If you’re serious about your fitness, you’ll understand the importance of recovery in order to repair muscles, build strength and avoid injury.
What is percussive therapy?
Percussive therapy is a recovery technique designed to treat soft tissue pain and can be done using a handheld self-massager which delivers pulses and vibrations into the muscle tissue for relief.
Here’s a look at it in action.
Chiropractor and Theragun founder Dr Jason Wersland initially invented the product following a motorcycle accident in 2007 which left him suffering with chronic pain. Determined to find a solution, after almost a decade of experimenting with prototypes, he launched Theragun’s first handheld device to market in 2016.
There are similar percussive therapy products on the market, though Wersland argues that what sets Theragun apart is its optimal amplitude and frequency which, he says, can override the brain’s response to pain. So, in other words, it won’t hurt in the same way that a deep tissue massage or foam rolling sometimes can.
“For some people foam rolling and different forms of myofascial release can be uncomfortable or painful,” says Ben McNamara, Theragun UK Lead. “Purely through its nature, the vertical motion of percussive therapy causes a deeper impact on the body than other forms of myofascial release.
“Our physician calibrated percussive therapy combines an optimal frequency (speed) amplitude (depth) and torque (pressure) to override these pain signals from reaching the brain, thereby making the treatment a more comfortable experience. This is referred to as the Gate Control Theory of Pain,” he adds.
Putting it to the test
It’s not the daintiest of contraptions – it looks a bit like a power drill – and is loud (though apparently is quieter than most rival products), but when one of the Theragun team uses the device to iron out the cricks in my neck and back, I instantly feel everything start to ease up.
Next up, we have a go at using the guns ourselves in a muscle activation warm-up. We’re led through a sequence by McNamara to open up the right hamstring with the device and then are asked to compare it with the unpummelled left leg by touching our toes. I’m naturally pretty flexible but this has immediately got rid of any morning stiffness in my right leg.
The device is not just for muscle recovery or pain relief, it also helps to enhance performance and improve range of motion whilst exercising. The central idea being that it can help you to keep going for longer.
During the class we use the Theragun in rest periods after bursts of explosive exercise. It’s a high-intensity class, half boxing on the bag with combinations of kicks and jabs, and the other half on the floor – think burpees and endless high-knees. Finally, we end the session with a flow, using the guns to intensify each stretch.
The biggest difference I notice from using the device was that at the end of the class, I felt energised (rather than completely ruined) after what was a fairly gruelling start to a Tuesday morning. The next day I didn’t have the achy arms or quads I would expect after that kind of intense workout.
But is it worth the hefty pricetag? At £549 for the G3PRO this gadget does not come cheap, though the two newest launches – the G3 (£375) and the liv, a lightweight gym bag friendly version (£275), make the product a little more attainable, with the latter being far closer to my price range.
For people already shelling out for regular trips to the chiropractor or acupuncturist, then yes, this might be a worthy investment. If you train hard and are partial to a bit of fitness tech, this gadget is bound to be on your wishlist.