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Whether you've got everyday aches and pains from sitting at your desk all day or you're sore from an activity, there's almost nothing more frustrating than back pain. Going to get a massage can be helpful, but it's not always convenient to see a pro. Luckily, there are a number of back massagers you can use to soothe your muscles from the comfort of your own home.
Not all back massagers are created equal, so if you're hoping to invest in one, make sure you do your research. (And, of course, talk to a doctor to make sure using a back massager is safe for you.)
With that, here are the five best back massagers for soothing sore muscles.
Best Overall: Zyllion Massage Pillow
The Zyllion kneading massage pillow is effective, affordable, and portable. Thanks to three-dimension, deep-kneading Shiatsu massage nodes, no matter how sore your muscles are, they will feel incredibly relaxed when you're finished.
The 13 x 9.5-inch pillow can be used on any part of your body. It fits behind your neck, contours into your lower and upper back, or can be held on your abdomen, calf, thighs, or feet. Because it’s so compact, it can easily be taken on-the-go, and it even comes with straps to secure it to a chair. If that wasn’t enough, there's also a heating function that adds another level of relaxation and muscle-soothing power. Note that this is not rechargeable, and needs to be plugged into a wall outlet to run.
Best Budget: VIKTOR JURGEN Handheld Back Massager
This Viktor Jurgen handheld massager is budget-friendly, but that doesn't mean you'll be sacrificing quality if you get it. It comes with three sets of removable massage heads so you can have a variety of massage options, including intensive, deep tissue, and circular. A double-head design also gives you the effect of two hands for extra pressure. It’s about as close as you can get to feeling like a real masseuse is working on you!
This massager is professional strength, with a powerful motor that runs up to 3,350 pulses per minute. It’s ideal for your neck and back, and the non-slip grip makes using it a breeze. It also features a setting for adjustable intensity, so you can choose modes from slow to fast, depending on your needs.
Best Handheld: RENPHO Handheld Massager
A handheld massager is a lifesaver for a sore back or neck, as you can control where it moves and place it exactly on your sore spots. This RENPHO model is our favorite. The deep tissue massager uses percussion technology to help relax and relieve pain, and it features a powerful motor with up to 3,600 pulses per minute. It also has a safety design, so after 20 minutes, it will automatically stop to prevent the massager from overheating.
This massager comes with a variety of interchangeable head attachments, depending on your preference and needs, including round, one point, curved, three-points, and three-intensive. For even more convenience, this model is cordless and rechargeable, though you can't use it when it's plugged in. On a full charge, the battery lasts 140 minutes.
Best Chair: Real Relax Zero Gravity Massage Chair
When it comes to relaxation, a massage chair is the ultimate. This is a larger investment, of course, but if you feel like splurging, you can’t go wrong with this Real Relax chair. It features an ergonomic armrest linkage system, so you’ll feel comfortable while reclining, and a zero-gravity button will make you feel virtually weightless. Eight massage rollers inside the backrest help your stress will fade away, and there’s also a foot roller function, as well as 50 airbags placed around the shoulders, legs, calves, arms, and hips.
This chair can not only massage your back, but it’ll relax your whole body, too. It even comes with built-in heaters and seat vibration to take your massage up a notch. Customize your relaxation session with a remote manual program, or use one of the preset auto massage programs. When the chair is off, you can use it as a regular recliner, too.
Best Mat: Snailax Massage Mat with 10 Vibrating Motors and 4 Therapy Heating Pad
Prefer to enjoy your massages laying down? This pick is a great choice to help you relax. It’s got ten massage motors to provide a vibrating, full-body massage. Additionally, it features four heating zones to target your upper and lower back, thighs, and calves. When you’re finished with it, it’s flexible and easy to store. Just fold it up and tuck it away until next time. It works great on a bed, a couch, or even the floor. For safety reasons, it will automatically shut off after 30 minutes of use.
What to Look for in a Back Massager
When you're shopping for a back massager, think about the style that would most suit your specific pain and your lifestyle. For example, if you're simply looking for a way to relax on occasion, a massage chair or cushion may be a good fit. If you have general back pain, a massage belt or mat might help; if you want a more precise massage on a certain area of your back, then a handheld back massager could be the best choice for you.
Power and Speed
Once you pinpoint the style of back massager that will suit you best, you'll also want to think about the power and speed of a massager. Ultimately, this is based on your preference. If you want a versatile option that can help with various aches and pains, choose one that has power and speed settings. But if you know you like a deep tissue massage, then aim for a high-power model that goes deeper into your muscles.
Ergonomics are another important factor to think about when you're choosing a back massager, particularly if you want a handheld model. If that's the route you go, make sure the massager is easy to hold and grip. If it feels heavy in your hand or you may have a hard time using it on yourself or another person, it may be best to consider another, more lightweight model (or one you don't have to hold at all).
When you think about your ideal home back massage, what comes to mind? You can also look for those features in a back massager. For example, many back massagers come with a heat feature or a shiatsu or kneading function.
How long should you use a back massager?
Always follow the instructions that came with your back massager to determine how long to use it. You can also talk to your health care provider about the best back massage methods—and how long to use a back massager—for your specific concern.
How often can you use a back massager?
Every back massager is different, so follow the instructions that came with yours. You may also want to talk to your medical provider about their suggestions for how to safely use a back massager for your specific condition.
How do you use a back massager?
Because all back massagers are unique, they'll also work differently—so it's important to thoroughly read the instructions or manual that came with yours. If you have questions about how to use a back massager or other ways to improve your back pain, your health care provider may be able to assist you.
Why Trust The Spruce
Sienna Livermore has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. She is a former Hearst magazine editor, and a current contributing editor and writer covering travel, home decor, fashion, beauty, and women's lifestyle. Additional reporting was done by Ashley Abramson, a writer who has worked as editor for local print and online publications. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Allure, InStyle, MyDomaine, and more.