Handheld percussive massage devices (i.e., massage guns) are relatively new and under-researched recovery. These tools are intended to increase range of motion and reduce muscle soreness through delivering targeted vibration to soft tissues. There is a scarcity of empirical knowledge about the potential influence of these devices on perceptual recovery and recovery of performance characteristics after exercise.


The current study aimed to investigate the effect of a commercially available massage gun on physical and perceptual recovery after a strenuous bout of lower-body exercise.


Repeated-measure, single-group design that implemented an experimental leg (massage gun recovery - GUN) and a control leg (passive recovery - CON).


Testing occurred in a physiology laboratory.


65 active young adults (34 female, 31 male) participated in this study.


Application of a massage gun for 5 minutes on the calf muscles after strenuous exercise.

Main Outcome Measures

Ankle range of motion, calf circumference, isometric strength, calf endurance and perceived muscle soreness measures were collected at baseline, and at various points following lower-body exercise.


No significant group × time interactions were recorded for any of the performance or perceptual measures (p >0.05). Effect sizes were mostly unclear, with the exception of a small increase in perceived muscle soreness in GUN compared to CON immediately post-recovery (d = −0.35) and four hours post-recovery (d = −0.48).


Massage guns appear to have little effect on physical measures when applied for five minutes immediately following strenuous calf exercise. Given the small increase in muscle soreness up to four hours following their use, caution is recommended when using massage guns immediately following strenuous lower-body exercise.

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Author notes

Postal address: Health Sciences 2, Office 104, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3086