How to use a massage gun - Women's Running

How to use a massage gun

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  June 15, 2021

Got yourself a massage gun? Here are some tips on how best to use it to tackle some of the most common running aches and pains...

It was only about a year ago that we wouldn’t have known what a massage gun was if it pummelled us in the face – the foam roller reigned supreme and a percussive massage device was something that only a professional athlete might possess. But with half the world in lockdown throughout 2020, unable to get a sports massage and exercising more regularly, interest in massage guns has boomed.

We reviewed the RecovaPro massage gun earlier this year and absolutely loved it – we’re totally hooked. But there’s not a huge amount of information out there on how best to use it, so, with the help of some fantastic videos created by RecovaPro professionals themselves, we’ve put together this guide to help you get the most out of your device.

Whether it’s plantar fasciitis, shin splints or tight hamstrings, here’s how to use the Recovapro to alleviate running aches and pains.

The basics

  • Make sure your RecovaPro is charged – all the equipment that you need to do this will arrive in your case when you order your massage gun. The RecovaPro SE now comes with a stand that can be plugged into your wall socket, or you can plug your device in directly. The RecovaPro Lite comes with a charging mat that needs to be plugged into your wall socket and will charge the device as long as it is resting on the mat.
  • Make sure you’ve read the safety instructions. The RecovaPro shouldn’t be used on your head or any other hard, bony area of the body. Don’t push through pain or discomfort, either – if you’re finding something particularly painful then stop applying pressure to that area of your body. Always start with the lowest speed setting, increasing if you’re able to and decreasing or stopping entirely if you feel pain. If you have long hair, we’d recommend tying it up to make sure it doesn’t get caught in the mechanism.
  • Check that you know how it works. You should be able to stop immediately if you do experience any problems with your massage gun, so make sure you know how to switch it on and off (the small switch on the base of the device) and how to change the speed settings (one click of the button on the head will increase the speed setting by one). You can also press and hold the button if you want to stop and reset the speed settings at any time.
  • If you’re concerned, check in with a physio – you should always contact a physiotherapist for a professional diagnosis of your aches and pains, or if they’re persistent.

How to treat plantar fasciitis

What is it? Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the part of your foot that connects your heel to your toes, called your plantar fascia. If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, your heel or the arch of your foot will usually become painful, often feeling particularly sore in the morning. It’s common among runners as it’s usually caused by exercising on hard ground – something we do quite a lot of!

How to treat it with RecovaPro: It’s recommended that you use the slightly softer Ball head for this one, as the soles of your feet are sensitive. Start on a low setting (we always start low and gentle work up to the higher settings) and move the Ball head in circular motions across the arch and heel of your foot. The move onto the calf and work down towards your Achilles tendon, applying more pressure as required. RecovaPro recommend treating both of these areas for 30 seconds each before circling back and treating your feet for another 30 seconds.

Watch the video from RecovaPro:

How to treat shin splints

What is it? Shin splints cause pain along your tibia, most often along the inside edge, due to inflammation. It’s another common running ailment that’s easily treatable, but can cause severe pain or even a stress fracture without proper care. They usually tend to ease if after a good rest period, but can be really sore in the meantime.

How to treat it with RecovaPro: RecovaPro suggest using the Flat head attachment to tackle shin pain – though you could add the squishy Power head if you want to apply more pressure without increasing the speed. Move from the top of your shin (an inch or so below the knee) down towards your foot, working into the muscle for at least one minute and being careful to stop if it feels very painful.

Watch the video from RecovaPro:

How to treat lower and upper back pain

What is it? Back pain is pretty self-explanatory. It can be caused by a number of things, that are most likely muscular, but if you have any concerns that the problem may be to do with your vertebrae then you should visit a GP or a chiropractor. If you’re confident that the problem is due to the strain on your muscles due to repetitive stress and impact from running, then the pain should be eased with a massage gun.

How to treat it with RecovaPro: For lower back issues, which are more common for runners than those of the upper back, you can attach the Ball head and work slowly up and down that lower area for 30 seconds on each side. Upper back pain is less common, but can still be a problem for runners. To treat this, use the Ball head and apply the same principles as with lower back pain, this time moving up and down your shoulder and upper back. The video below demonstrates how you might do this on your own, but we’d recommend getting a partner or running buddy to help you out. Just make sure to communicate with them if you’re in pain and tell them to stop.

Watch the videos from RecovaPro:


How to treat ITB syndrome

What is it? Iliotibial Band syndrome is a sharp pain or ache on the outside of the knee that is usually caused by running due to the impact of your heel strike. The pain can sometimes spread down the leg or to your hip, and can make running really uncomfortable, particularly downhill.

How to treat it with RecovaPro: This one calls for the Bullet head, so first make sure that’s attached and you’re ready to go. Slowly move the massage gun down the length of your IT Band, from just below your hip down to just below your knee, and apply more pressure by upping the speed if needed. The Bullet head should allow you to really work into the area, so you should only massage it for two minutes. Repeat on the other side for another two minutes.

Watch the video from RecovaPro:

How to treat hip flexor pain

What is it? You hip flexors are the muscles around the top of your thighs that help you to move through your hips. They can become sore if you stretch or tear them through sudden movement, and that can include running.

How to treat it with RecovaPro: You should use the slightly spongy Ball head for this one, moving around each flexor for two minutes on each side and applying more pressure if you need to.

Watch the video from RecovaPro:

How to treat lower-body muscle soreness

What is it? General soreness is normal if you’re new to running or training hard, and is particularly common in you glutes, quads and calves. This could be due to Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness, which will usually be most painful 48 hours after you’ve exercised. If you have a persistent ache or pain in your lower body, make sure to check it out with your GP or a physiotherapist.

How to treat it with RecovaPro: We’d recommend using the Flat head attachment for you glutes and calves, and the Ball head for your quads. For your quads, slowly move the RecovaPro along the muscle up and down for 2 minutes on each side. For your calves and glutes, repeat the same procedure, but avoid applying pressure for more than 30 seconds on each side – they can be particularly painful to treat!

Watch the videos from RecovaPro:

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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