Massage guns have become a household staple item. You can pick them up at Costco or on Amazon and there are a billion different options. 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:
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.
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 NECK PAIN.
I like to start in the muscles around the hot zone. So start with the muscles you want to inhibit that are a bit farther away from the neck like the check and shoulders. Then move onto your facilitation. Below are the muscles you'll want to target. I generally recommend the flat head and bullet head for these areas!
You may need a friend to help you out with the areas but there are different contraptions made to help you reach your back with the massage gun! Give this method a try!
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