Massage Gun Shoulder Exercises
A recent survey from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) left much to be desired for massage therapy and well being of the muscles. The 22nd Annual Survey showed that 28 percent of individuals surveyed believed massage therapy was only a form of pampering or luxury. The 2019 survey showed that consumers received an average of 4.4 massages in the past 12 months and an average of 12.7 massages in the past 5 years.
Why is this so? Certainly, over the past year, these figures are likely to have risen, albeit the pandemic and earlier lockdown restrictions. This is the advantage of massage guns. Whether it’s not having to always see a massage therapist and the cost implications of each visit, or not having to give the body a good massage a meager four or five times a year, whatever it is, percussive therapy through massage guns is good news.
The shoulder has the largest interconnection of muscles, understandably so. It consists of numerous muscles. The Rotator Cuff Muscle (consisting of the Supraspinatus, the Infraspinatus, the Teres Minor, and the Subscapularis) is considered the primary muscle group of the shoulder, and its major function is to provide balance and stability to the shoulder while moving your arm.
Percussive therapy’s deep tissue massage by applying massage guns to the rotator cuff muscles or an affected muscle area aids muscle healing and recovery. These devices are of high intensity and specially built for massage purposes making use of a frequency of 22-40 hertz.
Depending on the speed settings or level, a massage gun can pound each region of the shoulder muscles 20-40 times per second. As the massage gun hits the shoulder muscles, it stimulates your nervous system whilst generating heat.
During this process, a cell nucleus called the chromatin cell is stimulated, this triggers your brain to provide pain relief. By stimulating the chromatin cell, there’s an increase in blood flow which translates to more nutrients and oxygen reaching sore muscles. The Golgi tendons on either end of your muscles are also activated and this results in the release of tension and increase in the range of motion.
Once your shoulder muscles have healed and become healthier, the joint mobility begins to normalize which is key to recovery as our bodies are made to move. This improvement in mobility or range of motion through functional movement benefits the spine too, as the percussive vibration stimulates the nerves in the spine. When percussion therapy is applied to the spine which drops from the shoulder, it is effortlessly realigned.
Benefits of Massage Therapy to the Shoulder Muscles
- Stress.The percussive therapy allows you to deeply massage muscle fibers. These reduce overall stress levels. There studies that have found a link between deep massages and reduced cortisol levels. It helps to rid of extracellular fluids such as lymph fluid and venous blood out of the muscle tissue and into the circulatory system reducing stress.
- Increases flexibility. Muscular adhesions reduce mobility and flexibility in the shoulder and may result in muscle pain. When a massage gun thumps on muscle fibers, it stretches them, this in turn increases muscle and tendon flexibility. Increased muscle flexibility means that there will be a decreased risk of injuries such as tears and sprains. Percussive exercises or techniques helps to get rid of adhesions are fibrous tissues that form between soft tissues, including muscles and organs, as a result of injury, surgery, or pre-workouts. They can also be preventive against frozen shoulders.
- Breaks scar tissue. Scar tissue is a common occurrence when collagen fibers in the shoulders form over an injury. Nociceptors which are pain nerve endings have been found in scar tissues, hence they can be very painful. Percussive massagers are efficient in breaking down the scar tissues in the shoulder, as a massage gun breaks down the collagen fibers formed as well as adhesions in any of the shoulder muscles.
To properly experience the soothing ad healing effects of massage therapy to your shoulders, here is a brief guide:
- For better control and as a safety precaution, turn on the massage gun before direct contact with your shoulder or skin.
- Ensure you are in a convenient posture, preferably sitting or laying on your back for ease of breathing and to reduce muscle tension in the shoulder.
- Start by slowing gliding each part of the shoulder top for a minute or two, then slowly going down the muscles.
- If you desire, you can slowly proceed to the biceps and triceps of the upper arm, just below the shoulder.
- When you feel a place of stiffness, allow the massage gun to rest on that spot for a little longer.
- Do not apply pressure or intense pressing of the gun, avoid overusing the gun, as adverse effects may follow. Less is more.
- While running through the back of the shoulder, avoid placing the gun on your spine or your bones.
- Spinal heads of massage guns are suitable for massaging the back of the shoulder and loosening muscle stiffness.
- Repeat this process until the desired effect is achieved, but avoid overuse of the gun.
According to many orthopedic experts, the shoulder is the most common source of muscle injury in humans, being plugged in a ball and socket gives it a great variety of movements but also higher vulnerability, and it is highly unlikely not to experience some form of shoulder injury or pain throughout our lifetime. Dr. Gregory Nicholson, an orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopedics who specializes in shoulder and elbow issues explains:
“The shoulder is the only joint that sits on a moveable platform, the shoulder blade…there is a link between your chest wall, shoulder blade, arm and the shoulder itself. There is a lot going on there…
…if you say your shoulder is hurting, someone will probably say, ‘it could be your rotator cuff’. Eighty percent of the time, that is right or half right."
– Dr. Gregory Nicholson
The shoulder muscles bear a lot of responsibility when we carry any load as well as give us sufficient flexibility during motion, by providing the widest variety of motion by any other human joint. With about 2 million people reporting rotator cuff injuries in the US alone, ad rem proper care of the shoulder is even more of the essence. Proper utilization of a massage gun seems propitious in this regard.