When you have outdone yourself in the gym or on the track, or perhaps experience a muscle strain for your daily activities, you may end up with sore muscles. There are several ways that you can achieve pain relief when you are affected by an injury. While over-the-counter muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications are a good choice, they can become risky with long-term use.
A deep tissue massage might be just what you need in these situations. When it comes to looking at massage guns, there are a couple of options that you have to choose from. Percussive therapy and vibration therapy are not the same, so knowing the differences that exist between the two technologies is important. We look at what a vibration massage and percussion therapy are in this post, and explain the differences between these options.
What Is A Vibration Massager?
We will start by taking a closer look at what a vibration massager is. Vibration therapy is a very common type of therapeutic method used in both clinical settings and at home. The use of vibrating pulses penetrates the skin and reaches soft tissue and muscles in the body.
There are different types of devices available that offer vibration therapy. A vibration massager, in particular, usually offers coverage for the entire body.
There are numerous scientific studies that have looked at how vibration therapy and these massagers may benefit the human body. One study explains that vibration massagers offer a vibration therapy that supports the relaxation of muscle tissue.
One study found that vibration therapy is particularly useful in motor rehabilitation. The use of vibration therapy led to improvements in both isotonic and isometric contractions among the patients treated. Spasticity and flexibility also improved with the use of the vibration therapy.
Vibration therapy may also be beneficial for people who need to improve blood flow, particularly in the skin. In one study, a microcirculatory model was used with the vibration massages. This lead to improved blood flow and oxygen supply to the skin. This ensures the skin gets the oxygen needed to remain healthy.
There are also relaxing benefits that come with the use of vibration therapy. Thus, apart from blood flow and oxygen-related benefits, vibration massages are also an efficient treatment for sore muscles. The device can reach tissue just below the skin to relief some of the milder muscle soreness you experience.
When a person has mild chronic pain, they may also be able to relieve pain with frequent use of this massage device.
A study on rats also showed that the use of vibration massage therapy may assist with the intimal thickening of peripheral arteries. This has led to the belief that vibration massages could potentially assist with problems like deep vein thrombosis and other conditions associated with blood flow and arteries.
While these benefits are great, there are certain limitations when it comes to the use of vibration massagers. Vibration massage guns are unable to reach deep muscles and tissue in the human body. Thus, they are not appropriate for deep tissue recovery or a high level of muscle stimulation. It can, however, still allow you to release tension and assist with recovery.
What Is A Percussion Massager?
Now that we have covered what a vibration massage gun is, we are going to move on to a percussion massage. One thing you should note is that percussive massagers also take advantage of vibrations in order to produce their benefits.
These devices come equipped with different attachments that goes onto the tip. You can usually also adjust the intensity at which the massager vibrates. This helps to ensure you can set a lower intensity on sensitive areas. You will typically stand up or sit down when you use these devices. They are an ideal choice when you need to target trigger points in your body.
Another major benefit of percussive therapy devices is the fact that it is often a hand held device. This makes them easier to use, as you do not have to keep them plugged into a wall outlet. With this said, you do need to keep an eye on the battery life when you perform a percussive massage.
These types of massage guns allow you to target a specific body part at a time. This makes the massage gun great for addressing deep tissue that has experienced damage and feels sore. Percussion therapy is also good for moderate to severe muscle soreness due to the effect that they have during massage therapy.
Massage guns that use percussion therapy may also help to reduce the accumulation of lactic acid in the body. When there is an accumulation of lactic acid in the body, lactic acidosis can occur. This can cause pain, muscle stiffness, and cramps. When the massage guns reduce this acid during percussion therapy, you may experience less frequent cramps in your muscles.
While there are many benefits associated with these massage guns, one thing to keep in mind is that research is still very much limited. A majority of research papers focuses on vibration massages and not directly on percussion. Still, the noted benefits that the massage guns offer have created an opportunity for further research to be conducted on the benefits that they offer.
Which Massager Is The Better One?
We’ve taken a look at both a vibration and percussion massage gun. Note, we should compare the two and consider which one is the better one for you.
It is important to note that one massager is not necessarily the overall better choice. This is because they do not offer the exact same functions. You need to take a closer look at what your own needs are to determine which type of massager you should opt for. Thus, the question should rather relate to which option is best for you in particular.
A vibration massager uses vibrations to penetrate the entire body. A percussion massager, on the other hand, uses vibration to push heads onto the skin. The percussive massage uses mechanical vibrations to target a specific spot on the body. It can be adjusted to add more pressure to certain parts in order to help alleviate higher levels of pain.
When it comes to comparing percussive massagers to vibration guns, it is important to keep the safety of each option in mind. Both of these devices are considered to be relatively safe. It is, however, important to note that some percussion guns may come with more powerful motors. If you set the pressure and speed settings too high, then the head might cause damage to the skin or even a muscle at the targeted location.
The purpose of these two therapy devices is not the same. If you want to treat a medical condition like chronic pain that is relatively mild, then a vibration therapy device is usually the better option. This is because the machine is able to produce better coverage for the entire body, compared to the targeted treatment that a percussion gun produces.
With this said, it is important to consider the intensity of pain you experience in your muscles. Vibration massage is usually only appropriate for milder levels of pain. When your muscles experience a greater level of pain, you may need to turn to a percussion gun.
Keep in mind the different power sources that these devices use. Most vibration massagers will use a power cord that you plug into a wall outlet. Percussion massage guns, on the other hand, usually take advantage of a battery. This adds a portable element to the gun, which makes it perfect.
Consulting A Professional
If you are not sure which type of device you should opt for, it is a good idea to consult with a professional. This is especially important in cases where you have certain medical conditions that you would like to improve. If you have a low range of motion, for example, you can consult a professional. They might be able to provide you with details on how you can improve your body’s range of motion with the use of these devices.
If the pressure produced by percussion therapy seems to be great for your condition, the professional may recommend the use of a vibration therapy system instead. Even though the relief you gain in your muscles is lower, it might be the safer choice.
Both vibration and percussive therapy have their advantages and limitations. Vibration therapy is great when you need full body coverage for milder muscle soreness. Percussive therapy, on the other hand, offers a more targeted massage therapy that addresses soft tissue at specific points on your body. Keep these differences in mind when you are not sure how to choose between the two.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost