Best Electric Back Massagers
If you don’t have the budget for regular massage therapy — or if your partner is easily tired of your shoulder knots — an electric back massager is a great alternative. Whether you’re using a shiatsu massage pillow, percussion massage gun, or a full massage chair cover, the benefits are the same as a traditional manual massage. A good electric massager will relax your tense muscles and provide immediate comfort, and it will also prevent you from developing strains in the future, as tense or injured muscles often create feedback loops of awkward postures and excesses in other areas compensate.
As with any other technical or medical device, you should look for a high-quality product that can be used regularly and for a long time. Improper use and overuse, especially percussion massagers, can lead to injuries, including bruising and nerve damage. It’s recommended to avoid any area near the bone and apply intermittently to avoid injury—”20 to 30 minutes is enough.” To help you find the best electric back massager, we’ve teamed up with eight experts, including Watts and Cronin. One expert discusses the back massagers they recommend and use themselves.
Best overall electric back massager
RENPHO Back Massager with Heat
Shiatsu chair cover | 4 massage zones and 4 massage types | 3 speed settings | Heat option
If you’re looking for an all-in-one back massager, this Renpho Chair Massage Pad is an excellent choice. It’s designed to target multiple areas, including the neck and shoulders, upper and lower back, and even has a vibrating seat pad to relax the back of your thighs. The main part of the chair features multi-directional nodes that combine acupressure, kneading and rolling, and can be heated or unheated. For the neck and shoulders, the chair has a removable massage pillow that adjusts its position to your specific height.
Best (less expensive) overall electric back massager
Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Back and Body Massager
Percussive wand | 6 massage heads | Variable speed dial | No heat option
For a cheaper option that takes up less space, Watts recommends the Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Cordless Back Massager. She uses it before bed to help relax her muscles and get a good night’s sleep, and appreciates the versatility of the six different massage heads. Thanks to its long ergonomically designed handle, this massage stick is easy to use on its own without awkward twisting to reach different areas of the back.
Best electric back massager pillow
Zyllion Shiatsu Back & Neck Massager
Shiatsu pillow | 4 rotating nodes change direction every 60 seconds | One speed | Heat option
Massage pillows are best for the neck and shoulders or lower back, and they provide hands-free convenience. This massage pillow is a Strategist favorite, recommended by Kotlen and former Strategist senior editor Casey Lewis, who bought one to help her soreness while working in bed. Personally, I find it most effective as a lumbar massager, sandwiching it between me and a stack of support pillows while I’m watching TV in bed. It has only one speed, and the rotating shiatsu nodes automatically change direction after 60 seconds. I bought mine thinking I could use it for my waist, neck and shoulders. It worked wonders on my lower back, but it didn’t fit my neck in a comfortable position and the nodes actually went deep into my shoulder blades rather than targeting the muscles.
Best (less expensive) electric back massager pillow
HoMedics 3D Shiatsu and Vibration Massage Pillow
Shiatsu and vibration pillow | Circular kneading combined with 3-D in-and-out motion | One speed | Heat and vibration options
In addition to seeing a physical therapist, using an electric back massager helped her the most with her recurrent muscle pain, Byrne said. In addition to the two in her home, she uses this massage pillow from wellness brand HoMedics in her physical therapist’s office. Like the Zyllion pillow above, it provides multi-directional shiatsu massage and heat at one speed. Additionally, the nodes on this massager can go in, out and rotate, and have an optional vibration feature to further relax stiff muscles.
Best electric back massager for the neck and shoulders
Resteck Massager for Neck and Back With Heat
Scarf-style Shiatsu massager | Circular kneading nodes change direction automatically | 3 speed settings | Heat option
Former Strategist senior writer Karen Adelson also purchased an electric back massager to address her back pain as she adjusts to working from home. But instead of a simple pillow-style shiatsu massager, she opted for this scarf-style massager that you wrap around your neck and shoulders and is held in place by ergonomic hand/wrist loops on each end . This design allows you to use the massager hands-free for the most part, so you can work or read a book at the same time, and the harder you pull down on the end, the more intense your massage will become.
Best electric massage gun
Hyperice Hypervolt Cordless Vibration Massager
Percussive massage gun | 5 massage heads | 3 speed settings | No heat option
This Hypervolt massage gun was recommended by Maugeri as well as pro surfer Kelly Slater and drag queen Katya Zamolodchikova. “I love my Hypervolt. I use it in the office, the gym, and at home. The different speeds are great for different parts of the body, and I love how quiet it is,” Maugeri said. Zamolodchikova called the Hypervolt “a huge splurge,” saying it paid for itself after only four uses because the massage was expensive. While you can do it yourself, she says she asks her trainer to help reach her hips and lower back. “There are different levels of strength and different attachments to different things. There’s a flat one, a round one, and a torture-looking fork — and it’s — to accommodate different shapes of musculature. I use The most is the big sphere. It’s like a catch-all. It’s good for everything,” she said. According to Slater, massage guns are very important in surfing competitions. Hypervolt is half the price and is much quieter,” he says. Since percussion massage is more intense than vibration or shiatsu, several of our experts recommend starting with the lowest setting and being cautious on sensitive areas like the neck.
Best (less expensive) electric massage gun
Percussive massage gun | 7 massage heads | 5 speed settings | No heat option
In addition to the Zyllion pillow massager, I also have this Turonic G5 massage gun at my house. It has more heads than any other massager on this list, and even includes a flat metal for massage oil. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m curious. I like the soft ball head best, and I only use it on the lowest or second lowest setting – both settings are strong enough for me. It is very quiet and comes with a zippered case for easy installation of the massage gun and all the massage heads as well as the charger. But I hardly ever have to use the charger because the battery lasts a long time.