Percussion sport massage guns can have great benefits, from decreasing and relaxing muscle tension, break up scar tissue, minimize muscle soreness and tension, increasing mobility and elevating blood flow helping with pain and typical workout soreness. We might also get treated with them when we see a massage therapist, chiropractor or physical therapist.
Just like a typical massage or a foam roller, percussion massage tools work by loosening muscles and fascia, the coating around muscle tissue.
It may be tempting to use our massage gun on any old spot that feels sore with no further thought, but some spots present risks. Painful inflammation, torn tendons, organ or nerve damage and even serious long-term injuries could result from improper placement.
Top 5 spots to avoid to improve our massage gun safety
1. Greater Trochanter
To feel our greater trochanter, we should stand on two feet, put our hands in our pockets, and shift our weight side to side, allowing our pelvis to shift. As we push our hips out to one side, we will feel a bony area on that side of our hip push into our hand. This is a part of our thigh bone called a greater trochanter.
It has a fluid bladder surrounding it called a bursa, and bursas and bones don’t like friction. They respond by becoming inflamed and painful, and using the massage gun on this area can create friction that leads to pain and inflammation on the side of our hip.
Instead of aiming for the greater trochanter, we should use the massage gun on our quads and glutes. Loosening up those areas can help with hip, knee and even lower back mobility. If the side of our hip is already sore, ice might be a better tool.
Here is a type of organ damage done by a massage gun. Kidneys, are particularly susceptible because they are close to the surface in the middle of our back. While we think we are getting a good back massage, digging into the areas directly over the kidneys could lead to vibrating organs that weren’t meant for such impact.
To find our kidneys area, we should take both hands and reach around to our back. On either sides of our spine, we will feel rib bones. We should try to find our lowest rib bones. Bones feel harder than muscle, and the lowest ones are often a bit tender. The lowest ones line up with our kidneys. This is the area we need to steer clear of with our massage gun.
Massage guns can be great for relieving back tension, as long as they are on muscles versus organs and bones.
3. Biceps Tendon
We should take one hand and reach across to the front of our opposite shoulder. Our long head of biceps tendon lives under the area we are now touching. Pain and tension in this area are very common, especially if we have weakness in our rotator cuff, or weakness in the muscles between our shoulder blades. While it is tempting to relieve pain and tension by putting the massage gun here, this tendon is not as strong as it seems, pressure and vibration can inflame or even tear it.
Instead of attempting to treat pain on the front of our shoulder, the best common options are working on rotator cuff strength, middle back strength and being mindful of our lifting techniques.
4. First Rib
First, we should reach one hand to the top of the opposite shoulder, the area where the base of the neck and shoulder meet. Many of us know this area as upper traps, and often a spot affected by chronic neck and shoulder tension. If we lightly dig in a bit, we will feel a knot that doesn’t go away, no matter how much we massage it. The reason it doesn’t release the tension, is because it is not a muscle knot, it’s a bone. That bone is our first rib. While it’s tempting to drive the massage gun into this area to decrease nagging neck tension, we should not do it.
Directly under our first rib, we have all the nerves and blood vessels that supply our arms and hands. A little too much pressure in this area can compress the nerves and blood vessels. Nerve compression can send tingles or even pain down our arm, and that kind of nerve injury can take months or even years to resolve. While the massage gun is buzzing away, it’s easy to miss the fact that our arm might feel an unusual tingle that could be our warning of nerve compression.
If we still want to massage our neck tension away, we should use our hands instead of a tool, using our hands allows us to feel if we are on that bony first rib, and allows us to quickly find and feel, and move away from any spots that send a tingle down our arm.
We most likely have a good idea of exactly where our spine is already, but we can reach around our back and pinpoint where those bones are to make sure we don’t aggravate them with percussion massage. Our spinal cord, discs, and nerve roots are all under those bony edges that we feel, and none of them were designed to handle direct vibration forces. Agitating these bones with a massage gun can cause a greater risk than benefit because irritating a nerve root, disc or even the spinal cord itself could lead to very intense and complicated spine injuries.
A safer alternative recommendation would be foam rolling, even if the foam roller vibrates. The foam roller is a much broader surface, so it doesn’t dig directly into targeted spots in our spine. The foam roller should only be avoided if we have very low bone density.
How to Stay Safe Using a Massage Gun
We should keep the massage gun, but use our new anatomy knowledge to choose safe body areas. Even with safer sections, we should avoid pressing hard into spots while the massage gun is vibrating. Gentle pressure is generally fine, but digging in could press on other organs, nerves, or bones that can lead to injuries as well.
Use A Great Sport Massage Gun For Incredible Personal Physio Therapy, Release Muscle Soreness and Fascia, Release Tension, Stimulate Blood Flow, Improve Flexibility, Feel Better, Avoid Injuries, Enjoy Great Runs And Workouts!