The 10 Best Handheld Massagers
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Why wait for the holidays or your next birthday to get a gift certificate to the spa when you can pamper yourself with one of these handheld electric massagers every day? You'll be able to soothe away aches and pains in the comfort of your own home at any time using various stimulation methods, all for less than you would usually spend on one session with a professional therapist. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 28, 2020:
There is no question that massage is great for both relaxation and therapy purposes. Of course, it can get rather expensive to see a professional on a regular basis, and, let's face it, your significant other is probably tired of you asking them to rub that knot out of your back or kink out of your neck every couple of days. These handheld massagers provide the perfect solution, as they allow you to provide yourself with the relief you need, without bothering your partner or spending tons of money at a spa.
For those that are dealing with serious muscle-related issues, the Hyperice Hypervolt and Theragun Elite stand out as top choices. Anyone who has ever been to a physical therapist's office in the last few years has probably seen these being used in them. They both produce thousands of percussions per minute and include a nice variety of heads to target various muscles. While the Theragun Elite offers a little more control over minute speed adjustments, the Hyperice Hypervolt is slightly more affordable and more than suitable for the average person's needs.
Those who travel often and need something compact enough to toss in their bag and take on the road will be well served by either the Rolling With It Vibrating Peanut or HoMedics Quatro Mini. The former is the more versatile of the two, as it offers four speed settings and can be used against the floor or wall like a foam roller. However, they really don't get any more budget friendly than the Quatro Mini, and some may find it easier to keep a hold this one since it slips over the hand.
One of the issues with pretty much all of the above options is that it would be quite difficult to get to those hard-to-reach spots in the center of your back without help. That is where options with long, usually slightly curved, handles like the Vivreal LY-651A Cordless, Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue BD1372, Thumper Sport E501, Renpho Rechargeable EM-2016C, and Daiwa Tapping Pro can help. Of all of these, the Tapping Pro is the only one that offers heat, however short the cable can be a bit of an issue if you don't have an extension cord handy. For ease of maneuverability, the rechargeable Vivreal LY-651A Cordless, Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue BD1372, and Renpho Rechargeable EM-2016C really stand out.
July 11, 2019:
The Pure-Wave CM-07 is a versatile massager that comes with six attachments designed to target different body parts and types of pain. The percussive setting is good for deep tissue massage on sore muscles, while the micro-vibration motor is gentle enough for the face, scalp, and other sensitive areas. The Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue also comes with six massage heads and has a powerful percussive motor, but unlike the Pure-Wave CM-07, it does not provide micro-vibrations. It charges quickly and can operate for up to two hours on a full charge, and it comes with a lifetime replacement or refund guarantee.
Ideal for travel, the Rolling With It Professional is compact and lightweight at just 2.2 pounds. Despite its small size, it's actually useful for a wide variety of body parts due to its shape. While it doesn't have a handle for leverage, you can use it on the floor, like a foam roller, or up against a wall to add more pressure.
We've also included several budget-friendly options. The Vivreal Cordless offers six interchangeable massage nodes and six speeds for varying intensities, and its auto-shutoff feature prevents the motor from over heating if you fall asleep while using it. The Renpho Rechargeable has a long handle and a simple-to-use control panel. It comes with five different heads, including a hard plastic ball for deep tissue work, a curved attachment for arms and legs, and one with three rubber-coated tips for a gentler massage on joints and bony areas, like the spine and shoulder blades. The Naipo Double Head is a corded model with two variable speed settings, plus a heated mode for an even more relaxing effect. Note, however, that the nodes can reach temperatures from 95 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, so it should only be used with clothes on or with a sheet or towel to avoid direct contact with skin.
The Lesser Known Health Benefits of Massage
This same study also found a decrease in stress-induced cortisol.
Everyone knows that a massage is a perfect solution for tight, tense muscles after a stressful day at work, or when you've overdone it in the yard again. If you seek out a chiropractor for lower back pain, often your treatment regimen will include some form of massage therapy.
But the benefits of massage go beyond soothing over-worked or injured muscles. Regular massage can be a vital part of maintaining your overall health.
A good night's sleep is as important to your total well-being as nutrition and exercise. A relaxing massage encourages more restful sleep. This total relaxation can help sufferers of insomnia and others who have trouble getting rest due to medical conditions such as anxiety, fibromyalgia, and depression.
A combination of massage and pressure point therapy is an increasingly common treatment to help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine headaches.
Researchers have determined that just one massage produces measurable changes in the immune systems of healthy adults by increasing the white blood cell count, which plays a large role in defending the body from disease. This same study also found a decrease in stress-induced cortisol.
Regular massage can keep your skin looking younger. Before you spend money on expensive creams and serums, see what a facial massage can do to improve your complexion. The massaging action stimulates blood flow and encourages lymphatic drainage, allowing toxins to move out and nutrients to move in.
The next time you're looking for an excuse to get a massage, you no longer need to wait for a doctor's prescription or a gift card to a luxury spa. Just say you're doing it for your health.
Choosing the Right Handheld Massager
Truth be told, there's no substitute for a relaxing, full-body massage in a tranquil setting. However, few among us have the time or money to visit the chiropractor or getaway to a luxury spa on a regular basis. A high-quality handheld massager can be the next best thing.
For a back massage, make sure the unit is long enough to access your entire back so you don't have any frustrating out-of-reach spots.
These portable massagers deliver relief using either soothing vibrations or penetrating percussion. Percussive massagers are designed to mimic the experience of a Shiatsu massage. These units are most effective for those who want to treat sore muscles and back pain; however, some will find the pounding movement painful, especially on the highest setting. If you're just looking for a way to relax before going to bed, a simple massager with multiple vibration settings and a heat option is ideal.
The most important consideration when choosing your massager is what body part you intend to use it on. For a back massage, make sure the unit is long enough to access your entire back so you don't have any frustrating out-of-reach spots. If you want to concentrate on just your neck and shoulders, you can choose a smaller, lighter-weight option.
For full-body coverage or a customized experience, you can find massagers that come with interchangeable massage nodes in different sizes or a variety of other attachments.
Regardless of which model you choose, check with your doctor to make sure you don't have any underlying health problems that are a contraindication to using your massager. It's also important to follow the instructions carefully to make sure you don't use the unit in one spot for longer than what is recommended.
A Brief History of Massage Therapy
The practice of massage therapy can be traced back thousands of years to ancient Chinese texts and Egyptian tomb paintings.
The original Chinese text, "The Yellow Emperor's Classic Book of Internal Medicine" is said to have been written by the famous Chinese emperor Huangdi around 2600 BCE. This venerable text became a staple in Western massage therapy and other alternative medical training when it was first published in English in 1949.
The other most common form of massage practiced in America today is the Japanese Shiatsu method.
The occupation of the modern day masseuse in America has its roots in the 1700s. In colonial times they were called rubbers. They assisted doctors in treating orthopedic problems and rehabilitating patients after surgery with manual rubbing and friction. At this time rubbers were uneducated and unlicensed, but many made a good living working with doctors, or as entrepreneurs until the introduction of medical licensing laws and more formal training requirements in the early 20th century.
In the early 1800s, a Swedish doctor and gymnast Per Henril Ling developed the "Swedish Movement System," which laid the foundation for the style of Swedish massage commonly used today.
The other most common form of massage practiced in America today is the Japanese Shiatsu method. This modern day practice evolved as a combination of the Japanese practice of Amna and Chinese acupuncture. In 1964 the Japanese government officially recognized Shiatsu massage as a form of medical therapy.