Monday, August 10, 2020

Thera/ Massage And Vibration Guns. Do They Work?

Picture taken by iPhone 11 Pro from Shopee
Earlier in the week, I read an article on the same topic written by CNA Lifestyle. Actually, I already wrote half of the article on that exact same topic last week but decided to publish the article on bicycle lanes in Sigapore since bicycles are much closer to my heart.

The author did a good introduction on what massage or thera guns are and what they do in that article. She also interviewed other health professionals for their thoughts. So my article will be different. It will explain the science behind why thera or massage guns feel so good when you use them. And of course the evidence available.

Thera or massage guns are being advertised with all kinds of benefits like helping with aches, pain and stimulating "muscle recovery". They can certainly vibrate your muscles/ tissues but almost all the medical claims are not totally true.

Vibration therapy definitely is relaxing for most people especially if it's not too strong or sudden or in an uncomfortable location. Sitting in a warm pool with bubble jets (like a jacuzzi) come to mind and I'm sure all of you who tried will agree that it's a pleasant sensation.

And vibration, waves and frequencies are what some physiotherapists already use for treatment. These include ultrasound, electrical (TENs) and magnetic stimulation, infrared radiation and even lasers. The above are mainly microscopic vibrations aimed at cells at the cellular level and a wider range of frequencies and smaller amplitudes.

Even ESWT (or shock wave) uses high intensity waves to smash kidney stones, (used by doctors) and/ or stimulate bone healing. Many other physiotherapists also uses ESWT to treat plantar fasciitis.

An article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that runners who receive daily sessions of vibration therapy on the legs were less sore  and had fewer blood markers associated with soreness compared to runners who did not (Broadbent et al, 2010).

Coarse vibrations have interesting neurological effects too. Vibrations added to really flexible gymnasts appears to increase their flexibility further (Kinser et al, 2008).

One reason why vibrations help is a change in our proprioceptive state. Proprioception is how we sense or judge our position. When the body is being vibrated or shaken, plenty of input goes to our cerebellum in the brain. When there is no danger perceived by the cerebellum, the nervous system send signals for the body to relax. That's why the body calms down and you feel good.

Another reason is the strong and distinctive vibratory sensations are quite the opposite of feeling stiff and tight. Just like splashing cold water on your face when you're hot, vibration feels like a natural remedy to your stiffness.

So patients with conditions like muscle strains, neck pain and especially low back pain with fear being a big part of it may feel better after using massage guns or other vibration therapy.

However, if you have shin splints (will hurt more actually), plantar fasciitis and nerve entrapment issues then they probably will not help.

So, still thinking about splashing your your earned cash on this? Save your money. Or better still come see us in our clinic to treat the cause of your problem.


Broadbent S, Rousseau JJ et al (2010). Vibration Therapy reduces Plasma IL6 And Muscle Soreness After Downhill Running. BJSM. 44(12): 888-894. DOI: 10.1136/bjsm.2008.052100

Kinser AM, Ramsey MW et al (2008). Vibration And Stretching Effects On Flexibility And Explosive Strength In Young Gmynasts. Med Sci Sp Exer. 40(1): 133-140. DOI: 10.1249/mss.0b013e3181586b13.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Bike Lanes In Singapore?

Singapore's only bike lane@ Coastal road
I last wrote about having bicycle lanes on the road way back in 2010 and 2011. No one really paid attention then. Then earlier this week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came out promising to build thousands of miles of new bike lanes to get the Brits moving and healthy after months of coronavirus lockdown.

His pledge came after plans to force restaurants to display calories on menus as part of a bigger battle to help the British lose weight. This is after an analysis by the Organization for Economic Development released in 2019 found that Britain was the second fattest nation in Europe, with almost a third of the population classified as overweight.
ST 1/8/2020 on page A23
Being obese makes one more vulnerable to many diseases including the coronavirus.This is especially true for Johnson himself after his own experience with Covid-19. His life was in danger and he had to be treated in intensive care largely because he was overweight. He had previously dismissed the idea of government intervention over what the public should eat, but changed his mind after being hospitalized.

When Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was still alive, he did consider special bike lanes for cyclists in Singapore. He had in his younger days cycled to university in Cambridge and had to also cycle about five miles uphill to visit his girlfriend and later wife as she lived in a different hostel.

From -Hard truths to keep Singapore going
"It's better for everybody's health, it's better for the environment and it's certainly better than having the place or having the roads overcrowded with cars, taxis, buses."
From -Hard truths to keep Singapore going
During the circuit breaker/ lockdown in Singapore, it was a dream come true for cyclists, as there was so much less traffic on the roads. My sons and I went cycling almost daily as we did not have to worry about sharing the roads with the cars and buses. Throughout the world, bicycles were selling like hotcakesincluding Singapore, as many people rode bikes for both transport and exercise.

Some of you reading this may say that it's too hot to ride bicycles to the office or to run errands. Yes, in our climate you will will definitely need a shower after riding to work. But it will also not to be too cold when it rains. So we will need to have toilets and parking spaces for bicycles. A small price to pay for a cleaner and greener environment.

Many drivers will not like this idea (there are many drivers who hate cyclists if you look at the online forums) of bike lanes on our roads. Well, you can't please everyone.

Newly appointed transport minister Ong Ye Kung, are you reading this?

*A big thank you to Jeffrey Keng. The very first picture right at the top and the one just above was taken from a video by Jeffrey Keng on 22/9/18 while we were cycling along Coastal road.