You just received your massage gun you ordered online after hearing all about the benefits and how good it feels.
But with such powerful offerings these days, it can be quite the daunting feeling to not know how hard to press for the best results.
Massages at a spa can sometimes hurt from too much pressure. Image by Angelo Esslinger from Pixabay.
While some of it boils down to personal preference, there are a few guidelines we think you should take note of—especially if you’re new to the world of percussive massage guns.
We also surveyed a range of massage gun users (from regulars to occasional users) to see how much pressure people used when percussively massaging themselves.
Quick Answer: How hard should you press with a massage gun?
Using a massage gun shouldn’t hurt. When using a massage gun, we recommend using a comfortable setting and pushing enough that your muscle releases or feels relaxed. According to our tests, people pressed from 200 grams of force to up to around 1600 grams of force when using a massage gun on themselves. This ranged from high-speed, to low-speed settings, respectively.
You might also want to know the details, like what other considerations massage gun first-timers should know with how hard to use a massage gun.
We’ll cover this in the next section.
Considerations with how hard to push a massage gun
Here are 7 factors we think you should consider when deciding on a good pressure at which to use your massage gun.
Though, take it from a regular: within a few days of use, you’ll internalise these concepts without thinking about it at all, and be a pro at giving yourself a relaxing percussion massage.
- Massage gun head – For beginners, we recommend first using the ball attachment as it offers a larger surface area that tends to be more comfortable.
If you’ve never felt a massage gun in action before, you might not know yet how powerful it can be, especially combined with the smaller attachments.
Keep in mind that the cross-section of the massage gun’s head can vary from around 2 millimetres to around 5 millimetres for the bigger attachments.
Therefore, the pressure would feel different for each. (Imagine a kilo of force from someone pushing you with a thin stick, versus a kilo of force from someone pushing you with a balloon. The balloon will hurt a lot less because the force is spread over a bigger area.)
- Muscle group – The rule (rather, suggestion,) is simple. The smaller muscle groups get less pressure, and the larger muscle groups get more pressure.
Of course, it’s up to you on how much you want to press with a massage gun, but in our testing, we found that for the medium setting, people preferred around 1300 to 1600 grams of force using the ball attachment.
- The body part’s condition – We all have different reasons for using massage guns (from the more pleasurable relaxation to the slightly unpleasant-for-a-good-reason muscle recovery,) but if there’s one thing you should consider, it’s that body part’s condition.
Essentially, if it’s sore, injured, or very painful, use a light touch with the muscle massager—or avoid the part entirely.
When it comes to actually injured muscles, “No pain, no gain” is not to be followed here when using machines that can pummel your body at 3200 RPM.
Keep this in mind and you won’t wonder the next morning why your muscles hurt after using a massage gun.
- Presence of knots or tight areas – On the other hand though, you might have heard that percussive massage guns can get rid of muscle knots or tight areas.
This is just like how a masseuse can target those same parts of your back with their fingers or knuckles.
It might tickle or hurt a bit, but we promise that the muscle release feels at least 10 times better than the temporary pain when dealing with that knotty problem area with a muscle massager.
With a massage at a spa, your feedback to the masseuse can influence how much they can prod and knead your back.
But with a massage gun, it’s up to your personal taste.
The good thing is that you can vary the intensity instantly all by your hand control, if you’re using it on yourself.
Depending on your flexibility, it might be a bit tricky, but start out light and don’t overdo it. Just make sure that part of your body isn’t injured like we said earlier.
- Massage gun stall force – Now, you likely won’t have to even worry about this if you’re using a solidly-built massage gun like our Musclegun, which has a powerful 3200 RPM motor with 12mm amplitude depth, all housed within its aerospace-grade aluminium encasement.
But if you’re using some dinky no-name brand massager made of the cheapest materials and flimsy construction, you might find that you’re limited by how much pressure you can apply:
This is known as the massage gun’s stall force, which is the maximum pressure you can push it until its motor stalls or stops, hence the name.
And this is exactly what I experienced with my second cheap massage gun.
It was a bit unsatisfying when I tried massaging a part of my sore traps and the massage gun couldn’t bear the above-average force I wanted to use it at.
- Length of time to massage the area – With how good massage guns feel, it can be easy to get carried away and potentially massage for longer than is healthy.
Even a massage of 3 minutes would have beneficial effects, and I typically stay under that time and still feel great afterwards.
It might not be obvious to everybody, but if you want to spend more time on a certain part of your body, it’s recommended to use a lighter touch.
Our Musclegun has a 10-minute automatic shutoff to prevent overheating. This can also keep your hands healthy from too much exposure to vibration. (Source: Worksafe.govt.nz).
Moving at 3200 RPM can cause a lot of heat, but the good thing is that the Musclegun’s metal construction can dissipate this heat better versus other brands that can smell like burning plastic after some time in use.
Pain or discomfort – If you feel pain or discomfort, stop right away.
Since massage guns are very powerful and fast, you can be in a lot of pain very quickly if you hit a bone or an injured part of your body.
Don’t forget that you can always pull the muscle massager away instantly and dial it back a bit if you sense any pain.
Even if that part of your body isn’t injured, it can still hurt when it basically gets punched a lot by your handheld massager.
This can often happen when hitting any bones like your collarbone or the bony top part of your feet, as well as nerve-rich areas like your elbows, which we don’t suggest using a muscle massager on.
Remember, a massage gun is supposed to help you and make you feel better, not worse.
At the end of the day, you can easily figure out how much pressure to use with a massage gun as it’s quite a personal experience if you listen to your body’s reactions as you massage.
Unlike your average massage at the spa, muscle massage guns are quite intuitive to use because they’re operated by hand and you basically point it at the part you want to massage.
But if you’re a newbie and want to know how hard to press, it can be scary at first–especially if it’s the first time you see a massage gun turn on and powerfully start moving.
Essentially, you keep a light enough pressure so that it won’t hurt whatever you’re massaging.
If you want more details, though, as long as you consider these 7 factors we discussed, you can be sure that your massage gun experience remains both pleasant and restorative. To ensure that your massage gun lasts, see our guide on how to take care of your massage gun.
Our Musclegun can easily handle massages both light and hard, with its solid construction and tough 3200 RPM motor–without the bulkiness that other massagers have. Comes with a carrying case, a Samsung 3400maH battery for up to 8 hours of massaging use—delivered overnight straight to your door NZ wide.