, use different types of attachments. They come with balls and ovals and spikes to allow you to work on larger portions of tissue or smaller areas or very. Points, like trigger points, for example. And so basically these guns do a good job of mechanically replicating what a massage therapist does.

They rub, they compress, they jiggle tissues around, and you can do all that in the comfort of your own home without paying by the hour. Now, why do people use these things? Why are they so popular? Well, just like regular massage therapy, people use massage guns for different reasons. If you poke around online and read or watch some of the sales pitches, you’ll find that the primary purported benefits are increased recovery after exercise, usually by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation.

Reduced delayed onset muscle soreness, doms after more intense workouts and improved muscle relaxation, which can increase flexibility and mobility and lower stress levels. And then as far as user claims go, many people say they like to use a massage gun just because it is relaxing and it feels good.

It’s just enjoyable, like a hot. Now, how valid are these and other claims though? What does the scientific literature have to say? Well, unfortunately, only a handful of studies have directly tested the benefits of massage guns. One was conducted by scientists at the University of Rual, which investigated how massage guns affected DOMS in athletes.

Now, as I’m sure you know, doms is not only annoying and uncomfortable, but it also can. Posture, it can change your biomechanics. It can negatively impact your athletic performance. So athletes and even people who just take their weightlifting seriously are always looking for ways to minimize it. And in this study, what the researchers did is they took 30 professional.

Foot saw players didn’t even know that was a sport until I came across this study. Had to Google it and they had them complete a series of tests to measure their posture, balance and perceived muscle soreness. And then they also took several blood samples to measure markers of muscle damage. And then they had the athletes complete a workout that was designed to cause as much muscle damage and thus muscle soreness as.

They did five sets of 15 eccentric, so that’s the lowering portion, leg extensions, and that causes more muscle damage than the concentric portion of an exercise, the contraction. And then the researchers divided the athletes into two groups. You had a massage gun group that received 15 minutes of massage gun therapy immediately after the workout, and then again, 24 and 48 hours.

and then you had a control group that didn’t receive any massage gun therapy. Then the scientists had the athletes take all of the same tests that I shared earlier at the following times, one day after the workout. So 24 hours later, two days, 48 hours later, and then three days after the workout, 72 hours later.

And what the researchers found is that the massage gun group experienced 33% less DOMS than the control group after 24 hours. 43%. Less after 48 hours and 50% less after 72 hours. The scientists also found that the control group, the people who did not receive any therapy, experienced significant changes in their posture and biomechanics that could affect their workout performance, whereas the massage gun group did not.

Another study worth mentioning was conducted by scientists at Massey University on 13 physically active men, and it found similar results after a strenuous biceps workout. In this case, the participants received 15 minutes of massage therapy using a myo volt, which is a vibrating sleeve immediately after the workout, and then again, one, two, and three days.

and the researchers also used a clever study design here where the participants served as their own controls. We don’t have to get into the exact protocols. They’re a bit complicated and not necessary for the purpose of this podcast, but the long story short is the participants trained both of their biceps and then they received massage therapy on either their right or their left biceps.

Then they repeated the same process two weeks later, but they. Arms. So if they massaged their right arm the first time, then they would massage their left arm the second time and before and after each workout. The researchers also measured the participant’s biceps soreness, range of motion and strength, as well as their blood levels of creatine kinase, which is a marker of muscle damage.

Now what the scientists found is that after one day, the massage therapy caused a small decrease in muscle soreness, but there was a significant decrease at the two and three day marks. Massage therapy also cut creatine kinase levels in half and doubled range of motion three days after the workout. Now, despite this though, The participants were not any stronger when they received massage therapy, so it doesn’t seem like these benefits translated immediately into better performance.

Another reason to not get too excited about these types of results is you should know that both of these studies had relatively small sample sizes, 30 and 13 people, and the studies only lasted for a few days, and it’s certainly possible that larger and longer studies would produce. Less impressive findings.

Plus only one of the studies was really on massage gun. That said, while the evidence on the whole is tenuous, the results were still positive and promising. Now, if we are trying to decide whether massage guns are effective enough to warrant the cost and warrant the time, it is also worth looking at research on massage therapies that work similar.

To massage guns because that can at least give us a better idea of whether these devices may be able to work as advertised. They can give us a foretaste of what may come in future research. Now, in massage therapist lingo, these guns use a technique called tapo, which is a tapping movement, and research shows that.

Does have some merit. For example, a 2001 undergraduate dissertation by a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University found that five minutes of top potent therapy provided by a sports massage therapist significantly improved agility in athletes compared with passive rest for the same amount of time.

Now, in this case, two minutes of top potent was more effective than five minutes, which. That there probably is some kind of golden, mean, a Goldilocks zone when it comes to this kind of stuff that is more top potent, more tapping, more mass massage. Gunning. More massaging period is not necessarily better.

You wanna do enough to get the benefits that you’re after, but not much. More than that because there is a point of diminishing returns. Now, something else to consider with massage guns is that they do several things, right? So there’s the vibration, there is the reciprocation, the back and forth. That would be more of the top potent, the tapping kind of motion.

There’s the pressure that you apply and to try to understand how these different factors affect our muscles. Scientists at the universe of dod kaka di Valencia, San Vincente martyr in Spain, you’re gonna have to gimme a pass on that one. Had 24 recreationally active adults warmup. For a workout and then do lunges until they gave up, until they reached muscle failure, basically.

Then the researchers split them into three groups and had them follow one of the following protocols after the workout. So group one was foam rolling, where they rolled their. Sore leg muscles with a regular foam roller for two minutes with a 32nd break in between each bout of rolling. And then group two was vibration foam rolling where they rolled their sore leg muscles with a vibrating foam roller the same way, two minutes, 32nd break in between each round.

And then you had group three, no foam rolling where they didn’t do any kind of recovery treatment. The control group then. Everyone completed the same workout on two more occasions, except the researchers reshuffled the groups. So every participant tried the foam rolling, the vibration foam rolling, and the no foam rolling.

Once the researchers measured the participant’s ankle range of motion and stability before and after each workout, and they found that both kinds of foam rolling, improved range of motion and stability, more than no foam rolling. That said, the vibration foam rolling wasn’t any. Than the regular foam rolling, which suggests that vibration probably isn’t that helpful for muscle recovery in and of itself.

That is, it’s possible that the benefits of mass massage guns may have more to do with the pressure and the messiness of the therapy rather than the vibration. So where does all of that leave us? Well, there is one major problem with all research on massage guns and massage of any kind. And that is, it is almost impossible to tell whether it’s working simply because it just makes the person feel better versus doing something physiologically real physiological change.

And this matters because as you learned a moment ago, sometimes simply feeling better, doesn. Translate into better performance. And the reverse is true too. If your muscles are damaged and something makes you feel better or makes the muscle feel better, unfortunately that doesn’t mean it is going to perform better.

The damage has to be repaired. Another challenge with massage guns and deciding whether you want to pony up the gash for one, is many of the manufacturers and the marketing influencers and even customers, Pseudoscientific rationalizations for why these guns work and why you should buy one. For example, you will see many people claiming that massage guns prevent injuries by boosting blood flow and loosening tight muscles, and those are claims that are not supported.

There is very little evidence. That massaging of any kind is going to improve blood flow, and there’s not even good evidence that tight muscles lead to injury. Now, none of that is to say that you shouldn’t get a massage gun or that massage guns are useless. No, not at all. You may really enjoy massage gun therapy.

It may make your muscles feel a bit better. It may make your body feel a bit better. It may reduce your perception of muscle sore. Which can make your day a little bit nicer and also can make your workouts a little bit more enjoyable and possibly a little bit more productive. But what you should know is that these devices are not panaceas.

They are not bio hacks for protecting against injury and supercharging your post-workout recovery. And just to share a bit of anecdotal information here, I’ve been using a massage gun pretty consistently three to five times per week for. At least six months now, maybe closer to eight or even 10 months.

I haven’t really been tracking and I do enjoy it. And specifically I use it on a couple of spots. So some time ago I noticed that my right quads were noticeably tighter than my left, and that’s probably just my anatomy and my biomechanics, and I favor my right side, and I’ve had to work on that in my squats and deadlifts, for example, if.

didn’t pay attention in the past. Now I’m better with it cause I’ve worked on it. But in the past, if I didn’t pay attention, I would push a bit harder in a squat with my right leg and in a dead lift with my right leg than my left leg. And I also noticed it on the leg press. Really anything where my legs were working together or supposed to be working together, it was probably like 60%.

Right leg, 40% left leg. And what clued me into this was more soreness in my right quads and more just general discomfort in my right quads than my left, and also more tightness in my right quad, which would sometimes manifest as knee pain. And at the time I was seeing a massage therapist maybe once or twice a week, and she was working quite a bit on my right quad, and it was pretty uncomfortable at first.

But as she was able to make progress, I started to notice less discomfort when she was working on my quads. My. Bright quads, fewer trigger points, just looser muscles in general. Like my right quads didn’t feel as generally tight as they did previously, and my knee stopped bothering me. Eventually, I stopped working with that massage therapist, but got a massage.

Gun and just started gunning my right quad every day for 10 minutes or so, and just working a few of the different points that I knew were problematic. So for me, what can get pretty sore, tight and painful after training is the. Upper portion of my quads, usually the upper third or so from the attachment point down.

And so what I do then is I gun all around that area. I use a ball attachment, and I just work the tissue and I use enough pressure to feel a little bit of discomfort. But not to where it is painful. And I will work a spot for about 30 seconds and then I’ll work another spot. I’ll just kind of move around other areas of the quad and then come back and the idea is to rack up a couple of minutes, three to five minutes of percussion.

For my right quads, really the entire surface area. I don’t only do that upper third, it’s just that upper third tends to be the most sensitive, and that is, To the right side of my body, but not my left. I rarely gunn my left leg maybe once a week because it just never has any problems. And as far as bottom line results with the massage gunning of my right quads, what I noticed after doing it for a month or so is less post-workout soreness, less post-workout discomfort, and particularly around the attachment point of the quads on.

Right leg and less discomfort in my training. So sometimes when I was warming up in particular, I would feel a bit of lingering aggravation. It felt a little bit like residual soreness, but the rest of my quads were not sore. It’s just the upper portion of my quads on my right leg would just be a little bit upset and it would go away after I’d warm up.

And it didn’t really get in the way of my training. It was just something that I was aware of. And after using the massage gun for again, at least a month or two, is what it took before I started to notice any real difference. I just noticed less of that and in some cases none of it. And I have a similar story for my hamstrings on my right leg.

Of course, I have now and again, gotten an excessive amount of soreness and just stiffness in my hamstrings in particular in the upper portion of the hamstrings, close to the glutes. And when that has happened, I. Not massage, gunned my hamstrings just to see what would happen, see how long the condition would remain for, and then have massage gunned them.

And I’ve done this several times now and I’ve noticed that if I do massage gun, my hamstrings, the problem goes away fairly quickly. Whereas if I don’t, it can take several weeks. . And one other spot I massage gun a few times a week is the bici groove on my right side of my body, of course, because that’s where I had some biceps tendonitis in the past, and that sucked, and I would prefer to not have that again.

And one of the spot the physical therapist worked on with me was that, and he did it with his hands, but I can just use a gun of course, to replicate. Basic mode of treatment and two other spots that helped resolve it. In case you’re wondering, are the subscapularis working that muscle on the right side of my body, which was painful the first time around when I was doing it with the physical therapist because it was pretty stuck.

It, it wasn’t moving around much and you can also get at it with a gun. You have to use a sharp. Cone tip, and you have to understand where the muscle is and you have to really dig down into your armpit area to get to it, but you can get to it. I’ve done that and that sounds grueling. It’s really not. It’s kind of uncomfortable, but it, it’s not too bad.

And then also on the backside of my body, a couple of muscles that were just pissed off in contributing to the problem with my bici groove and with my biceps tendon were the longissimus muscles. . Those were pretty jacked up at first, and then once they were treated several times, it got a lot better as well as the infraspinatus on the right side of my body.

And just to be specific, in case you are dealing with bicipital groove issues or biceps tendon issues, you want to try what I did, the part of the infraspinatus in particular that we had to work on was closest to the spine, so it was right along the edge of the scapula.

If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one-on-one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought possible. And we can do the same for you.

All right, so if you have decided that you want to get a massage gun, you are probably wondering what to get. And prices range from a hundred dollars to $600 depending on the features you want and the brand you want. Most of the models. Share features. So five to eight hours of battery life, 4, 2, 6 attachments and up to 30 speeds.

More expensive ones usually have more settings and more stuff, and the more expensive ones have stronger motors, so that’s gonna be able to apply more pressure, and they’re more durable. They’re gonna last longer, and they. Less noisy and some of these things can be very noisy if you read some reviews.

That is a common complaint, and I understand if you want to do a 10:00 PM wind down session, for example, on the couch, it is not very relaxing if your living room now sounds like a construction site. But anyway, I’ll share with you a few of the better options here, and I’m not being paid by any of these companies, by the way.

So if you want something that is entry level, very affordable, go with. Index, powerful percussion, massage gun, 70 bucks, at least at the time of this recording. And if you want something a little bit fancier, at $90 there is the Flyby Deep massage gun. And then from there up to $130 Tao Trons percussion massager.

And if you don’t mind spending a couple hundred dollars. The top of the line devices are the Hyper Volt by Hyper Ice. And the Thera Gun line by Thera Body. So that company was just Thera Gun. They started with their massage guns, and then they rebranded to Thera Body because they also started selling, uh, supplements and topical creams and stuff.

But anyway, as far as the guns go, the Pro, the Thera Gun Pro is their best device. It’s like $600. And then they have a couple of options that are less expensive and a little bit less fancy. So they have the elite and they have the prime, and then they have this little guy they released called the Mini.

And if you’re wondering what I have and I use, I have a Thera Gun and I believe it is the equivalent of the Prime when I got it. I don’t think it was called the Prime, but in looking at it, it looks like it’s the prime. So I don’t have one of the fancier ones. I don’t have an elite. I don’t have a pro.

Alright, now that we have talked about what gun to use, let’s talk about how to use it correctly, how to get the best possible. Results. Now, the first thing you should know, there is no one right way to use one of these things. You just wanna play with the different settings and speeds and attachments and massage schedules until you find something that works for you.

As I’ve said, what works for me is simply the ball attachment for my. Leg and for my right bicipital groove. And then to work on my subscap, I used the Pointiest attachment and to work on my longissimus and my infraspinatus muscle. Well, it wasn’t me. Somebody had to do it cuz it’s obviously on the backside of my body.

But we didn’t use the pointiest attachment, but we also didn’t use the biggest ball. We used something right in the middle, I think it was. A bullet like cylindrical attachment with a kind of rounded head. Now, as there is not much research available on these things and how to use ’em, I will just share with you a few common best practices.

So one is to not force the massage gun into your muscles. You don’t want to dig in, you more, just wanna place it on your skin, apply a little bit of pressure and move it around using smooth. Slow motions and you want to aim for a couple of minutes treating a larger muscle group and maybe a minute or two on the smaller muscle groups.

Unfortunately, there is no benefit in doing marathon sessions. You can think of it kind of like training, right? There is an effective dose of training. . And then if you do more than that, you reach diminishing returns where the training is no longer stimulating any additional muscle and strength gain. And then if you keep going beyond that, you can reach the point of negative returns where you are causing too much damage and where you are going to lose muscle and strength as a result of that workout.

So anyway, one other tip I wanna share is don’t use a massage gun immediately after a workout because this could actually make Dom. Worse. What you wanna do is give your muscles a few hours to cool down before you start jabbing them and jiggling them with one of these guns. And most importantly, don’t make the mistake of thinking that using a massage gun means you can ignore, tried, and true ways to enhance your workout recovery.

Like making sure that you are not being too aggressive in the gym and making sure that you are gradually increasing volume and intensity. Frequency of your workouts and make sure that you are using proper form and not trying to cut corners to add weight faster to the bar. Make sure that you are doing proper warmups.

Make sure you are eating enough calories and eating enough protein in particular, and getting enough nutritious foods. Uh, make sure that you are getting enough sleep, and if you want to take any supplements, throw in some creatine as well. All right, friends. Well that. For today’s episode, I hope you found it helpful.

Thanks again for joining me and if you have any questions or wanna make any suggestions, shoot me an email, mike muscle for and let me know also if you end up getting a gun and using it and liking it, and especially if you have any tips to share that I have not covered in this podcast, I’d love to hear ’em.

Definitely let me know and as usual, keep an eye on the podcast feed because this week I have another installment of Book Club where I’m gonna share my top five takeaways from Extreme Ownership by Jocko Wilin and Leif Babin. And I know I’m a bit behind the curve with this book. It has been out and super popular for some time now.

But hey, I finally got around to it and I enjoy. And I’m gonna share with you my favorite passages from it and share some of my thoughts and hopefully you find them helpful. And then I have another q and a coming where I’m gonna talk about fiber and counting carbs. Should you be counting carbs from fiber toward your carbs, your macros?

How many? Talking about some soy protein myths as well as food combining diets. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or. Wherever you’re listening to me from, in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility.

And thus, it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes, Then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for

Just muscle f o r and share your thoughts on how I can do this better. I read everything myself, and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.

That is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at muscle And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

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