When you’re looking for an effective back massager it can be tricky to find the one that really targets your particular pain. Research shows that back massagers stimulate circulation and relax stiff muscles, with several types featuring programs designed for upper, lower and full back.
Then there are heat options, vibration, different intensities, so choices that can be a little overwhelming which is why we’ve done the hard work for you and shortlisted some of the best back massagers available in the marketplace.
Our 12 Best Back Massager Reviews
We’ve taken a close look at each back massager and highlighted the key features to help you make your decision.
If you’re still struggling to decide, you’ll also find a handy buying guide further down the article, which breaks down each feature and answers a number of frequently asked questions.
Types of back massagers
You can choose from a range of different types of back massagers, whether you’re looking for something handy for a recent ache, or need to make a big investment to treat chronic daily pain.
Styles of Electric Back Massagers
A chair back massager is a piece of furniture that you add to your home. Typically there are massage nodes within the chair, that work up and down your back while you’re seated. Many consider it to be the closest thing to a hands-on back massage.
A good hands-on massage can play a crucial role in alleviating back pain. Similarly, a good massage chair is designed to provide some measure of pain relief and relaxation, however, without the need for person-to-person interaction.
The next best thing to a chair massager is a massage pad that you can attach to your favorite chair. It normally hooks over the back and underneath the seat to give your back full coverage.
A handheld massager is normally a wand or pad that you operate and maneuver around your body to get to the source of the pain.
A belt massager can be wrapped around your lower back or draped around your shoulders so you can get a deep massage in key areas.
Cushion / Pillow
A cushion or pillow massager is handy for use on the neck or lower back where you can tuck it exactly where you need the relief.
TENS units work in a different way to traditional back massagers. Instead of massage nodes, a TENS unit sends electrical pulses across the skin that interrupts the pain signals being sent to the brain. Research has shown it to be an effective treatment for back pain.
Gun / Percussive Massager
A gun massager is a handheld device with a head that applies strong bursts of pressure to your muscle tissue.
Styles of Non-Electric Back Massagers
A cane massager is a simple device, typically made from plastic, that can be maneuvered to the right part of the body to provide relief.
Wooden Ball Massager
A wooden ball massager is rolled over the area you need to treat to help relieve tension. As you’re in control, you can decide on the level of intensity you want to apply.
S Shaped Massager
An S shaped massager is a stick massager which normally has carefully placed nodes so you can maneuver it to the right position.
Handheld Mini Massager
Non-electric mini massagers generally have three or four prongs (also known as knuckles) that you can use to work out knots and tension.
A foam roller has a firm or soft exterior depending on the relief needed. It is rolled up and down the affected area to release tension in the muscles.
Features of back massagers – what to consider
The shape of the back massager is important as it determines exactly where you’re able to treat. For example, you might opt for an S shaped stick, but do you have the range of motion to reach your mid back? If not, a chair pad could be more effective.
You also need to consider the size, will it give you the coverage you need? Is it too large to be portable? Think about where and how you’ll use the device, so you can make the most informed choice.
Electric / Non-Electric
Consider which option is right for you, whether you want to take your massager on the go, or just ensure you can use it in your favorite chair! Also think about if you’ll be able to apply the pressure needed with a non-electric device.
The number of massage nodes, and the sizes of those nodes, is important as it tells you about the back coverage you can expect.
Percussion is a style of massage that many users have described as “thundering on your back”. Perfect if you want a deep tissue massage, not as ideal if you’re looking for something a little more gentle.
Shiatsu is a Japanese massage technique, that combines kneading, pressing and tapping. If you want to replicate the hands of a masseuse, this is a feature to look out for!
If you have knots and want a massage that is really going to work them out then you might want to look out for the kneading function.
If you want handheld control then you may opt for a wand massager or a unit that includes a wand.
Some back massagers offer a vibration function, which is another way to treat pain and provide relief.
Heat can offer comforting relief from pain as it heats the skin which stimulates the sensors and blocks the pain signals being sent to the brain, many different massagers include this option so it’s worth looking out for.
A timer can be handy if it takes you a while to get to the source of your pain. You can set a period of time and then just sit back and enjoy the relief.
Auto Shut Down
Auto Shut Down can be great as it protects you and the unit from overheating, however if it takes you a while to get to the source of your pain, a short auto shut down could be frustrating.
Speed / Intensity Settings
If you have good days and bad days and want a massager that can flex with you, then you want to look for something with a selection of intensity settings (also referred to as speed settings). Some devices only come with one setting which might be limiting if you want to switch between rigorous and gentle.
Some massagers are rechargeable making them handy to be used in the office or on the go.
Though many massagers include a rechargeable battery, the life of that battery will vary from device to device. Running out of battery mid-treatment is frustrating, so check how long you can expect to use the device before recharging.
If you want to take your massager on vacation, or use it in the car or at work, then a portable option could be better. Be aware that you can only use a massager in the car when stationary or as a passenger.
Some massagers come with attachments in a range of different shapes designed to target key areas, such as your lower back or spine.
Memory / Recall
If your pain is hard to reach and you get the intensity just right, it can be frustrating if your device doesn’t remember your settings. Memory / recall functions remember the intensity and style of massage you enjoy which can be helpful if you’ll use your device daily.
What is a back massager?
A back massager is a device that comes in many different forms. It could be a simple pillow, handheld wand or a new piece of furniture. Essentially it mimics the hands of a masseuse to provide you with relief from pain.
What does a back massager do?
Are back massagers good for back pain?
Research has shown massage to be highly effective in treating back pain. A comprehensive review of a number of studies in 2015, demonstrated the power of both manual massage and back massagers for providing short term relief from low back pain.
How do I choose a back massager?
Doing your research is important before you make a purchase to make sure you choose a back massager that will reach the areas you need and provide the intensity you want.
Speaking to your doctor or a medical professional could help point you in the right direction, however hopefully by reviewing some of the features above you’ll have more of an idea of the one that is right for you.
Can I use a back massager when pregnant?
Check with your doctor before using a back massager when pregnant as advice is mixed.
Non-electric, handheld mini massagers can be useful during pregnancy, however always read the instructions before using any product for warnings and precautions. If in doubt, it’s best to avoid use.
How long can you use a back massager for?
Manuals for back massager products vary a little in their advice, with 30 minutes appearing to be the most common recommendation. Check the manual of your device for guidance to avoid bruising your muscles.
Many products also come with an ‘auto-off’ feature that encourages you to limit your usage to the recommended time.
Can you sleep on a back massager?
It’s not recommended that you sleep for a long period on a back massager, as it can cause bruising of the muscles.
Can you drive while using a back massager?
Advice from product manuals indicates that it’s not advisable to use a back massager while driving. However you can buy massage cushions for your car seat to use when stationary or as a passenger.
How much does a back massager cost?
Back massagers vary widely in cost, from a few dollars for a small hand-held wooden massager to thousands of dollars for the highest range massage chair, so it’s best to set a budget. Once you’ve chosen the massager that is right for you it’s prudent to shop around for the best price.
Where can I buy a back massager?
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