Know the Differences! Which Is Better for Deep Massage - Ultrasound or Percussive?

Know the Differences! Which Is Better for Deep Massage - Ultrasound or Percussive?

Table of contents

  • What Is Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?
  • Types Of Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
  • How Is Ultrasound Used in Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?
  • Percussive Massage Therapy
  • What Happens in Percussive Massage Therapy?
  • How Do You Perform Percussive Massage Therapy?
  • The Risks And Benefits Of Ultrasound And Percussion Therapies
  • Ultrasound Vs. Percussive - Which One's Better?

Are you feeling a little tight after your workout? Looking for an alternative way to combat body pain and feel relaxed? It is time to get yourself deep tissue massage therapy.

But deep tissue massage therapy involves two types: external (ultrasound) and massage gun (percussion).

So, what should you choose for your massage? Is sticking to an ultrasound therapy routine better, or should you get a massage gun for home?

What Is Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?

To decide which massage therapy to go for, first, let’s get to know a bit about what deep tissue massage therapy is.

This therapy is similar to relaxation massage but aims at your body’s deeper muscles and fascia. In simpler words, this therapy targets the muscles underneath the muscles. 

So it gives you a deeper and more vitalized massage, rather than a superficial one, as seen in relaxation therapy.

Types Of Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

A deep tissue massage therapy involves two different types: 

External Therapy

External massage therapy involves massaging your muscles by taking help from another person. This person should be skilled and licensed enough to perform the therapy.

These therapies (e.g., ultrasound massage) can be expensive sometimes but worth taking when avoiding self-efforts. 

Massage Gun

If you hate burdening yourself with appointments and extra expenses of external therapies, try machine guns. Using these high-powered, inexpensive guns, you can easily give yourself a daily massage on your own.

However, if you are trying it on any unreachable part, such as your back, you may need someone's help. Massage guns are generally used in percussive massage therapy.

How Is Ultrasound Used in Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?

You must be wondering how a highly technical probe like ultrasound is used for deep massage therapy. Well, ultrasound therapy is a therapeutic method used by physiotherapists around the globe to treat sports injuries and other pain. 

It involves sending high-frequency ultrasonic waves deep inside your body to treat injured areas like muscles and tendons. After striking the muscles and tendons, these waves produce a heating effect that heals the muscles by wearing out the injured tissue.

Due to this deep muscular and fascicular treating property, ultrasonic waves have become an essential part of deep tissue massage therapy.

Components Of Ultrasound Therapy

So how does ultrasonic therapy work? To understand this, let's divide the therapy into five components:

  • The ultrasonic device or probe
  • The heating effect
  • Circular movements
  • The injured tissue
  • Gel

Ultrasound Massager/Probe

Well, the ultrasonic probe has a head containing tiny crystals inside. When placed in an electric field, these crystals vibrate to produce energy. 

This vibration causes the transmission of high-frequency sound waves (1 and 3 MHz) into your body. These soundwaves or ultrasonic waves travel further and target your body's injured or painful area to produce a heating effect.

The Heating Effect & Circular Movements

What's this heating effect? Well, as soon as the sound waves hit the target tissue, it causes it to vibrate. This vibration produces heat to heal the pain-bearing tissue, which is what we call the heating effect. 

Usually, you are not supposed to feel this burning sensation while taking the therapy. But, if the probe is kept in place and not moved in a circular motion, you will surely experience it.

It happens because the sound waves are continuously tearing off the tissue area in one place, causing it to become more painful, significantly if it's injured.

In simpler words, many soundwaves in an area cause a lot of vibration and eventually produce more pain. So to avoid this, the probe is massaged on the body in constant circular motions.

The Injured Tissue

Talking about the injured tissue, it is the region inside your body which the ultrasound waves target for therapy. This region may also consist of scar tissue, composed of tough protein fibers that can restore damaged body tissues. 

As a goal, ultrasound therapy wears off these tissue fibers through the heating effect, producing tissues with better elasticity and muscle movement.


Before performing the ultrasound therapy, your physiotherapist will apply a gel to your skin. This gel will help:

  • Provide close contact of ultrasound massager to skin
  • Reduce friction
  • Provide better transmission of ultrasonic waves inside your body

Percussive Massage Therapy

So, like ultrasound therapy, Percussive massage therapy is a massaging method aimed to treat soft tissue pain. It involves delivering strong vibrations and pulses into the muscle fibers.

By performing rapid strokes, the percussion or massage gun stimulates blood flow to the muscles to help relieve pain and injuries and improve flexibility and movement.

What Happens in Percussive Massage Therapy?

Just like in ultrasound therapy, we use a massaging probe for percussion massage therapy. But it's more like a gun than just a probe. 

Components of Percussive Therapy

Percussive therapy is outlined by three things: frequency, amplitude, and torque in the context of massaging guns.

When you use the gun on your body, it touches your body at a frequency of 40 percussions per second. Likewise, the massager penetrates your body with an amplitude of 16 millimeters, reaching the right amount of depth your therapy needs.

For percussive therapy, you would also need a high amount of pressure to reach the deep muscles. Thanks to the percussion gun, with fantastic torque and a high-quality force resisting nature.

How Does Percussive Therapy Relieve Pain?

Well, as you move or perform a workout, your body receives constant pain stimulus throughout the day. This pain then travels to your brain in a pathway that goes around 55 miles an hour.

So, to overcome this pain pathway, you would need something that overrides this velocity of pain, right? So, that is what percussion massage therapy actually does.

Thus, when using the gun, we generate a highly stimulating pathway that goes faster to the brain than the pain. Therefore, it will cause your brain to divert attention from the pain pathway and focus more on this percussion stimulus.

Combined with all force, amplitude, and frequency, this stimulus generates a rapid movement that relieves muscle tension. On the contrary, in percussive massage therapy, your body can not sustain tension while being stimulated.

So like in ultrasound therapy, here you are stimulating your body’s muscle fibers, giving yourself a calming feeling. All in all, you are experiencing a convenient deep tissue massage therapy all by yourself.

In simple words, your brain will forget all the pain, and the massage will make you even more relaxed.

Thus, after coming from a good workout or any pain-inducing activity, you need something that relaxes and relieves tension in your muscles and joints. Now we know how percussion therapy does that.

Unlike ultrasound therapy, you can do percussive therapy many times and at any time during the day. 

How Do You Perform Percussive Massage Therapy?

If you experience routine work-out pains, we recommend doing percussion before, during, and after your exercise.

Before Workout

So to give yourself a pre-workout, try using the percussion gun on either side of your body and proceed to massage your belly. 

Choose a spot there and hold for around ten seconds. Repeat this step for ten seconds each to warm up your body before the workout.

During Workout

Massage during a workout sounds strange, right? But once you start doing this, you will know exactly how it helps.

Instead of starting from either side of your body, activate the percussion therapy directly from your belly. It will fulfill the depleted oxygen that your muscles lost during the exercise and push the lactic acid away. 

Now, you can quickly move your tired muscles without experiencing tension and continue your remaining workout.

After Workout

At the end of your workout, perform percussion therapy all over your body for a good two minutes. To be more accurate, glide the gun on your arms, belly, and legs and give yourself a good massage.

Regardless of wherever you use it, the gun will elevate blood flow, throw away post-exercise toxins, and let your body recover from stress.

But make sure you are using the right percussion gun for this therapy. We suggest buying one that is effortless to use, like the Exogun.

Also read: 8 Best Father's Day Health and Fitness Gifts You'll Want Them to Have in 2021

The Risks And Benefits Of Ultrasound And Percussion Therapies

The Benefits

No matter how different they look, both ultrasound and percussion therapy show similarities in risks and benefits. Both therapies provide the following benefits:

  • Minimize body inflammation
  • Tear away scar tissue and other adhesions
  • Push fluids out of your muscles and sends them to the circulatory system 
  • Prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)  
  • Provide muscle relaxation
  • Reduce soreness and muscle tension
  • Help relieve painful medical conditions like arthritis, trauma, fibromyalgia, etc.

The Risks

To avoid risks, percussive and ultrasound massage therapy should not be used in:

  • Pregnancy
  • On skin over implants like pacemakers
  • Open wounds or fragile skin (e.g., eczema)
  • Bleeding disorder patients or those taking heparin
  • Varicose veins
  • Near the eye, heart, testes, spines, and other sensitive areas

Ultrasound Vs. Percussive - Which One's Better?

Now that you have uncovered a lot on ultrasound and percussive therapy, can you decide which one to choose for your subsequent deep tissue massage therapy? No? Worry not, for we will help you with that.

Let's summarize comparing both therapies to conclude why one is better than the latter.


We already mentioned how you would need a physiotherapist to perform the ultrasound massage therapy. But in the case of percussion therapy, you don't necessarily need to rush for appointments.

Just buy the massage gun and use it as we told you. However, if you don't use it correctly or put the gun on your bones by mistake, you can harm yourself as well. 

But once you are familiar with its use, percussion therapy will always be your go-to choice for deep tissue massage therapy.

Plus, unlike ultrasound therapy, percussion therapy doesn't even require putting on a gel initially. So you'll have less work and less effort to commence percussion therapy.


When comparing similarities in pricing, both massaging kits cost more or less the same ($100-$2000). But when we add the charges of physiotherapy to the probe, ultrasound therapy becomes more expensive. Some of the kits do not even include ultrasound gel, and you have to buy it separately.

The worst part is that most healthcare insurances do not include ultrasound therapy as a priority.

Thus, a percussive massage can be the best inexpensive method for deep tissue massage. All you need is a percussion gun and some self-taught practice.

Duration Of Therapy

An ultrasound massage therapy takes around five to ten minutes and can only be performed once a day. Whereas percussion therapy hardly takes about ten seconds to two minutes.

The best part is that you can perform percussion therapy twice or thrice a day, depending on how much you need it. However, we suggest not overuse the percussion gun, or else you might give yourself more pain.

Pain Perception

Both therapies are not supposed to cause you any pain whatsoever. However, as mentioned before, you might feel it when you don’t do them correctly.

For example, not using them in a constant circular motion or soft non-bony areas can give you a hard time for both ultrasound and percussive therapy, respectively.

So, which of these therapies will give me less pain? If you are doing any therapy independently, you know your threshold level and will remove it immediately if it is painful.

But on the other hand, another person doing the same on your body will take time to acknowledge your pain threshold.

Likewise, when you do percussive therapy on your own, you can quickly alert yourself if you are not doing it correctly. Otherwise, you might need to scream or tell your therapist if the ultrasound massager is causing you any pain.

Hazards Of Therapy

Even though both therapies are very similar in risks, ultrasound takes the lead in hazards. A study says that wrongly adjusted ultrasound frequencies can damage cellular activity and cause tissue vaporization from exposure. This effect is rarely seen in percussive massage therapy.


After understanding the concept and comparison behind both, we all can notice how percussive therapy weighs more than ultrasound therapy. 

Therefore, if you are looking for an inexpensive, portable, practical, and convenient method of deep tissue massage at home, consider buying a percussion gun right away. We suggest purchasing a high-quality one like the ExoGun

But no matter what therapy you try, consult your healthcare practitioner beforehand to avoid any mishap.