When you think of massage guns, the first thing that comes to mind is probably stress relief. Or treating muscle soreness after a workout. But there’s another big benefit to these handy little devices – they’re great for getting rid of knots in your muscles. If you struggle with muscle pain or tension, a massage gun can help get rid of those knots and leave you feeling much better. In this post, we’ll teach you how to use a massage gun for knots so you can start enjoying the benefits for yourself.
A massage gun can be used as a trigger point release device and is by far the best massager for knots. Their effect is similar to that of muscle recovery tools such as a foam roller or a lacrosse ball. However, they provide more targeted relief, are easier to use, and allow the user to work far deeper into specific muscle tissue. A handheld device such as a massage gun also allows for easier spot targeting, which is especially good for hard-to-reach areas and allows more control so that you can avoid sensitive nerves.
What is a muscle knot?
A muscle knot is an irritable area within your muscle that causes pain. Also known as a trigger point, these painful areas are small bumps that are common in muscles after exercise. They can also occur because of repetitive motions, poor posture, stress, or other factors.
The knot can vary in size and how it feels – some knots are tight and painful while others are sensitive to the touch. For some, the knot may only be visible when pressed against a bone along your spine or another bony part of your body.
Muscle knots or trigger points can be quite difficult to get rid of without doing some myofascial release. This is a massage therapy technique that involves applying gentle, sustained pressure into the connective tissue to eliminate pain and restore motion. It can be done by a massage therapist or physical therapist, or you can do it yourself with your hands, with a foam roller, or with a massage gun.
What causes muscle knots?
Nobody knows exactly what causes muscle knots, however, we know there are various factors that can contribute to developing these trigger points in your muscles.
One of the biggest culprits is how much time you spend sitting each day, especially when you spend long hours at a computer or when traveling via car or airplane for work.
Even when you exercise regularly and eat right, stress and lack of sleep can also contribute to how often you develop these knots.
Stubborn knots can also form if you over-exercise or injure a particular muscle group or body parts.
Where can a muscle knot occur?
Muscle knots can occur in any muscle group but are most common in the back, hamstrings, glutes, neck muscles and shoulder muscles.
How can I treat muscle knots?
To relieve a knot in your muscle, there are a number of different options – from simple stretching to foam rolling – that might provide some relief. However, if you need more targeted relief, a massage gun is the best option for how to treat muscle knots.
You can use your massage gun on almost any area of your body. You’ll just want to place it against the knot and apply pressure until you feel it release. Typically, you may need to go over that area several times before it starts feeling better.
How often should I use a massage gun for knots?
You don’t want to overdo how frequently you’re using your massage gun for muscle knots as this could lead to extra irritation. However, you also want to make sure that you’re using it enough for it to be effective.
Muscle knots can vary in their tightness and intensity. A muscle knot might be released after just a few minutes of using a muscle gun on the muscle group, but they can come back. In the beginning, you may need to use your massage gun multiple times per day to target specific muscles to gain relief.
It’s best to consult a physical therapist so that they can show you how to use a massage gun for knots, and they can advise on how often based on your particular circumstances.
How to use a massage gun for knots
Using percussion massagers as recovery tools is very common. That’s because percussive therapy is quite simple to administer and only takes minutes to complete. There are a few steps that you need to follow to remove muscle knots with a massage gun.
Warm up before using your massage guns
If you use your massage gun on cold muscles, they are more likely to be sore afterwards. So make sure you warm up with some basic stretches or a few minutes of walking beforehand.
Start with a small amount of pressure
Even if you are using a massage gun, you don’t want to immediately go for deep tissue or “hurts so good” pain. Locate the trigger point and then start using your massager on low power on the area. You will begin to gradually increase how hard you massage depending how much pressure your muscles can take.
The “sweet spot”
Hold the massager on top of the knot and slowly move back and forth. Try to apply as much pressure as possible to the sore muscle without moving past the point where it becomes painful. Once you hit that sweet spot for how much pressure your muscles can handle, keep the gun on that spot for at least 30 seconds (up to 2 minutes).
Working deeper into the knot
Once you’ve hit the “sweet spot,” gradually increase how hard you apply pressure. Tread carefully here as sensitive areas and tight spots can be very painful. Depending on your massage gun’s stall force you should be able to press as hard as you need to target the specific muscles. This will help work deeper and clear out any knots in the muscle. When you feel a knot clearing, slowly increase how hard you massage the tight muscles until it is just slightly painful.
Slowly work your way out of trouble
Once you’ve worked through the knot, gradually decrease how hard you massage. A gentler massage will help to increase blood flow back to the muscle, relieve tension, and reduce soreness after using a trigger point gun on knots.
If the knot returns, don’t stop!
If you feel a returning muscle knot (which unfortunately they do!), don’t stop using your massager—instead, work the “new” knot to help clear it out. Keep going over that area until it’s gone. You can also alternate between targeting different areas.
How do I prevent trigger points from coming back?
It’s best to prevent muscle knots if possible rather than trying to treat them. If you know what can potentially cause them and how to prevent them, you’ll have a much easier time enjoying your workouts pain-free. The following are some tips you can follow to stop muscle knots from coming back:
Dress appropriately for your workout
Be sure to wear comfortable clothes that won’t restrict your range of motion or cause you to sweat too much during your workout.
Keep well hydrated
Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after your workout sessions. Drinking enough water can help to prevent muscle soreness and tension, and can help to prevent chemical imbalances in the muscles.
If you sweat a lot you may need to take an electrolyte supplement. Excess sweating can deplete electrolytes. Magnesium deficiency in particular can lead to poor muscle function and tight, sore, cramped muscles.
Stretch both before and after working out, and make sure you take at least one day off to rest between workouts so that your muscles have time to recover. While a hard workout can be good for you, don’t work the same muscles every day.
Regular stretching, even on days you don’t work out can increase blood supply to the muscles and improve blood circulation, which is important for muscle recovery. Simple aerobic exercises (you can find some for free on Youtube) are also great for increasing blood flow.
Pay attention to your muscles
Most importantly, pay attention to your body and how it’s feeling. If you notice stress injuries or pain in a certain area of the body, if not treated it can lead to the development of muscle knots.
If you consistently get a muscle knot in a particular muscle group, that muscle group will be weakened and susceptible to getting one again. Make sure to stretch the sore muscles in that area regularly to prevent them from tightening up and muscle knots from forming.
Use a massage device
If you have a massage or muscle gun, percussive therapy for a few minutes each day can help to prevent trigger points. The intense stimulation provided by vibration therapy can really help to prevent uncomfortable knots. An effective self massage can reduce muscle tension, muscle knots, muscle spasms and even help to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (if you’ve been working out!) To treat muscles knots use a bullet massage gun head (most good massage guns will come with one of these). Here are some of the best massage guns for knots.
Conclusion – Try a muscle massage gun!
A muscle gun is an inexpensive way to get targeted pain relief for muscle knots. Purchasing one is a good idea for any athletes who want to be able to work through muscle pain or anyone who suffers from chronic muscle knots.
Don’t just focus on how to use a massage gun for knots though (treating them). You can use it for prevention as well! Also, follow our tips above on how to prevent myofascial trigger points from coming back.