Should You Be Using A Foam Roller Or Massage Gun?

Foam rollers and massage guns are both methods of myofascial release — a type of physical therapy treatment that can help relieve muscle soreness and release tension. According to Shape, myofascial release works by applying sustained pressure to your fascia, or connective tissue, to make it more pliable, which can help improve your mobility. You can do this by using either a foam roller or a massage gun.

Foam rollers trigger neurological changes in the muscles by stimulating your nerve receptors and sending a signal to your body to relax, which can help increase mobility. However, to prolong these effects, you need to follow up by stretching and engaging in mobility exercises. 

Massage guns work similarly, except they can stimulate more specific areas of the body. "Like foam rollers, massage guns may trigger neurological changes in the muscle," Grayson Wickham, a physical therapist and founder of Movement Vault, told Shape. "And they can increase blood flow to the area, which supports recovery and may reduce inflammation."

Which one is better?

Whether or not a massage gun or a foam roller is better for you really depends on your individual needs. According to experts at Byrdie, both foam rollers and massage guns can be a great pre-workout warm-up or post-workout recovery. Massage guns might be better if you're looking to target specific areas of pain, stiffness, and tension. When using a foam roller, it's best to slowly go over each muscle group to provide relief. But when using a massage gun, you should only go over the muscle for 10 to 15 seconds at a time.

While both can be beneficial, you should avoid using either tool if you have a serious illness or injury. "Those with chronic inflammation should avoid using the massage gun too close to the spine or arthritic joints," Johnny Alexander, a sports chiropractor and owner of Warrior NYC, told Byrdie. "As with any type of exercise, it is important to introduce movements gradually to see how your body will adapt."