Mechanical massage is the manipulation of body tissues using machines. Generally, mechanical massage is used in conjunction with other treatments to relieve muscle tension and muscle pain, and to improve the circulation.
Many different types of appliance are available to produce various effects. They vary from the small hand-held percussion and audio-sonic equipment designed to treat small, localised areas, to the large heavy gyratory vibrators used for deeper effects on large areas of the body. Although the effects are similar to those of manual massage, the sensation felt by the client is very different.
A percussion vibrator produces an up and down motion on the skin, which is similar to tapotement techniques of manual massage. The tapping effect onto muscular tissue increases redness due to the increase of blood flow. The percussion vibrator has different applicator heads that can increase or decrease the intensity of vibrations. Because of the size of the applicator heads, a percussion vibrator can be effective to treat small muscles such as deltoids, neck muscles and shoulder muscles.
The audio-sonic vibrator is another device that is frequently used in a sports massage. This instrument produces sound wave vibrations through the skin which provides a deep muscular penetration of two to three inches. The sound waves produced by the audio sonic vibrator works well at releasing deep tissue problems.