Massage guns are a recent (and very effective) innovation for recovery and physical therapy.
The use of percussion (where the head of the gun "thumps" the muscle) has been shown to improve circulation and athletic performance, maximize pain relief and speed recovery.
I tested a massage gun called the "Exogun" to see how well it would work and hold up to regular use.
In the video below, you'll learn how you can use it to improve your own recovery after training, as warm-up before training, and even how to work with it during training to help improve training performance.
Below the video, I'll give you more information on some of the other uses and tests that I did that I, quite frankly, forgot to mention in the video :).
How Does It Work?
The principle of the massage gun is pretty straightforward...percussion. It basically "thumps" the muscle at a very fast speed, which increases localized circulation, which leads to improved recovery (among other benefits).
The Exogun is very well constructed and easy to use. The first time I pulled it out of the box, I noticed how solid it felt in my hand, which is important for something that vibrates rapidly...if it's flimsy, it'll shake apart. Not going to happen here.
In the picture below, you'll see what the back of the Exogun looks like - speed level on the left "00" - goes up to 6, and battery level on the right (75 in the picture...it runs from 0 to 99).
The Exogun comes with four different massage heads that each have different uses.
The "ball head" is made of pretty solid foam and can be used pretty much anywhere on the body.
The forked head is very useful for massaging the muscles on either side of the spine, so that you avoid the spine itself. You don't want to massage directly over bone.
The pointy head offers a more focused "pressure point" type of massage and will dig into the muscles more deeply.
The smooth head is useful for flatter muscles that don't have a lot of meat to them (upper chest is a good example).
How to Use the Exogun
It's very simple! Literally, you just turn it on and put it on top of the muscle you want to work. Then just move it around on the muscle.
If you find a knot, you can leave it on top of that area for a bit longer to get more focused massage.
I found it very effective for a variety of uses...
1. Warming Up - it allows you to get targeted blood flow to the muscles you're doing to work without any fatigue that could reduce your performance.
2. Between Sets - this was a really good use, especially when doing strength workouts with longer rest in between sets. I used it for deadlifts to keep my spinal erectors warm while I was resting between heavy sets. This was a VERY effective use of the machine.
3. Post Workout Recovery - I tested the Exogun after a tough squat workout...I used the gun ONLY on my left leg and didn't touch my right leg with it. I noticed a definite improvement in rate of recovery in my left leg compared to the right leg. There was soreness and my left leg didn't feel nearly as "dead" as the right leg did for the next few days.
4. General Pain and Stiffness - when my wife got stiffness in her upper back and shoulders, I used the gun to help her get relief. She LOVED the effect of it...the pain and stiffness lessened immediately and she was able to move more freely and without discomfort.
You will need to be sure and insert the massage heads solidly. In the video, you'll see what happens if you don't. That's not a fault with the Exogun, though...that was user error. When you put the heads in solidly, they stay in.
The unit is nicely designed, though if I had my preferences, I might opt for a separate on/off button from the level button. Definitely not a big deal and more of a personal preference.
Overall, I really like the Exogun.
I found tremendous benefits in using it and will be continuing to use it regularly. I especially liked the effectiveness of using it within a strength workout with long rest periods to keep the important muscles ready for action without fatigue.
It can be used for general pain relief and massage and the battery life is excellent...you'll get many hours of use on a single charge.
If you're serious about training and recovery, if you're a trainer who works with clients who could use help with recovery, or if you have discomfort or stiff muscles a lot, it's worth every penny.
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