The 10 Best Foot and Calf Massagers
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in December of 2016. If you tend to stand for long periods throughout the day, your calves and feet are bound to become tired and achy. Fortunately, you don't have to seek out the services of a professional in order to get relief, as these massagers can ease away aches and pains on-demand, all from the comfort of your own home. You don't even need to worry about tipping them when they're finished. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 05, 2020:
Thanks to its simple operation, adjustable settings, and reliability, we've kept the Cloud Massage Neuropathy Shiatsu as the go-to choice for most users, whether they're looking for relief from foot pain, leg pain, or both. It isn't quite as big and bulky as the Giantex Heating Vibration or the Human Touch Reflex5s, and it's more versatile than both the Renpho Home Machine and the Belmint Deep-Kneading Shiatsu, making it "just right" for most.
And speaking of the Human Touch model, it replaces the older Reflex4, just as the Belmint Multi Setting replaces the Belmint Portable Masseuse. These upgraded versions can turn your home into a truly relaxing place; we especially like that this particular Belmint model comes with a remote.
In revisiting the Carepeutic Ozone Waterfall Spa, we were concerned about the number of problems users seem to have with the drain, and the fact that it's rather bulky and messy. For these reasons, we have omitted it and added the MaxKare Spa Tub, instead. This foot spa can relax tired feet, but the rollers aren't actually motorized, so you'll need to apply pressure as you see fit.
We added one other choice that requires some work from the user, the Moji Professional Bundle. With it, you get three devices that can help you work out the kinks in your feet and legs, as well as in just about any other part of your body. Each is lightweight and portable, too, so you can grab some relief wherever you go.
May 06, 2019:
The Silvox Leg Compression Wraps are unlike most of the other options on this list, which could either be a selling point or a deal-breaker, depending on your preferences. We liked them because they use pressure instead of rollers or similar devices, which can be helpful for dealing with conditions like edema. That said, if you're only looking for targeted pain relief, they may not be as effective as some of the other options listed here.
A big reason why the Cloud Massage Neuropathy Shiatsu ranked so highly is due to its ease-of-use; you can set it up almost anywhere, allowing you to get relief while watching TV, working on the computer, or simply relaxing with a glass of wine. A surprising number of massagers are bulky and cumbersome, which can add a level of stress to what should be a soothing activity. That's not an issue with the Cloud Massage model.
However, the same can't be said for the Carepeutic Ozone Waterfall Spa. While it's a fantastic stress reliever at the end of the day, using it is a bit of an involved process, and it's so large that you'll likely be limited to using it in the bathroom. That's not a huge price to pay for pain relief, but it could discourage you from using it on all but your most stressful days.
Hammacher Schlemmer Advanced Foot/Leg Stimulator While the primary massaging surface of the Hammacher Schlemmer Advanced Foot/Leg Stimulator only works on the feet, the unit comes with a set of electrical stimulation pads that you can place on your thighs or calves to get extra relief. It boasts an impressive 99 intensity levels, but do note that it should not be used by anyone who has a pacemaker. hammacher.com
Human Touch Super Novo If you're really tired and stressed out, why stop at massaging only your feet and legs? The Human Touch Super Novo massage chair can provide full-body relaxation with lumbar heat, zero gravity positioning, a built-in Altec Lansing sound system, a "bend and stretch" function, and much, much more. It's even Alexa compatible. humantouch.com
Sharper Image Shiatsu Dome The Sharper Image Shiatsu Dome uses both rollers and a compression system to relax the muscles in your feet, with three intensity levels to select from, as well as an optional gentle heat setting. There's also a timer that will turn it off after your choice of 10, 15, or 20 minutes. sharperimage.com
A Brief History Of Foot Massage
Dr. Fitzgerald theorized that your body was divided into ten separate zones, each of which had some sort of connection to your feet.
When something feels as good as a foot massage, it's not likely to stay undiscovered for long. It should be no surprise, then, that mankind figured the practice out early on, as depictions of massage date back to the dawn of recorded history.
In India, Vedic literature from 5,000 years ago stresses the importance of foot massage as a way of strengthening the connection between people. It was recommended for husbands and wives, but also for spiritual relationships, such as the one between a guru and a follower. This would be echoed a few millennia later when the Gospel of John showed Jesus tending to his disciples' feet. Meanwhile, the earliest known mention of reflexology, which involves targeting conditions elsewhere in the body via pressure points in the feet, is found in Chinese medical texts from the 4th century B.C.E.
Native Americans were well-versed in the benefits of therapeutic touching, as well, using a process known as foot zoning to treat and prevent illness. Many tribes (like the Cherokee) believed that your soul was connected to the universe through your feet, since they were in constant contact with the earth.
These practices eventually drew the attention of Dr. William Fitzgerald, a nose and throat surgeon at St. Francis Hospital in Connecticut. Dr. Fitzgerald theorized that your body was divided into ten separate zones, each of which had some sort of connection to your feet. Thus, by manipulating your soles with pressure and touch, you could alleviate painful conditions elsewhere on your person.
Fitzgerald's work lent credence to the fact that massage was a valuable healthcare technique, and as a result many other physicians began experimenting with healing through touch. It began to show promise helping shell-shocked vets after WWI, but the practice failed to catch on with the public, who viewed massage as a luxury reserved for the wealthy.
In the latter half of the 20th century, however, a newfound appreciation for natural healing led to increased interest in the practice, and specialties like reflexology found a willing and enthusiastic audience. We're still learning all the ways in which your body responds to a trained touch — and there's certainly plenty of pseudoscience clouding the issue — but it appears that a proper foot massage has benefits that extend far beyond simply feeling good.
How To Choose A Massager
Let's face it — if your feet hurt badly enough that you're considering purchasing a foot massager, then it's extremely important that you get the right one. You don't want to have to suffer any more than is absolutely necessary.
Obviously, the most important consideration is that the massager should feel really good. However, if your dogs are barking, then just about any device should feel fantastic, and what feels the best initially won't always provide the most benefit over the long run, so this is only part of the puzzle.
If you suffer from lower leg pain in addition to aching feet, get one that extends up your calves.
Not all models have the same bells and whistles, so take a long look at what you really need. That said, features like heat and different massage speeds can be worth their weight in gold over time, so it may be worth shelling out a little more up front to get more value down the line.
If you suffer from lower leg pain in addition to aching feet, get one that extends up your calves. Many massagers are simply modified basins for your feet, and while they still feel fantastic, they'll do little for your legs.
You also want to take into consideration the size and sound that each device brings to the table. If you're going to be using it in a single place, you'll likely want a heavier — and heavier-duty — model, whereas you'll need something lightweight enough to carry if you're going to move it from place to place. Likewise, if you mainly want to pamper yourself while watching Netflix at the end of a long day, make sure that it won't drown out the TV.
Ultimately, there are really no wrong answers here — but there are some that are a lot more right than others.
Benefits Of Foot And Calf Massage
If you've ever been on the receiving end of a great foot massage, then you don't need me to tell you how fantastic it feels. It's amazing how quickly your aches, pains, and stress can melt away when your feet are in capable hands.
But did you know that foot massages have powerful benefits besides just feeling incredible? It's true — the positive effects of a competent rubdown can extend far beyond your feet and calves.
By relieving the pressure and strain on your arches, powerful kneading can reduce the inflammation associated with the debilitating condition.
That doesn't mean that your feet won't see the bulk of the benefit, however. Massage can keep the muscles and ligaments in your tootsies nice and limber, helping to prevent injury. It can also improve circulation, flooding the targeted area with nutrient-rich blood that will boost your body's natural healing capabilities.
If you already suffer from an injury or disorder — like plantar fasciitis, for example — then massage can start you on the road to recovery. By relieving the pressure and strain on your arches, powerful kneading can reduce the inflammation associated with the debilitating condition. For many people, pairing massage with other therapies, such as wearing a night splint, can be enough to overcome the affliction.
The good times don't stop there, however, as it turns out some quality shiatsu can even go to your head — literally. Frequent foot massages have been shown to significantly reduce the effects of depression and anxiety, as well as lower blood pressure. If you suffer from migraines, rubbing your feet may be as beneficial as taking a painkiller, so pop off your shoes before you pop the cap on the ibuprofen.
Ultimately, though, the biggest benefit may also be the most obvious: it just feels really good. If you've struck out trying to get someone else to rub down your dogs, buying one of the massagers on this list could be the best investment you've made in a while.