Angelica Avolio - Personal Trainer & Nutritionist
We’re diving into this frequently asked question: Is a Massage Gun Effective at Treating Cellulite?
Many women resort to anti-cellulite topical treatments to reduce skin blemishes, increase blood circulation, and improve the look of their legs, buttocks, and belly. One of the more commonly used cellulite treatment methods is cellulite creams, which typically is purchased as topical creams that can be included in your regular skincare regimen. However, many women are finding these cellulite creams to not be enough, and they’re turning to alternative options.
Among these alternative treatments, massage is one of the most common methods of treating cellulite. And with the increased popularity of massage guns, many people are wondering whether they can achieve the same results and fight cellulite with this innovative tool.
In this article, we will discuss what cellulite is, how massage can help reduce it, and if massage guns can also be used for this purpose.
What is Cellulite?
Cellulite usually shows in form of skin dimpling and is caused by the abnormal placement of subcutaneous fat within connective tissues. Predisposition is genetic. However, a healthy and active lifestyle is likely to minimize its appearance.
In fact, the portion of the skin affected by cellulite tends to have lower blood flow, so physical activity can be a great aid as it promotes circulation around the body, whilst better nutrition can help achieve fat loss. Cellulite occurs in the majority of women as they naturally carry more body fat than men, even at healthy weight ranges, and their fat cells tend to lay in a manner that makes the dimpling more evident and more likely to occur.
Are Cellulite and Water Retention the Same Thing?
Despite the similarity in appearance between the two, water retention is, as the name suggests, caused due to excess water retained within the tissues. However, both cellulite and water retention can be caused or exacerbated by a poor diet and lack of exercise, as well as genetic predisposition.
What Type of Massage can Help Alleviate Cellulite and Water Retention?
In order to reduce cellulite or excess water trapped within tissues, a massage therapist may perform a lymphatic massage, also known as a lymphatic drainage massage.
This specific massage treatment is technically aimed at readjusting fat and water placement so to alleviate skin blemishes and make it more homogeneous both to the touch and to the eye.
However, the reason why lymphatic massages help reduce the appearance of cellulite is simply that they increase the flow of blood in the affected areas; once circulation is restored, the body will slowly repartition these abnormal fat stores so that they are more evenly distributed, which is when the skin will start to appear smoother and more even.
Lymphatic massages are a fairly delicate treatment with light motions moving toward the lymph nodes to stimulate circulation and drainage of the tissues. Nevertheless, any other type of deep tissue massage can reduce cellulite, as they stimulate blood circulation too. Other self-massage tools have also shown positive outcomes in the treatment of cellulite, including vibration plates, deep tissue massagers, massage wands, and electric vacuums.
If protracted in time, increased blood flow in the tissues affected by cellulite allows your body to access and later utilize the abnormal deposits of fat cells causing the problem. However, it is important to note that anti-cellulite massages, including ones that utilize a massage gun, can support the fight against cellulite only if performed regularly and alongside a healthy diet and exercise.
So, Can a Massage Gun Treat Cellulite?
As previously mentioned, massage increases circulation within the treated tissues, so it would also help increase blood flow in those areas affected by cellulite.
Massage guns, on the other hand, are also able to generate the same effect, as widely demonstrated in the literature, and are therefore able to tackle cellulite just like any other self-massaging tool. Actually, its percussive nature was found to be more beneficial in stimulating circulation and fighting cellulite compared to non-vibrating counterparts.
So, the short answer is yes, using a massage gun for cellulite could help you see an increase in skin elasticity, smoother skin, and scar tissue while simultaneously reducing dimpled skin, cellulite pockets, and excess fluid.
However, it is important to reiterate that this is only achieved if appropriate nutrition and exercise are also set in place.
What About Fat?
Some claims have been made about the power of massage guns to spread fat cells around, reduce the amount of fat under the skin and break fat cells so they can be reabsorbed; unfortunately, these beliefs are unfounded. In fact, no scientific research has been able to demonstrate any of these statements in clinical settings.
For this reason, it is not recommended to use massage guns with the sole purpose of reducing body fat, as it would not lead to a positive outcome. Just like for cellulite, the principles of following a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet also apply to fat loss.
All in all, resorting to massage guns to reduce the appearance of cellulite is a valuable solution, but only if used regularly and paired with physical activity and a healthy diet.
In fact, as cellulite develops from the abnormal positioning of fat under the skin, fat loss alone can already be an effective way to prevent or reduce cellulite formation. Particularly, physical activity can help improve circulation and hence enhance blood flow in the tissues affected by cellulite.
Having said that, using massage guns to improve circulation can be beneficial in a variety of settings other than tackling cellulite, such as warming up the muscles prior to a workout or aiding recovery from muscle damage.
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Gold, M.H., Khatri, K.A., Hails, K., Weiss, R.A. and Fournier, N., 2011. Reduction in thigh circumference and improvement in the appearance of cellulite with dual-wavelength, low-level laser energy and massage. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 13(1), pp.13-20. (LINK)
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