Wellness > Health

7 Best Back Massagers for Relaxation & Relief, Recommended by Experts

Explore the best back massagers for relaxation and relief. Read reviews and get recommendations to find the perfect back massager to soothe your muscles and alleviate tension.

RedlightTherapyDigest Staff By RLTD Staff Updated April 5, 2024
Medically reviewed Medically reviewed by: Brendan Camp, MD
Advertising Disclosure: Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; we may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. You can learn more about our review process here.

Just the way a back massage at the spa or chiropractor can alleviate back pain and stiffness, electronic at-home back massagers can also manage similar issues effectively.

The devices pinpoint areas with tension, stiffness, or pain and tackle them by controlling pressure or heat levels to help relax the muscles and ease pain.

The best neck massager depends on the type of pressure you want and whether you prefer a device with adjustable intensity or a handheld device that allows you to have full control.

Overview

Back massager devices have been shown to offer plenty of health benefits, making them worth investing in both your money and time.

The devices provide enriching health benefits such as improving blood circulation, relieving pain, easing nerve compression, enhancing muscle relaxation, and range motions.

A San Francisco-based board-certified sport physical therapist Leada Malek, DPT, SCS, says that whenever you want to relieve muscle tension, especially after a workout, you can use back massager devices to ease muscle soreness and enhance your recovery.

Malek further says that there is growing research-based evidence to support the therapeutic benefits of percussion, vibration, and Shiatsu back massagers. They have been found to offer health benefits like easing muscle soreness and enhancing muscle recovery, promoting blood circulation, relieving pain, easing nerve compression, enhancing range motions, and promoting the body’s overall relaxation.

According to Kevin Huffman, D.O., a bariatric surgery specialist and whiplash and various car accident injuries expert says that investing in neck and back massagers for pain relief at home is now becoming the norm because of its flexibility and affordability.

In this review, we will help you explore the best back massagers by looking at their features, how they work, health benefits, selection criteria, cost, and much more so as to improve your purchase decision.

Overview of Best Back Massagers

What is a Back Massager?

Back massagers have tremendous health benefits for the body’s overall well-being. They help improve blood flow, ease pain including back and chronic pain, reduce stress, and decrease muscle tension and soreness. They have also been found to treat muscle weakness and enhance lymphatic system stimulation.

A research publication in the National Center for Complementary and Investigative Health has cited evidence of back massagers helping people manage chronic low back pain.

Karena Wu, MD the owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy recommends back massagers like Shiatsu cushion stating that it is a versatile product with the ability to soften the tight muscle tissues and offer deep relaxation.

Another study by researcher Leonard H. Joseph, Ph.D. et al published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Body Work investigated the effect of back massagers on low back pain. According to the research results, their application showed potential clinical benefits.

Jessica Crow, a licensed massage therapist and founder of CNTRD Wellness explains that heat from back massagers is crucial as it helps to soften the tight tissues and muscles so that the kneading, percussion, or vibration becomes more effective.

A publication in the International Journal of General Medicine by Saravana Kumar, Kate Beaton, and Tricia Hughes has shown that there is a developing body of evidence that back massagers can help manage non-specific low back pain.

How We Picked

Science and Evidence

Science and Evidence

When picking our best back massagers we ensure that the devices we have on our list are backed by scientific research.
We ensured that the devices have been scientifically tested and proven, their safety determined and that they work to offer the purported health benefits without causing undesirable side effects.

Trusted Manufacturers

Trusted Manufacturers

When determining the best back massagers, we selected devices from trusted brands. These are manufacturers with a good reputation for manufacturing high-quality, effective, and safe products that adhere to the US strict manufacturing standards.

Cost

Cost

When selecting our at-home best back massager, we ensured to pick those that are cost-effective. While considering the product’s efficiency and durability, we also put the cost into consideration so as to bring you high-quality yet affordable back massagers

Expert Recommended

Expert Recommended

The expert recommendation is another thing we considered when selecting our best back massagers. Each of our top picks above has been endorsed or recommended by a chiropractor (s) or certified physical therapist (s).

Our Choices for the Best Back Massagers of 2024

zyllion shiatsu back and neck massager

1. Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager

Best For: Relieving Sore Muscles.

Features: 8 Shiatsu Massage Nodes, FDA-Certified, Overheat Protection, Ergonomic Design, Velcro Straps for Easy Attachment, Includes Car Adapter, Dimensions are 13″ x 4″ x 9″, Weight is 3 lbs.

Price: $69.95

RatingRead Reviews
Shop Now

The ZMA-25 stands out because it goes beyond the standard by offering 8 shiatsu massage nodes, doubling the usual amount found in massage pillows. Four of these nodes move in a circular motion, while the other four rock up and down, ensuring a comprehensive massage experience that targets every sore spot.

This device not only relieves tight muscles but also refreshes and relaxes the user deeply. Its safety and quality are guaranteed, being FDA-certified and featuring overheat protection, so you can use it worry-free. Its ergonomic design and convenient velcro straps make it a versatile companion, perfect for home, office, or car use.

Whether it’s your back, neck, legs, or feet that need attention, the ZMA-25 delivers relief. It’s not just a massage tool; it’s your therapist ready to alleviate pain and stress, ensuring you unwind and regain balance in your life.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • FDA-Certified for Safety.
  • Versatile Use Across Body Areas.
  • Convenient for Both Home and Automotive Use.

Cons

  • Limited Stock Availability.

More to Know

Target Areas: Back, Neck, Calves, Thighs, and More | Technology: Shiatsu Massage with Heat | Benefits: Muscle Relief and Relaxation | Session Duration: Use as Needed

User Amazon Customer explains:

This is my third massage pillow, which I enjoy. It heats up well, massage is fine, my only complaint is that it doesn’t last more than two years. I do use it frequently though. I ordered a Homedics pillow but it didn’t heat up. So, I went back to Zyllion.

homedics shiatsu massage pillow

2. HoMedics Shiatsu Massage Pillow

Best For: Relieving Muscle Tension and Pain.

Features: Relieve tight muscles with a deep-kneading Shiatsu massage and soothing heat, all in a portable, ergonomic design for use at home, work, or on the go.

Price: $59.99

RatingRead Reviews
Shop Now

The Shiatsu Massage Pillow with Soothing Heat is your go-to solution for easing muscle pains and escaping the day’s stress. What sets it apart is its ability to mimic the deep-kneading action of a Shiatsu massage, effectively loosening tight knots and relieving muscle discomfort.

The addition of soothing heat not only elevates the massage experience but also adds an extra layer of comfort, making it a perfect companion for relaxation. Its versatile design is ideal for targeting pain points across your back, neck, shoulders, and even legs, offering total body relaxation anytime, anywhere.

With simple integrated controls, it provides a user-friendly experience, allowing you to enjoy a hassle-free massage at the touch of a button. Coming in a lightweight package, this massage pillow is easy to carry along, ensuring you have access to immediate pain relief whether you’re at home or on the move.

Included in the box is the Homedics Shiatsu Massage Pillow with Soothing Heat, an instruction book, and a 2-Year Limited Warranty, making your purchase worry-free.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free Shipping on orders over $50.
  • It comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
  • Offer a convenient “buy now, pay later” option.

Cons

  • Some may face Shipping Delays.

More to Know

Target Areas: Back, Neck, Shoulders, Legs | Technology: Deep-kneading Shiatsu, Soothing Heat | Benefits: Relieves Muscle Pain, Provides Total Comfort | Session Duration: Varies as needed.

User April explains:

Love this small portable massager; I use it every night on my neck, back, and legs. So easy and convenient and most importantly, it is powerful enough to release pain and stress!

resteck massager

3. Resteck Neck and Back Massager

Best For: Alleviating Acute Pains & Muscle Soreness.

Features: Portable design, 4 control buttons for heat and stimulation settings, bidirectional kneading nodes.

Price: $69.95

RatingRead Reviews
Shop Now

The Resteck Massager stands out in its ability to offer deep, therapeutic massage on the go. Whether you’re at home, in the office, or on a road trip, this massager brings you the comfort and relief you need.

It’s designed for easy use, featuring four buttons that allow you to adjust heat and stimulation according to your preferences. The massager’s bidirectional kneading nodes ensure a massage experience that covers all areas of the body, including the neck, shoulders, back, legs, calves, and even feet.

This massager not only aims to alleviate pain and soreness but also promotes proper blood circulation, enhancing your overall well-being.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Promotes blood circulation.
  • Eases neck stiffness and muscle soreness.
  • Portable with a leather pouch for transportation.
  • Suitable for full-body use.

Cons

  • Specific results may vary from person to person.

More to Know

Target Areas: Full Body | Benefits: Alleviation of pain, elimination of fatigue, improved blood circulation | Session Duration: Varies based on user needs and preferences.

User Cherall explains:

I think this is a great way to find pain relief with massage if you can’t get to a masseuse. It is strong enough and comfortable. I gave it 4 stars because the heat light worked although I felt it could be a little warmer. Great resource!

snailax shiatsu massage cushion

4. Snailax Shiatsu Massage Cushion

Best For: Full Back Relief and Comfort.

Features: Spot Massage Technology, Stretchable Massage Nodes, Vibration Seat Massage, Heat Therapy, 3-Year Warranty.

Price: $128.55

RatingRead Reviews
Shop Now

Enjoy the luxury of 4 deep-kneading massage nodes as they traverse your back, offering full control with 3 massage zones: upper back, lower back, or full back coverage.

Intensity Control Flap – This detachable feature empowers you to tailor the massage intensity for a personalized experience. Opt for a gentle caress or a deep-tissue session by simply adjusting the flap, or even add a blanket for an ultra-soft touch.

Adjustable Massage Nodes – Cater the massager to your unique physique. The nodes adjust up to 3mm to align perfectly with your body’s contours, ensuring a bespoke massage that hits all the right spots.

Spot Massage – Zone in on troublesome areas with the precision of spot massage, mimicking the focused attention you’d expect from a professional Shiatsu masseuse.

Vibration Seat Massager – Extend the pampering to your lower regions with three intensity levels that soothe your hips and thighs through gentle vibrations. While the sitting area features vibration only with no heat, it complements the full-back warmup.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Customizable massage settings for optimal relaxation.
  • Host of features for enhanced comfort and support.
  • Comprehensive warranty and responsive customer service.

Cons

  • No heat in the seat vibration.
  • Product shipping restrictions may apply.

More to Know

Target Areas: Full Back, Neck, Hip, and Thighs | Technology: Shiatsu, Vibration, Heat Therapy | Benefits: Pin-point muscle relaxation, increased comfort, improved circulation | Session Duration: Customizable.

User Debbie Brunssen explains:

I love this !! I work at store and sure needed something like this and I finally bought one after searching a lot . Easy to use and really no set up except but on a hard back chair and sit and the remote is very easy to use too

lifepro sonic massage gun

5. Lifepro Sonic Massage Gun

Best For: Easing muscle pain, accelerating recovery.

Features: Portable medium size (9.7L x 7.1W x 2.5H), lightweight at 2.5 lbs, includes 8 interchangeable heads, offers 5 intensity levels, quiet operation (55 – 75 dB).

Price: $79.99

RatingRead Reviews
Shop Now

The LifePro Sonic Percussion Massage Gun stands out for its clinical backing and guaranteed durability. Pain relief and enhanced athletic performance are now within reach thanks to this quiet, easy-to-use massage gun. Tailor your therapy with 8 interchangeable heads and 5 intensity levels for precise, targeted comfort. Its lightweight ergonomic design ensures usage is a breeze.

Backed by rigorous studies, such as the one by Yang C and colleagues in 2023 supporting the acute effects of percussive therapy for pain reduction and improved physical function, the LifePro Sonic delivers a scientifically affirmed strategy to tackle discomfort and aid recovery.

Relish in the reassurance of a Lifetime Warranty. If any challenges arise or your product doesn’t function as intended, we promise a hassle-free replacement.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free US shipping.
  • Lifetime Warranty.
  • 6-hour battery life.
  • 8 unique massage heads.

Cons

  • A restocking fee applies if the item has been used or opened..

More to Know

Target Areas: Whole Body | Technology: Vibration Therapy | Benefits: Pain Relief, Athletic Recovery, Flexibility | Session Duration: Varies, Easily adjustable.

User Will explains:

This massage gun is absolutely perfect! Perfect price point, perfect battery life, perfect amount of attachments, I could go on and on! This was just the thing I needed to relieve soreness after workouts. A+

renpho massager

6. Renpho Massager

Best For: Relaxing Muscles, Enhancing Circulation.

Features: Percussion technology, Rechargeable battery, 5 interchangeable heads, Motor up to 3600 rpm, Material is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, Weight is 1.8 lbs, Auto shut-off feature.

Price: $41.99

RatingRead Reviews
Shop Now

The Renpho Rechargeable Hand Held Deep Tissue Massager stands out with its powerful motor and percussion technology designed to provide deep muscle relief. Experience the ultimate relaxation for different parts of your body including feet, calves, shoulders, neck, and back. This massager is flexible enough to cater to all your needs whether you’re looking to relax after a long day or to speed up muscle recovery after exercise.

One of the most significant advantages of this handheld device is its cordless nature, powered by a robust rechargeable battery that offers a total of 140 minutes of massage time on a full charge. For your safety, it features an auto shut-off after 20 minutes of use to prevent overheating.

With five interchangeable head attachments to choose from, users can tailor their experience to their liking. Whether you need a firmer massage to break knots or a gentle touch for daily relaxation, RENPHO fulfills that need. Plus, the sleek design and easy-to-use controls add to a stress-free operation.


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Enjoy up to 140 minutes of relaxation on a single charge.
  • Transportable for use at home, the office, or on the go.
  • Variety of heads for personalized massage experiences.

Cons

  • Limited stock availability.
  • Safety features may require cool-down periods between uses.

More to Know

Target Areas: Whole Body | Power Source: Battery Powered | Benefits: Relieves Discomfort, Reduces Stress | Session Duration: Up to 20 minutes, can be repeated daily.

User Ruf explains:

I bought this massager in 2020 and for the last four years it has worked perfectly every use. You don’t have to keep recharhing. This Renpho keeps its charge for a very long time. It just keeps going. Renpho has passed Quality, Cost, Delivery as well as Form Fit and Function. A well manufactured product.

theragun elite

7. Therabody Theragun Elite

Best For: Maximizing Warm-Ups, Quick Recovery, Reducing Muscle Fatigue.

Features: Deep 16mm Percussive Massage Therapy, OLED Screen Displaying Speed and Force, Customizable Speeds with 5 Settings, Up to 60 lbs. No-Stall Force.

Price: $399.00

RatingRead Reviews
Shop Now

The Theragun Elite shines as your ultimate recovery tool, featuring scientifically-proven percussive therapy technology. With premium tech that includes an OLED screen for real-time feedback, you can customize your recovery sessions down to the finest detail. Designed for durability and performance, this device offers unparalleled power with up to 60 lbs. of force without stalling.

Five purposefully designed attachments target different areas, ensuring you can tackle any tension or soreness, while the patented triangle grip makes it effortless to reach 80% of your body. Seamless integration with the Therabody app provides guided routines and the ability to save your favorite settings, enhancing your recovery experience further.

Whether it’s a charge before your workout or a soothing end to your day, the Theragun Elite adapts to your lifestyle needs, providing a powerful massage that caters to serious muscle soreness and aids in faster recovery for improved performance


Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Innovatively designed for optimal user control and comfort.
  • It helps improve circulation and flexibility.
  • Effective for full-body use with diverse attachments.

Cons

  • Results may vary depending on individual use and body response.

More to Know

Target Areas: Muscles, Joints | Technology: Percussive Therapy | Benefits: Improved Performance and Recovery | Session Duration: User-determined.

User JBS explains:

Both my husband and I use this and love it. He uses on his back and legs, I use on neck, shoulders and knees. Has definitely improved our quality of life. Will be ordering another for our son.

Key Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Back Massagers

1. Portability

Back massage devices come in different sizes and shapes, meaning that some are portable while others are not. A portable device that can easily fit in your bag pack is ideal as it ensures that you don’t miss your massage routine while you are on vacation or on a business trip away from home.

2. Ease of Use

Since you are targeting an at-home use device, it is important to ensure that the device you are choosing is easy to operate. Ensure that the product has well elaborated and easy-to-follow usage instructions. This will ensure a hassle-free back massage.

3. Does It Support Deep Massage?

Back massage devices are designed to offer different types of massages. For deep tissue healing, you will need a device that offers deep massage and vice versa.

Types of Back Massagers

1. Percussion

Percussion is a type of massage that combines rapid and repetitive pressure application and vibration therapy.
The massage is done quickly and with force to put pressure directly on the soft tissue as vibration therapy engages the skin’s outer layer.

The health benefits of percussion massage include reduced muscle tension, decreased muscle soreness, improved circulation, and enhanced lymphatic system stimulation.

2. Shiatsu

Shiatsu is a type of therapeutic bodywork whose origin is in Japan. It works on pressure points to provide the body with balance.

It applies kneading, pressing, stretching, soothing, and tapping techniques which are done without using oils.
It helps to increase good energy, improve blood circulation, ease back and chronic pain, and reduce stress.

3. Vibration

Vibration is a type of massage skill involving the pressing and releasing of tissue in up and down motion to create a shaking and vibrating motion onto the muscles.

Vibration massage helps to normalize venous return rate, thus improving circulation and body relaxation, treating muscle weakness, and easing pain.

How Do Back Massagers Work?

The back massagers are meant to ease tension, relax muscles, reduce pain, ease nerve compression, and ensure full body relaxation. They work by targeting blood flow to the back muscles using different mechanisms like heat, percussion, rotating balls, and vibration.

Shiatsu massager, for instance, works by mimicking deep-tissue massage movements like the manual massage you would get at the spa. Shiatsu adopts varied techniques like pressing, deep kneading, and stretching to help promote blood flow and ease muscle tension. It is a type of massage that uses rotating nodes great for treating knots, post-gym muscle pain, or muscle injury.

A research publication in EURASIP Journal on Advances in Signal Processing has shown that massager scopes like deep kneading and vibration can help improve muscle tension.

Another study in Symmetry/assymetry in Musculoskeletal Science Journal looked into the beneficial effects of the vibration massager technique as an alternative to traditional massage. The results of the study indicate that vibration massage can help speed up post-exercise muscle recovery by stimulating blood circulation to the area to help repair and restore tired muscles.

Percussion massager works by applying rapid and repetitive back-and-forth movement pressure on the body muscles and tissues. The rapid pulsations penetrate deep into the targeted muscles to create a percussive sensation.

According to a publication in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, percussive massager therapy has been shown to reduce back stiffness and increase the body’s overall flexibility.
One of the research projects published in SportRvix Reprints has shown that massager percussion therapy can help treat muscle stiffness and improve range of motion and muscle soreness.

Benefits of Back Massagers

1. Ease Muscle Tension:

Back massagers have been found to improve muscle elasticity and ease muscle tension and tightness by helping the muscle tissue to relax.

Percussion, vibration, and Shiatsu, for instance, have been designed to improve a range of motions and joint flexibility through their ability to improve muscle elasticity and reduce muscle tightness.

2. Pain Relief:

Back massager devices have been found to help in disrupting pain signals while offering a numbing effect.
Percussion, Shiatsu, and vibration therapy can help get rid of discomfort associated with sprains, strains, and chronic pain conditions.

3. Ease Nerve Compression:

The rhythmic pulsation from percussion therapy has been found to offer a calming effect on the nervous system, promote relaxation, and reduce anxiety and stress, making it an effective device for stress management and relaxation.

4. Improve Blood Circulation:

Shiatsu, vibration, and percussion back therapies have been found to stimulate blood flow to enhance circulation.
The increased blood flow helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to the muscles while it flashes out metabolic waste products. The improved circulation can also help in muscle recovery and healing.

5. Helps Enhance a Range of Motions:

Percussive therapy applies rapid pressure on various parts of the body to increase the range of motions and increase the body’s overall flexibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Safe Are Back Massagers?

How Long Should You Use a Back Massager?

A: The duration of use may vary depending on your body and health. However, Dr. Lev Kalika, owner of New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy, and Dr. Devon M. Jeffcoat, MD recommend spending one minute on one muscle area at a time. And to avoid injury risks ensure that you are not applying much force.
In total, you should not use the device more than 20 minutes in a day even if you are moving the back massager around from one spot to another, says Dr. Theresa Marko, DPT a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedics.

Do Back Massagers Really Work?

A: According to the manufacturers of back massagers, the devices work provided that you use them correctly and with care.
Also according a market research, there is growing popularity of back massagers an indication that they work to give similar health benefits that traditional massagers offer.
Besides popularity, back massagers have also been endorsed by various health experts including massage therapists and chiropractors, as proof of their effectiveness in managing pain.
However, it is worth noting that there are varied causes of back pain and massage therapy may not be a solution to some back pain issues.
For instance, they may not be convenient for someone looking for a conventional treatment but they are ideal for providing instant pain relief.
So, if you have ongoing back pain, it is advisable to see a healthcare professional so that together you can work on the best treatment option.

Is It Recommended to Use a Back Massager Every Day?

A: For beginners, it is not recommended to use a back massager every day. If you are starting off, it is important that you follow the recommended number of sessions in a week while keeping in mind how long each session should last.
However, once your body gets used to the massage, you can use it daily but still take into consideration the duration of body exposure to the back massagers.
You should not be tempted to use the device in the same area frequently but rather aim at targeting different muscle groups at different times.
Excessive use of back massagers in the same area can increase the risk of inflammation, bruising, and aggravating the injuries. You should instead let the muscles recover before massaging the area again.
If you have persistent back pain, see your doctor to discuss the cause and come up with the best way of managing it.

Conclusion

There are varieties of back massagers in the market today and each one of these devices has been developed to help people meet their specific health needs including comfort preference and budget.

Manipulating the body’s soft tissues using back massage devices can help relieve back and neck pain, reduce stress, ease muscle tension and soreness, enhance muscle recovery, improve blood circulation, and promote the body’s overall health well-being, and quality of life.

Back massagers offer modern massage therapy which is an alternative to the traditional massage method where you have to book, travel, pay, and wait for a specialist for a massage session.
The devices offer a hassle-free massage therapy and treatment session which are within your control and performed from the convenience of your home.

By Brendan Camp, MD

Brendan Camp, MD, is double board-certified in dermatology and dermatopathology and sees patients at MDCS Dermatology.

**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available information and our estimation of efficacy.

*Result may vary. The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only. No medical claims are implied in this content, and the information herein is not intended be used for self diagnosis or self treatment of any condition.

Disclosure of Material connection: Some of the links in the post above are "associate sales links." This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, we will receive commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services which we use personally and/or believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials."

Footer Logo

Your privacy is important to us

Instagram Facebook Twitter Linkedin youtube pinterest tik-tok Thread
English