Massage therapy can benefit all areas of the body, including your shoulders.
While you can massage many areas, such as your legs and lower arms fairly easily yourself, reaching and effectively massaging the shoulder muscles can be much more difficult. Fortunately, using a high quality massage gun can make massaging your shoulders at home much easier, both in terms of access and the quality of massage you will receive.
Massage guns are trusted by sports therapists and professional athletes alike to reduce pain, optimise muscle health and help them achieve their personal best. But they’re also just as valuable in helping non-sports people to enjoy the benefits of massage too.
In this article, we'll cover:
- What are the benefits of using massage guns?
- Are there any specific benefits to using a massage gun on your shoulders?
- When should I use a massage gun on my shoulders?
- Using a massage gun on your shoulders before and after a workout
- Techniques for using a massage gun for shoulder knots
- How to use a massage gun for impingement
- How often should I use a massage gun on my shoulders?
What are the benefits of using massage guns?
Massage guns offer the same range of benefits as a standard massage, with the added advantage that you can perform massages on yourself in the comfort of your own home, with no need to visit a professional therapist.
Additional benefits of using massage guns include but aren’t limited to:
- Targeted treatment: Massage guns can produce different speeds, pressures and vibrations, meaning that treatment can be targeted as needed.
- Improved health and wellness: Increased circulation, sending oxygenated blood and nutrients around the body more effectively which improves your rate of healing (1) and your overall health and wellness.
- Lowered stress levels: This is possible since massage therapy triggers the release of natural feel-good hormones, while also reducing the amount of stress hormone in the body. Even a very short session with a massage gun can significantly relieve stress and tension.
- Enhanced immune system: Massage guns can stimulate lymphatic circulation, which helps to remove waste products from the body and enhance your immune system.
- Reduced scar tissue: Scar tissue can quickly form at the site of an internal or external injury, but excessive scar tissue can restrict movement and cause pain. However, by speeding up the healing process, it’s possible to prevent too much scar tissue from forming, eliminating this problem.
- Better sleep: Getting enough sleep is just as important as making healthy food choices and taking regular exercise. Nevertheless, as many as 36% of UK adults struggle to get to sleep on a weekly basis (2). Lack of sleep can cause brain fog, memory issues and low mood, as well as having some physical effects including high blood pressure and weight gain.
- Pain relief: By increasing circulation, massage guns are effective at reducing inflammation that causes discomfort, as well as triggering the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals to enable you to combat pain with less- or no need for medication.
Are there any specific benefits to using a massage gun on your shoulders?
Although massage guns can be used on most areas of the body, there are some specific benefits to using them on the shoulder muscles.
Improved muscle recovery
The massage gun can target localised areas, enabling the most damaged muscles to receive the focus of treatment. This sends oxygenated blood and nutrients to the area, accelerating the healing process so that any areas of tension are relieved and micro-tears repaired.
Greater flexibility and range of motion
Massage helps to reduce inflammation and stiffness that affects the muscles, helping you to move around more easily. This could also help to prevent further injuries from occurring in the future.
Targeted Pain Relief
Massage guns are particularly good for targeted pain relief. The vibrations can be set to help loosen stiff joints and increase circulation to combat inflammation and stiffness. By reducing inflammation, there is less pressure on nerve endings in the shoulders, meaning that fewer pain signals are sent to the brain, naturally reducing your discomfort.
When should I use a massage gun on my shoulders?
The flexibility of the shoulder joints makes them particularly prone to injury. While there are many different ways in which the shoulders can become injured, it is strains, sprains and tears that are the most common. These tend to occur when there is excessive stress placed onto the tissues that stabilise the shoulder joint – the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
There are many different situations where these types of injuries can occur, including but not limited to:
- Repetitive strain injuries, such as from participating in sports or repeatedly lifting something heavy.
- A fall onto an outstretched arm.
- A car accident.
- Carrying the shoulder in one position for a very long period of time, such as carrying a heavy backpack over one shoulder.
It’s important to note that you should not use a massage gun on shoulders where the joint is dislocated or any of the bones are broken.
While massage guns are primarily thought of as a tool for recovery – either post-exercise or injury - they can also be valuable during a warm-up before a workout, where they can help to improve blood flow, range of motion and flexibility. This could help you achieve optimal performance, as well as reduce your risk of injury during your chosen sport or exercise.
Using a massage gun on your shoulders before and after a workout
If you’re wondering how to use a massage gun on your shoulders before or after a workout, you’ll be pleased to know that it couldn’t be simpler.
Firstly, make sure you choose the right attachment.
- Duller, softer attachments are better for treating particularly sensitive or painful areas and are ideal if you’re looking at using a massage gun for shoulder pain.
- Firmer attachments are better if you need to treat very specific, localised spots or if you need to apply very strong pressure.
Once the attachment is in place, set your gun to your preferred speed and pressure and test it on your hand to make sure that you are happy before you take aim at your shoulder muscles.
Work your way methodically across each muscle, holding the gun in each position for approximately 15 seconds each time. Once you have finished, perform some light shoulder stretches – reaching upwards and outwards and performing shoulder rolls to further loosen the joint.
Techniques for using a massage gun for shoulder knots
Shoulder knots are not unlike any other knots which could occur in other areas of your body, including your back. These are a type of spasm that causes a small area of muscle to become extremely tense and tight. Massage guns are particularly effective at treating shoulder knots. This is because knots require intensely firm massage to help relieve them.
It can be very difficult to apply enough pressure to relieve a shoulder knot manually. However, you can select a firm attachment for your massage gun, as well as a high-speed setting, and together these will provide enough movement to help work the knot loose and relieve tension in the muscle.
How to use a massage gun for impingement
Shoulder impingement (3) is a common cause of shoulder pain. It occurs when a band of tissue found inside the shoulder rubs against nearby tissue and bone, affecting the rotator cuff tendon and causing pain which worsens when you lift your arm. It can be caused by repetitive movements, or as a result of age-related wear and tear.
Using a massage gun on the affected area will reduce the swelling and inflammation caused by the impingement and break down scar tissue to prevent stiffness and mobility issues. Meanwhile, improved blood flow will send nutrients to the area to help it to heal as quickly as possible.
How often should I use a massage gun on my shoulders?
You can use a massage gun every day if you want to, but you should be careful not to overdo it, otherwise you could end up making your muscles tender and painful. We recommend that you limit using your massage gun to two minutes per muscle group. If you start to experience soreness, you should stop for at least a few days and give your muscles time to recover.
Start enjoying the benefits of regular shoulder massages at home today with a Pulseroll massage gun. Our Pro Massage gun is ideal for delivering high quality massage treatment to the areas where you need them most, maximising the benefit of massage therapy to your body and mind.
1 - www.physio.co.uk. (n.d.). Improved-circulation | Benefits-of-massage | Massage | Treatments | Physio.co.uk | Leading physiotherapy provider in Liverpool and Manchester. [online] Available at: https://www.physio.co.uk/treatments/massage/benefits-of-massage/improved-circulation.php.
2 - Formulate Health. (2021). Insomnia Statistics UK 2021: How Many People Have Insomnia? [online] Available at: https://www.formulatehealth.com/blog/insomnia-statistics-uk-how-many-people-have-sleep-problems.
3 - nhs.uk. (2017). Shoulder impingement. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/shoulder-impingement-syndrome/.