We know that percussion massagers provide tons of benefits. But when is the best time to use a massage gun: before or after exercise?

The best time to use a portable massager depends on the benefits you want to get. For instance, percussion therapy is ideal pre-workout to improve your performance. On the other hand, you get muscle recovery benefits if you use your massage gun after training.

Here’s a more detailed discussion of these massage benefits and a how-to guide to proper massage gun use before and after your exercise.

Why Use a Massage Gun Before Exercise

Most people grab a massage gun after working out because that’s when they feel sore and need pain relief.

However, a handheld massager is just as helpful in pre-workout. Here’s why.

It warms the muscles.

If you exercise in the morning, your activity level may not be as high since you just got out of bed.

You’ll also notice that you are not as energised at the start of your session.

That’s because your muscles feel heavy. You feel like stretching rather than moving around.

Using a massage gun can save your early-morning exercise.

The vibration produced by this device can stimulate and improve blood circulation, making your muscles warmer.

When this happens, it’s easier for you to move, and you get the most out of your workout.

Warmed-up muscles during exercise also lower your risk of injury.

Better blood flow speeds up the transit of oxygen and nutrients, too.

It loosens tight muscles.

Are you fond of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts? Doing intense exercises with tight muscles can make you prone to injury.

Also, you’ll likely feel sore all over after your HIIT. You can avoid these by using a handheld massager before exercise.

Loosened-up muscles allow you to work out better, especially when you need to do explosive movements.

It also reduces the feeling of soreness and stiffness post-HIIT. This effect is particularly crucial when you want fast recovery and workout consistency.

Massage Gun Before Exercise

Why Use a Massage Gun After Exercise

If you’ve been using a percussion massager after exercise, you know how good the device feels against your sore muscles.

Compared with taking pain medications, getting a massage is a safer option, too.

But making this a habit has several other benefits.

It reduces muscle soreness.

A challenging workout can make your muscles ache.

That’s because you tend to make microscopic tears in your muscles as you pull and stretch them during physical activities.

Professional athletes or those who perform intense workouts often experience these painful muscle knots or strains.

With percussive massage treatment, you can target these sore areas, helping you relax and suppress pain signals to the brain.

The vibration from a portable massager also keeps the muscles moving while you’re at rest. In turn, this flushes out the lactic acid that accumulates post-workout.

Flushing out these substances through massages helps reduce inflammation and prevent injuries.

It aids in faster muscle recovery.

Have you noticed that you feel sore after the next few days of your workout and not right after exercise? Experts call this condition delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.

DOMS typically happens after doing a new or strenuous exercise.

It can also occur if you suddenly become active after not exercising for a long time.

The bad news is that the soreness or pain sensation lasts several days up to a week.

It can inhibit you from doing daily tasks or exercising regularly.

Using the massage gun after exercise can help you stretch those tight body muscles and boost circulation.

These effects can bring oxygen and nutrients to your sore muscles, shortening recovery time.

Ultimately, faster muscle recovery means exercise consistency and less body pain post-workout.

How to Use a Massage Gun Before and After Exercise

Using a percussion massage gun is not as easy as positioning the device anywhere on your body.

Improper use can only mean a waste of time and battery life or injury.

So, here are a few tips to help you do it correctly and safely.

Massage Gun After Exercise

1. Follow your manual’s recommendations.

Massage gun models have different settings, attachment heads and suggested massage duration.

Check these from the manual and follow them.

But generally, you can use the percussion massage gun, before and after exercise, for 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to go with the suggested time limit, especially for post-workout massage sessions.

Remember, your body muscles are already sore after exercise, and excessive vibration therapy might do more harm than good.

Sore muscles tend to be more sensitive. So, lower the massage intensity or speed if needed.

Make sure the vibration is not causing you pain or discomfort.

2. Target the muscles you intend to use during your workout.

If you follow the 2-minute general rule for massage guns, use that as your limit for each muscle group.

For example, if you are doing a leg workout, you can spend 60 seconds on the quads and 60 seconds on the hamstrings.

Then, allocate 30 seconds to the lower back and 30 seconds to the calf muscles.

Generally, massage main and large muscle groups longer than the support ones.

Check your manual for a massage guide for various workouts.

If unavailable, here’s a table for a quick reference.

BoxingSide ribs, erector spinae, upper traps, calves
Dancing with leaps and jumpsCalves, quads, hamstrings, glutes
RunningQuads, hamstrings, calves, glutes
Strength training or weightliftingUpper inner quads, lower back, hamstrings, glutes
SwimmingUpper traps, rhomboids, lats, middle traps

Avoid aiming at bony or bruised areas and open wounds when you use massage guns before or after exercise.

Do not apply the massage gun on any sprain or body area with unexplained pain.

And if you have any musculoskeletal condition, consult a medical professional before using a massage gun.

3. Keep yourself hydrated.

Massage guns encourage blood flow before and during exercise, and drinking sufficient fluids for this is crucial.

Water removes toxins and carries nutrients. So, stay hydrated before, during and after working out.

You can also check out Better Health Victoria’s guide for recommended fluid intake based on gender, age and reproductive state.

How to Use Massage Guns When Working Out


It is safe to use a massage gun before and after exercise.

And with these workout massage gun sessions, you can perform and recover better.

But for optimum results, it’s crucial to have the massage gun with the features you need and prefer (Find out the best massage guns here).

It’s also best to ask a doctor or fitness expert about massage gun use.

Generally, do not skip the warm-up and cool-down exercises to avoid muscle pain or soreness.

It will also help if you choose activities that match your fitness level.

1. Can you use a vibration massage gun mid-workout?

You can use massage guns during workouts for muscle reactivation. Sometimes, you might experience sudden muscular tension or cramps while exercising, which affect your workout time and performance. Massaging the problem area with a massage gun for a few seconds can loosen and make your muscles contract again.

2. What other recovery tools can I use post-workout?

Aside from massagers, you can also use compressed, textured or vibrating foam rollers for targeting trigger points. Light stretches with a stretch or loop band can help improve blood flow and speed up muscle repair. An EMS TENS machine alleviates pain through electrical stimulation. Cold therapy packs soothe inflammation, pain, oedema and hematoma. Getting a memory foam for a good night’s sleep post-workout is excellent, too.

3. Do vibration massage guns work for cellulite?

At-home cellulite treatment is possible with massage guns. Deep pulses and vibration can enhance your blood circulation and lymphatic drainage and break down fat for absorption, resulting in less dimpled skin. The improvements won’t happen overnight, though. But regular percussive therapy plus an active lifestyle can bring you closer to your healthy skin goals.