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Vibration Massage and Percussion Massage In Scottsdale


Vibration massage therapy is delivered through various hand-held devices. At Arizona Chiropractic & Holistic Health Center we use 3 different hand-held devices: the rapid release pro-2, the vibracussor, and the G5 GK-3. These massage therapy devices deliver rhythmic vibrations which are used to target muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia for therapeutic purposes.

Muscles in our bodies allow us to move, hold posture, help with breathing, and protect vital organs and aide balance. [1]

When muscles become impaired from repetitive use or improper biomechanics, it is harder to move certain ways, there is decreased circulation, and increased tightness or pain.

Vibration massage roots with ancient Greeks and romans [2] , it wasn’t until 1974 when Chiropractor Lyman Johnson invented the very first electric percussive massager—the Vibrotoner [3] . The first handheld version was made by Thumper®.

Why is treatment done?

In the hands of a physician like a chiropractor, these hand-held percussive massagers are tools. Clinicians use these tools to work on a patient’s muscles more effectively and quicker in a less taxing way.

Percussion massage also improves patient comfort during treatment as well as additional benefits including:

Increases blood flow. Vibration massage has been shown to increase blood flow which brings nutrients and oxygen to the area. [4] [5] [6] [7]

Reduces Edema. Vibration massage therapy improves circulation by generating heat which helps move fluids from the area. [8]

Relaxes muscles. Studies show that vibration massage at frequencies of 20-60 Hz will cause muscles to relax. [7] [9]

Inhibits muscle spasms. Research suggests vibration massage therapy at 30-50 Hz can temporarily suppress muscle spasms [9] [10]

Decreases DOMS. Clinical trials suggest vibration massage therapy from 30-65 Hz helps decrease soreness and reduce the temporary loss of muscle performance due to DOMS (Delayed onset of muscle soreness). [7] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17]

Increased performance. Research suggests vibration massage has benefits that improve outcome measures specifically in: muscle activation / stimulation, muscle strength, muscle power, and joint flexibility / range of motion [18]

Reduced pain. Pain gate theory provides information about nerve fibers and receptors in the muscle. When these nerve fibers and receptors are stimulated with vibration massage therapy; they fire, and block the pain signal being sent to the brain. [19] [20] [21] Additional studies show how the “pain gating effect” caused by vibration massage can “drown out” pain signals headed to the brain. [22]

  • Vibration massage therapy is great for [7] :Arthritis (degenerative joint disease)
  • Low back pain
  • Sprains and strains
  • Trigger points
  • Post-surgical Scarring
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
  • Medial Epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow)
  • Lateral Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
  • Myofascial pain syndromes
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
  • Shoulder bursitis
  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain
  • IT Band Syndrome (Runner’s knee)
  • Achilles’ tendonitis
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Shin splints

Risks/Complications of treatment

Vibration massage therapy does not usually have any lasting side effects, when they do occur, they may go away on their own within a few days after starting percussion massage. Side effects of vibration massage include:

  • Redness
  • Pressure sensitivity
  • Bruises
  • Soreness

Percussion massage therapy isn’t for everyone. Your doctor might caution against vibration massage if you:

  • Are pregnant [23]
  • Have a pacemaker or defibrillator [23]
  • Have open wounds, bruises, incisions, tumors [23]
  • Have certain types of cancer [23]
  • Have a history or family history of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) blood clots [23]
  • Have a disease where deep vibration is not recommended [23]

There is a documented case [24]  of a Chinese woman who ended up in the hospital with a life-threatening condition called Rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is when the fibers within skeletal muscle breakdown and leak into the blood system. In the case of this Chinese woman, her artless and incognizant coach was using a massage gun to treat her and was unaware of a lurking underlying condition—iron deficiency anemia. Luckily, the woman was treated with aggressive IV fluids and recovered. Moral of the story—an expensive massage gun does not make someone a physician or clinician.

How you prepare

Before percussion massage therapy, your practitioner will likely:

  • Review your medical history. Be prepared to answer questions in regards your condition, to prior treatment interventions, current medications, current or prior conditions, family history, etc.
  • Do a physical exam. an exam may include: vital signs, range of motion testing, or orthopedic testing.
  • Discuss your expectations. Talk about reasons for seeking treatment, risks, how many treatments you might need, and how long it will take for results.

Food and medications

  • There are no special precautions on diet or medications.

Clothing and personal items

  • Wear something so that the area of treatment is easily accessible.
  • Loose fitting clothing like stretchy fabric (leggings, yoga pants), sweatpants, gym shorts, shorts.
  • If possible, try to avoid wearing: tight clothing, dresses or skirts, pantyhose or shape-wear, jewelry, a suit jacket or tie, tight belts, layered, bulky or delicate clothing.

Before the procedure, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have any surgical hardware

What to expect/How is the treatments administered?

Depending on the area being treated, the patient is either in a sitting position or lying down.

Think of the hand-held percussive massagers as an extension of the practitioners’ hands and they will be used on different muscles throughout the body.

Vibration massage therapy is not typically done by itself, it is frequently used in conjunction with other treatments.

After a treatment

After percussion massage it is normal to experience soreness and mild discomfort. To ease pain and discomfort after vibration massage therapy, apply a cold pack as needed.

Patients are able to return to normal activities immediately after vibration massage.


Success with percussion massage can vary since it is dependent upon the operator of the devices being used.

Results of vibration massage therapy typically depend on the reason for the treatment. Your clinician will usually discuss objectives with treatment and expected outcomes.


1. Dave HD, Shook M, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Skeletal Muscle. [Updated 2020 Sep 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.
2. Snow, A. M. L. H. (2018). Mechanical Vibration: Its Physiological Application in Therapeutics (Classic Reprint). Forgotten Books. ISBN-13 978-1332155514
3. Brooks, S. (2019, May 7). What is the history of ? | Why Thumper? Thumper Massager.
4. Lohman III, E. B., Sackiriyas, K. S. B., Bains, G. S., Calandra, G., Lobo, C., Nakhro, D., Malthankar, G., & Paul, S. (2012). A comparison of whole body vibration and moist heat on lower extremity skin temperature and skin blood flow in healthy older individuals. Medical Science Monitor, 18(7), CR415–CR424.
5. Maloney-Hinds, C., Petrofsky, J. S., & Zimmerman, G. (2008). The effect of 30 Hz vs. 50 Hz passive vibration and duration of vibration on skin blood flow in the arm. Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 14(3), CR112–CR116.
6. Nakagami, G., Sanada, H., Matsui, N., Kitagawa, A., Yokogawa, H., Sekiya, N., Ichioka, S., Sugama, J., & Shibata, M. (2007). Effect of vibration on skin blood flow in an in vivo microcirculatory model. Bioscience trends, 1(3), 161–166.
7. Tucker, J. (2021, April 20). The science behind percussion massage. Chiropractic Economics.
8. General Physiotherapy, Inc. (n.d.). G5 Medical Devices, Percussors & Massage Modalities by General Physiotherapy, Inc. G5. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from
9. Poenaru, D., Cinteza, D., Petrusca, I., Cioc, L., & Dumitrascu, D. (2016). Local Application of Vibration in Motor Rehabilitation - Scientific and Practical Considerations. Maedica, 11(3), 227–231.
10. Noma, T., Matsumoto, S., Etoh, S., Shimodozono, M., & Kawahira, K. (2009). Anti-spastic effects of the direct application of vibratory stimuli to the spastic muscles of hemiplegic limbs in post-stroke patients. Brain Injury, 23(7–8), 623–631.
11. Kim, J. Y., Kang, D. H., Lee, J. H., O, S. M., & Jeon, J. K. (2017). The effects of pre-exercise vibration stimulation on the exercise-induced muscle damage. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(1), 119–122.
12. Imtiyaz, S., Veqar, Z., & Shareef, M. (2014). To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC RESEARCH. Published.
13. Bakhtiary, A. H., Safavi-Farokhi, Z., Aminian-Far, A., & Rezasoltani, A. (2007). Influence of vibration on delayed onset of muscle soreness following eccentric exercise * COMMENTARY. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 41(3), 145–148.
14. Kamandani, R., Ghazalian, F., Ebrahim, K., Ghassembaglou, N., Shiri Piraghaj, M., & Khorram, A. (2013). The Effect of Acute Vibration Training on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in Young Non-Athlete Women. Health Scope, 2(3), 119–124.
15. Broadbent, S., Rousseau, J. J., Thorp, R. M., Choate, S. L., Jackson, F. S., & Rowlands, D. S. (2008). Vibration therapy reduces plasma IL6 and muscle soreness after downhill running. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(12), 888–894.
16. Lau, W. Y., & Nosaka, K. (2011). Effect of Vibration Treatment on Symptoms Associated with Eccentric Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 90(8), 648–657.
17. Veqar, Z. (2014). Vibration Therapy in Management of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC RESEARCH. Published.
18. Germann, D., El Bouse, A., Shnier, J., Abdelkader, N., & Kazemi, M. (2018). Effects of local vibration therapy on various performance parameters: a narrative literature review. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 62(3), 170–181.
19. Kumar, K., & Rizvi, S. (2013). Historical and Present State of Neuromodulation in Chronic Pain. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 18(1).
20. Moayedi, M., & Davis, K. D. (2013). Theories of pain: from specificity to gate control. Journal of Neurophysiology, 109(1), 5–12.
21. Koninck, Y., & Henry, J. (1992). Peripheral vibration causes an adenosine-mediated postsynaptic inhibitory potential in dorsal horn neurons of the cat spinal cord. Neuroscience, 50(2), 435–443.
22. Kakigi, R., & Shibasaki, H. (1992). Mechanisms of pain relief by vibration and movement. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 55(4), 282–286.
23. Rapid Release Technology, LLC. (2013). RAPID RELEASE PRO2 USER’S MANUAL. Santa Ana, CA. Rapid Release Technology, LLC.
24. Chen, J., Zhang, F., Chen, H., & Pan, H. (2020). Rhabdomyolysis After the Use of Percussion Massage Gun: A Case Report. Physical Therapy, 101(1).

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