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Everything You Need To Know About Massage Guns

by Sportitude
11 May 2022

As we dive deeper into the early 2020s, massage guns are climbing in popularity as a must-have tool in your home gym. Sportitude is here to answer the big questions about massage guns to give you insight on what they can do for your performance and recovery.

We’ll narrow down the criteria for the best small massage gun and introduce you to the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun that ticks all your boxes for portability and power in a lightweight and quiet package.

Are Massage Guns Worth It?

In our opinion as runners and sports enthusiasts – yes, massage guns are worth it. For everyday athletes, having the right tools on hand can make a fundamental difference in speeding up your recovery to keep your muscles primed to perform. However, keep in mind that not all massage guns are created equal as we’ll discuss in detail below.

Both foam rolling and massage guns have earned a place in your home gym but for runners that are short on time or require an effective, easily portable self-massage tool, a massage gun is your ideal partner in recovery.

Massage guns are a valuable part of your muscle activation pre-workout, recovery post-workout and relaxation. They can even be beneficial in a sedentary lifestyle, where hours sitting at an office desk can take its toll.

How Do Massage Guns Work?

A massage gun is a hand-held device that provides a self-massage or self-myofascial release through ‘percussive therapy’. They pound your muscles repetitively in a back-forth motion to activate or release tension of the muscle tissue. Compared to a foam roller, a massage gun can provide pin-point relief to a specific area through targeted vibration.

Massage guns help relieve muscle pains caused by tight or tangled ‘fascia’. Your fascia are the multi-layered, web-like connective tissues that wrap every muscle, bone and organ – essentially holding the internal structures of your body together.

Rather than purely ‘pummelling’ your muscles into a state of pain relief by untangling fascia through mechanical means, the benefits of a massage gun are in part neurological. Applying deliberate, concentrated pressure can desensitise muscle pains and inhibit pain receptors for a relaxing effect. 

One of the major advantages of a massage gun is that it stimulates your circulatory system to increase blood circulation, boosting the transport of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to your muscles to aid in performance and speed up recovery. Increased circulation may also help release lactic acid build-up in your fatigued muscles, reduce inflammation and minimise soreness.

What Are The Benefits Of A Massage Gun?

Massage guns have multiple benefits, including:

  • Warming up muscles pre-workout to gradually transition to an active state
  • Hydrating your muscles tissues through percussive therapy to ‘pump’ fluids and nutrient-rich blood where they need to be
  • Reducing the effects of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) that’s caused by the inflammation of micro-tears in muscle fibres during intense training
  • Improving muscle mobility and flexibility to lower your risk of injury
  • Activating nervous system receptors to trigger relaxation as part of your recovery routine
  • Reducing painful muscle spasms, contractions and stiffness

How To Choose A Massage Gun

There are several factors to look at when your goal is to buy the best massage gun. The Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun stands out from the pack for its advanced vibration technology in a user-friendly size, so we’ll use this as an example as we run through each criteria.

You can check out a quick demonstration of the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun in action in the video below and the full Blackroll Fascia Gun Review by our in-house running expert, Josh Willoughby.

Portability

It seems like a small thing, but the portability of your massage gun can make or break its usability. You simply won’t want to lug a heavy massage gun to the gym, when commuting to the office or travelling. When it comes to practicality, convenience is key.

Weighing in at 544g, the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun is one of the lightest on the market and a standout from its competitors. The compact design makes it gym-ready – easily fitting in your gym bag or backpack with your other essentials.

Dimensions: 140mm x 87mm x 48mm

Power

The power or ‘stall force’ of your massage gun is important to consider as this will influence its reliability and effectiveness to provide a deep tissue massage.

It’s a measurement of tolerance – determining whether the massage gun can handle a higher intensity of pressure when pressed to your muscle without the motor wearing out. For example, when being applied to large muscle groups like your quads.

Often the trade-off for a compact size is less power, meaning the massage gun will ‘stall out’ under lower degrees of pressure. However, this isn’t the case for the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun which provides a high stall force of 14.5kg (33.86lbs) for its weight class.

Amplitude

The depth which a massage gun can work into the muscle is referred to as the amplitude or ‘travel’. Naturally, a smaller massage gun offers shorter travel than a larger massage gun.

However, this isn’t necessarily a disadvantage as smaller amplitudes (about 7-12mm) offer greater control than larger amplitudes (about 15-18mm). Massage guns with a larger amplitude can increase risk of injury and potentially result in bruising in the hands of beginners.

While operating a small massage gun, you’re able to provide a deeper tissue massage through strategically applying pressure, rather than relying on amplitude alone. Power over amplitude is the priority. Considering that the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun has a high stall force, having a relatively small amplitude (7.55mm) isn’t a problem.

Speed

The speed or ‘frequency’ of your massage gun is measured in RPM – that is the number of revolutions (back-forth motion) per minute.

The intensity of your massage is greatly influenced by speed, so ideally your massage gun will offer multiple frequency levels to help customise your self-massage experience. Keep in mind that a high-intensity massage may be too intense when you’re winding down to relax, while a low intensity massage may not be enough to provide relief from deep tissue adhesions. 

The Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun offers 4 frequency/vibration levels from 1200 RPM – 3200 RPM.

Level 1: Relax Mode (1200 RPM / 20Hz): Ideal for when you’re ‘at rest’ or gradually lowering your activity to transition into a restful night’s sleep. This low-frequency vibration is most effective when the user applies low levels of pressure for quality relaxation. Recommended use: Apply for 3 - 4 minutes per targeted area.

Level 2: Post-Exercise Mode (1700 RPM / 28.3Hz): Ideal frequency to speed up your recovery when used as part of your cool-down routine following a workout. At this frequency the massage gun increases your blood circulation, helping prevent muscle pain, soreness and aches. Recommended use: Apply for 2-3 minutes per targeted area.

Level 3: Pre-Exercise Mode (2700 RPM / 45Hz): Primes your muscles for activity. The frequency of vibration improves blood and fluid circulation to keep your tissues hydrated and well-supplied with the oxygen and nutrients required for enhanced performance. It also improves your muscle flexibility to ward off injury. Recommended use: Apply for 30 seconds - 2 minutes per targeted area.

Level 4: Pro Mode (3200 RPM / 53.3Hz): Specifically designed for high-intensity massage, Pro Mode is effective in addressing adhesions in large muscle groups such as your glutes and quads. This mode is best suited for use prior to training or competition. Blackroll advises caution when using Pro Mode, particularly for individuals with a higher pain sensitivity. Recommended use: 30 - 60 seconds per targeted area.

Attachments / Interchangeable Heads

A massage gun with easy-to-switch attachments instantly increases its versatility. It allows you to personalise your self-massage and target particular muscles more effectively based on your anatomy and whether you require gentle or intense pressure.

With 4 interchangable heads of varying shapes, the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun has you covered:

Silicone Ball: The preferred attachment for Relax Mode, the silicone ball is gentle enough to provide an all-body massage while being effective when you require pin-point relief. It applies pressure to your muscles through your skin with satisfying ‘grip’.

Silicone Fork: With two ‘prongs’, the silicone fork is strategically shaped for areas containing muscle fibres that run parallel to each other such as the Achilles tendon (tissue connecting your heel and calf muscles) and upper trapezius muscle (upper back).

Silicone Trigger: The silicone trigger is shaped to release tension of deep adhesions or ‘trigger points’ and tight muscles through targeted vibration and pressure.

Metal Flat: Safe for all-body application, the metal flat head glides smoothly over your skin and can be used through clothing if desired. Blackroll recommends using this attachment with massage oil for an even more luxurious and smooth-gliding massage effect.

Battery Life

Picture this scenario, you’ve crushed your gym workout, triathlon or [insert epic achievement here] and you’re ready to reward yourself with a self-massage. You reach for your massage gun… and the battery is dead.

Save yourself the disappointment and frustration by choosing a massage gun with battery life that can go the distance. Typically, a small massage gun has a battery life of less than 3 hours.

By using a more efficient battery (2600 mAh Lithium-Ion battery) Blackroll has packed up to 15 hours of battery life into the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun – so you don’t have to put a pause on your recovery. Compatible with a standard USB-C charger, recharging your Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun is convenient and easy.

Noise Level

Your massage gun may look like a power drill, but it doesn't mean you want it to sound like one! It may not be the first criteria you consider when making your purchase, but down the track high noise levels can certainly be a deterrent to you using your massage gun.

Many people use massage guns as a form of relaxation, while tuning into their favourite TV series, at the gym, or in other public spaces where noise can be distracting and unwelcome.

With a low of 55 decibels, the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun is the quietest massage gun of its category. It’s virtually silent – meaning you can give your muscles well-deserved relief discreetly and free of distractions, wherever you are.

Reputable Brand

Brand name does make a difference. A no-name brand massage gun won’t pull its weight in the long run.

Being the experts in recovery with their top-of-the-line massage & recovery tools including foam rollers for self-myofascial release, the Blackroll Ergonomic Recovery Pillow for quality sleep and now massage guns, Blackroll helps support your body to feel and move better.

Approved by healthcare professionals, Blackroll’s products are paving the way for better recovery with research-driven designs that offer real-world benefits. Their products are consistently high-quality – putting the control in your hands to improve your overall wellbeing and performance.

Whether you’re an office worker, recreational runner or have your eyes set on the winner’s podium, Blackroll can support your general health, recovery and fitness goals.

Affordability

When looking at affordability, you want a budget-friendly massage gun from a reputable brand. This ensures you’re not skimming on quality by purchasing ‘cheap’ models that you can’t rely on in the long run.

At $259.95, the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun is value for money – given its durability, power, battery life and versatility with 4 attachments and 4 frequency levels.

The small massage gun comparison chart below puts the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun side by side with its competitors so you can make an informed choice on your massage gun purchase.

The Wrap Up

We’d say that a massage gun gives your muscles the star treatment when you don’t have access to a massage therapist – but in truth, we want to normalise recovery as it’s often undervalued despite its benefits to your health and performance.

A massage gun should be a regular part of your self-care and with its versatility, portability and power, it’s hard to look past the Blackroll Fascia Massage Gun as your ideal partnership in recovery.


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The Best Small Massage Gun: Blackroll Fascia Gun Review