Just a couple of decades ago, your options for massagers were pretty slim: you could get a personal massager for your back and shoulders or a seat cushion/massage chair for your entire body.
Recently, though, as people have started to become more health-conscious, more and more massage products have entered the market. With so many products available, how can you know which massager is right for you? This helpful guide on the types of massagers will set you off on the right foot!
What is a Massager?
Massagers are electronic devices that people can use at home to work out tension, soreness, and knots in their muscles. They’re very useful to people of all ages, particularly those who dislike being touched and would not enjoy getting a massage at a spa or health club.
They’re also a great choice for people who cannot afford a large massage chair or lack the space to keep it in their homes.
If you often experience tightness and pain in your muscles, you could benefit from getting a massager!
Main Types of Massagers
These devices are great for targeting your massage to one specific part of your body. They do an excellent job of relieving tension and loosening knotted muscles. Massage guns often resemble something like a jackhammer, with handles and a massage head that pulses with various levels of intensity. Massage guns are very popular with athletes and people whose work involves physical labor because they can help muscles recover much faster.
Having one of these products is like having a massage chair without spending a small fortune on it. The mat is long and narrow enough that you can lay it over any recliner chair or couch seat and sit on top of it.
You can get a great massage (often with heat included) and roll up the mat when you’re done. You can also lay it out on your bed and do the same thing! Massage mats are convenient and affordable ways for seniors to get massage therapy that soothes muscles and aches.
The one thing we’d suggest that you avoid doing with a massage pillow is sleep on it; you’ll have a bad time! Massage pillows are essentially lumbar pillows that have built-in massage motors. If you’re one of the millions of seniors who experiences chronic lower back pain, you’re also one of the millions who could benefit from a massage pillow!
Massage Seat Cushions
Much like massage mats and massage pillows, these seat cushions are an affordable and convenient alternative to massage chairs. You can place them over a couch seat, recliner, or dining room chair and get tremendous relief from back, hip, and buttock pain.
TENS stands for “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation” (try saying that ten times fast!) and describes a type of massage therapy that doesn’t rely on hands or motors. Instead, electric signals are sent through your muscles, stimulating them and helping relieve tension and pain.
Surprisingly, TENS units are among the most affordable massage solutions on the market. If you’re not wary of electric therapy (you shouldn’t be!) and you find traditional massage methods uncomfortable, a TENS unit is perfect for you.
What Parts of the Body are Massagers Best For?
Massage is an effective way to treat pain, stress, and some injuries, but it isn’t a perfect solution for every inch of the body. Here are some of the areas where massage is most effective:
Back pain is one of the most common and frustrating types of chronic pain. Something as simple as sleeping in the wrong position can give you pain that lasts for days (not to mention spending a lot of time sitting in a chair. If you experience upper or lower back pain, buying a back massage device is one of the best things you can do for yourself!
Neck pain can be pretty tricky to deal with; heating pads and ibuprofen can only do so much. If you have chronic neck pain or wake up with a crick in your neck from time to time, getting a gentle neck massage gun or handheld massager can bring you lots of relief. Neck pain is caused by poor posture that leads to muscle strains and nerve compression. Use a massager to relieve that tension and you’ll be able to move on with your day!
Pain in the shoulders is usually closely related to neck pain. If you’re experiencing tight shoulders, using a massager to soothe them will not only reduce shoulder/neck pain, but also reduce your stress levels! Massaging your shoulders at the end of the day, even if you don’t feel pain, is a great way to relax and unwind.
Self-massage is a wonderful way to treat knee pain at home. You can knead your knees by hand or use a knee massager on a very gentle setting to relieve the pain and soreness that you feel in your knees at the end of the day. You can also use a more intense massager setting on your thighs, calves, and shin muscles to ensure that your entire knee region is free of tension and pain.
Foot massage is one of the oldest forms of massage, having been practiced in China for more than 3,000 years. Your feet are home to many nerve endings that connect to various places of the body. Foot massage is believed to work in a similar fashion to acupuncture; light pressure placed on different parts of the foot can relieve pain in other parts of the body. Even if you don’t buy into that concept, foot massage is still a great way to relieve the pain of sore feet!
Main Brands of Massagers
If you’ve purchased a massager, heating pad, or foot bath in the last three decades, there’s a decent chance you’re already familiar with HoMedics. They make a wide range of massagers across all categories, most of which are very affordable. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, relaxing and soothing massage, HoMedics is the way to go!
Though you may remember them mostly from trips to the mall, Sharper Image has a lot more to offer than niche electronics. This brand has a phenomenal selection of massagers, massage pillows, and massage cushions. Though some Sharper Image products are known for being overly expensive, that isn’t the case with their massage tech; you can get a great massager or massage cushion for a great price from Sharper Image!
This brand has many of the same types of neck, back and foot massagers carried by other brands. They’re just as effective and affordable as their competitors, but where Belmint really shines is with massage mats. If you’re looking for a full-body massage mat, you’re going to love the massage mats that Belmint has to offer.
Looking for a foot massager? You’ll find one here. Miko has 5 different foot massagers, each capable of providing tremendous relief from pain and soreness. If you’ve worked a job on your feet all your life and are feeling worn down, a foot massager won’t instantly solve all your problems, but it will make a big difference. For foot massagers, look no further than Miko!
Most massage guns cost more than $200, unless you’ve found a mini model that won’t be able to massage your sore muscles as deeply. Renpho, however, has a great lineup of affordable massage guns, such as the Renpho R4. People love that Renpho’s massagers are easy to use and customize to their needs, as well as how deep the massage is on their thighs, arms, and other major muscles!
Similar to HoMedics, Wahl makes several massagers that are affordable, comfortable, and easy to use. If you’re looking to treat back, shoulder, or neck pain, you will enjoy what Wahl has to offer. Their massagers are, truthfully, nothing special- but that’s because they aren’t supposed to be. They’re supposed to be effective and budget-friendly, and Wahl succeeds in doing that.
Benefits of Massagers for Seniors
Massage has been proven to decrease levels of cortisol (a substance related to increased stress) and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, two substances that help you feel happier and more content. Furthermore, hand and back massage has also been shown to help older people feel more relaxed. If you deal with any amount of stress or anxiety, getting a massager for your home is a great way to treat it without medication or other products. Of course, serious stress should always be treated with the help of a doctor, but a massage never hurts!
Massage is helpful for all types of muscle and joint pain; this is backed up by many university and clinical studies. For example, one study found that slow-stroke massage has a positive effect on shoulder pain and anxiety in older people who have had a stroke. Massage therapy has also helped people feel less pain and recover more quickly after undergoing cardiovascular surgeries.
Leg massage is great for your muscles, not only for pain reduction but also for increasing range of motion. Massage applies pressure to muscle tissue, stimulating it and helping relieve tension and increase circulation to those areas. This, in turn, helps your muscles heal from intense exercise and injury much quicker. If you like to exercise or have a lifestyle that often leaves you sore and exhausted, incorporating a short massage routine into your day can help greatly!
A study conducted by the International Journal of Older People Nursing found that massage was an effective way to treat pain, improve mood, and other research says it can even improve sleep! Even if you don’t have serious medical needs and you aren’t looking for a massager for exercise recovery, getting a massager can still have positive impacts on your life and well-being.
Buying Guide: How to Find the Best Massager for Your Needs
There are many different types of massage, and each one is better for certain people’s needs and preferences. Shiatsu is a gentle, kneading massage that many people prefer over Swedish massage (a deep-tissue massage that isn’t nearly as gentle). Still, there are many people who find Shiatsu to be too gentle and love the deep-tissue pressure that comes from Swedish massage.
Before you purchase a massager for your home, make sure you know which type of massage that it performs, and that you are comfortable with it. The last thing you want is to spend $150+ on a massage gun that is far too intense for your preferences!
Consider Your Health
Different massagers are made for different purposes. For example, if you have severe lower back pain, a massager such as the Renpho R4 won’t be able to do too much to help you. If you’re in that scenario, a handheld massager like the Renpho Deep Tissue Massager will help you reach those areas on your back. Massage pillows are the best for the lower back, though, so you should also consider a product like the iKristin Heating Massage Pillow. The point is, you should never buy a massage product without first considering where and how you’ll use it!
Talk to a Doctor
If you have osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s, or another severe medical issue, you should consult with your doctor before buying a massager. No massage product will be actively bad for you, but, depending on your medical concerns, some massagers will be much better for you than others. So, before you make a purchase, it’s a good idea to have a chat with your doctor and find out which massagers fit your specific needs the best.
Heat or No Heat?
Many massagers, especially massage mats, cushions, and pillows, will include heating elements. Though they certainly feel good, they add to the price of the massager, which leads people to wonder if heat is actually worth it. If you don’t like the feeling of a heating pad, you can avoid them. However, heating during massage improves circulation and aids with pain relief, so you should always welcome heating elements with your massager when they’re offered!
Final Thoughts: Types of Massagers
There are many different types of massagers, each designed to help treat pain, soreness, and tension in a different part of the body. Recent developments in massage technology have exploded the market with lots of great massagers, targeting the back, neck, shoulders, feet, and legs. Which type of massager are you most interested in? Let us know in the comments section below!