What is percussive therapy and how does it help with pain management?

Photo credit: Theragun

Percussive therapy can be used to warm up muscles or to loosen tight muscles in order to help with pain management. Here is an overview of how it works and ways to incorporate percussive therapy into rehabilitation:

Percussive therapy is a type of soft tissue treatment that incorporates a power tool – similar to a drill – to massage muscles using a repetitive vibration and pulsing movements.

It can help with:

  • managing chronic pain
  • improving joint range of motion
  • breaking down scar tissue and adhesions
  • increasing blood flow
  • improving circulation
  • breaking up tension
  • reducing inflammation
  • pre- and post-exercise warm-ups and cool-downs

The most popular device used for percussive therapy is called a Theragun. It was invented by Dr Jason Wersland, who suffered a motorcycle accident and developed the device to help aide his recovery from his injuries.


Photo credit: Theragun

The device comes with different attachments that massage soft tissue to loosen up muscles and ease tight spots. It is simple to use and accessible for most areas of the body. It can be either held in place in a tight spot or swept across the part of the body being treated. Theragun can be used by the individual or (post-lockdown) by a physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

Percussive therapy is very safe and gentle and doesn’t cause inflammation, so is typically mostly pain-free. Because the device creates an effect similar to a deep tissue massage, it can occasionally be uncomfortable due to nerve endings being stimulated or muscles becoming hot from the vibrations. This is why it’s important to have clear communication and training from an OT or physiotherapist to ensure treatment is effective and the device is being used safely and correctly.

Theragun also comes with a fantastic mobile app that provides various protocols for using it for different body parts and functions.

Unite Professionals case managers work with physiotherapists and occupational therapists to advice on the most effective, holistic treatment plans for people who have suffered significant injuries. We incorporate percussive therapy into our recommendations when it is a reasonable method for helping to reduce pain and relieve muscle tightness.

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