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I've been running seriously for about five years. Last year, I completed my first marathon and I'm now in training for my next.
That might sound like a pretty average affair but given I lost my right hip joint as a child and was told I might not be able to walk past the age of 21, all of a sudden the idea of running a marathon isn't quite as pedestrian.
My health challenges mean I need to take a bit of extra care. To that end, I do a lot of stretching to ensure I don't do any damage to my legs. Unfortunately, stretching alone isn't enough and for years, I'd been looking for something magical to keep me moving forward.
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I recently purchased a massage gun from Amazon. I didn't go all out on the purchase and opted for a mid-range version that sells for $76.99. So far, this massage gun, sold by a company named Dacorm, has given my legs more relief than anything I've ever tried.
The idea behind a massage gun (also called "percussive massage treatment") is simple. It uses vibrations to warm muscle tissue and increase blood flow in targeted areas. The tools look like cordless power drills with various attachments for soft tissue massage, necks, Achilles, backs, feet, and more. When you apply the gun to your muscles, it percusses at a high frequency (but with a low amplitude of movement to avoid the risk of injury) to help you recover from exercising. In my case, it's not so much about the recovery as it is prevention.
Over the past few years I've suffered from runner's knee. Although the pain isn't debilitating, it does cause my right knee to feel weak. I've tried braces, all types of stretching, heat, ice, and more. It wasn't until I started using the massage gun that I developed a better understanding of what was happening and where the actual pain was emanating from.
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That's the big trick. Often we're fairly certain we know exactly where the pain comes from. For me, it was the lower right corner of my patella. Or, that's what I'd assumed. Once I started using the massage gun, I realized it was actually stemming from above the knee and the Dacorm gun made it possible to work that pain out.
I'm not going to lie… it hurt. The first few sessions on that particular point of my leg were like getting hit with a hammer over and over again by a giant who could bench-press the universe. Slowly, that pain began to lessen, and I was able to work it out without the need to writhe on the floor. After a few days of work, my runner's knee has subsided dramatically.
That's not all.
After a session with the massage gun, my legs feel more relaxed than ever. It's amazing what this little gadget can do.
The feature list of this gadget might not be lengthy, but that doesn't distract from the effectiveness of the gun. With this massage gun, you'll find:
As far as the massage heads, I've only used three of the 12, which were the soft round head (for overall massage), the "U" head (for Achilles massage), and the taper head (for deep tissue massage).
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Those three heads are enough to keep my legs pain free, even after 20-mile training efforts.
One nice feature of the Dacorm gun is that it gives you a clear readout of how much battery is left. I've been really impressed with the battery life. I've used the gun pretty regularly for a week and have yet to recharge. This consumer-grade gun probably wouldn't work in a physical therapy environment (where they are used on multiple patients throughout the day), but for a single individual or family, this take on the massage gun is more than enough.
I don't know how I'd be dealing with my runner's knee (and Achilles issues) without a combination of regular stretching and this gadget. I can say that anyone who regularly suffers from tight muscles or overworking any part of the body (arms, legs, back, neck) would benefit from using such a tool.
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However, if you have a specific pain, make sure to do a bit of research so you know how best to use the massage gun to alleviate your issue. Use such a tool incorrectly and you could find yourself worse than you were before.