Some people in the genetics department are just blessed when it comes to physical agility. Others are not natural athletes, but with hard work they can achieve certain fitness goals. And then there are some like me who know that being athletic is just not one of their strengths, if not for lack of effort.
My body is incredibly tense – and not in a good way. I’m just so inflexible that sometimes I can barely touch my knees. However, some days I have a win and am able to get my fingertips to hit a freckle on my shin about 2 inches below my kneecap. Despite countless years of stretching, physical therapy, and training five days a week, this is the greatest advancement I’ve ever made.
That lack of flexibility, coupled with an equally shameful lack of coordination, means I’m just not made to be an athlete, and that’s fine. However, I started running in my 20s and have stayed with it ever since – not because I’m good at it, but because of the effects it has on my mental health. So despite the physical challenges and limitations of my body, I run marathons and half marathons.
For the past two years I’ve also thrown orange theory workouts into the mix. With the help of my dedicated trainer, I was able to adapt various exercises to my restricted range of motion. But after realizing my mobility issues, a trainer asked if I’d ever tried a massage gun, specifically the Hyperice Hypervolt.
Sean Lynch, a certified personal trainer, orange theory coach and studio owner, has found percussion therapy effective for his personal recovery from exercise-related training and shared his experience with me after observing my problems with tightness in my legs, hips and buttocks along with lower back pain.
The massage gun he proposed targets large and small muscle groups and offers a concentrated deep tissue massage. “Massaging primary and secondary muscles from sport-specific or HIIT workouts relieves stress, increases blood flow, and breaks up scar tissue,” he explained. “This increases the ROM, reduces the risk of injury and improves the recovery time after training.”
Although I was skeptical, I’ve used Hyperice’s vibrating foam roller before and appreciate how it helps my IT tape pain after long runs. Also, working from home during the quarantine has undoubtedly affected my back tension as I spend more time sitting in a makeshift work area that is in no way ergonomic. So I decided to try the massage gun.
This handheld device offers three levels of vibration at up to 3,200 beats per minute (PPM), so you can apply the right pressure for every part of your body. It also comes with five different head attachments to target specific areas. It weighs less than 3 pounds, lasts up to two and a half hours on a charge, and works with a bluetooth connected app that can control the speed.
Full disclosure: As soon as I turned on this little power ball and pressed it to my glutes, it hurt – but in the best possible way. And as I increased the speed, the sounds that came out of me were telling – that kind of targeted message wasn’t a joke, it was exactly what my body needed.
Lynch recommended that I start with larger muscle groups on the lowest level and increase to the next speed depending on how you feel. After 15-20 minutes of the first application on my back, hips and legs, I felt a noticeable difference in the overall tension of my body. A quick flex test showed that I could easily reach over my freckles and touch my toes closer than ever.
To be clear, this is in no way a permanent solution or cure, but it has become a tool I try to use on a daily basis if not before and after every workout. It has become a pre and post workout routine that my back is grateful for.
Other massage guns for shopping
In addition to the Hyperice Hypervolt, there are other highly recommended massage gun options to consider.
The Theragun Prime is equipped with an ergonomic multi-grip handle that helps you to hold the massage gun more comfortably in different positions. It also has smart app integration that recommends guided routines based on your activities and a customizable speed range between 1,750 and 2,400 PPM. It also comes with four attachment heads and a lithium-ion battery that lasts 120 minutes per charge.
In addition to a lifetime warranty, this deep tissue massage gun comes with a carrying case and four head attachments that target different parts of the body. It’s also portable, weighs 1.5 pounds, and has a six hour rechargeable battery and five different intensity levels up to 3,200 rpm.
The M3 Pro Max has up to six hours of battery life per charge and four intensity level speed settings with up to 3,300 rpm. It weighs 2.5 kg, has a 15-minute automatic shutdown and comes with five head attachments and a carrying case.
While not a massage gun, this vibrating foam roller offers high-intensity, three-speed vibration that is remarkable in my experience. The vibrating, rechargeable lithium-ion battery sits in the core of the foam roller and is surrounded by a thick polypropylene foam. It offers one-touch speed control and up to two hours of use per charge.
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