Say goodbye to tension with these at-home back and neck massagers.

By Sam Lauron
March 17, 2020
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From hunching over desks 40 hours a week to putting in work at the gym, backs put up with a lot of strain. It only makes sense, then, that back pain becomes a nagging issue for many adults. While any major pain should be addressed with a doctor, the aches and soreness from daily activities can usually be treated with a good massage

In an ideal world, you would be able to visit a professional for a deep-tissue massage every week, but the reality is often not that luxurious. Luckily, there are several personal back massagers that can deliver a spa-worthy treatment without the hefty price tag. Whether for muscle recovery or to relieve stress and tension, a good back massager can be relied upon for immediate comfort after a long day. But before you can choose the best back massager for your lifestyle, there are a few things to consider. (Related: Is It OK to Get a Massage If You're ~Really~ Sore?)

The first thing to think about when picking out a back massager is the style of massage it provides. There are typically two styles of massagers: Shiatsu and vibration. Shiatsu massagers deliver deep, kneading movements that mimic a deep-tissue massage you would receive at the spa. These types of massagers use rotating nodes that are great for treating knots or muscle pain post-gym or due to an injury. Vibration massagers, on the other hand, are less intense and are intended for soothing tired muscles at the end of a long work day. These types of massagers don’t have nodes; they usually feature an all-over vibration or pulsing movement. 

Next, determine the form of massager you prefer. From handheld back massagers to massager pillows, there is a range to choose from. To figure out which type is best for you, consider how much effort you want to put in on your end. Handheld massagers, for example, give you more control as they require you to do the massaging yourself. With handheld massagers, you may have to do more heavy lifting, but they are helpful when it comes to those hard-to-reach areas. Conversely, pillow or cushion back massagers are meant to stay in place behind you. These types of massagers are great if you’re targeting one spot, like your lower back or neck. They’re also a convenient way to tend to the muscles while you’re working at the office or lounging at home. (Related: This Heated Back Massager Is the Best Thing I’ve *Ever* Bought On Amazon)

Another thing to consider when picking out the best massager is mobility, depending on where you’re going to be using it. If you plan on bringing your massager with you to the office or while traveling, you’ll likely want one that’s more compact. But if you prefer to stick to self-massaging at home, then size probably won’t be an issue. 

No matter what type of massager you prefer, the most important part is that it works. And according to thousands of satisfied customers and positive reviews, these back massagers are proven, effective, and trusted products that truly get the job done.

Best-Rated: Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager

Amazon

More than 10,000 positive reviews from enthusiastic customers should tell you something about the effectiveness and impact of this massager. It forms to the contours of your body, whether you’re targeting your lower back or neck, and uses deep tissue-style movements to apply just the right amount of pressure to tense muscles. One reviewer described this massager as “incredible in working out the pain for me,” adding that “it has helped every area of my back.” Another admitted this was “easily one of my favorite purchases in a very long time.” Although this massager needs to be plugged in, it can easily be used at home, in the car, or at the office, thanks to its compact design. 

Buy It: Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager, $50, amazon.com

Best for Lower Back: Papillon Back Massager with Heat

Amazon

This portable back massager features four 3D massage nodes and infrared heating that targets muscles through deep-tissue movements. It also automatically shuts off after 15 minutes to prevent overheating, so you can safely use this massager anywhere with peace of mind. A reviewer who experiences back pain said they would “highly recommend this back massager to anyone that is suffering from any back pain, or simply wants a nice back massage after a long day of work.” (Related: The Best New Recovery Tools for When Your Muscles Are Sore AF)

Buy It: Papillon Back Massager with Heat, $40, amazon.com

Best Handheld: Renpho Rechargeable Hand Held Deep Tissue Massager

Amazon

Convenience and flexibility are the driving factors behind this cordless and rechargeable massager. Lightweight and comfortable to hold, this massager can quickly move from head to toe. And with five interchangeable head attachments, giving yourself an at-home full-body massage has never been easier. “This little unit is just perfect,” said one reviewer. They added that this massager is “light enough that I can control it, [but] powerful enough to work out the pain radiating down my thigh.”

Buy It: Renpho Rechargeable Hand Held Deep Tissue Massager, $42, amazon.com

Best Personal: Vivreal Handheld Back Massager

Amazon

With six speed settings, six different modes, and six interchangeable heads, this well-rounded massager can pinpoint a wide range of pain areas throughout the body, allowing for a truly customizable massage. The sleek, cordless design allows for easy maneuvering, especially to hard-to-reach areas like the lower back. “I truly feel like this massager changed my life,” raved one reviewer. Another satisfied reviewer noted that the rechargeable massager “holds a charge for an incredibly long time.” (Related: The Best Tool for a Deeper Self-Massage)

Buy It: Vivreal Handheld Back Massager, $40, $60, amazon.com 

Best Electric: Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager

Amazon

The ergonomic U-shaped design of this Shiatsu massager comfortably forms to your body whether you’re using it for the lower back, your neck, or legs. Simply grab hold of the arm straps and wrap the massager around the area you want to target. With three adjustable speed settings, it’s easy to control the depth and intensity of the massage. This convenient tool also comes equipped with a heat function—with an auto shut-off—that applies warmth to tense muscles while massaging them. One reviewer called the massager “versatile, effective and deeply relaxing” while another praised it for its ability to “ease neck stiffness, eliminate constant fatigue, soothe aching muscles, and promote proper blood circulation.”

Buy It: Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager, $50, amazon.com

Best Budget-Friendly: Viktor Jurgen Handheld Back Massager

Amazon

Don’t let the low price tag persuade you into thinking this massager doesn’t live up to its pricier counterparts. Pulsing at 3,350 times per minute, it’s safe to say it can deliver a powerful massage for all types of muscle relief. The handheld massager provides full coverage—thanks to its wide double head—and is even designed with a sliding speed setting that makes it easy to adjust it to the exact intensity you want. One satisfied reviewer said they were pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of this massager, noting that “it has a lot of power” and “really helped my sore shoulders!” The massager includes three sets of heads: one for deep tissue massage, one for an acupuncture-style massage, and another for a gentler Swedish-style massage.  (Related: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Acupressure)

Buy It: Viktor Jurgen Handheld Back Massager, $30, amazon.com

Best Back Massage Chair for the Office: Snailax Shiatsu Massage Cushion

Amazon

Treat your entire back to a relaxing deep tissue massage by propping up this massage chair cushion on the couch, at the office, or even in the car. Its versatile massage nodes effortlessly move up and down as you sit back, relax, and let them do all the work. The cushion also provides a heating element (the seat itself doesn’t heat up, but it does vibrate), and the controls allow you to focus on one area and adjust the intensity level. Reviewers love the ease and comfort this massage chair cushion provides, especially at work. One reviewer, who used the massager at their desk chair, said that “about 15 of my coworkers tried it out and loved it… In fact, three of them ordered one for themselves right after using mine!”

Buy It: Snailax Shiatsu Massage Cushion, $81, $90, amazon.com

Best Back Massage Pillow: MaxKare Back and Neck Massage Pillow

Amazon

Four deep-kneading massage nodes and a heating function combine in this massager to give your tense muscles the relaxation they so desperately need. The compact massage pillow easily fits behind your back and neck or underneath your legs. Whether you’re in the car or at the office, the elastic strap allows the massager to slide onto a chair and stay securely in place while it delivers comforting relief. One reviewer said that the pillow is “worth every penny… and more!” Another reviewer mentioned that their neck had “NEVER felt this good from a machine.” (Related: This $6 Amazon Purchase Is the Single Best Recovery Tool I Own)

Buy It: MaxKare Back and Neck Massage Pillow, $30, $32, amazon.com

Best Manual: Body Back Buddy

Amazon

As funky as it may look, this inventive tool has been trusted since its inception back in the ’90s—and it’s garnered thousands of highly-rated reviews to prove it. Body Back Buddy is designed to directly target pain points and relieve tense muscles and knots using 11 strategically placed knobs in three specific and varying shapes. The curved two-hook design allows you to comfortably reach from the shoulders to the lower back and even down to your feet. Plus, the manual device makes it easy to control the amount of pressure you apply to your sore or knotted muscles. One reviewer noted that it “hits every spot perfectly.”

Buy It: Body Back Buddy, $30, amazon.com

Best Full-Body Massage Mat: Snailax Massage Mat 

Amazon

If you’re looking for a gentler full-body massage that requires minimal effort, then consider this massage mat. A vibration-only massager, the body-length mat is made with soft and flexible plush fabric, making it almost pillow-like. The pad also heats up, adding to the overall relaxing experience. Simply lay it down on the floor, the couch, or the bed and you’ll unwind in no time. One positive review said that this massage mat is “delightfully soft” and the heat function is “wonderful and soothing.”

Buy It: Snailax Massage Mat, $77, $160, amazon.com

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