Effective warm ups are key to effective workouts that help you progress as an athlete. Warming up is a discipline and a skill. Done correctly, a great warm up will allow you to train at your maximum capacity with a decreased injury of risk, consistently.
What we want to explore in this recovery club is how you can optimize your warm-ups with a MyoPro or MyoLite percussive massage gun, and the science of how vibration therapy improves range of motion without a loss of strength.
Utilizing vibration therapy by percussive massage guns as part of a warm-up routine is something that has been observed for a while in the strongman community. There’s even some old footage out there of World’s Strongest Man winners Eddie Hall and Brian Shaw online using industrial paint buffers to warm up their chest and shoulders ahead of a heavy lifting session. However, athletes in other disciplines including the world of endurance are waking up to the power of vibration therapy.
The problem the strongmen had was this: static stretching during a warm up helped to reduce the risk of injury but affected their strength. Lengthening the muscle fibres and connective tissue is great for improving range of motion but it’s not beneficial for max voluntary contraction.
Instead they turned to a new technique, vibration therapy, to improve their workouts and reduce their risk of injury. At the time, the research on vibration therapy as part of a warm-up was limited, however now we have the benefit of a few studies that have analyzed percussive massage guns and the protocols you can use to enhance your warm-up.
One study, The Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment on Plantar Flexor Muscles’ Range of Motion and Performance, took 16 athletes and split them into a control and a test group. The test group had a 5 minute percussive massage on their calf muscles before they were made to perform a series of exercises while the control group sat still. The exercises both groups were made to perform were to measure their plantar flexor (calf and ankle) muscles overall range of motion as well as their max voluntary contraction (how much force the muscle could exert).
What they found was there was no change at all in the control group, which makes sense. However, the test group improved the dorsiflexion (the bending backwards) of the foot by an average of 5.4 degrees with no loss of max voluntary contraction. This improved range of motion is closely linked with a reduction in injury and improved mobility during a workout.
The protocol they use in the study, a 5 minute massage on the body part that’s going to be trained, is something that we can all find time to incorporate into our daily routine. At MyoMaster, we have the perfect massage head for warm-ups, it’s called The Dampener. It’s got a large surface area, and is made of soft air filler rubber so you can use it anywhere on the body without experiencing any discomfort from a harsh pin-point massage.