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The Best Back Massager – Reviews for 2020

Discover The Best Back Massager for Pain Relief in 2020

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.

1. Theragun PRO

A PRO back massager in every sense of the word!

Theragun’s PRO device is a must-have for anyone looking to treat back pain and back issues.

We recently reviewed the PRO in detail and found it be both powerful and intuitive.

Powering 16mm in to your muscle tissue, it can handle you applying an incredible 60lbs of force without stalling.

You can choose from four adjustable arm positions and three grips, giving you various combinations to get to those hard to reach places.

It’s worth mentioning that it is the heaviest device in their range (2.9lbs). So though you can treat those tricky areas, holding it in place could be tough.

Theragun Prime is lighter (2.2lbs), however you would have to compromise on the adjustable arm for hitting the spot.

The PRO has variable speed options and ships with six heads, including the thumb attachment specially designed for your lower back.

Choose your settings on the OLED screen or sync with the Theragun app, where you can control your device and have access to massage programs created to treat back pain.

Investing in the PRO also means you’ll never run out of power:

It ships with two swappable batteries, totaling an amazing 300 minutes of battery life.

We reviewed Theragun’s latest range, and found the PRO to a real contender when it comes to back pain tools.

If you’re familiar with their devices, then you may know them for being noisy, however the new technology in the PRO means it’s nowhere near as loud as its predecessors.

All these features mean it does command a higher price, though thankfully there are a number of affordable alternatives, which might not quite have all the features, but still do pack a punch.

Like the iReliev Percussion Massager a little further down the article!

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2. Resteck Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager

A back massage machine that puts you in control

Drape around your shoulders and relax…

Resteck’s massage unit is complete with handles so you can position the massager and maneuver it to reach the perfect spot.

This shiatsu massager can also be used on other areas of your body including your legs and feet.

Just four simple buttons on the device control the functions of the Resteck massager. However that gives you many different massage options as well as heat and vibration settings to tailor your treatment.

We love the fact that the Resteck massager is portable and can be stored in a handy carrying case so you can use it on the go.

It ships with both a wall A/C adapter as well as a car adapter so if you’re traveling between meetings and really need relief you can simply pull over, plug in your massager and away you go.

One drawback compared to other back massagers, such as the Comfier massage chair pad, is that you have to do the work!

Though the device is electric it’s up to you to maneuver the nodes and then hold it in place, as opposed to being able to sit back and relax.

The positioning however certainly didn’t appear to put people off:

Users of this massager commented on how well made the product felt and how it quickly became a tool they used daily.

Plus the developers are so confident in their massager that it comes with a lifetime guarantee!

3. Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager with Heat

A compact and convenient massager!

We really like the compact size of the Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager with Heat and how it can easily be secured to your chair.

It’s the ideal solution for when you’re traveling as it’s just over 2 inches deep, making it a popular choice among office workers.

Though small in size it is still powerful:

The shiatsu massage nodes provide a deep massage and change direction every minute to mimic the hands of a real masseuse.

Some consumers felt a little frustrated by the changing direction and wished you could alter the settings to fix it in one direction. Many others loved the style of massage and raved about its success for neck pain.

For those with sensitive back problems such as spinal stenosis, the massage was a little too powerful and they missed the ability to alter the speed.

Yet those with a long commute were grateful for this handy bag-sized product.

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4. Aku Mat

A spiky way to soothe back pain

When you take a look at the Aku Mat it might look a little daunting, and not like the relaxing back massager you were hoping to find.

However acupressure therapy has been shown to work both as a muscle relaxant and pain relief tool.

Plus we’ve searched the market and believe there’s no better acupressure mat out there than the Aku Mat.

Covered in 2,170 tiny metal spikes, made from copper, zinc, iron, nickel and silver, it helps to increase blood flow and encourage the release of endorphins.

It’s these endorphins that help to reduce pain and evoke a sense of calm and relaxation.

Worried about lying back on a bed of spikes?

We reviewed the Aku Mat and found it can be a little painful at first. However you quickly used to the sensation and the results you experience are more than worth it!

5. iReliev Percussion Massager

A simple percussive massage tool

If you like the look of the Theragun PRO but want a more affordable alternative, then consider the iReliev Percussion Massager.

Of course you’ll compromise on features, but you still get a powerful tool for treating your back pain.

Delivering 10mm strokes, iReliev’s percussive massager helps to relax tension in your muscles and improve your range of motion.

It ships with four different attachments including a Fork Head for the neck and spine and a Bullet Head for trigger points.

With the option of three speed settings too, it won’t simply be a device you use on your back but all over your body.

Weighing just 1lb it’s light, making it easy to maneuver it to exactly where you need treatment and then hold it in place.

Users who’d previously only known iReliev for producing some of the best TENS units, were impressed with this gun.

They described it as powerful and much quieter than other percussive massagers they’d used in the past.

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6. Comfier Shiatsu Neck & Back Massager

Enjoy the pleasure of finger pressure Shiatsu

Strap the Comfier Shiatsu massager to your chair and experience pure relaxation.

With this chair pad you get a whole host of different settings to choose from, including 2D and 3D Finger Pressure Shiatsu, air compression and a range of vibration functions.

Finger pressure shiatsu really is as wonderful as it sounds. Four rotation massage nodes move inward and outward to give your back the deep massage it needs.

Opt for a full back, upper back or lower back then combine with air massage and heat to create a spa-like experience.

Spot massage was a favorite feature of the product, with people enjoying the relief it could provide.

Those looking for a softer massage also raved about the product and felt it was well worth the investment.

Practically, this massage pad can be fitted on to any chair so you can use it both at home and at work.

Of course, however, it’s not the most portable product.

If you want something you can use more easily on the go, then the Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager would be a better option.

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7. Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Electric Handheld Percussion Massager

Loosen those knots with this powerful (and affordable) handheld tool

Don’t suffer with muscle knots any longer, release them with the Mighty Bliss Percussion Massager.

It delivers a powerful 3,700 RPM, which Mighty Bliss liken to a BMW car!

Unlike other percussion massagers which can be a little bulky, this massager is slim and lightweight. It’s cordless too, meaning you can pop it in your bag and use it after a session at the gym.

Six different massage heads ensure that as well as your back, you can also reach other parts of your body to relieve any pain or discomfort.

Fitted with the same type of battery you now find in electric cars, it charges really quickly and can be used for 120 minutes.

If you’re interested in the iReliev Percussion Massager or the Theragun PRO, but don’t have the money to spend, this is a great affordable percussion tool.

Of course it doesn’t have a touchscreen or the range of different programs like the Theragun PRO, but you do get serious power and a number of different heads you can experiment with.

Deep massage fans loved how the various attachments and lightweight nature of the product meant it could get to those hard to reach places. Many even said it had quickly replaced their massage therapist.

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8. Thorex Back Massage Roller

A simple tool that delivers serious results

One of the most challenging things about using a back massager, is having the range of motion in your arm to get it exactly where you need it.

Thorex Back Massage Roller solves that problem…

It looks like a really simple device, but it provides full back coverage with minimal effort.

With eight wheels that move up and down, you can enjoy a relaxing and satisfying massage.

Use the back muscle roller against the wall or on the floor, the perfect treatment option if you struggle with your range of motion.

As you’re the one applying the pressure you won’t get the deep tissue massage you’d get from a percussion device, such as the Mighty Bliss massager.

However, fans of this roller loved it as a recovery tool, describing how it could also be used in exercise, such as when doing squats.

They recognized the full back coverage, and how they could effectively hit the mid back, an area they’d struggled to treat with other massage products.

9. iReliev Back and Neck Massager

Deep kneading pain relief from a trusted name

Another great tool for your pain is the iReliev Back and Neck Massager.

iReliev are well known for creating high quality pain relief products, including their percussion massager and range of TENS units – they’ve done it again with this massager!

Position it around your neck or across your back and feel the relief of 20 nodes easing the pain and tension in your body.

It’s super simple to use with built-in controls that give you access to three different speed settings and optional heat.

People couldn’t get enough of this amazing product, raving about how they were planning to invest in many more as gifts for loved ones also struggling with back pain.

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10. PowerDot 2.0 Duo Smart TENS and EMS Stimulator

An electrifying (and smart) TENS unit

Unlike the rest of the products on this page, this is not a massager that applies pressure to the body. A pulse massager (also known as a TENS unit) uses low voltage electrical current to relieve pain.

PowerDot’s groundbreaking device effectively turns your smartphone into a TENS unit.

Your phone acts as the controller, sending electrical stimulation programs to the wireless pods and electrodes that you position on your body.

Use the app to highlight your painful areas, identify the type of pain you’re experiencing, rate your pain score and tolerance level.

Innovative PowerDot technology then takes the information and, using a proprietary algorithm, creates a program specially designed to relieve your pain.

Add their Butterfly Pads to your cart when you invest in the PowerDot 2.0 Duo and you’ll have all you need to deliver a truly bespoke TENS treatment to your lower back.

11. Therabody Wave Roller

Roll away your back pain

Another great alternative to a traditional back massager is the Therabody Wave Roller.

Therabody have recently undergone a rebrand and launched an updated product range including their first smart foam roller.

This roller uses vibration therapy to help release muscle knots and tension.

Across the Wave Roller’s surface there are asymmetrical groves that allow you to get the best possible traction, and really roll out your lower back.

Now for the smart bit:

You can pair the roller with your smartphone and control all the intensity settings, plus get access to customized routines.

Users raved about the quality, finding it far superior to standard foam rollers.

12. Thera Cane

A unique design that you control

Thera Cane has a unique design to help you reach your hard-to-reach places and ease any aches and pains.

We love how it can be used to really get to those knots that are causing you discomfort.

The cane has 6 treatment balls, with each one being carefully positioned so you can use it independently.

You’ll find many inferior copycat products out there, trying to replicate the magic of the Thera Cane.

However they struggle to deliver on the position of the treatment balls and quality of the cane.

Those who have used the Thera Cane comment on how enjoyable it is after you have carried out a strenuous task or even just for day to day use.

Obviously there is no power to bring the intensity, but you can provide it yourself by using the massager to apply as much or as little pressure as you desire.

Controlling the pressure was in fact a key selling point, with many saying you can apply serious force and it rises to the challenge!

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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

Chair

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.

Fact:

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.

Chair Pad

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.

Handheld

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.

Belt

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 Unit

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

Cane Massager

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.

Foam Roller

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

Shape

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.

Size

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.

Nodes

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

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

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!

Kneading

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.

Wand

If you want handheld control then you may opt for a wand massager or a unit that includes a wand.

Vibration

Some back massagers offer a vibration function, which is another way to treat pain and provide relief.

Heat

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.

Timer

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.

Rechargeable

Some massagers are rechargeable making them handy to be used in the office or on the go.

Battery Life

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.

Portable

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.

Attachments

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.

Benefits of back massagers

There are so many benefits to using a back massager, for both your mental and physical health. Below we’ve taken a look at just a few of them:

1. Back Pain Relief

Of course the main benefit from a back massager is relief from back pain! A back massager stimulates circulation and relaxes stiff muscles. Research proves that massage is very effective for short term relief from back pain.

2. Improved Circulation

Massage is a technique which is often used to improve circulation. It works by enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells, essentially waking them up!

3. Lift Mood

Massage releases endorphins which relaxes the nervous system and creates feel good hormones. Back massage in general has been shown to be a successful technique for the treatment of anxiety.

4. Improved Sleep

Having a regular massage is shown to improve your sleep. Those suffering from insomnia due to the menopause have reported marked improvement in their condition following massage.

FAQs

What is a back massager?

What does a back massager do?

Are back massagers good for back pain?

How do I choose a back massager?

Can I use a back massager when pregnant?

How long can you use a back massager for?

Can you sleep on a back massager?

Can you drive while using a back massager?

How much does a back massager cost?

Where can I buy a back massager?

References

  1. Acupuncture & Massage College. (2015) Back Massagers. [Online] Available from: https://www.amcollege.edu/blog/back-massagers [Accessed 16 August 2020].
  2. Schubbe, P. J. (2003) Massage Chairs for Pain Relief. [Online] Available from: https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/massage-therapy/massage-chairs-pain-relief [Accessed 16 August 2020].
  3. Miller, J. (2018) Heat Packs. Why does heat feel so good? [Online] Available from: https://physioworks.com.au/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=30990 [Accessed 16 August 2020].
  4. Burgan, B. (2016) How Does Massage Work? [Online] Available from: https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/massage-therapy/how-does-massage-work [Accessed 16 August 2020].
  5. We Speak Science. (2016) Role of massage in body. [Online] Available from: https://wespeakscience.com/role-of-massage-in-body/ [Accessed 16 August 2020].
  6. Morris, K. (2017) Why Is Massage Therapy Good for You? [Online] Available from: https://www.livestrong.com/article/546491-deep-tissue-massage-vs-sports-massage/ [Accessed 16 August 2020].

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