Every now and again, a fitness gadget comes along that completely changes the way we train. Right now, given that recovery is the hottest buzzword in fitness, it’s handheld massage guns.
The tech trend originally kicked off with Theragun, the brand that made the most noise about the handheld technology when celebs like Justin Bieber and NBA sports stars posted videos of themselves using the portable massage device online.
But since then, loads of different iterations of the drill-shaped device have flooded the market, all promising to deliver a deep-tissue massage at a fraction of the price of regularly seeing a sports masseuse.
The latest is HoMedics Pro Physio Massage gun (£299.99, homedics.co.uk), which takes the recovery up a notch, by using hot and cold therapy to amp up the benefits. I tried it out and here’s what I thought…
How does it work?
The futuristic-looking device comes with six rubber attachments that apply different types of pressure to the body, allowing you to reach every muscle.
It’s simply a case of screwing in each head with a simple twist, much like you would with an actual drill, and then turning a dial at the bottom of the gun to choose between three intensity settings (between 1200 and 3000 rpm).
The massage head works by moving at a rapid pace, so you can ripple it against your tight muscles and find relief; when you apply the head to skin, it penetrates deeply into the tissue and vibrates the pain away.
There’s a barrel head for massaging larger areas (like the glutes, waist, back and thighs), a foam ball head which is a great all-rounder, and a conical head for massaging trigger areas and tight nooks. There’s also a cellulite head that HoMedics say has benefits for banishing the orange-peel effect across the body.
What really sets this cordless pro-massager apart, though, is its use of thermotherapy and cryotherapy. Pop the cool gel head in the freezer a couple of hours before your workout and you can start your cooldown with a restorative cold massage, which reduces inflammation by decreasing blood flow.
The heat head is even easier to use – the gun heats up to 47⁰C in under two minutes, providing relief to larger tissue areas carrying stress and tension, and promoting blood flow. HoMedics say that heat is great after a physical challenge, as it helps to open up blood vessels, which assists the healing process and alleviates discomfort after strenuous activity.
What’s the verdict?
I’ve been a convert to percussive therapy for the past few years and I’d strongly recommend it to anyone that wants to supercharge their rest days; it’s a quicker and more effective way to eke out muscle cramps and knots than relying on an old-fashioned foam roller or myofascial release ball.
What I really enjoyed about this device is that you can adjust the pressure based on your needs, as hard settings feel great on the underneath of the feet, but can be too intense on my shoulders.
The temperature-changing heads are also a game-changer for soothing delayed onset muscle soreness; something I never knew I needed until now. Studies have found that alternating hot and cold treatments is a highly effective way of treating muscle aches, spasms, and pain, and I enjoyed switching between the two when my body felt tight the day after a gym session.
Right now, there’s growing emphasis on how what you do outside of the gym is just as important as the time spent sweating and racking up reps, and a lack of recovery could be the reason you’re seeing sub-optimal results from your training.
Not only will this gadget speed up recovery time after strenuous workouts, but it will also improve your muscle flexibility and range of motion, which helps to avoid injury in the long-run.