Millions of people, especially older people, experience chronic back pain. Outside of taking painkillers or visiting a chiropractor, most people think they have little choice but to bear the pain and manage as best they can.
Massage technology, however, is something that you should consider, especially if you don’t like the thought of visiting a spa to get treatment from a massage therapist. Check out the best back massagers in our complete guide, and learn more about how a massager can help you, now!
What is a Back Massager?
Massagers for home use are very popular among people of all ages. Whether you’re a distance runner who needs to work out some calf pain or an elderly person dealing with the aches and pains of a lifetime of labor, massage can help.
There are many different types of massagers, designed to target a specific part of the body. Back massagers have designs that make it easy for users to self-massage their backs, even in hard-to-reach places. Some back massagers also include heating elements, which help to relieve tension in muscles and ligaments while also boosting circulation to those areas.
Types of Back Massagers
These items look a bit strange, but once you start to use them the silly-looking design makes complete sense. Massage shawls, such as the Naipo Back Massager, have two long cloth straps, on either side of the massage device. This lets you hold the massager against your back, the same way you’d hold a bath towel against your back when drying off after a shower.
You can control the amount of pressure, as well as the location of the massage, yourself without relying on an expensive massage chair or another person. Massage shawls are not always listed as “shawls”; rather, the word “shawl” is just a good term to describe the way they look.
These mats are very easy to unroll and lay over a chair, couch, or bed. They’re filled with tiny massage motors and often multiple heating elements. Massage mats are very convenient, offering an almost full-body massage experience. If you have back pain in more than one place or are looking for a luxurious way to unwind, consider getting a massage mat. You’ll love how easy it is to unroll it, massage almost your entire body, and roll it back up when you’re done!
A good massage pillow is a common-sense purchase for any person who has chronic lower back pain. They look and feel like lumbar pillows, meaning they’re beneficial for your back even when they’re turned off. When turned on, they provide soothing, deep tissue massage and heat to your lumbar, helping you feel loose and comfortable when you’re sitting, standing, and bending!
These products are a fantastic alternative to expensive massage chairs. They provide massage to your lumbar, buttocks, upper back, and shoulders, helping you feel comfortable and relieving pain in multiple areas all at once.
Massage cushions are typically very affordable and can be placed over a chair or couch, making them nearly as convenient as massage mats. The only downside to having a massage seat cushion is that they can be pretty bulky and hard to store.
Top 9 Best Back Massagers: 2021
1. Best Back Massager (Overall): HoMedics Perfect Touch Masseuse Massage Seat
This massage seat has 4 different massage modes that work out the kinks and knots in your back, neck, shoulders, and buttocks. The massaging is very effective and comfortable. The best thing about the perfect touch Masseuse, though, is how easy it is to customize each part of it to your needs.
It has a remote with individual controls for each massage area, letting you customize your massage experience to your exact desires and needs. The heating elements, 4 in total, are also individually controllable. The back and neck rollers are also height-adjustable with the touch of a button, meaning tall and short people alike can use it comfortably. It even has a retractable cord and straps that let you safely attach it to any chair- even a swiveling office chair!
If you have a bad back, this massage seat is absolutely the way to go. It will help you relieve pain across your entire back and get the pains of the day off, all while you watch tv or read! It’s extremely effective, versatile, and much more affordable than a full-sized massage chair.
2. Best Handheld Back Massager: Naipo Back Massager
This back massager uses a “shawl”-esque design that makes it incredibly easy to treat all the hard-to-reach places on your back. With 3 different massage intensities and 8 massaging modes, each individual can choose the setting and intensity that fits them best. This simple massager can be used to effectively release tension in every part of your back, perfect for those days when you just feel sore all over.
The Naipo Back Massager weighs just three pounds and has adjustable arm straps, making it easy for people of any body type to treat their aches and pains. The massager also has two different levels of heating, further loosening your muscles and helping you relax. If you’ve struggled to reach parts of your back with other massagers, this is the best back massager for you. It’s effective, intuitive, and costs less than $60!
3. Best Massager for Lower Back Pain: Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager
This massage pillow delivers a soothing 3D shiatsu massage, gently but firmly kneading your body and releasing all the built-up tension in your back. If you’re one of the millions of people suffering from chronic lower back pain, this massage pillow was made for you. It’s extremely simple to use; in fact, it only has one button that toggles the pillow between off/on/heat/massage.
If you’re looking for a cheap, effective way to treat lower back pain that doesn’t involve yet another handful of ibuprofen, this is it. You can also use it on other parts of your back, as well as your neck and shoulders. It’s a simple and versatile massage pillow that’ll help you feel more relaxed, pain-free, and moving about your day with ease.
4. Best Back Massager for Chair: Comfier Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager
This massage chair is completely stacked with different massage and relaxation functions. It includes both 2D and 3D rollers that give you a nearly unmatched massage on your lower and mid-back. There are air compression chambers that gently massage your hips and sides. There is a heat function that warms and soothes most of your back. There is even a vibrating massager under the seat for your buttocks and thighs!
You can massage your shoulders, neck, back, and thighs to perfection with the Comfier Shiatsu chair massager. There is virtually no inch of your back, neck, or shoulders that you cannot treat with this chair! So, what’s stopping it from becoming the best back massager on our list? After all, if it has so much to offer, why isn’t it in the number one position?
The only things that this back massager is missing are more heating elements and massage controls. It only has one heating zone, and the controls for different parts of the body aren’t as easy to customize as they should be. Don’t let that deter you, though, it’s still one of the best back massagers on the market, and very affordable!
5. Best Neck and Back Massager: Snailax Cordless Handheld Back Massager
If you want to self-massage your back, shoulders, and neck with the same device, this cordless back massager is exactly what you need. It’s very powerful and comes with three different massage head attachments that will meet anyone’s preferences. It also has an ergonomic design that makes it very easy to reach all the different parts of your back.
Two things that cordless massagers tend to struggle with are battery life and power. This rechargeable back massager can be used for up to 80 minutes on a single charge and is still strong enough to work out even the most stubborn knots in your back. If you like the idea of a cordless back massager but are worried about power, stick with this model from Snailax and you won’t be disappointed!
6. Best Back Massager for Car: Papillon Shiatsu Massage Pillow
There are some massage pillows that operate on battery power; they seem convenient at first, but they require a lot of battery changing and aren’t as powerful as corded units. They also tend to be much more expensive than massagers with cords. So, what are you to do if you want a good deal on a back massager that you can also take in the car?
The Papillon Shiatsu Massage Pillow comes with a spare DC cable that will plug into your car’s outlet. It’s just as effective and comfortable as more expensive battery-powered massage pillows and other corded massage pillows. That means you don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality for portability.
This massage pillow has a heating function and three different levels of massage intensity; it isn’t the most complex pillow in the world but it certainly gets the job done. If you have chronic back pain and spend lots of time in the car, this massaging back pillow is perfect for you!
7. Best Back Massager for Bed: Snailax Massage Mat with 10 Motors and Heat Therapy
This massage mat lets you lay your entire body across a soothing, vibrating surface that works out all the aches and pains of the day. Studies have shown that a 15-minute massage session before bed can help you sleep better and wake up feeling more rested; the Snailax Massage Mat is the simplest way to do just that!
It has 10 different massage motors that can be set to one of 5 modes. The mat is also divided into 4 different zones which target the massage in a way that’s more beneficial for each part of your body. After all, the type of massage that works best for your calves usually won’t be as effective or comfortable on your neck. You can use all four zones at once or individually in case you want to focus on your back or neck instead of the entire body.
This mat also has four different heating zones, creating a luxurious full-body relaxation experience. If you’re looking for a way to unwind and treat back pain without spending hundreds or taking up tons of space, this is the back massager for you!
8. Best Cheap Back Massager: TENS 7000 Digital TENS Unit Massager
There are few massagers that cost less than $40, and none are as effective as this TENS unit. Powered by a simple 9V battery, this massager sends gentle electric pulses that deliver immediate pain relief and stimulation to the muscles where you place the nodes.
If you’re not wary of electric massage- and you have no reason to be- this portable unit is the cheapest way to treat back pain and stiffness at home, bar none! For any senior who needs a way to deal with back pain and isn’t comfortable with traditional forms of massage, this unit from TENS 700 is exactly what is needed.
9. Best Massage Pillow for Back Pain: HoMedics 3D Shiatsu Massage Pillow
Massage pillows are great for back pain, but they tend to be a bit too simple. This pillow is simple to use, but the inner mechanics are complex and very, very effective. It uses 3D massage rollers and heat to create a luxurious deep-tissue massage that your back will love.
3D massage- rollers that move in three different directions instead of two- is pretty uncommon in massage pillows. That means this HoMedics pillow is capable of treating more severe back knots and soreness than other lumbar pillows. It’s also great for upper back massage and neck massage. If you need a massage pillow that comes with serious benefits, the HoMedics 3D Shiatsu Massage Pillow is the way to go!
FAQs: Back Massagers
Are Back Massagers Good For You? Answers from Science
Mood and Stress
Massage is an excellent way to treat stress, anxiety, and feelings of tension. When you are feeling stressed, your muscles will tense up throughout the day- particularly your back and shoulders. Back massagers can help relieve stress in ways that few other things can. While you might enjoy having a beer or glass of wine at the end of the day, a back massage might be able to help even more.
Studies have shown that massage decreases your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a substance that is directly related to feelings of stress. Massage also boosts dopamine and serotonin levels, the two chemicals that trigger feelings of happiness and joy. Massage has also been shown to decrease anxiety and agitation in patients who have had recent cardiovascular surgeries, Alzheimer’s, and strokes.
Few home remedies for back pain are quite as effective as massage. Using a back massager reduces your feelings of pain in the short term and can help reduce pain long-term by helping muscles and ligaments to heal. Research has shown that massage, even on parts of the body that aren’t directly feeling pain, helps people feel less pain across their body as they recover from surgery.
If you experience back pain, massage is a proven way to manage your pain and experience relief from the way that pain tends to decrease your quality of life. Get a back massager and use it daily to feel better as you go about your day!
Where to Buy a Back Massager
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Back Massager
Use it Daily
The best way to convince yourself that your back massager isn’t working is to only try it once. It takes a few sessions for the benefits of massage to really become apparent. This is especially true if your back and shoulders are extremely tense; the first time you use a massager may be uncomfortable because of how tense you are. Stick to it, and you’ll start to see the benefits pretty soon!
Massage is very relaxing, but it isn’t always the most comfortable feeling in the world. If you’re not used to massagers, you might be surprised that you feel a bit of discomfort and even slight pain when you first use one. Unless the pain is severe, though, it’s normal- and it will soon be replaced by a deep sense of relaxation and release. So, embrace the discomfort!
Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Back Massager
Before you buy a back massager, here are some things you should understand about massagers and consider:
2D vs 3D Massage: What’s the Difference?
Different Types of Massage: Shiatsu, Swedish, Vibration
Back Massager vs Massage Chair: Which is Better?
Large massage chairs that cover the entire body are very beneficial, no doubt about it. They can also be expensive; some massage chairs cost more than $5,000! (Although there are some cheap massage chairs that are worth looking at).
That’s a bit much for many people, especially if they aren’t looking for a full-body treatment. If you have back pain and don’t care to focus on every body part, back massagers (whether a mat, pillow, gun, or TENS unit) will be everything you need and cost 1/20 of what a massage chair does.
(If, of course, you have a taste for luxury or more serious needs, you should consider getting a massage chair!)
Back pain affects many people, slowing down their days and making things as simple as tidying up the house a difficult and painful endeavor. Back massagers are a cost-effective and drug-free way to treat back pain, ideal for anyone who wants to get relief and unwind at the end of the day. Which back massager from our list is the most intriguing to you? Do you have any questions about back massagers? Let us hear your thoughts below!