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Percussion Gun Safety: Understanding the Dos + Don'ts for Optimal self care

As a private clinical manual therapist, I strive to provide my clients with effective and safe treatment options. These days, there's always some new gadget on the market promising self care miracles. One such tool that has gained sustained popularity in the field of massage therapy is the percussion gun. While these vibrating guns offer numerous benefits, it is crucial to understand their limitations and ensure their proper usage, both on the table and for personal use at home.

In this blog post, I will be discussing the areas of the body where the use of a percussion gun at home should be avoided to prevent potential harm and identify the safe zones where you can feel confident to use it safely and effectively.

Now, you might notice that your therapist may use the gun in some of the areas I'm about to list below, and you'll think "hey, she just told me NOT to use the gun there!" Keep in mind that your therapist has a much deeper understanding of your anatomy and therefore may use the gun with caution in some of these more sensitive areas. Think "do not try this at home. The actions performed on this table are done by professionals under a controlled setting." Some things you just need to leave to the professionals.

Areas to Avoid

1. Head and Neck.

The head and neck region is highly sensitive and houses vital structures like the brain, spinal cord, major blood vessels, and delicate facial nerves. The high-intensity vibrations produced by a percussion gun can pose a risk of injury to these structures if you don't know what you're doing. You'll want to avoid using the gun directly on the head, neck, temples, and face.

2. Injured or Inflamed Muscles.

Using a percussion gun on injured or inflamed muscles can exacerbate the existing condition and potentially cause further harm. Whether you're on a massage table or in a personal training session, it is crucial to assess the client's condition thoroughly and use alternative techniques or manual therapy in such cases, promoting healing rather than aggravation. At home, if you note redness, swelling or heat in an area, avoid it. There is likely an underlying condition that the gun likely won't help - in fact, it make it much worse.

3. Genital Area.

This hopefully goes without saying, but this is an area that should be avoided both on and off the massage table - when it comes to therapeutic massage guns, of course. There is a time and place for all sorts of self care (some more fun than others). Essentially, I just want to make sure you are using the right toys for the right reasons in the right settings. Therapeutic massage guns have some power to them. They are meant to get deep into muscle tissue. The sensitive nature of this area, coupled with the potential risk of injury to veins, blood vessels and other sensitive tissue (that you might not even feel right away), makes it essential to maintain caution at home and to have an expectation of professionalism during massage therapy sessions.

If you are truly looking for relief in the pelvic region and not sure where to go or who to ask, talk to your primary care physician or gynecologist. They may be able to refer you to Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist.

Safe Areas

1. Upper and Lower Back.

The back is one of the most common areas where a percussion gun can be safely used. Just make sure you are avoiding placing the gun directly over bone - especially directly over the spine. The gun helps to alleviate tension, reduce muscle stiffness, and promote relaxation - in contractile tissue, aka. muscles. You won't be very happy, however, with a bone bruise.

As you come to the mid-back, you'll want to keep a couple very important organs in mind - your kidneys. You can locate these bean-shaped filtration stations just below your last rib on each side of your spine. Your kidneys remove waste products from the blood and produce urine, while helping to control your blood pressure.

You could cause some major damage to these sensitive little guys, so best to avoid!

2. Legs and Buttocks.

The large muscle groups in the thighs, your calves and buttocks respond well to percussion therapy. This technique can help relieve tension, improve blood flow, and enhance overall muscle performance. Nevertheless, avoid the bony prominences in these areas to prevent discomfort or bruising - we're talking knees, your hip bones, ankles, etc. And just as a reminder, your shins may be feeling extra achy, but if you have or may have active shin splints, best to have a professional take a look first.

3. Feet.

You know I'm not forgetting your foundation. The feet are often subject to stress, tightness, improper footwear and dysfunctional movement patterns. Using a percussion gun on areas like the plantar fascia and medial arch can aid in loosening intrinsic muscles, improving circulation, and relieving fatigue. As always, avoid direct contact with bony areas, tendons, or any sensitive areas that may cause discomfort.


As always, reach out with any questions!

- Becka Bravo, LMT, 500FYT


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