Massage Guns vs. Foam Rollers

Massage Guns vs. Foam Rollers

Can we solve one of the biggest mysteries of our time?

That is - What is better, a massage gun or foam roller? Let's dig in and find out....

Let's Start With Some Basic Anatomy & Physiology

Fascia is connective tissue that encompass and connects every muscle, ligaments, tendons, joint and organ in the body. Though we used to think of it like a cross between cling wrap and a spiders web, we now know that it is a living tissue that is always changing shape and state. Myofascia is fascia that supports the musculoskeletal system. Unhealthy fascia can not only cause localized pain, but can globally impair functions such as mobility, balance, coordination, strength and power. Proper fascial care is important for many aspects of health.

What is a massage gun and how do you use it?

A massage gun is a percussive therapy device that uses intense vibration or pulsation of a ball against targeted muscles or tissues to get a massage-like effect. Typically there is a handle, a motor with various settings, and an end piece such as a rubber ball. It is essentially a modified jigsaw power tool with a special end piece that massages you through intense vibration. Most massage guns are priced in the $200-$1000 range.

When do you recommend using a massage gun? 

A massage gun is great for quick relief of soreness and pain. Massage guns are great if you are wanting to just hang out and relax as they require less effort than foam rolling. Often it is more enjoyable to use massage guns on muscles that are sore from exercise or stiff muscles from not moving. Massage guns should not be used directly on new or healing injuries.

What is a foam roller and how do you use it? 

A foam roller is any device made out of a relatively soft material and that is used for Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) and other types of self massage. Foam rollers typically made out of a foam material or rubber. Original foam rollers were big foam cylinders that were used by rolling the body over the top of them with the targeted muscles pressed against the roller. Over the years, the techniques and tools within "foam rolling" have grown extensively. Many foam rollers are now balls or contain sphere-like shapes as this form has proven to be very effective. Most foam rollers and non-electric myofascial release tools are priced in the $10-$100 range.

When do you recommend using a foam roller? 

Foam rollers can be used for warm ups, recovery or body health maintenance. There are many different techniques and approaches to foam rolling. Foam rolling most often utilizes trigger point release, which uses pressure against specific points along the muscles to trigger a state change or shift into relaxation. Foam rolling can also increase circulation and mobilizes joints through movements performed on the foam roller. Foam rollers are shown to be more effective at actually make change in the state and health of the tissues as well as the musculoskeletal system as a whole. Foam rollers should also not be used directly on new or healing injuries and should be used with care if someone has limited body control or strength.

Our Conclusion

We believe that foam rollers and massage guns both have their place. I know many people that use and love both. Overall, it appears that foam rollers have been shown to be more effective at taking care of the body while massage guns are easy to use and feel great. Massage guns can cost 5-20x the price of foam rolling tools. 

Our preferred Foam Roller is the Moball Roller by COMMITTED HP
Our preferred Massage Gun is the Theragun by Therabody

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