With many of us spending the majority of our days sitting down, hunched over computer screens or phones, it’s not surprising back pain is such a common problem in everyday life.
Whether it’s a result of being static for too long or the wear and tear of sports, pain relief can provide a welcome comfort. The benefits of massages are hard to understate; they can help reduce back pain and headaches while improving muscle recovery and general mood.
Devices that provide an on-demand massage, wherever you are, have become ever-more innovative; massagers come in many shapes and sizes.
Some are handheld, encouraging users to apply pressure themselves. Others use mechanisms to simulate a shiatsu or “finger pressure” technique, a form of Japanese bodywork that encourages manipulating the limbs.
If you’re looking to invest in a back massager, you’re in the right place. We’ve rounded up our picks for the best products on the market, gathered through in-depth research and analysis of consumer reviews.
iKristin Neck Massager
iKristin’s neck, upper back and shoulder massager uses 16 heads that move freely to adapt to different parts of the body. There are four powerful 3D massage nodes, shifting every minute to adjust the point of contact and unlock tight spots.
If you want to reap the benefits of heat therapy, the massager is also fitted with a heating function, which remains at 45°C and has a built-in 15-minute sensor to turn the heat off, in case you fall asleep.
More like this
It can adapt to other body parts, so you’re not purely limited to the upper back. It’s also fitted with both a household and car adapter, so you can enjoy a massage while relaxing on the sofa or on a long car journey.
Therabody have helped pioneer the rise of percussive therapy. Innovation often moves faster than research, so the jury is still out on just how effective they can be, but they can still be found in videos from top training facilities all over the world.
England footballer Jordan Henderson could be found strutting around the pitch running a gun over his quadriceps in the 2022 World Cup. NBA legend Lebron James has been spotted using the handheld device to relieve pressure on his calves while taking a breather.
The Theragun Prime gives you access to this latest red-hot innovation. It features an ergonomic grip and a customisable speed range with five different settings to vary the intensity—the same specs as the more costly Theragun Pro.
Therabody also include wireless charging and the ability to integrate a smart app via Bluetooth to track your goals and suggest wellness routines tailored to your needs. It might be tricky to get all the spots on your back, so you may need a begrudging partner to give you a (percussive) helping hand.
Homedics Shiatsu Pillow
Homedics’ massage pillow is a portable option, small enough to fit into a travel bag or placed in a stack of pillows on your bed. It features an integrated control panel, allowing users to control dual massage nodes, simulating finger techniques to unlock tight knots.
There is also the option to add heat, aiming to further soothe muscles. The convenient size means the pillow can be used on multiple body parts, from relieving a tight Achilles tendon to loosening the lower back.
Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager
This full neck and back massager from Snailax uses four nodes across two pads, the neck, and the back, which can be adjusted to fit the user’s needs.
The shiatsu balls inside the pads are fitted with an optional heating function, designed to soothe muscles and enhance blood circulation. There are three massage zones to choose from: upper back, lower back, and full back.
Alongside these options, there is a spot massage function that allows the user to concentrate the nodes on specific areas, using the remote control provided – which can also control the intensity of the pressure. It’s suitable for users between 160cm and 180cm in height.
HoMedics Stretch + Heat
This yoga-inspired stretching mat comes with a program that leads users through a series of movements to relieve stress and encourage recovery. It uses seven controlled air chambers that deflate and inflate throughout exercises, moving with the body while stretching.
The remote control can be used to choose between six programs based on the experience you’re looking for: unwind, recover, stretch, twist, energise and flow.
Alongside the program, the mat generates heat to intensify the stretching experience. There is also an aroma tab on the pillow, which can dabbed with essential oils to deliver the ultimate therapeutic experience.
HoMedics Gel Back and Shoulder
HoMedics’ back massager features a gel technology designed to simulate the touch of a natural massage. The gel nodes are claimed to knead, rotate, and roll over muscles to release tension and help the body relax.
There are up to 12 variable intensity programmes to choose from, so you can adjust the intensity and tailor your experience—from shiatsu, rolling or spot massages.
The remote control can be used to customise the zone, width and height of the massage, as well as controlling the added heat to help you unwind.