Each massage device has different ways of generating benefits to the body, this adds to the possible uses that each person usually gives to these stimulating devices. Massages are the second option that people choose to soothe and prevent some muscular ailments(after drugs), so specialists recommend having products such as Foam Rollers or percussion massage guns at home.
Both products are based on different techniques, but the benefits are similar. So it is important to know what they are, how they relieve ailments and injuries and what features a good product should have.
What is a massage gun and what types are there?
Massage guns use the ancient therapy of percussion to stop tiny pain receptors from emitting electrical signals to the brain and spinal cord, the nerve destinations that process the messages and generate different bodily reactions.
This product uses a powerful motor that generates rhythmic and solid blows on the skin to stimulate the soft tissues and lower the intensity of mild injury characteristics. It is a product highly recommended by physiotherapists and professional athletes who use the percussion gun to stay active for longer.
Depending on the stroke length of the blows, the massage gun are classified into three types:
- 8-12 mm stroke length: this is the most recommended gun for home use, for those who are looking for a way to soothe any aches and pains caused by sudden physical activities. Doctors often recommend it for patients with chronic injuries that have not healed over time. Its low amplitude strokes offer superficial stimulation, which protects the dermis, fascia and some shallow muscles.
- 13-16 mm stroke length: this is the standard amplitude used by most guns on the market. Together with soft and flat heads, it can relax any part of the body because it stimulates both superficial and deep muscles. People should be careful when using the harder heads and avoid generating too much pressure so as not to cause bruising and tissue damage.
- 16 mm stroke length: this is the amplitude often used by strength athletes in disciplines such as Crossfit and weightlifting, as it has a greater effect on people with considerable muscle hypertrophy than conventional massage guns. With the hard heads, it is possible to better penetrate the dense muscles and deactivate trigger points that are difficult to access, such as on the back and back of the thigh.
People also have a “mini” model of the massager gun, which has different power ratings to generate similar benefits to those of professional guns. They are a more practical option for people with no previous experience with massage machines of this type and have a single head that guarantees a full body massage without causing damage due to overuse.
Unless you want to use it extensively, as a physiotherapist would do with their patients, it is a great option to have at home and use it for minor aches and pains to avoid contractures due to over stimulation.
What is a Foam Roller and what types are there?
As we want you to know about different massage options, you should know the benefits of having a massage roller. The Foam Roller is a hypoallergenic foam and plastic roller that uses the friction massage technique to release tension in the fascia.
The fascia is a kind of second skin that covers every part of the body, including the muscle fibres, so it is important that it maintains its elasticity and flexibility so that it does not affect muscle function. Find out about the different types of rollers available on the market:
- Short massage roller: these are between 10 and 45 cm long and are used for smaller areas of the body such as the calves, forearms and neck, where the skin is more sensitive and less material is required to achieve excellent stimulation. They are usually made of soft, but not flexible material, so the roller should never be bent.
- Standard massage roller: they have an average size of 60 cm and are the best sellers because you can massage any part of the body, although care should be taken with the back when there is no previous experience with the use of the Foam Roller. Most come with textures that generate a deeper massage.
- Long massage roller: these are the best products for beginners and people with sensitive skin, because they are not so rigid and most of them are smooth. These models are recommended for beginners in the world of myofascial release, as the body gets used to the stimulations better before starting to do more complex routines. They have an average length of 90 cm.
- Stretch Rollers: These rollers have become popular because the various bumps, ridges, dots and lines simulate the shape of the fingers and provide similar benefits to massage by the hands of a professional physiotherapist, although it should be noted that it is not a replacement when there are stronger injuries to treat. Stretch marks are already starting to be seen on rollers of all sizes, so there are a variety of products for you.
- Roller with a flat base: these are usually long rollers, over 80 cm long so that they cover the entire back. They are products used to work on central balance, so it is common to see yoga and Pilates practitioners with this semi-cylinder because the base prevents movement while performing the different routines and positions of these disciplines.
- Cylinder type roller: preferred by athletes and gymnasts who want to take the benefits of a good myofascial massage everywhere. Its hollow centre makes it lighter, more manageable and transportable, allowing all kinds of materials such as towels and water bottles to be placed in its centre, thus making the most of every space.
And to offer complete stimulation, you also have at hand small and standard rollers with vibration system, with various intensities to vary the massage according to the part of the body where there are ailments. For example, the lower back and legs require stronger vibrations, in contrast to the neck and calves.
Vibrations are similar to percussion massages, but achieve complete muscle and myofascial relaxation, which is why they are more in demand by people for non-sport professional use.
What is a percussion massage gun for and what are its benefits?
Its main function is to soothe pain by eliminating muscle knots and deactivating myofascial trigger points. These are some of the other uses and applications you can give it.
- Inhibit pain receptors: in this way the gun has a natural analgesic effect, without the use of drugs, which prevents pain sensors from sending signals to the brain that there is an injury, which limits people from continuing to carry out the activities they need to do. It should be made clear that it does not treat the source of the problem, but it can buy time for the person to feel better.
- Training complement: professional sportsmen and women use the massage gun to warm up muscle groups before training and to bring them back to calm when they finish their training routines. There are application times that must be taken into account to avoid fatiguing the muscle fibres.
- Increases blood flow: this is a local effect, where the gun massages. When circulation improves, it increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the damaged tissues, which favours muscle recovery after feeling fatigue after workouts and unexpected physical activities.
- Deactivates trigger points: part of the pain relief is when you treat the muscle knots and trigger points that often appear when you change the intensity of sports workouts. There are trigger points that are difficult to access for other products, but not for the percussion gun because of the different heads it has.
- Prevent injuries: before training, it is important to massage with the gun the muscle groups where there is fatigue, weakening and injuries that have not been healed over time. As a warm-up, it is only necessary to massage for a maximum of 30 seconds per point to be treated, so there will be no injuries due to over-stimulation.
- Fibre reactivation: during training sessions, it is likely that the person will feel slight cramps and discomfort. Before continuing, it is a good idea to take a break to treat this discomfort for 15 seconds with the percussion gun. It is important to use soft heads during this recovery phase.
- Accelerate recovery: stopping physical and sporting activity without proper muscle relaxation will only worsen performance and the muscle’s ability to get ready for another day’s training. Spend two minutes of your time massaging worn areas to reduce soreness and the likelihood of cramping.
What is a Foam Roller for and what are its benefits?
The main advantage of the roller is that it achieves a perfect myofascial release, through sliding and body pressure, in addition to the vibrations provided by some new models.
- Treat mechanical problems: this refers to problems in the functioning of tissues such as muscles, tendons and ligaments that can be damaged by an overload of tension on them or by degenerative diseases that alter the perfect synchrony that must exist to achieve joint movement.
- It treats neuronal problems: the massage roller stimulates the central nervous system, whose function is to process the information gathered by the vestibular and proprioceptive senses, which are important in muscular functioning. They coordinate all bodily functions, so they must be stimulated by products such as the Foam Roller to prevent irregularity in their functioning.
- It serves as a vasodilator: this is one of the best benefits of the roller, which opens the narrow passage of blood flow so that a greater amount of oxygen and chemical components reach the whole body, especially where this product makes contact. It is recommended for treating blood pressure difficulties.
- Maintains the elasticity of the fascia: this product was designed to simulate the shape and strength of the hands on the body, thus untangling muscle knots and tensions in the fascia, which are also involved in human movement. When the fascia becomes stiff, this leads to discomfort and blockages in the joints.
- Protects the joints: although the roller should not touch the joints, they are protected when the muscle structure is healthy. Tendons and ligaments suffer more when muscles lose their flexibility, so it is important to protect the muscle fibres before and after training and when people do physical activities to which they are not accustomed.
- It treats specific pathologies: contractures, cervical pain and plantar fasciitis are three of the specific injuries that can be treated by massaging with the foam roller, which should be used whenever there is a specialist doctor’s suggestion. As long as the pain is bearable, people can use this product to soothe their own ailments in each case.
- Useful as a sports complement: athletes of high physical performance use the roller as a tool to use before and after training, with the purpose of avoiding future injuries and more when there will be an adjustment in the sport intensity. The time varies when the purpose is to warm up or cool down the body, so it is recommended to have a basic knowledge about the use of this product in each case.
What are the main differences between a massage gun and a Foam Roller?
To the untrained eye, both products look the same. But in trained hands, different effects can be achieved that are beneficial to physical and mental health.
Types of uses
- With the percussion gun , immediate relief is achieved for pain caused by minor injuries, in which the muscle fibres are involved by activating the trigger points, as they are also known. In addition, the massage gun relaxes the muscles in places where the roller cannot reach due to its shape.
- The Foam Roller is a tool for myofascial release, which is not the same as the treatment of muscle tension. Just like any other organ in the body, the fascia needs to be flexible and elastic so that body movement remains natural.
Experience of use
Which product requires the most experience? Both massagers are designed to be used by inexperienced people as well as professionals, without any risk to the body.
However, if you want to get the most out of both products, it is recommended that you as a user inform yourself about the best routines, times and frequency of use for the body to activate and recover in an optimal way. Massage is as important as rest time, so alternating between stimulation and rest is a better option than fatiguing the tissues unnecessarily.
The possibilities of the massage gun and the roller are endless in expert hands. With both, muscle relaxation, elasticity of the fascia, regulation of body temperature and the flow of blood circulating in the body can be achieved.
However, each product has its own main purpose: for the massage gun it is the treatment of muscles, while for the roller it is the treatment of myofascial tensions that is most important. Although in principle there is this distinction of purpose, in reality similar benefits are achieved for both cases from the first use.
When rating the versatility of both massagers, experts consider that both can achieve multiple benefits with their different applications.
Both the massage gun and the Foam Roller are products that you can take with you wherever you go, as most of them are quite light, so you can carry them comfortably in suitcases, bags and even in your hand without feeling exhausted. These products are made for sportsmen and physiotherapists, as well as for people whose lives are destined for a stressful office that leaves daily stress and muscle tension.
Type of massage
The massage gun is based on percussion therapy, the purpose of which is more stimulating than relaxing. It is rhythmic, dry, steady strokes on the skin that stimulate the superficial and deep muscles to relieve pain and relax the knots present.
The roller, on the other hand, uses the friction massage technique, which mainly aims to relax the tissues, prevent fluid retention and keep the myofascial membrane elastic. This is why there are differences in the use of the two products, although the results are similar.
Time of use
In both cases a suggested time of use must be respected. The gun should be used for a maximum of two minutes, although when more pressure is applied and the amplitude of movement is increased, the time should be only 15 to 30 seconds on the skin, otherwise bruising may occur, lasting up to two weeks.
In turn, the use of the massage roller is limited to five to six minutes when the pressure is lower. Usage is also measured in “strokes” which are the glides people make with their body weight. In areas such as the calves and neck, two or three strokes are sufficient, followed by a 5 or 10 minute break. If pain is felt while using the product, stop stimulation immediately and seek medical assistance.
The great thing about these products is that they are designed to withstand shock, pressure and frequent maintenance if soiled or stained by sweat. The parts of the gun that require the most maintenance are the heads, which come into permanent contact with the skin, requiring only water and a damp cloth to remove foreign matter.
The same applies to the massage roller, whose structure will withstand the perspiration of people after training, as this product alone does not stimulate perspiration. It is made of stain-resistant ABS plastic and is easy to clean. Under no circumstances should both products come into direct contact with water.
To ensure a durable and quality product, it is important to make a good investment from this moment on, so you will avoid having to purchase new products by buying second-hand or dubious quality massagers.
A quality massager can last up to 10 years or more, even vibrating roller models are designed for professional use at all times and can withstand the demands of users. Investing wisely protects your health and saves money at the same time.