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The RIGHT Way To Use A Massage Gun: Carpal Tunnel

Massage guns are all the rage in the DIY/at-home health and healing community. In the last year, we've seen tons of companies develop their own versions of the massage gun. Each one claims to be the "best" because of their different amplitude or speed or attachments. To be honest, the large majority of the function pretty similarly and the "best brand" is more of a personal preference at this point. All of the ones I've tried are fairly similar in terms of how well they actually massage you.

But with their growing popularity, most people still don't completely understand why these percussive instruments even work.

Have you ever hit your knee to the point that you thought it was definitely going to bruise and your first instinct was to rub it? That's because when you rub it, you stimulate receptors to decrease pain and create an analgesic sensation. But does rubbing it really "fix" your bruised knee? Not exactly. This idea is called the Gate Control Theory by Malzack and Wall. It is this idea that CAN make massage guns completely useless.

If you're not using a massage gun correctly, you're only rubbing a bruise to make it feel better in the moment. Using it properly and being specific with what muscles you're working on and for what purpose turn an expensive hammer into a great at-home healing tool.

Using your massage gun mindfully is having an understanding of what muscles need to be RELEASED and which need to be SIMULATED or ACTIVATED. Using it in the proper direction for the proper muscle is key to seeing a long-term improvement (and not just a short-term relief).

So here are my two general rules for Mindful Massage Gunning:

  1. If you want to release a muscle, you move from the origin of the muscle to where it inserts. Now I realize not all of you may be familiar with some of my favorite anatomy nerdy apps like 3D4medical, but a quick Google search or looking on an app such as that one can tell you where each muscle originates and where it inserts.

  2. To tighten, strengthen or stimulate a muscle, you need to move from the insertion point to the origin!

So now that we've been over the basics, let's get to the main topic of this blog which is CARPAL TUNNEL.

The best way to start is by checking the nerve tension in your upper extremities. You can use your neck as your indicator. Place your hand on your neck and slowly raise your arm out to the side (as if you were flapping a wing). As soon as you feel that nerve pull or tension, back off. That is your nerve limit. After you do the massage gun protocol, you should notice that this nerve tension gets better and you are able to raise your arm higher without nerve symptoms.


  1. Pec Major and Pec Minor

  2. Upper Trap

  3. Medial Biceps (we don't always use the forked head of the massage gun but it's good to progress to using it on exclusively the bicep after the bullet head)

  4. Forearm Flexors


  1. Rotator Cuff

  2. Long Head of the Biceps

  3. Pronator Teres

  4. Extensors

Avoid hitting any sensitive nerves in the wrist. We are working on the muscles surrounding the nerves not on the nerves themselves. Using a massage gun directly on these nerve heads can be painful and actually inflame them more. So use caution especially in the wrist area where there is not a lot of soft tissue to soften the blow of the massage gun. This entire protocol should only take a few minutes total!

If you like the massage gun I am using, you can purchase the Achedaway Massage Gun here. Use our coupon code REHABANDREVIVE for $25 OFF your purchase!

Remember we heal smarter, not harder.

Dr. Justin C. Lin


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