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What's the difference between percussive massage and vibration massage

Jun. 15, 2021
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Vibration therapy vs. percussive massage therapy.jpg 

De-mystifying the massage gun category: Percussive Therapy vs. Vibration Therapy


If you've been on social media or YouTube and looked up a fitness video over the last few years, you've probably noticed an explosion of handheld massage gun devices intended to aid people in recovery from their day-to-day-- whether that be intense athletic training or just the stress and stiffness of working a 9 to 5... Recovery as a category is one of the most overlooked practices that contribute to a happy and healthy life, both physically and mentally... However, with so many massage gun products on the market-- with more coming out every day-- it can be confusing to determine which devices and what types of treatment will provide the most benefit and support your specific recovery goals. It's important to have as much information as possible when deciding what tools to use in your routine. We'll take a look at percussive therapy, massage guns compared to vibration therapy, massage guns and break down the science to show you why percussive therapy, massage gun devices are more effective and more beneficial to your recovery. 

What is Vibration Therapy?

Vibration therapy is the application of vibration of a device to either the whole body or a localized part. For whole-body vibration therapy, the user will typically stand on a platform device that vibrates. In localized therapy, a handheld device sends vibrations through the area of the body in need of treatment. Vibration therapy, massage guns make contact with the skin and feels good on the surface of the body, creating a "global" experience as opposed to the more targeted treatment percussive therapy delivers.

Benefits of Vibration Therapy can include:

– Alleviating stress

– Soothe the body

A moderate increase in blood flow Vibration therapy stimulates the muscles causing them to contract and relax involuntarily. Vibration therapy can soothe the body from some pain and be a generally pleasant experience while providing some massage-like benefits to the user. The primary function is the contraction and release of muscles, which uses the body's biomechanics to produce results.

What is Percussive Therapy?


Percussive therapy functions similarly to vibration therapy in that it applies force to the body part being treated. One significant difference between the two is that percussive therapy reaches 60% deeper into the muscle than consumer-grade vibration Massagers, which produces a deeper massage-like benefits. Percussive therapy targets treatment areas by reaching deep enough into the muscle to increase the amount of blood flow and oxygen needed for efficient treatment and recovery. Also, because percussive therapy devices touch the body and come off of it multiple times per second, the brain does not acclimate to the stimulation, making the therapy more effective. Think of it as the difference between Swedish massage and a targeted deep-tissue massage. 

Theragun Percussive Therapy works because each device offers a unique combination of these three things:

Amplitude (depth)

Our 16 mm amplitude allows our Theragun devices to treat deep within the muscle to release tension.

Frequency (speed)

Our 2400 percussion per minute (40 per second) speed allows our devices to override the pain signals to your brain, making the treatment experience more comfortable than manual muscle therapy.

Torque (no-stall force)

Our devices can withstand up to an additional 60 pounds of applied pressure—without stalling—so you can most effectively treat the areas that you need.

Benefits of Percussive Therapy include those experienced from vibration therapy as well as:

Decreasing muscle soreness and stiffness, particularly post-activity

Decreasing lactic acid

Improving range of motion

Hydrating soft-tissue deep into the muscle

Reducing pain in deep-tissue recovery 

Vibration therapy vs. percussive massage therapy


A lot of fitness and MMA videos made recently feature handheld percussion massage devices to help with faster recovery and enhancement of muscle groups on the body. Percussion massagers can help with relief from aches and pains associated with intensive athletic training as well as the demands of working a regular 9 to 5 job. Recovery is a fundamental requirement for a happy, healthy, and sustainable physical and emotional lifestyle.

Vibration therapy utilizes a device that generates the vibration movement and focuses it on either a localized part of the body or to the whole body. If you desire whole-body vibration therapy, you will need to stand on a vibrating platform. On the other hand, localized handheld percussive therapy utilizes therapy guns that contact the skin, creating a pleasant feeling on the surface of the body. As a result of efficient vibration therapy, muscles involuntarily relax and contract, promoting the body's recovery from aches and pains.

Percussive therapy also involves the application of force to a specific part of the body under treatment. However, percussive massage therapy has the distinct capability of reaching up to 60% deeper into the muscle groups. The brain also cannot quickly adjust to the stimulation, since the percussion massager makes on and off contact with the skin.



Knowing how your recovery treatment works can help you decide which devices to use. For example, you may need a massage gun device capable of providing both the gentle and relaxing benefits of vibration therapy as well as the targeted and effective ones associated with percussive therapy. 



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