As someone who has been into fitness for most of my life I’m also aware that recovery is a big part of attaining results and achieving fitness and performance goals. I only started using a massage gun to try and manage intense referral pain I was getting after having disc bulge in my back. At that stage I had tried pretty much everything from my GP, multiple specialists, cryotherapy, acupuncture, physio, CBD oil, pain medication etc. I even used a spiritual healer a couple of times (I’ll write a blog about this) – there’s pretty much nothing I wouldn’t have done to ease my back pain and get back to life as I knew it. For anyone who has suffered with major pain in their life it can put you in a black hole physically and mentally.
My struggles with back pain and recovery was actually the inspiration for me to start Warrior Ethos, so I suppose that’s proof that good things can come out of suffering. Anyway, I started out with a pretty basic gun which was OK; I wasn’t in a financial position to be lashing out on an $800 + recovery tool, particularly with all the regular expenses a debilitating back injury comes with. The whole reason I developed the Warrior Pro is I wanted a gun that lasted longer than the ebay/amazon cheapies that had some decent percussion performance that could rival the top end guns but for a price that I, and the average person could afford.
Regardless of the type or brand of massage gun you use, there’s a few golden rules that will make sure you get the most out of the therapy:
If I’m feeling particularly lazy I like to try and con Kate, my wife into doing my recovery massage gun sessions so I can just lie back and not think about anything.
If you’re using the massage gun for general self-care and relaxation ad hoc, treat yourself and just go with what feels good. But, if you are using the massage gun for recovery purposes, there can be too much of a good thing and less is often better.
The head of the massage gun is delivering micro traumas to the body with every percussion. Short term, this improves blood flow, increases circulation, and soothes tightness, but long term, prolonged use can have the opposite effect.
This was pretty much the reason I did my first cryo session. A lot of people who do cryo report experiencing reduced pain, including arthritis pain, skin pain, and muscle soreness, particularly after an intense exercise session. Cryotherapy numbs pain receptors in the body and causes your brain to secrete pain-killing hormones. I definitely noticed a reduction in pain from my back injury after my first cryo session.
Follow these guidelines for the most benefit:
Most massage guns will come with multiple attachments and you might be wondering WTF they all do. The attachments below come standard with the Warrior Pro massage gun.
After a decent workout, your muscles are going to be pretty fatigued. Using a massage gun immediately after a workout can sooth the aches and support a faster recovery. Think of a massage gun like a foam roller on steroids; it’s way easier to use, more effective and you can just sit back, relax and let the percussion do the work.
Keep in mind, your muscles are already stretched, strained, and inflamed. Using the massage gun is the bomb after a decent workout, and its easy to overdo it but try to stick to the 2 minute rule for each muscle group. Your limbs aren’t going to fall off if you push it out every so often but for recovery you are really aiming to use it enough to flush the lactic acid build up from the muscles. Having a bath with some Epsom salts is another great way to stretch out the relaxation without overdoing the massage gun action. Extra points if you are having one with your partner and a decent glass of red. Just a note that while bloody soothing, heat can cause inflammation (as can wine but I’m going with the anti-oxidant benefits) so try to avoid piping hot baths when you are recovering.
In addition to the massage gun, drink plenty of water. Remember, working out and using a massage gun is going to increase blood flow and overall circulation. If you’re going to eliminate the toxins and lactic acid released into the blood, water is the primary transporter. 2-3 litres is the generally recommended amount but that can depend on the level of activity and conditions you are training under.
Using a massage gun helps release tight muscles and move lactic acid. Releasing those trigger points and tension requires a lot of deep muscle therapy and therefore can leave your muscles quite tender. Cold therapy can decrease pain but also causes vasoconstriction or narrowing of blood vessels. It keeps swelling to a minimum and reduces the amount of time it will take to heal from an injury. The resultant inflammation is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli and to promote healing.
A lot of professional athletes are using cryotherapy as a regular part of their recovery regime, but it can be pretty expensive. I tried out cryotherapy as part of my pain management and recovery from back injury and I definitely felt it improved my pain levels afterwards but it burned a decent hole in the wallet.
Another option is using cold showers, in fact there’s a heap of information about cold exposure and benefits of cold showers by Wim Hoff. If you haven’t heard of Wim he’s an absolutely fascinating guy and if you are interested in breathing, boosting immunity, endurance, general health and wellbeing I recommend checking him out.
If cryotherapy and cold showers are a bit full-on for you the good old fashioned ice pack applied directly to the area affected. Don’t apply it for more than 20 minutes at a time.
I’m using my Warrior Pro pretty regularly as part of my recovery regime in conjunction with physio and osteo treatment plans. I’m developing a recovery guide you can use with the Warrior Pro to help target particular areas which is modelled on my own recovery journey which I’ll release and provide on the web in case it’s helpful to you.