According to Novacare physical therapist Martine Marino, MPT, COMT, who specializes in working with runners, “There is research to support massage as an effective modality for decreasing perceived pain and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). It increases blood and lymph flow, decreases circulating cortisol, decreases inflammation and increases beta-endorphins.”
She stresses, however, that “massage” can be a catch-all term, and it’s important to treat every athlete on a case-by-case basis.
“I perform ‘massage,’ but we usually refer to it as soft tissue mobilization because we are not doing massage in the traditional sense. Our massage is targeted and specific,” she says. “Myofascial release via instrument assisted technique (graston) or myofascial decompression (cupping) are (anecdotally) very effective. I also do strain-counterstrain and trigger point massage which is more neurological and less mechanical.”
If you are looking for the convenience and ability to perform self-massage, the Hyperice Hypervolt is one of the best products on the market. With a cordless design, three levels of vibrations and QuietGlide technology, the Hypervolt is a highly desired tool in the sports performance world.
“The Hypervolt is the preferred ‘thera-gun’ for me,” says Ron DeAngelo, the Director of Sports Performance Training at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, in an email to Fleet Feet. “ It all comes down to proprioceptors and layering. Vibration therapy, done properly, the body perceives as non-intrusive. There is no pain associated with it. Percussion tends to be too aggressive.”
“I have better results with vibration to the point that people will comment, ‘That was magic’, says DeAngelo. “Of course it’s not magic, it’s the proprioceptors taking in good information and being desensitized.”