Knead a Massage? The last few articles I have written been about self-care in the COVID era and using percussion massage guns for tension and pain relief. However, there is much more to a massage than just percussion/tapotement. We have the big five strokes in Swedish massage: effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement, vibration. Today, we are going to look at a massage tool that uses petrissage. There are the tremendous benefits of petrissage, or kneading. NAIPO recently sent me a sample of their NAIPO Back Massager, the oPillow, to try out. Here are my thoughts about NAIPO’s latest self-care massage tool.
First, as massage therapist, I think it is essential that we first talk about petrissage and kneading.
What is petrissage?
The ever-popular tool that everyone has been talking about for the last couple years- the percussion massage gun, uses tapotement. Tapotement is the striking/hitting of the body and muscle tissues. Other massage tools, often cheap ones, use superficial vibration. Rarely do you have a massage tool that uses petrissage, and that is what I was excited about with the oPillow.
The origin of the word “petrissage” is the French word “petrir” which can be translated to kneading, or working the pastry dough. In petrissage, both hands are used, working alternately together as one. It may be hand over hand, one hand towards the other, or one hand moving away from the other, but it is always a kind of one-two rhythmic movement. The NAIPO oPillow captures this movement.
Often, massage therapists like myself, will warm up the client with some nice effleurage, or gliding strokes. Next, we move into deeper petrissage strokes, kneading, lifting, rolling, and wringing the muscle tissues – compressing them against each other. This stroke is the one you go to a massage therapist for. It is the one your spouse is only able to apply to your shoulders for no longer than five minutes. It takes skill, hard work, and stamina.
Benefits of Petrissage
The benefits of petrissage are simple but important. Petrissage increases circulation, reduces muscle tension and pain, and promotes relaxation. Good stuff.
More About NAIPO
But they also have a TENS unit, a few foot massage tools, and a percussion massage gun. You can see all of NAIPO’s massage products here.
Things I liked about the oPillow
Unfortunately, most massage tools just vibrate. They don’t really do more than make you talk like you are speaking into a fan. They do not address any deep muscle tissue, and they rarely relieve muscle tension. The makers of NAIPO oPillow mastered the replication of deep circular palm pressure. This isn’t an easy thing to do to replicate a massage therapist rhythmically pressing their palm into your body, lifting and kneading the muscle tissue. However, NAIPO nailed it.
You have the option to turn on the heat. The heat button is right below the power button. When on, the oPillow has a consistent temp of 109.4 Fahrenheit. It is not too hot, not just warm.
Tip: The heat start automatically turns on when you turn on the unit. This confused me at first. The green button does not indicate the unit is on, it indicates the heat on. Just tap the button under the power button to turn the heat off. You will then see the green light turn off.
The oPillow is much more versatile than I originally gave it credit for when it first arrived. “Great, another tool for the low back.” However, it does far more than just that. Even though it says on the box it is a back pillow, it really is able to address many other areas of the body.
- Neck (The curve of the unit is ideal to fit the cervical curve)
- Between shoulder blades
- Mid back
- Low back
- Abdomen (Combined with heat can provide some PMS cramp relief)
Reverses Direction of Pressure
The direction of the circular pressure changes automatically. The first time it did that, I was not prepared. I did not know I needed that switch in directions of pressure, but NAIPO knew I did. This relaxes muscles further (This is something I will be taking to the massage room with me). I tend to go clockwise most of the time, but now will make a more conscious effort to reverse the directions of more massage strokes.
The unit reverse directions after two minutes Then it continues to switch directions every minute until the twenty-minute mark.
Here is a video of the oPillow reversing directions at the fifteen-second mark.
Auto shut Off
After twenty minutes, the unit turns off automatically. For good reason too. That way you don’t fall asleep or lay on it all afternoon and overwork an area of the body. Yes, overworking a muscle is a thing, and it is painful.
Size and dimensions here for those of you that us the metric system can be found here.
The unit will sell for $39.99.
The card that came with the unit says the oPillow unit has a warranty of 2 years plus 90 days for registered products.
Limitations and changes I would have made to the oPillow
All tools have limitations. With this tool, there are some things I would have changed/
My kids seem to walk behind the couch and trip over the course and rip it out of the wall because it does not reach very far. I would have liked just a couple more feet. If you plan to use it in the middle of the floor while you play Call of Duty, you will need an extension cord to run this unit.
One of the selling points of this product is the velcro with the adjustable hanger, so you can position this tool in just the right spot for the back. You can move forward in your seat from time to time without it slipping down.
However, not every chair, actually most thicker-backed office or home chairs, will not work with the hanger. The only chair in my house or office it worked with was the dining room chairs I had made by some Amish friends. If you have a captain’s office chair or a big comfy recliner, the hanger will not work. If your office chairs are thin, then this will work just fine with the hanger. I would have preferred some elastic straps, or something that would work with more chair styles.
But, this does not mean you cannot use the oPillow without the hanger. Honestly, I rarely use it and find that when you remove it and use it on the couch or lying down in bed is where this tool really shines. I just prop it up on my pillows in bed or lean back against it on the couch without the hanger 95+% of the time.
If you are a massage therapist and wondering if you could use this in the massage room, I do have an opinion on that. I could see myself plugging this in and putting under a client’s neck while I work on the anterior side of the body, or under a hamstring that is bothering someone (with proper sanitary covers, of course).
But, this tool is really not about the massage room, it is about self-care in between massages. This unit is small enough to take with upiu on trips, quiet enough to use in your office without bothering others, and simple enough you will kick back at the end of the day to relax. And after five minutes, the NAIPO’s “hands” will not be tired.
I would like to compare this to the NAIPO’s other shiatsu pillow without the hanger. If this one is considerably more expensive than the one without the hanger and provides the same pressure, I would opt for the one without the hanger.
I absolutely love the statement NAIPO had on their “About Page“.
In a modern world of fast living and full of stress, Naipo is committed to developing the best massage and relaxation products to deliver well-being and value to customers around the world.
With this tool, NAIPO delivered.
On a personal note, this review is fresh off a natural disaster hitting my home in Iowa. Just this week, I have cut down and helped haul dozens of trees, handed out 100+ meals in my community, and taken too many cold showers. I did not have power for eight days. Stress and tension have been high. But, seriously, the first thing I did when my power came on at 8:55 PM last Monday night was plug in my oPillow. It felt so good to lay down and relax for a few minutes for some genuine self-care. Thank you, NAIPO! This is an excellent product!
Want Your Own oPillow?
If you decide to purchase your very own oPillow, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do (or whomever you decided to gift it to). The new launch price is $39.99. The estimated delivery date should be September 25th, 2020.
Remember, for the presale NAIPO will give customers 33% off their newest product. Enjoy!
Addition Cautions or Warnings
As with any massage or tool, it may not be appropriate for everyone. This should not be used over new scar tissue, inflamed or swollen areas, damaged skin, or after a recent injury or surgery. Talk to a health care professional if you have concerns about using this product and read the product’s warnings.
I have always loved tiny things, like tiny homes. When I was contacted about trying out a mini percussion massage gun by Relxbit, I was excited to give it a try.
Why? Percussion massage guns are big, loud, and intense. Now, that does not mean that I do not like them, because I do. A lot. They provide deep, percussion massage like no other massage tool I have seen in my twenty-plus years as a licensed massage therapist. They truly are a game-changer in the massage industry. Percussion massage guns are a tool I can finally recommend for self-care to clients that want deep tissue massage at home between appointments.
My mini percussion massage gun from RELXBIT arrived a couple of weeks ago. I have kept it beside my desk, brought it out for the family to try, and passed it around the neighborhood. Here are the specs and a few of my thoughts on the unit.
First of all, as I said before, percussion massage guns are often heavy, noisy, and intense. The RELXBIT Mini percussion massage gun is none of those. It is compact, quiet, and delivers a good amount of pressure for something that is only a little bigger than your cell phone.
Size and Weight
The aluminum alloy construction not only gives this unit a solid feel, but contributes to its low weight. The Relxbit MINI is 1.1 pounds That is over a pound or two lighter than your typical full-size percussion massage gun. This is a big difference, especially if you have ever held a percussion massage gun for an extended period of time.
This unit has four speeds (ranging 1800-3200rpm). You can easily change speeds by tapping the on/off button on the bottom of the unit.
The RELXBIT mini comes with four interchangeable heads.
- Fork/Double Claw
The ball head is made out of a harder foam material. The last three heads listed above are made of a harder plastic and not rubber or silicone I am used to in full-size units. They do have a cheaper feel, which is contrary to the feel of the unit. This is one area I feel they could improve on in the future.
The RELXBIT uses a USB Type C cable to charge the lithium-ion battery. This means you can charge it on your laptop, in your car, with any battery pack, or anywhere you can use a USB charger. This is an excellent feature that I would like to see in full-size units.
RELXBIT states that this unit will run for six hours on a single charge. There is not a battery indicator light on this unit. So, it is difficult to know when this unit needs to be recharged other than when it dies. Since I am not convinced this unit should be used in a professional massage setting, then this is not as big of a deal.
At 50DB, this is the quieter than any percussion massage gun I have tried.
Is the RELXBIT Mini Right for You?
This isn’t a Hypervolt, Theragun, or a full-size percussion massage gun. But, it isn’t meant to be. If you are going into this purchase thinking it will have the same power as a full-size percussion massage gun, you will be disappointed.
But, when space and portability are important, this is an excellent option. It definitely has benefits over This massage gun is ideal for travel, to use at your desk, or keep in your purse or gym bag.
Compare sizes here
This would be a good gift for someone that needs/desires a massage,
My kids love this one. Perfect amount of pressure for them. I know many people that a percussion massage gun would be too much pressure for.
This is not something I will be keeping in my massage room, but I will not rule out suggesting it to clients for at-home care. The more I learn about self-care and home care, the more I find tools like this
I often find myself at my desk turning it on and working the pads of my hands, neck and shoulders, IT bands, or the bottoms of my feet during the day. The pressure this unit provides in those areas is ideal, in my opinion.
The price of the Relxbix mini is comparable to a full-size percussion massage gun. If you need or want the power of a full-size percussion massage gun, buy a full-size percussion massage gun. Here are some tips for choosing the right one.
If you need something smaller and are willing to compromise on intensity, then I would not hesitate recommending the Relxbit Mini to you. There really is no other percussion massage gun on the market like it at this time.
To learn more about the RELXBIT Mini, or purchase one for yourself, visit www.RELXBIT.com Don’t forget to use the code Relxbit$50off for $50 off this unit.
In the past year, I have seen more and more massage therapists posting photos of their new percussion massage guns on Facebook. One person said it was a “Game changer”. Many others have shared their interest to use their new tool on their clients. But this article isn’t just for my fellow massage therapists.
Whether you are a massage therapist looking to use this tool in the office, an athlete interested in using these for injury prevention and recovery, or just someone looking for one of the best self-care massage tools available – then a percussion massage gun may be something that you need.
As 2020 continues to keep us on our toes and away from each other, many are in need of pain and stress relief. In this time of social and physical distancing, massage therapists and clients suddenly share an interest in buying a percussion massage gun. Not everyone is ready to go back to their massage therapist just yet. And that is more than okay. In the meantime you may still need some soft tissue pain relief. Does any of this sound like you?
If you are reluctant to buy this massage tool because of past “meh” experiences with massage tools, are concerned about the cost, or you are holding onto a notion that hands-on massage is your only option for deep tissue massage, I get it. Trust me.
A Short Story About the Reluctant Massage Therapist
For twenty years, I did not own or use an electric massage tool in my massage practice. My hands, feet, elbows, and forearms were the only tools I used and deemed appropriate and suitable for my paying clients. When I graduated from massage school, the only massage tools available looked like something you would use to buff a car.
But things have changed a lot in twenty years in the massage world, including tools. I touched a little on percussion massage guns in this article: 5 Self-Care Massage Tools Everybody Should Own. Massage therapists, athletes, and self-care enthusiasts wanted more information on this particular tool. Now that there are so many options on the market and self-care is so essential, it is time to talk more about percussion massage guns.
Let’s talk about why percussion massage guns are different, what the benefits are, and what to look for during your search.
How Percussion Massage Guns are Different
What makes percussion massage guns different than older massage tools? In my opinion, it comes down to percussion vs vibration. Percussion and vibration are both massage strokes that most massage therapists use daily.
Most older massage tools use vibration, or shaking. Vibration definitely has therapeutic value. But, most vibration massagers tend to work on a superficial level and do very little to manipulate deep muscle tissues. If you are constantly disappointed in a massage tool’s ability to work deeper muscle tissues, then you need to use percussion too.
Percussion massage guns to not only use vibration, they also use true percussion. Percussion is a form of tapotement (rapid and repeated striking of the body tissues). I promise it feels better than that sounds. But, yes, percussion massagers strike down on the surface of the body, sending rapid pulses of pressure deep into the muscle tissues.
If you search for more information on percussion massage guns, many massage gun makers tout percussion as a “breakthrough soft tissue treatment”. This isn’t really true. Massage therapists have been using percussion to resolve muscle pain and disfunction since the beginning of time. However, percussion massage guns can do a few things we massage therapists cannot do with our hands. They can provide extended and consistent percussion strokes.
Who should consider purchasing a percussion massage gun:?
Percussion tools can be used at home and professionally by massage therapists. If you are in the following groups, or work with the following clientele, you should consider a percussion massage gun.
- Athletes (Pre-workout and post-workout) (These are particularly popular in the Crossfit community)
- General pain, muscle tension, or soft tissue injury recovery
- Chair/table massage events, or any promotional events
- A massage therapist with pressure-loving clients
Who shouldn’t use a percussion massage gun?
These tools are not ideal for everyone. Some of these guns state that they can deliver up to 70 pounds of pressure, which is a lot of pressure. So frail individuals, or those that should not have a deep massage, should not use this tool. Who else should not use a percussion massage gun?
- Anyone who should not have a massage
- Anyone with a condition listed on the manufacturer’s instructions list
Here is an example of a manufacturer’s warning:
Three Things to Look for When Choosing a Percussion Massage Gun
The three most important things for me when choosing a percussion massage gun are noise, battery life, and additional options. Let’s explore why each of these is so important.
Some percussion massage guns are loud, like power tool loud. While this may not be important for home or personal use, I think we can all agree that loud sounds can kill the relaxing vibe in a massage room or spa.
- A conversation in restaurant or office
- Background music
- An air conditioning unit at 100 feet
That is tolerable. However, some massage guns produce nearly 100 decibels!
- An outboard motor, lawnmower, motorcycle, farm tractor, or jackhammer
- A Boeing 707 aircraft at one nautical mile before landing
It is going to be awfully hard to hear the music in the massage room over that. Few things will make your next client out in the waiting room wonder more than the sounds of a jackhammer coming from behind your door. If you are a massage therapist that does outdoor events, then noise really is not an issue.
I can confirm that massage tools dying in the middle of a session is frowned upon by clients. Look for a massage gun that quickly recharges and has at least a 2-3+ hour battery life. Some batteries can be changed out and recharged. This, of course, adds to the cost of the unit. However, if you plan to use this tool and an all-day massage event, go for the extra battery option.
Additional Percussion Massage Gun Options
Most percussion massage guns come with a few additional options you need to consider before purchase.
Most have one to six interchangeable heads that come standard. These heads have different uses. Here are some common attachments below and their suggestions for use.
- Ball: For me, this is the attachment I most commonly use. I find it is best for larger muscles, like the glutes or thighs (quads and hamstrings). But I also use it on the shoulders, between shoulder blades, and upper back.
- Flat: This attachment is versatile and can be used all over the body. I like it for work on the IT bands, pectoral muscles, and feet.
- Fork: Each side of the fork is able to work along the spine, shins, or Achilles.
- Point/Bullet: If you need to concentrate on one spot, use this attachment. It is like using your thumb to address specific areas of pain and tension. I also use it for some cross fiber work and scar tissue.
- Flathead Screwdriver/Spade: This attachment is ideal for stripping the calves and forearms. It also works well along the spine.
Most massage guns have variable speeds (some up to nine). Most measure their speeds in revolutions per minute, or RPMs. This refers to how many times the head of the massage gun can strike a surface. Most massage guns have sufficient RPMs.
Here is an example of the VYBE gun that has nine speeds and says it can “hit” 52 times a second.
A few massage guns have options for adjusting the angles. This is particularly helpful for therapist ergonomics or reaching difficult areas. Two examples of people that would benefit from this option are if you are a massage therapist using it for chair massage and need to work on the shoulders (this is not a problem with table massage) or if you are going to primarily use this on your own back or hard to reach areas. See the Theragun G3 or VYBE Pro for this option.
The average percussion tool looks to be around two pounds. This can be heavy for extended periods (mobile events). Especially since you are constantly holding onto a shaking power tool. If you are using these periodically during a session, you should be fine.
Amps or Pounds of Pressure
This refers to the pressure or force of the tool. Some will say “10mm amplitude” or “70 lbs of pressure”. I have not heard of anyone that has complained about a lack of pressure from their massage gun. Again, most deliver the necessary pressure.
Most companies use the handle to store and conceal the battery. And one complaint I have is that the handles are a little large and not really built with smaller hands in mind. To help make this issue a little less of a problem, most handles are covered with a silicone surface to help with maintaining a good grip.
This option isn’t a must, but it is helpful for carrying and storing your heads, chargers, and the actual tool.
Tips for Massage Therapists
Practice, Practice, Practice
If you find your ideal tool, practice – just like you would when starting to use any new modality. There is a definite learning curve with these tools. Holding the massage gun at a wrong angle can lead to the tool “jumping” on the client, which is uncomfortable. I have also found that keeping the tool moving is better than keeping it in one spot. But again, everyone has a different preference.
Communication is key. The vibration caused by this tool can make people nauseous. For some, it is painful, ticklish, or delivers far too much pressure (on any speed). It may also cause sensory overload, which may be temporary, or not. Remember, percussion has a tendency to stimulate the body when used briefly and relax the body when prolonged.
Check Liability Insurance and Scope/State Laws
Check with your professional liability insurance to see if these tools/devices are covered under your policy. I imagine most do.
State Laws, Rules, and Scope
Most states have vague definitions for massage that center around the manipulation of the soft tissues. I am not aware if there are state laws or rules that forbid the use of electric tools by massage professionals. Also, personal trainers, make sure you are staying within your scope.
Here is one example of a State’s definition of massage, Florida’s statute and definition of “massage” from the Massage Practice Act. Note the “electrical or mechanical device” inclusion.
480.033 Definitions.—As used in this act:
(3) “Massage” means the manipulation of the soft tissues of the human body with the hand, foot, arm, or elbow, whether or not such manipulation is aided by hydrotherapy, including colonic irrigation, or thermal therapy; any electrical or mechanical device; or the application to the human body of a chemical or herbal preparation.
Which Percussion Should I Buy?
And why are there eight hundred different options on Amazon that all look the same? Let’s tackle that question first, so we can move on. There are many companies have contacted a manufacturer (usually in China) and had them put their own name and label on a percussion tool. For home and professional use, some of these tools are really quite adequate.
In the professional realm, you will often see people talk about a Theragun (affiliate link). This tool comes in around $600. This may seem awfully steep when many other similar-looking percussion massage guns on Amazon are under $200. Even last month, my Costco flyer had the very popular Hypervolt by Hyperice (affiliate link) available for a short time for under $300.
Whichever you choose, do the homework. Check product reviews, customer support, return policies, and warranties during your research.
Once you get your hands on your very own, enjoy the benefits for you and your clients. Self-care has never been more important!
If you own a percussion massage gun, tell me about your experience either as an athlete, massage therapist, or person with acute/chronic pain. Your input will help others with their decision.
Some of the links are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have owned or used all of these tools, and I recommend them because I believe they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I earn if you decide to buy something.
Have a percussion massage gun that is different, or you think it should be added to this article? Contact me here at [email protected]
This is a guest post by Morgan Taylor
Morgan Taylor is a recent college graduate living in North Carolina. As a communications major, she enjoys writing and learning about health, productivity and fitness. When she isn’t writing about health and wellness she enjoys hiking, playing tennis, and cooking exciting new recipes.
The healing benefits of massage therapy have been understood and utilized by other cultures for centuries, however, these benefits are still relatively unknown by many in Western culture. Thankfully, we are seeing more and more practitioners of massage working to illuminate the holistic power of massage therapy. Here’s the five most important reasons you should try massage therapy.
Massage Counteracts All the Sitting We Do
There is no denying it – we are in a sedentary age. And, although we know how detrimental it is to our health, the average American is still spending between 6 to 8 hours of their day sedentary. All of this sitting is causing us to suffer from serious postural stress, spinal problems, and pain in the neck, shoulders, back, and glutes. Massages work to relieve the tension caused by a sedentary lifestyle, improve blood circulation, and counteract the spinal imbalances caused by excessive sitting.
In 15 years of being a massage therapist, I have bought and used many self-care massage tools for self-care. Of the many I have tried, there are only a few I use consistently and recommend to others.
These are the tools I use to help me after a long day of giving massages and what I recommend to my clients for self-massage at home between their appointments.
For years, I have seen how self-massage can help decrease pain and maintain the benefits of massage between appointments. My clients who use these tools have a better awareness of where their pain is, what causes it, and often report less pain and tension between appointments.
These simple, safe tools can be used anytime over clothing. They can be kept in your car, travel bag or office desk.
Ready to find out what tool is best for you?
A massage table is one of the biggest investments you will make in your massage business. This purchase is not given the thought it deserves, especially by those new to the field.
Think of your massage table as a tool. It affects your client’s comfort and your body mechanics, two very important things. This purchase needs thought and research.
There are a lot of choices out there and I want you to avoid the mistakes myself and others have made, as well as give you some advice on what you should look for during your search.
You need to consider your work/modality, future plans, office space, clients and budget. A table that is perfect for you is not going to be perfect for your classmate and their clients.
Let’s learn a little bit more about you, your business and your clients.
Recently I was invited by MassageBook to look at their site, and if I chose to do so, write a review. This weekend I sat down, signed up, filled out my profile, and explored the site. Here is what I found:
What is MassageBook?
MassageBook is an online directory and scheduling service for massage therapists.
In addition, MassageBook has a couple other tools/services available and plans for a few more to be added in the future.
Once all of the tools are live, MassageBook could be a “one stop shop” for some massage therapists.
Other Tools Include
Social and Local SEO Management
Accept Credit Card Payments
HIPAA Compliant SOAP Notes
Interesting Price Model
Unlike other scheduling services, MassageBook does not charge a monthly fee. Instead, you pay per booking. It works like this: [Read More…]