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Some people are just blessed in the genetics department when it comes to physical agility. Others aren't natural athletes but with hard work are able to achieve certain fitness goals. And then there are some like me, who know that athleticism simply isn’t one of their strengths, though not from lack of trying.
My body is incredibly tight — and not in a good way. I simply am inflexible to the point where 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 working out five days a week, that’s the most progress I’ve ever made.
This lack of flexibility coupled with an equally shameful lack of coordination means that I simply wasn’t made to be an athlete, and that’s fine. However, I started running in my 20s and I’ve stuck with it ever since — not because I’m good at it, but because of the impact it has had on my mental health. So, despite my body’s physical challenges and limitations, I run marathons and half marathons.
Over the last two years, I’ve also thrown Orangetheory workouts into the mix. With the help of my dedicated coaches, I’ve been able to modify various exercises to accommodate my limited range of motion. But after noticing my mobility struggles, one coach asked if I had ever tried a massage gun, specifically the Hyperice Hypervolt.
Sean Lynch, a certified personal trainer, Orangetheory coach, and studio owner, has found percussion therapy effective in his own personal recovery from sport-related training, and he shared his experience with me after observing the issues I was having with with tightness in my legs, hips and glutes along with lower back pain.
The massage gun he suggested targets large and small muscle groups, providing a concentrated deep tissue massage. “Massaging primary and secondary muscles from sport-specific or HIIT workouts releases stress, increases blood flow and breaks up scar tissue,” he explained. “This increases ROM, thus decreasing potential for injury and improving recovery time post workout.”
Although I was skeptical, I’ve used Hyperice’s vibrating foam roller before and I appreciate how it helps my IT band pain after long runs. Plus, working from home during quarantine has no doubt impacted my back tightness thanks to increased time sitting at a makeshift work area that is in no way ergonomic. So I decided to give the massage gun a try.
This handheld device offers three levels of vibration with up to up to 3,200 percussions per minute (PPM), allowing you to apply the right pressure for each part of your body. It also comes with five different head attachments to target specific areas. It weighs under 3 pounds, gets up to two-and-a-half hours of use per charge and works with a Bluetooth connected app that can control speed.
Full disclosure: As soon as I turned this little ball of power on and pressed it to my glutes, it hurt — but in the best possible way. And as I increased the speed, the noises that came out of me were telling — this type of targeted messaging was no joke, but it was just what my body needed.
Lynch recommended that I start with larger muscle groups on the lowest setting and increase to the next speed depending on how it felt. After 15-20 minutes of using it on my back, hips and legs for the first time, I felt a noticeable difference in my body’s overall tightness. A quick bend test showed that I could easily reach past my freckle and get closer to touching my toes than I ever had.
To be clear, this is in no way a permanent fix or cure, but it’s become a tool that I try to use daily, if not both before and after each workout. It’s become a pre- and post-workout routine that my back thanks me for.
Other massage guns to shop
In addition to the Hyperice Hypervolt, here are other highly recommended massage gun options to consider.
The Theragun Prime is designed with an ergonomic multi-grip handle that helps you 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 with 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, weighing 1.5 pounds, and has a six-hour rechargeable battery as well as five different levels of intensity with 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 lbs, has a 15-minute auto shut-off and comes with five head attachments as well as a carrying case.
Although not a massage gun, this vibrating foam roller provides high-intensity vibration with three speeds that’s worthy of noting, in my experience.The vibrating rechargeable Lithium-ion battery sits at the foam roller's core and is encased in a dense polypropylene foam. It offers a one-touch speed control and up to two hours of use per charge.