Use Alex Gordon as an example. The Royals left fielder dips into the dugout and runs a TheraGun device over his body, using the vibration therapy to loosen muscles. So does Yasiel Puig, Bryce Harper and an increasingly growing number of MLB players, whether pregame, in-game or postgame.
What all the players have in common is the desire to use Dr. Jason Wersland's technology to loosen muscles, whether getting them ready for use on the field or as a way to recover from the brutal travel and on-field grind of a major leaguer.
"Most of the time athletes have been worked on a lot and know what it feels like to have treatment," Wersland said. "I witness when they put this in their hands, it speaks a language they get immediately and they have to have it."
Cutter Dykstra, son of former big leaguer Lenny Dykstra, has joined the TheraGun ambassador team, traveling across the continent getting the product in the hands of major league therapists and ballplayers. "The best thing about the TheraGun is the ease of use for these guys to have it in their bag," he said. "They have it in the dugout, in the bullpen ready to go. There is no setup time. In baseball you are playing every day with long games, so to have something where you don't have to go ask for a massage or treatment is huge."
TheraGun offers vibration therapy, something that has been around for quite some time, but with portability. The amplitude and frequency creates the "ideal sauce" for vibration therapy on the go, Wersland said. The idea of vibration therapy is to move glycogen to the muscle while flushing the system with micro contractions that activate the muscle for use. By increasing glycogen to the muscle, it has enough fuel ready to burn. Vibration increases blood flow, breaks up scar tissue, decreases lactic acid and releases muscle spasms.
Using the gun, which comes with four different amplitude tip applications, can cut down on warmup and recovery time, Wersland says. He equates it to a 3x benefit, meaning three minutes using the gun on a muscle equates to a 30-minute massage. "It helps you prepare, perform and recover," he said. "Each one of those sections you treat with different timing and different ways."
For warmups, instead of heading to the clubhouse to run in place for that quick pinch-run call, a player may use the TheraGun for 30 seconds, Dykstra said. "For a guy sitting on the bench cold, they can put this up and down their arms and legs and get loose and cut their warmup time almost in half."
The in-game or in-workout use isn't much different, as players will run the gun over specific parts of the body to loosen it and prepare it to return to the field. Those sessions may take just 30 seconds or a minute.
The recovery aspect can last up to 20 minutes, acting like an intense massage. "The recovery can be on the bus, on the plane, in a hotel room or at home without really having to do anything but work on healing yourself and getting better," Dykstra says.
He says that portability and ease of use make it a popular choice for athletes, but a TheraGun in the hand of trainers gives the players an extra benefit, as they have the knowledge of how to "sweep" the body to activate the proper muscles and tendons. "When you put a gun in a trainer's hand, it is double the weapon," Dykstra says, adding that players tell him using TheraGun acts to wake up the body.
TheraGun has released its second version, the G2Pro, which updates the motor, changes the on/off trigger into a switch to allow players to reach more places on the body, adds a quick-attachment aspect (an easier and safer way to pop the attachments on and off) and a battery indicator. Each battery—it comes with two—can last 40 minutes on a charge.
For the attachments, Wersland says they've developed a standard 1-inch-diameter ball, a larger 2-inch version to work on larger muscle groups with more vibration surface area, a cone to allow pin-point penetration into specific areas and a dampener attachment that has a softer amp output to make it more comfortable for youth or sensitive areas.
As players continue to search for ways to ease the strain on their body, TheraGun points them toward vibration therapy, whether in the dugout or in the clubhouse.
— Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.