You’ve probably seen pro players receiving a type of recovery massage using a weird device that looks like a gun or a giant stapler. What you’ve witnessed is percussive therapy with a massage gun—one of the most effective ways to deliver relief to sore muscles and boost muscle repair. One of these massage devices is even sponsoring the Real Madrid soccer club! And since soccer is one of the most demanding sports out there, the importance of muscle health and form is easy to see. So is the hype about massage guns real? How do they work and why players should use them? Let’s find out:
What is percussion therapy?
Simply put, percussive therapy is a type of massage that uses fast and rhythmic pressure or “punches” to the muscle. Percussive therapy can be delivered by hand, using the ‘karate chop’ technique, but it’s more effective and easier to perform with a tool. No matter the means of delivery, percussive therapy hits and stimulates the cell nucleus in the following way:
- Percussion taps inform the brain that certain muscles need pain relief and warn it to get ready and trigger the nervous system that will prepare the area for activity.
- Blood will increasingly flow to these areas, feeding the sore and damaged tissue with more nutrients and oxygen. This step results in inflammation reduction and reduced muscle soreness.
- Golgi tendons turn on (these sensory receptors manage muscle tension). When they are active, your muscles get a better range of motion and decreased muscle tension.
These three effects of percussive massage, when combined, boost the body’s natural ability to recover, making it very beneficial to athletes.
How is percussive massage delivered?
If a soccer player has a trained massage therapist at hand, this professional is more than capable to deliver deep tissue massage with their hands. However, no matter how skilled, hands have limitations. On the other hand, a powerful Melo massager can operate without limitations, delivering fast hits to a specific area. With 6 different speeds, your massage gun can strike faster and more precisely, hitting just the right depth. These hits are just deep enough to trigger recovery, but not deep enough to cause strong pain—the experience is more than pleasurable.
Massage guns are also more precise. Both the foam rollers and the hands of your therapist target a larger area of muscle, sometimes making it too wide. However, the head of a massage gun is small, so it can always hit at just the right muscle tissue. And according to research, the more targeted the therapy, the more effective the muscle recovery.
What are the benefits?
A small device like a massage gun provides many benefits to any soccer player, professional or amateur. They can boost the release of lactic acid, increase the flow of lymphatic glands, destroy scar tissue, activate the nervous system, reduce muscle stiffness and spasms, improve the range of motion and provide a better sense of wellbeing. The only other way to obtain the mentioned benefits is to combine different types of expensive therapy.
How to use a massage gun?
According to experts, as well as other users, the best way to use a massage gun for recovery is to use it after a grueling practise or match. Use it for a minimum of two minutes on muscles that usually get sore, but also hit other muscles for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Move the device slowly over muscles for two minutes—there’s no need to apply pressure. When used together with stretching and regular therapist sessions (to discover knots, tension and deep-seated injuries), massage guns provide pro-level recovery to all soccer players.
If you’re a player looking for an effective and affordable way to prevent muscle soreness and to recover from stiffness and fatigue in record time, percussive therapy can help you meet all the demands of soccer. When used properly, both professionals and amateurs can reap many benefits from including percussive therapy into your post-workout regimen.