After ten years of competitive athletics that was eventually cut short by injury, I’m no stranger to seeking physical therapy and pain relief. You name it, I’ve tried it. Physios. Chiros.
Deep tissue massage. Foam rollers - from the simple polystyrene offering of the noughties to today’s more sophisticated offerings such as the Manta roller. Tens machines. Ice packs. Heat wraps.
I may no longer train to compete, but when it comes to avoiding, managing and rehabilitating sports injuries, I take physical conditioning very seriously. So on paper, I am Theragun’s marketing dream.
Sure, if there is a device that claims to ‘relieve tension or pain and enhance performance’ (hello Theragun), sign me up! However, in the face of any bold claims I come armed with a healthy dose of skepticism.
After years of trial and error (and some desperate naivety along the way), I’ve learnt that splurging on a tool or treatment that claims to better you doesn’t always guarantee a positive outcome.
UNBOXING THE THERAGUN ELITE
On unboxing the Theragun Elite, I was taken back to the experience of lifestyle tech brands such as Apple who make sure every piece of packaging, literature and accessory is beautifully wrapped and ready to be explored.
The Theragun comes with a hard case, charger and choice of 5 therapy heads. It is quite heavy in weight and that is due to its 120min battery life. There is a dial for variable speeds and of course the on and off button. A perfectly sized screen gives you the speed you are currently working with and a very clever pressure indicator too.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE THERAGUN ELITE
The first time you switch this thing on it is a little intimidating, like walking into your first spin class or reformer Pilates studio. When you get the courage to hold this percussive therapy device to your muscle, it is a very strange sensation at first and something that takes some time to adapt to.
Connecting the Theragun to The Therabody App
This version of the Theragun has bluetooth so you can link your phone to an app to run you through various therapy modes. Once you get started, the various parts of the body are listed and you can go through guided therapy sessions with full instructions and videos.
The clever app shows you how hard and for how long you should work into areas of the body.
HOW TO USE THERAGUN
If you’re new to this type of product, you may not know where to start. It’s simple when you get to grips with it. Start by selecting the right attachment head for you. Every device (apart from the Mini) has a range available.
Next, you need to decide on your speed level. Depending on which Theragun device you have, you may be able to set this in-app. When you’ve ticked those two boxes, it’s time to start your treatment.
You should apply the attachment of the device directly to the area that you want to treat. Move it back and forward across the area to soothe the muscles.
As previously mentioned, if you’re using the app, you will get information on how long to use the Theragun on particular areas of the body. Figure out what works for you!
Pro tip: Don’t forget you can customise your treatment! If you find that a certain attachment or speed isn’t right for you, go ahead and change things up!
How often do you use Theragun?
You can use your Theragun device two-to-three times a day, depending on the level of treatment that you need. The brand recommends using the device for 30-second periods to ‘wake up’ muscles, 15 seconds for muscle reactivation, and two minutes to relieve soreness and soothe the muscles.
Keep in mind that full body treatments shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes.
Where not to use Theragun?
You can use Theragun models on most areas of your body for pain relief and muscle recovery. However, if you have serious injuries, such as broken bones, disc issues or chronic trapped nerves you should not use these devices.
During the healing process, using a massage gun could be dangerous as it will cause some added inflammation. If you’re in doubt, be sure to speak to your doctor before self-treating any areas.
Can Theragun make you sore?
The first few self treatments were really quite intense - like a relieving pain, but still painful. This tool is far more ‘serious sports massage’ than ‘spa massage’, so it may not be for you if you prefer the latter.
However when it comes to easing general muscular aches, ‘no pain no gain’ yields some truths. After the first use on a new area, you may even feel more sore the next day.
But after several uses you’ll start to see the benefits, with increased blood flow to tight areas and the release of trigger points. Just make sure to be strict about how long and how often you use it for, to avoid any bruising or unnecessary tenderness.
THERAGUN FOR ACHES AND PAINS
Have you been hitting the Zoom PT sessions or apps such as Fiit? Lots of situps, squats, press ups and burpees can lead to tight chest, shoulders, glutes and back.
This massage therapy gun is perfect for targeting these common areas of tension. Just open the app or use the Theragun on manual mode to work backward and forwards over the tight muscles and you’ll feel an improvement in 60-90 seconds.
Theragun also provides great relief for tight shoulders and an achy back after a day sat at your desk. Nothing can beat good posture, a good chair and a strong core.
The Theragun vibrations can go some way to help relieve the muscles that are often left tired and sore after a long day in front of your computer. Just make sure to avoid rolling it over any bones - this tool is for muscular tissue only!
How to use Theragun for back pain
If your upper back area is stiff or sore, you can use a Theragun product to relieve that tension. First things first, choose the attachment that suits you, unless you’re using the Mini which only has one. The standard ball tends to work well for this area.
You can use the base grip with one hand and reach under the alternate armpit to reach the upper back area. The Theragun should be at a 90-degree angle from the back.
The experts recommend applying the Theragun to the area for 30-second increments. You should begin with the lower region of your muscle and move the device back and forth.
How to use Theragun for neck pain
Neck aches can be excruciating. If you’re looking for some quick relief, why not try using the Theragun for neck pain? Again, you should choose your attachment first.
Use either the reverse or base grip when applying treatment to the neck area. Turn the Theragun on and choose a speed. Apply treatment on both sides of the neck for 15 seconds at a time.
THERAGUN FOR RUNNERS
In the app you can follow specific sport rehab sessions too. One in particular is the running session. Amazing for the whole body and especially the areas affected by running.
Starting at the feet, through the calves, shins, quads and glutes, you can really get blood flowing to the areas that need it the most. Theragun is great for runners who are trying to increase their miles and want to keep going further.
IS THE THERAGUN ELITE WORTH THE MONEY?
Prevention is better than cure of course, and regular use of the Theragun will go some way towards helping you avoiding injury. If you work out often, it’s a valuable wellness tool.
Now when my injury-prone areas start getting tight, I instinctively reach for my Theragun. Having the ability to work out knots after workouts and before they become an issue is a welcome relief.
However, I would avoid using it before talking to a professional if you think your tightness or discomfort is neurological rather than simple muscle soreness.
If you have a track record of injuries, I’d recommend you still have that regular ‘MOT’ appointment with a trusted physical therapist, keep up your prescribed strength, flexibility and conditioning exercises and aim to use a Theragun alongside a foam roller in between those hands-on therapy sessions.
In conclusion, if you are serious about keeping your muscles in good health, then the hefty price tag of the Theragun Elite will soon pay its way in terms of how frequently you will come to use it.
When combined with a well-rounded approach to strength, flexibility and recovery, the Theragun is certainly a worthwhile investment if you’re looking to avoid injury, reduce DOMs and get stronger, fitter and faster.