If you’re shopping for a massage cushion you’ll quickly realize you have so many options!
Do you go for a chair pad that you can use at home or something smaller that you can pop in your bag to use wherever you need it?
Our Best Buys
Best for Back Pain:
Comfier Shiatsu Neck & Back Massager
Best for Neck & Shoulders:
Snailax Gel Shiatsu Neck & Back Massager
Best for Home:
iReliev Wireless Relaxable Pillow Massager
Best for Cars:
Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager with Heat
In this article:
Massage Cushion Reviews
To help you make your decision, take a look at our list of the best massage cushions for 2023:
How We Review & Rate
Here at The Good Body we’ve spent years rating and reviewing health products, including massage cushions.
In this article we’ve shortlisted 10 of the best products on the market, highlighting key functions and features so you can make the right decision for you.
To come up with a rating we consider a number of different factors, including power, battery life, intensity control, number of massage styles and affordability. We also take into consideration consumer reviews gathered from various websites.
Taking all this information, plus our industry knowledge, allows us to come up with a rating that gives you the best overall view of the massage cushion.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the products out there, then take a look at our massage cushion buying guide below.
We’ve explained each of the functions and features you can consider, to help you make the most informed decision!
Types of massage cushions
There are two main types of massage cushion:
Massage Chair Pad
A massage chair pad is a device that is strapped onto a chair to deliver a full back treatment. Chair pads often use either rollers, nodes or air chambers, or a combination of all of them.
Massage Pillow / Cushion
A massage pillow or cushion is a device available in various shapes and sizes that includes = nodes or vibration points. It can be placed at the site of the pain to provide relief.
Features of massage cushions
Design and Dimensions
Chair pads tend to come in a standard shape to fit any chair. However the shape of massage cushions varies widely so it’s worth considering how you’ll use it to find the right shape for you.
You also need to consider the size, will it give your neck good coverage? Is it too large to be portable?
If you want a massage cushion you can travel with day to day then consider the weight of the device when making your selection.
Some cushions are specifically designed to blend in with a home or office environment, for example a chair pad being so slim that it fits seamlessly into an office chair.
Style of Massage
Air Bags / Pockets
Some chair massaging pads come with air bags or air pockets which are essentially air bags that inflate / deflate to gently squeeze the body, mimicking the hands of a masseuse.
The number of nodes that the device offers may be important to you if you’re looking for a deep and intense treatment.
Percussion is a style of massage, with users describing the technique as “thundering on your back”. It’s perfect if you want a deep tissue massage, perhaps not ideal if you’re looking for something a little less intense.
Look for shiatsu, a Japanese massage technique, if you want to replicate the hands of a masseuse as closely as possible! Some massagers include an optional direction mode so the nodes can change direction for a more satisfying massage.
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.
Intensity / Speed Settings
If you have good days and bad days and need 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’d appreciate being able to switch between rigorous and gentle.
Some products offer an additional vibration function which might be something you want to consider for that added extra 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. Infrared heat is also a feature offered by some devices.
A timer can be handy if it takes you a while to get to the source of your pain, so you can set a period of time and then just sit back and enjoy the relief.
Some cushions now offer Bluetooth and pair with an app, meaning you can control your massage from your smartphone.
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.
Some massagers are rechargeable making them handy to be used in the office or on the go. Look closely at the length of time advertised when the product is fully charged.
Speed of Charge
You may also want to consider the speed at which the product goes from flat to fully charged, as that may be something that’s important to you.
If you want a massager to take on holiday or use at work, then a portable option might be right for you.
You can also choose a massager for in the car, however this can only be used when stationary or as a passenger.
Memory / Recall
If your pain is hard to reach and you get the intensity just right it can be frustrating to have to go through the various settings each time. Memory / recall functions remember the intensity, speed and style of massage you enjoy which can be helpful day to day.
Using your device in your car, between meetings for example, might be important to you, so look for a device that comes complete with an in car charger.
Another extra that may be offered is an instructional video. It may sound like just a nice-to-have but if you want to get the most from your product then it can be a handy extra.
Massage cushions mimic the hands of a masseuse stimulating the muscles and nerve endings. Research has shown that massage therapy is an effective treatment for chronic neck pain, and a neck massager is essentially simulating this technique.
Massage cushions can also work well for shoulder pain. Shoulder pain is one of the most common pain complaints reported in the US, and stimulating the muscles with a massager is believed to provide relief.
Whether you get a stiff neck occasionally or you suffer from chronic daily pain you’ll understand how uncomfortable it can be. It is believed that around 10% of the adult population are suffering from a stiff neck at any one time, with massagers being suggested as a natural way to treat the pain.
Muscle Pain / Tension
Tension in the muscles can also be relieved by a massage cushion whether in your neck, shoulders or back.
Migraine / Headache
Massage as a therapy is used both as a treatment and a preventative method. Tension headaches are the most common type of headache in the world, and often cause both neck and shoulder pain along with pain in the head.
Massage therapy can be an effective treatment for arthritis. However for certain forms of severe arthritis it can have a negative effective so it’s important to consult with your doctor.
Back Pain Relief
You might want to invest in a massage cushion for back pain. It stimulates circulation and relaxes stiff muscles and research proves that massage as a technique is very effective for short term relief from back pain.
Massage can release endorphins which relaxes the nervous system and create feel good hormones. Back massage in general has been shown to be a successful technique for the treatment of anxiety.
Sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve, a massage cushion can help to ease this compression. Massage chairs in particular are suggested as an effective treatment for those suffering from sciatica.
Muscle knots are when the muscle tightens or contracts even when they’re not being used, massage helps to relax the muscle, in turn helping to loosen the knot.
Buttocks / Glutes
Tight glutes can cause back pain, so buttock massage as a therapy can be effective to help relieve those tight muscles.
A number of massage cushions can be used on other parts of the body including your feet. Regular foot massage has been shown to help improve your circulation and release tense muscles.
Where to Use
There are a number of different places you can use your pain relief tool, perhaps even places you hadn’t thought of!
If your back pain gives you difficulty at work then a massage cushion or chair pad attached to your office chair could provide you with real comfort.
Armchair / Couch
If you want to get comfortable there are a number of different massage cushions that will fit comfortably on your armchair and couch, so you can enjoy your treatment while enjoying your favorite TV series!
On really bad days when the pain means you struggle to get out of bed, you can use a massage cushion in bed. If you want one particularly for this purpose then look for a massager that is the size and shape that will mould to your body effectively.
Car / Truck
Some devices come with a car adapter allowing you to use your massager while you’re stationary in your car during breaks on a long journey, or mid travel if you’re a passenger.
What is a massage cushion?
A massage cushion is a device that comes in many different forms, it could be a seat pad or a handbag sized pillow that can fit in the small of your back. Essentially it mimics the hands of a masseuse to provide you with daily relief from pain.
What does a massage cushion do?
A massage cushion replicates a manual massage, stimulating your circulation and relaxing stiff muscles to give you daily relief from pain. Different tools can target different areas and use various techniques and intensities.
How does a massage cushion work?
A massage cushion works through nodes, rollers or vibration that work to stimulate the muscles to relieve tension and improve circulation.
How long can you use a massaging cushion for?
Manuals for massager products vary a little in their advice, however overall the consensus seems to be that to avoid bruising your muscles it’s best to use a massage cushion for short periods of time, the suggestion being around 15 minutes. Many products come with an ‘auto-off’ feature that encourages you to limit your usage to the recommended time.
Can you drive while using a massage cushion?
Advice from product manuals indicates that it’s not advisable to use a car massage cushion while driving. However you can buy massage cushions for your car seat that you can use when stationary or while traveling as a passenger.
Can I use a massage cushion while pregnant?
It is always best to check with your doctor before using a massage cushion when pregnant as advice is mixed. Some advice suggests not using a massager in the first trimester, with others suggesting to avoid certain areas on your body so always check with a medical professional.
Can I use a massage cushion with a pacemaker?
Medtronic, one of the leading manufacturers of pacemakers states there is “No Known Risk” associated with their implanted heart devices and using a massage chair / pad if the item is used as intended and in good working condition. However it’s always best to check with your doctor and the manufacturer of your device.
Can I sleep on a massaging cushion?
No, prolonged use of a massager, such as when you’re asleep, can cause bruising of the muscles.
How do I choose a massage cushion?
Doing your research is important before you make a purchase. If you want to see whether it helps your pain before making a big investment then a simple massage tool may give you an indication.
Speaking to your doctor or a medical professional could help point you in the right direction. By reviewing the features above you’ll have more of an idea of the device that is right for you.
How much does a massage cushion cost?
Massage cushions vary hugely in cost, ranging from around $30 up to $1000 and beyond so it’s certainly worth shopping around to find the best product for your budget. Entry level chair pads tend to be more expensive than entry level cushions, so if you just want something simple and affordable then a cushion might be the way to go.
Where can I buy a massage cushion?
We find that Amazon offers the broadest selection, at a good mix of different prices.
If you want to pick one up while grocery shopping, then Target sells a range of massage cushions, plus Walmart gives you plenty to select from.
Though it might not be your first thought, eBay is also a good place to search for both new and used devices.
We hope our roundup and reviews of the best massage cushions is helpful and puts you on the track to finding just the right product to give you relief from your pain.
Interested in exploring more massage products?
We have shortlists of the best back massagers and even mini devices to work on your scalp!
- Physio Works (2021). Heat Packs [Online]. Available from: https://physioworks.com.au/faq/heat-packs-why-does-heat-feel-so-good/ [Accessed 14 November 2022]. ↩
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008). QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Reporting Joint Pain or Stiffness, National Health Interview Survey, United States, 2006 [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5717a9.htm [Accessed 14 November 2022]. ↩
- Health Engine (2004). Neck pain [Online]. Available from: https://healthengine.com.au/info/neck-pain [Accessed 14 November 2022]. ↩
- The Migraine Trust (2021). Tension-type headache [Online]. Available from: https://migrainetrust.org/understand-migraine/types-of-migraine/other-headache-disorders/tension-type-headache/ [Accessed 14 November 2022]. ↩
- Cronkleton, E. (2019). How to Treat and Prevent Muscle Knots [Online]. Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/muscle-knots [Accessed 14 November 2022]. ↩
- Harvard Health Publishing (2014). Foot massage: The pause that refreshes and is good for you! [Online]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/foot-massage-the-pause-that-refreshes-and-it-good-for-you [Accessed 14 November 2022]. ↩