The timing of this quarantine couldn’t have come at a better time… for me. Anthony B. was kind enough to let me borrow his awesome Theragun massaging tool just days before CFS was forced to close and people were forced to retreat to their homes for the long haul.
Needless to say, I have had plenty of time to “test out” the Theragun and do a bit of research on massage tools.
The Theragun is the Cadillac of massage tools. It is a very interesting tool as it does not provide a deep massage but it does provide a high, intense frequency of percussion. It is easy to use, lightweight, and easy to control. The one downside, as Anthony pointed out, is that you cannot reach the shoulder blade musculature without help.
The science behind massage is, oddly enough, still being researched. Older beliefs suggest that massage realigns muscle fibers, or even stretches out a tight muscle. Newer science suggests that massage likely does 4 things:
Increases blood flow to the area which stimulates the healing process
Provides a period of time where the person being massaged is forced to relax
Provides a period of time during which human touch and connection eases stress and increases relaxation (this would only be pertinent with an in-person massage)
Allows your brain to think the massage will make your muscles feel better, and in turn your muscles will probably feel better. The brain is quite powerful as the placebo effect has shown.
This Theragun can check off three of the four benefits of massage. Considering the cost of an in-person massage, the Theragun is not a bad investment (priced between $200-$600 compared to an hour massage which is usually $50-$150). Anecdotally, I very much enjoyed the Theragun because I could control how long I used it, I could focus it on the sorest muscles, and sure enough I did notice a decrease in muscle soreness relatively quickly. I have also recently been advocating for massages for my more athletic patients since a 2018 study came out citing massage as the single best method for recovery in athletes (An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis)
So if you are sitting at home, sore from one of Nick’s surprisingly horrific at-home-body-weight WODs, you may want to add the Theragun to your online shopping list.