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Percussive Massage: The Sweet Beat of Pain Relief

Are muscle aches after your workouts dampening your exercise enthusiasm? Keep two things in mind. First, that pain is part of muscle growth, and there is an impressive remedy – percussive massage.


No Pain, No Gain

Pain can occur when you’re new to exercise or if you’ve added reps, weight or other resistance to build strength. It can also happen during high-intensity workouts building your explosive power. That’s because muscle tissue is built up by creating tiny tears in your muscle fibres, known as microtrauma. Your natural defences swoop in on the injured spot to build it up stronger than before.

Learn morehere. If you want more muscle, you do the same thing again, causing the same tiny injuries and the same overcompensating repair.


Fascia Facts

More than muscle gets hurt in this process. A white, gloopy soft tissue called fascia holds all of our muscles and internal organs in place. It’s also full of sensitive nerve endings that keep us aware of where our extremities are within the space around us.

Fascia does this vital job thanks to its astounding ability to change from a liquid to a solid whenever necessary. However, its viscosity breaks down when it's injured, causing it to crinkle up in big knots and jolting your nervous system.


Pain, Pain, Go Away

Those sensitive nerves send out a pain signal. Our bodies respond by creating inflammation, which flushes pathogens away from the injured area - creating its own discomfort. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) usually kicks in six to 24 hours after your workout and can last up to 48 hours afterward, with symptoms like muscle pain and a reduced range of motion.

Ice baths and stretching bring very little sore muscle relief. Anti-inflammatories can create the illusion of feeling better while interfering with actual healing. Compression garments help if they're not too loose or too tight. Foam rolling can also bring relief for the same reason compression works.


Pressure

Pushing down on the injured fascia can work out the knots and restore that magical viscosity. The amount of pressure needed varies according to the size of the knots. It can hurt temporarily, but it promotes lasting relief.

The “liberation” of blocked fascia tissue, called myofascial release, supports your body’s natural healing processes. It’s part of an ancient healing rite that still relieves patients today.


Massage

Massage began as a sacred healing system in post-3000 B.C. India. Egyptians later explored the benefits of applying pressure (now called reflexology). By the 1800s, the “Swedish movement cure” began evolving into modern Swedish massage. That art now uses three types of pressure to work out knots – rubbing hands over the body in circular strokes, kneading the tissue, and percussive strikes on the body.

Of course, these strikes are just heavy enough to break up blockages. The practitioner may “pat” with flat palms, “thump” with the fists, “peck” with the fingertips, or “hack” with the edge of the hand. Practitioners discovered that when they held their fingers loosely apart during hacking, they could produce a second blockage-busting benefit.


Vibration

"'The International Electric Hand Vibrator'" by Ephemeral Scraps is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Like pressure, vibration has treated pain for ages. Ancient Greeks used it on their armies, and in the 1800s, Swedish doctor Jonas Gustav Zander used it to help patients gain muscle and lose weight. Recent research shows localized or full-body vibration yields increased blood flow, muscle strength, power development, kinesthetic awareness, and range of motion – while decreasing muscle soreness.

As vibration therapy and pressure therapy progressed through several advancements, the sum benefits of massage were officially recognized. Massage Therapists had their own association. Yet, pressure and massage would not do beautiful work together until 2007.


Relief at Last

That year, Chiropractor Dr. Jason Werslund finally found a way to relieve pain caused by a motorcycle accident years earlier. He attached blunt ends to reciprocating tools and hit his sore points with pressure and vibration simultaneously. He was also able to go deeper, reaching tissue other massage devices missed.

At first, Dr. Werslund never thought of marketing his invention. But when he saw how his percussive massage device helped his patients, he changed his mind. Soon other massage and physical therapy practitioners would follow his lead.


BENEFITS OF PERCUSSION MASSAGE


Efficiency

Athletes like percussive massage guns for their amplitude – the distance and direction the massage head travels during each percussion. These guns can reach through dense muscle mass to work on inflamed connective tissue. Apply a massage gun during post-workout recovery and you may prevent DOMS or at least diminish it.

For instance, the Flow Pro Plus Massage Gun plunges over half an inch into your aching deep tissue when held perpendicular to your body. It can do so 3200 times a second (frequency). Throw in a motor with high torque (the amount of force behind each revolution), and you have a lot of pressure and vibration coming down on your pain.


Versatility

If you want a softer touch, you can adjust the amplitude and frequency or simply tilt the gun. Guns like the Flow Pro also offer a variety of interchangeable heads for covering expanded areas, going easy on tender or bony areas, assisting lymphatic drainage, straddling your spine, hitting your trigger points (inflamed areas), and percussing your larger muscle groups.

Some physiotherapists recommend locating your trigger point then backing off to loosen the muscles supporting it, so it won’t put up as much of a fight when you move in to pound it into submission. When you consider your comfort and fitness goals, it’s a fight worth winning.


Want to Pummel Your Pain? Beat a Path to Flaman Fitness!

Our trained sales team is well-versed in percussive therapy benefits and the massage guns that can deliver it. We have a selection of top-quality guns and the advice to help you use them to your optimum benefit. Just call or visit your nearest Flaman Fitness location and find out how you can give that throbbing the thumping it deserves.