Can You Use a Massage Gun While Pregnant?

woman using massage gun on her back

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Massage guns use percussion and vibration to create a form of self-massage that can potentially relieve tension, stiffness, and muscle soreness as well as break up tissue adhesions and reduce inflammation. What's more, pregnancy massage can provide relaxation and pain relief for muscles and joints that are challenged by a growing, changing body. 

Massage guns are one option for self or partner massage that has been shown to help reduce muscle soreness equally well as traditional massage therapy. The benefits of pregnancy massage are many, including the release of relaxation hormones, decreased pain and stiffness, lower stress levels, better sleep, and more. 

However, it is essential to follow some safety precautions when using a massage gun during pregnancy. Also, discuss massage gun use with a healthcare professional before using it. Here is what you need to know about massage guns.

Benefits of Massage During Pregnancy

While there is no specific research on the benefits of massage guns for pregnant people, several studies have demonstrated the general benefits of massage during pregnancy, including deep tissue massage. 

Stress on the lower back during pregnancy often leads to back and leg pain. Additionally, many pregnant people experience symptoms such as swelling (edema), muscle spasms, cramps, and fatigue, which interfere with sleep. When the body interprets these symptoms and lack of sleep as stress, stress hormones may be released that can also affect the fetus.

Therapeutic massage effectively reduces pregnancy discomforts and pain and is a safe and affordable method of pain relief during pregnancy. Researchers believe that this relief helps relieve symptoms and improve the health of mother and baby in several ways.

Benefits of Massage

  • Improves circulation
  • Increases immune response
  • Enhances sense of wellbeing
  • Improves sleep patterns
  • Increases energy and vitality
  • Decreases chronic back pain
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Improves mood
  • Relieves muscle aches and joint pains
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Reduces risk of preterm delivery
  • Increases serotonin and dopamine levels

Safety Concerns

Pregnancy massage is generally safe for those who do not have preexisting conditions. However, there are no studies that determine the safety of massage guns for pregnant people.

It is best to discuss the use of massage guns with your doctor before use. You also should avoid pregnancy massage of any kind if you have the following conditions:

  • High-risk pregnancy: If you have any high-risk factors, such as bleeding, pre-term contractions, and preeclampsia, avoid using massage guns unless your doctor clears you to do so.
  • Preeclampsia: This condition causes a rise in blood pressure that can be very serious. It typically develops around 20 weeks of pregnancy or later. 
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): Avoid using a massage gun if you have a history of deep vein thrombosis. Blood volume increases during pregnancy, and circulation in the legs can be poor. Additionally, certain hormones that prevent hemorrhage during delivery can cause blood to clot more easily. Using a massage gun on areas with potential blood clots may release the clot, leading to a life-threatening embolism. 
  • Placenta previa, accrete, or abruption: These conditions involving the placenta can lead to bleeding.
  • Gestational diabetes: High blood sugar levels during pregnancy do not necessarily mean you cannot use a massage gun. However, you should speak to your doctor first and monitor your blood sugar before use.

How to Use a Massage Gun

Although there are no specific expert directions for the use of massage guns during pregnancy, there are some things you need to consider while using the device. For instance, never place the massage gun directly over bones, nerves, or joints.

You also should try to avoid using the device in areas that are injured, swollen, or painful. It is also best to avoid using a massage gun directly on your abdomen during pregnancy. Here are some additional tips on how to use a massage gun:

  • Start by trying a light 10- to 15-second pass over any sore or tight areas.
  • Perform three to five sweeps over a single location, then move on to another.
  • Be careful not to keep the gun on a single area too long as you could overwork the muscle leading to bruising and irritation. 
  • Stop using the massage gun if you experience any unusual pain or discomfort.

Other Options for Massage

If you want to get the benefits of massage but are concerned about using a massage gun, try scheduling an appointment with a registered massage therapist specializing in pregnancy massage. This way, you can be sure you are getting a massage that is safe and effective.

Just be sure to talk to a healthcare provider first. Then, once you arrive for your appointment, discuss any preexisting conditions you may have with your therapist.

You also can try using a foam roller for some of the same self-massage benefits without percussion or vibration. Foam rollers are thought to help break up tissue adhesions and reduce muscle pain.

A Word From Verywell

Massage during pregnancy can help relieve symptoms such as anxiety, stress, pain, discomfort, tightness, and poor circulation. Regular massage may help improve your sleep and can even provide benefits to your baby.

However, there are situations when using a massage gun is not recommended, such as if you have a preexisting condition. Speak to your doctor about using a massage gun before you try it for yourself.

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7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  7. Hospital for Special Surgery. What you should know about using a massage gun. February 16, 2021