March 25, 2019

How to do a Jigsaw Massage (or Percussive Massage) for Arms

No matter what you’re doing, chances are you’re engaging some part of your arms every day. Even with only moderate use, the muscles in your arms start to store tension and get tighter, often restricting your range of motion.

Your arms include your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and forearms. Each muscle group serves a specific purpose, and they all work together to help you accomplish complex physical movements. Every sport has different requirements of our body, and it’s worth understanding which muscles receive heavier use to avoid injury or muscular imbalances.

For example, biceps and triceps are opposing muscles, meaning that if one flexes, the other relaxes. This is important to note because most sports aren’t designed around creating evenly distributed requirements for your arms, they’re designed around a specific function or goal (winning a tennis match, scaling a mountain, executing an armbar.) A muscular imbalance where the bicep is stronger relative than the tricep, for example, could increase the risk of injuring your shoulder or elbow.

Thankfully, your arms can be easily massaged with a jigsaw massager, helping release tension, reduce soreness, and keep you performing at your best.

Bicep

Biceps, orbiceps brachii, are mainly responsible for forearm rotation and play a critical role in moving the shoulder and elbow. They primarily function as a flexor (muscles that decrease the size of the angle between two sides of a joint or bones, in this case, the shoulder and elbow.

Bicep soreness is usually the result of curling and lifting motions. Your biceps are frequently engaged in most pulling motions such as inside grip pull-ups, making them particularly prone to getting sore. Your biceps are also fairly higher at risk for overuse injuries rather than single heavy lifts.  

Your bicep connects at two places, the shoulder and the elbow where tendons connect the muscle to the shoulder joint and lower arm at each location. Biceps are made of two bundles of muscle: a short head and a long head.

The most frequent bicep injury spot is at the shoulder connection point, where strains or tears tend to develop in the ligaments.

Biceps are a fairly straightforward muscle group to massage with a jigsaw. You can either do a steady straight up and down movement down the length of the bicep or fire at will at a steady and consistent pace. However, tread lightly around the inside elbow near the funny bone area, which isn’t actually a bone but a nerve (ulnar) that shouldn’t really be messed with.

Triceps

Triceps, ortriceps brachia, are located at the back of the upper arm and consist of three muscle bundles: the medial head, the long head, and the lateral head. These muscle bundles work together to extend the elbow and enable pushing actions. Triceps are extensors (increasing the angle between the upper arm and forearm).

Hitting every angle of your triceps with a jigsaw massager is a little bit more complicated, but is still within reach for the majority of people. The concept of letting the jigsaw do its magic is still the same, but you may have to move and stretch your arm a bit to get the full stretch. This can be done by pointing your elbow to the sky to get the part of your triceps facing your body, and then putting your arm down and twisting it inwardly to expose the outside part of your triceps.
If you feel a bit out of your range of motion, that’s ok! There are plenty of exercises that can help you build up some flexibility in your triceps and increase your range of motion.

Forearms

Ah, forearms, the thankless workhorse of the arms. Your forearms are crucial for virtually any sport that requires using your arms, with gripping sports such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, tennis, weightlifting, Crossfit, and rock-climbing taking the cake as the biggest users and abusers of forearms.

Not only are our forearms critical for our athletic execution and used nearly constantly, but they’re also much more stubborn when it comes to growth and building endurance, leaving them to be perpetually in a state of tension and recovery.

One of the best ways to go about massaging your forearms with a jigsaw is to place your arm flat on an even surface like a box, a bench, or the floor. Start with your palm up and use the jigsaw to go straight up and down around along the length of the forearm, massaging the soft tissue and the tense areas.

It’s better to go lighter or complete avoid the area on the inside center elbow and near the inside elbow (around the funny bone ulnar nerve area) because that area can get quite sensitive.

Next, flip your arm around and do the same straight up and down motion down the length of your forearm. This helps to reduce tension in the extensor muscles, which is huge for anyone involved in Crossfit, Ju-jitsu, general weightlifting, or other grip-heavy sports.

Shoulders

Your shoulder is the most mobile joint on your body, and your shoulder muscles tend to get blasted from a wide variety of motions, and shoulder muscle soreness generally comes from pushing, throwing, lifting, and pulling motions. It’s very important you understand how your specific activity impacts your shoulder muscles since muscle imbalances can build fairly quickly and expose you to rotator cuff injuries.

Not only are these injuries expensive, but they can also be quite painful and can bench you for months, with around six months of recovery to get back to around full use.

People tend to get very tight around the anterior (front facing) part of the shoulder, and the jigsaw is awesome for massaging it out. Simply run the jigsaw up and down your front facing shoulder (and maybe throwing in some chest for good measure!)

Getting the lateral head is doable for most people, but a partner would help you do it justice.

The posterior is a bit more challenging to reach by yourself and is better off with a partner.

Final Thoughts

Jigsaw massage for arms is a phenomenal way to speed up your recovery and ensure you’re able to perform at your best. Since your arms are mostly used as supporting muscles, you should return the favor and support them by giving them a few minutes of jigsaw action as needed.