A massage gun is an affordable tool for at-home relief from sore muscles and faster recovery. With adjustable speed/intensity settings, you can tailor your massage experience to your exact preference. In addition, most come with a variety of interchangeable heads made of either rubber or plastic to soothe each ache or pain specifically.
Each unique attachment can target muscle groups and trigger points to relieve stress, soreness, tension and lactic acid from your muscles. Most massage guns come with a carrying case, charging cord, and several different massage heads, but not all of them provide a massage gun head attachments user guide.
In an effort to help you get the most out of your massage gun, we’ve put together a list of the most common attachments provided with top massage guns on the market and how to use each one most effectively.
Types of Massage Gun Head Attachments
Round or Large Ball
The round massage gun head is a solid circle about 2” in diameter, made of rubber, plastic or foam. It is the preferred choice of many users for several reasons.
It is gentle. With its circular surface, it does not have an edge or point that can put too much pressure on any one area.
The round attachment offers the most customizable pressure because the user can tilt the ball for more or less pressure within the pre-set levels.
This massage head is perfect for full body relaxation and can be used all over daily to reduce tension in the entire back and prevent tightness which can lead to injuries.
The round massage gun head can be used anywhere on the body, but here are a few of the most common uses.
Neck – The cervical spine, which consists of the 7 superior vertebrae, are surrounded by many muscles and soft tissues. These muscles are responsible for head extension, rotation, and side-to-side motion as well as lifting and rotating the shoulders.
Scapula – Beside and behind the shoulder blades is a common sore area for active and non-active people alike. Lactic acid buildup and knots are both problems in this area.
Sacrum – The sacrum is a triangular group of bones at the bottom of spine. It is actually several bones fused together, surrounded by muscles, nerves and thick blood vessels including the notorious sciatic nerve that causes pain and discomfort for up to 40% of people.
The sacrum area also contains the piriformis, a small muscle behind the gluteus maximus in the buttocks. Although small, it can cause a great deal of soreness and tightness because it connects the lower spine to the femur and makes it possible for the hip to rotate. Stretching this muscle adequately is extremely important for runners.
Be careful in both of these areas due to their proximity to the spine.
Your round massage gun head is also a great tool for loosening up the glutes and the mid-to-lower back muscles. If you could only have one attachment for your massage gun, it’s likely that the round style would be it.
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The bullet attachment is usually the one that leaves most users clueless — and a little scared. It has a smaller surface area than any other attachment and frequently has a pointy end that can be painful if used incorrectly.
The bullet head is good for trigger points in any area of the body. You can research trigger points to find out if they can be causing other symptoms in your body, such as headaches. You may be amazed at what you find and how effectively you are able to manage symptoms within your body by simply knowing where your trigger points are.
This attachment can also pinpoint knots, such as those underneath the scapula, that come from extended time behind a computer screen or repetitive movements. Once you learn where these knots and sorest areas are (maybe with another attachment) you can hone in on them with the bullet for a more intense massage.
You can use the bullet anywhere on your body, but realize that it is going to be much more intense — even at the same setting — than other attachments. Therefore we don’t recommend using the bullet on boney areas like your neck.
Large muscle groups – Massage gun owners frequently use the bullet head for large muscle groups like the glutes which develop soreness in smaller areas within the large muscles. The piriformis, for example, can often only be reached with the bullet attachment.
Lats – Lats are another area where the bullet can be effective. Although the lats work hard and are very tough, they can also be sensitive to stress and become tight or tired without you really noticing. Use a steady up-and-down pattern on the lats and be cautious near the spine.
Using your bullet massage head to loosen knots is a great way to prepare for a massage or chiropractic adjustment. You’ll get a deeper, more effective service when these knots are removed.
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The fork attachment can also be a little intimidating, due to its 2-pronged head, but it can become one of your favorite massage tools if you just learn how to use it correctly.
The fork’s design actually fits perfectly around the spinal erectors of the smaller vertebrae, so when there is pain or discomfort along the spine, you can reach both sides at once with your fork head. This can be a sensitive area though, so move slowly and don’t apply additional pressure.
Remember, you don’t have to use each attachment as described in this massage gun head attachments user guide. Some people don’t really like using the fork around the spine at all because it is too intense.
Cervical and thoracic spine – The bones in this part of the spine are smaller than the lower vertebrae, so the fork head will work best at the superior end of your spine.
Sacrum – If you do want to use your massage gun fork head lower on your back, we recommend the sacrum, away from the spine, where lactic acid buildup often occurs.
Large muscle groups – If you don’t particularly like the fork attachment, you can find other uses for it. Many people use it on large muscle groups because it offers two points of contact instead of one. This reduces the amount of time it takes to massage large areas, making it a great tool for muscle recovery after an intense workout.
Your massage gun’s flat head attachment is an excellent all-over tool because it isn’t too pointy, yet you’ll still get the full force of intensity spread out over the entire head.
The name is misleading, as the “flat” head is usually dome shaped and smooth. This provides maximum contact with the skin while still offering a less intense massage than heads with points and edges.
It can be used on medium and large muscle groups like calves and biceps when they are too sore to stand any more direct pressure, or when you just want to enjoy a low-impact, full-body relaxation massage.
Cervical area – Because this head is less invasive than others, it can be helpful for pain and stiffness throughout the neck and shoulder region, including the sides of the neck, trapezius muscles, and shoulders.
Entire thoracic region – From the area next to the spine to the outer muscles of the back covering the ribs, the flat head will penetrate deep enough to be effective, but not so far that it is uncomfortable in this sensitive area.
Lumbar and sacrum – The same is true for these often tender areas. Starting your self-massage practice with the flat head is a good idea, especially in painful or sensitive areas.
Glutes, IT band, hamstrings and quads – Runners often experience discomfort in these areas, but you can also become stiff and inflexible in your lower body from sitting for extended periods each day. Using the flat head on your glutes and upper legs will reduce this pressure.
The IT band is actually a long ligament that runs from the knee all the way to the hip. It can become irritated by making contact with the thigh bone, a common result of long-distance running.
Arms, legs, feet, hands – In areas where there is little muscle and fat, you need a more delicate massage head that won’t come into contact with the bones. The flat head’s design is perfect for the meaty areas of your extremities and offers the delicate touch needed for these body parts.
Benefits of all types of massage gun heads
If you suffer from constant body aches and soreness, a massage gun may be a good investment. They are safe for everyday use, and much more affordable than daily massages! A massage gun can be used on yourself or someone else, and it will make a great gift for virtually anyone you know.
One word of warning: Keep your massage gun moving. Otherwise it will make your skin sore and can leave behind bruises.