It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your lifestyle is, one thing that we can all relate to is muscle soreness, joint stiffness, and overall body aches and tension. No matter how happy we consider ourselves, life is hard and trying, and it can put a lot of wear and tear on our bodies.

Thankfully, there exists the science of massage, and a lot of massage device technologies to provide, at least in theory, remedies to a lot of these biological woes. Let’s look at different modern massage devices, what their strengths are, and what they can do for you.

Foot Massager

Miko Shiatsu Foot Massager: photo

Foot massagers can be electric and mechanical, immersion (when you place your feet in the basin) or plaque ones that are designed for feet massage as well as water spa massagers.

Shiatsu is a Japanese massage technique that traditionally utilizes the balls of the feet, the heels, and the base of the palms for a rolling pressure, deep tissue massage.

Miko foot massager is intended to stimulate blood flow with heat and rolling motions, for people who spend their day on their feet or in uncomfortable shoes. I once worked a job that had me on foot for hours, and I hated every second of it. Blood flow, which Shiatsu is designed around, is critical to healing and the removal of soreness and aches.

I’m not a fan of having my feet touched or massaged, and anyone else with sensitive feet that don’t like to be touched, probably won’t enjoy this massager, but everyone else I know who doesn’t mind that experience, seem to love massagers like this.

This would be welcome relief after a long day in claustrophobic shoes, or standing for hours on end. Retail workers, construction workers and food service people, especially, often understandably complain that their feet are just in hell at the end of a long shift, and this, especially via heat, is going to be what the doctor ordered.

Electric Back Massager

PUREWAVE™ CM-07 Vibration Therapy Massager: photo

Electric back massagers can focus on a specific area of the body or be multifunctional. They can deliver only one type of massage — Shiatsu or percussion massage — or use it in combination with vibration, heat or infrared therapy.

This is a more traditional wand massager with varied attachments and a swivel motor. I get tension between my shoulder blades, and have a similar massager. It’s great for reaching problem areas, which can arise when you have a job where you’re sitting for a long period of time. Any kind of being stationary for a long period of time can cause issues, be it on foot with the previous entry, or in a seat like myself.

PUREWAVE™ is excellent for arthritis pain, as vibration and percussion is known to dull rheumatoid arthritic pain in most people who’ve tried it. I’m grateful, because I’m just now at the age where some arthritic pain is starting to make itself known, albeit mildly. There’s no real treatment for arthritis aside from masking pain, eating right, exercising, and using a helpful massage implement like this as well.

I’m not a fan of the more abrasive brush-tooth attachments on these, as they just feel oddly violating and rough to me, though others I know have cited they’re a good approach to back scratcher solutions, and you know what? I could totally see that.

Professional Massager

Core Products Jeanie Rub Massager: photo

This is another type of back massagers. Professional massagers are corded devices and heavier than portable models.

This is something more akin to a device my chiropractor has, and that you see professional masseuses use in some cases. It’s certainly priced like a professional piece of equipment too. The problem with a device like this, which is pretty much a vibrating massager of the most basic design, is that for some angles of the body, you need someone else to use it on you.

I personally, being a misanthropic person, am not an avid advocate of any kind of technology that’s uncompromisingly dependent on additional people for it to work. However, my girlfriend does have a similar thing, and one of her favorite things (that’s appropriate to discuss) for me to do when I visit, is to give her a deep tissue back massage with her massager, which is very similar to this machine.

For back pain or sore muscles after a workout, the simplicity of a device like Core Products Jeanie Rub Massager is actually quite good, it just really needs additional configuration for solo use, because depending on a second participant isn’t always a viable, tenable thing. Still, if you’ve got a willing partner, this can do wonders on your back, for sure.

Muscle Massager

Theragun G3PRO Percussive Therapy Device: photo

Percussion Massagers can be loosely divided into guns that deliver very strong and powerful strokes and more lightweight handheld models that produce pulses.

First, let’s go ahead and address the fact that this thing looks like a handheld mixer, because it certainly does, and I’d be shocked if there wasn’t some engineering inspiration from such appliances when creating it. However, that’s not a bad thing, merely an amusing one.

This is a deep tissue massager with rotation and vibration, mainly intended for muscle pain. It has multiple attachments, though having experienced this device, the only one I’ve found pleasant is the default half-sphere shape, the others are too poking and prodding for my tastes.

If you have a lot of muscle aches either due to a rigorous workout schedule, or due to your job, this massager is actually an excellent solution. If you have old injuries or are recovering from recent ones, these deep tissue Theragun percussive therapy massagers can stimulate healing due to the activation of nerves, increased blood flow, and the dulling of pain that they can contribute to.

However, if you’re in therapy or recovery, do consult a physician before using one of these, as they could cause mild injury or hindrance if you’re too fresh out of the hospital and not somewhat healed up already.

Pulse Massager

iReliev TENS + EMS unit: photo

TENS/EMS is a little different, not using vibration, pressure nor percussion to achieve a massage. Instead, it uses low-level electrical pulses with programmable frequencies and intervals, delivering shocks to the skin and muscles. TENS Units come a different number of channels and modes. The more settings they offer, the more comfortable the treatment will be.

iReliev TENS + EMS unit does have a host of benefits to fighting arthritic pain, muscle soreness, and even in helping with mild circulatory issues, as well as helping with muscle conditioning in fitness regimes. However, it is worth noting that unlike some of those “no need to exercise” EMS concepts marketed in the previous decade, this is not a cure-all, but rather just another form of massage with deep-tissue capabilities without the abrasive nature of mechanical approaches.

Some find the electric shock painful or unpleasant, while others find it pleasant. It’s a bit divisive, just like Shiatsu can be. If you don’t mind the slightly biting zap and the admittedly unusual experience of muscles twitching on their own, there are health benefits and pain relief potentials to be had from this kind of technology. If you haven’t tried it, you should, many physicians have a basic version of this on hand, allowing you to try it out.

iReliev: Check the current price

Palm Massager

Breo Fingers Massager: photo

Palm massagers can be electric or mechanical with metal balls. The electric massagers differ by the number of pressure points, heat settings, programs and vibration modes.

This is something a little different. You probably wouldn’t think hands were something that could be readily massaged, given they’re bony, intricate things. However, hand pain is an ongoing problem for a lot of people, myself included. When you type for many hours, or do anything where you work with your hands, strain and fatigue can become an issue.

Arthritis often strikes hands and wrists before anywhere else as well. This device like Breo WOWOS Hand Massager uses air pressure and rolling squeezes to relax the muscles and loosen the joints holistically. I was skeptical until I tried one of these at the pharmacy recently, and am giving serious consideration to picking one up.

It’s worth noting that another demographic that I can see really benefiting from these, although it’s their own fault, are gamers, who often get sore and cramped hands from hours of mashing buttons and holding a controller. I could say the same for illustrators, as holding a pen for controlled strokes – I am an artist by hobby – can become painful over time, and it’s not something you can really toughen up to after a point. I say give this a try, you’d be surprised.

Massage Chair

JC Home Drammen Massaging Leather Recliner: photo

Okay now we’re getting into the big guns somewhat, with the massage chairs. Nothing quite says luxury and comfort like a leather recliner with built in massage, and I count myself lucky enough to have an admittedly less posh one at my work station. Rolling and vibrating massage can target multiple areas with nine different settings, targeting the shoulders, lumbar, lower back, glutes and much more.

You feel like you’re just going to melt in the chair like JC Home Drammen Massaging Leather Recliner, all the stress in your body just evaporating, the use of it’s effortless, you can just sink into relief as you take in your evening TV or play your favorite games. Even when not using the massage, this is a darn comfortable chair. Mine’s very similar, and sometimes just the pure comfort of it makes me even forget it can provide a massage, at least until my back and hips begin to nag me, and I go “oh yeah”, and turn the massage on.

The old joke about drooling as magic mechanical fingers banish tension and fatigue from your body? It’s no joke with a chair like this, and I’m unashamed to vouch for that.

Shiatsu Massager

Naipo Shiatsu Neck Back Massager: photo

There are two types of massage cushions, those with rolling balls (Shiatsu) and the models with heating and vibration.

I won’t lie, I’m probably not the biggest fan of Shiatsu compared to other forms of massage, because I don’t like being poked and prodded especially hard. However, on a monthly basis, per my chiropractor’s suggestion, I do make use of a similar chair insert to this, as other massagers lack the reach and penetration. I keep it on my couch, which is the nice thing about these insert chair concepts.

Naipo Shiatsu Back Massager has a rolling and heat system which does indeed work to relieve tight knots in your muscles, as well as loosening up stiff spines and joints, and the heat does get the blood flowing and dull back pain.

If you suffer from severe sciatic pain though, this could possibly exacerbate problems, and something with more vibration and less pressure is probably more recommendable in that case. For muscle aches and tightness, though, like it or only tolerate it, Shiatsu is definitely going to get you results that no other approach can.

This is an effortless solution, which is good, as some shiatsu massagers require reaching or finagling with something, which just causes other problems.

Car Seat Massager

SNAILAX Vibration Massage Seat Cushion: photo

In car seat massagers is a similar approach to the previous shiatsu massager, though this uses vibration rather than pressure. Yes, this means it lacks the penetrative muscle targeting, but I for one find it overall more pleasant for daily use than I do something like shiatsu.

I use one of these, like SNAILAX Vibration Massage Seat Cushion, for the occasional long car trip, because let me tell you, I despise being in a car for prolonged periods of time, and I positively loathe traveling.

The variable heat and relaxing vibration of an insert like this can make this a much more endurable experience, and it’ll actually help keep you alert as it abates fatigue. I’ve found that my mild road rage problem seems to be further reduced by using this even when I just go on short drives for errands and every day things as well.

You don’t have to use this in a car, as I have one on my couch, next to the shiatsu insert, and use it every couple days, before my semi-weekly exercises in lieu of stretches my now beyond middle age body just isn’t super wild about, and you know what? It works.

Leg Massager with Air Compression

FIT KING Leg Air Massager: photo

Leg massagers with air compression differ by the way they exert pressure — either uniform or varying pressure. Also, they can be of different length, with some models covering the whole leg.

This is a leg and foot massager I could be more into. I wouldn’t be into the foot massage part – I’ve said my feet don’t like being bothered, and I know a lot of people who share that sentiment, but the calf massage would be excellent.

Cramps (Charlie horses) and spasms in the calves and ankles is a common ailment that people suffer, and I’ve actually been awakened in the middle of the night by sudden onsets of this. Consulting my doctor, I found out it’s just something that happens to the human body, which while a relief, means that it’s one of the many reasons our distant descendants, having abandoned organic bodies for digital existences, will certainly count themselves fortunate.

FIT KING Leg Air Massager has a nice remote, it doesn’t hinder your mobility while using it, if you like leg and foot massage, this will take that soreness and fatigue of a long shift away, and help prevent those cramps and spasms quite effectively. And if you’ve got a busy home life, you can still move around, within reason, using something like this, where other foot and leg massagers are so stationary.

Head/Scalp Massager

USAGA Head Massager Scalp Scratcher: photo

Head & scalp massagers can be mechanical or electric, cordless or corded, with a varying set of features and different adjustability. Electric laser scalp massagers that employ low-level laser therapy stand apart from others.

We now come to the one where I have to entirely base my judgment on the sentiments of people I know, because I myself, straight up don’t like this kind of massager. Those thin, prickly, prodding fingers just make my skin crawl. I’m not the only one, so this will be a divisive product, for sure.

That said, scalp massage, which is more about scratching than pressure or vibration, has health benefits, chief among them being better sleep cycles, reduced stress, a healthier nervous system, and of course, reduction of tension headaches overall.

USAGA Head Massager Scalp Scratcher is a simple device to use, though the stretching you have to perform may be an issue if you have shoulder or joint pains, making it possibly reliant on someone’s assistance, which I have said is something to be discouraged in most products in my opinion.

I can’t speak for the effectiveness of this myself, but my girlfriend uses one, and she has far fewer headaches and nervous issues than I tend to have, but my aversion to prodding like this just makes it not an option for me. If you don’t mind that sensation, you’ll love this though.

Neck & Shoulder Massager

Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager: photo

Neck & Shoulder Massagers can be either in the shape of a small-size pillow that is designed to be put under the neck, or a large neckpiece with straps.

We come to one more shiatsu massager with this one — Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager. Like I said, while I don’t hate shiatsu – I need to use it now and then for muscle problems – it’s not something I find enjoyable like many other forms of massage.

This is the exception, as my stiff neck and achy shoulders benefit a lot from the heat and targeting that this can provide, and it’s less pokey-proddy compared to other shiatsu massage, which as I said, is the part of that massage technique that makes me consider it necessity and not a luxury most of the time.

The heat on this one is what I get the most out of, as I tend to use the lowest possible setting, but this will relieve a lot of upper back pain, without keeping you glued to a seat, as you can move around within reason while using it.

This also works on the go, provided you have a voltage converter for your car, and I’ve used one of these on a long trip along with the seat insert I discussed earlier. If you have sore shoulders or a sore back, this will work wonders.

Therapeutic Massager

Chi Vitalizer Machine USJ-106: photo

Chi machines are divided into two major types: an original Chi machine that uses only one preset speed and the models with varying speeds.

A Chi machine was invented in Japan and is used for passive aerobic exercises. The original one is a single-speed and was patented by HTE, a Taiwan-based company that has developed the technology. But there are other brands that are based on a similar technology but offer variable speeds.

Take a look at Chi Vitalizer Machine USJ-106. You can use this device if you need to relieve pain in the back, neck or shoulders, as well as improve your sleep and blood circulation. It is also helpful for those who just want to restore energy after a hard day. The machine works by oxygenating and rejuvenating your cells. In addition, it aids in releasing toxins and boosts immunity.

This item offers various speeds that you can select depending on your weight and preferences. However, the manufacturer recommends that beginners should start with the lowest speed, gradually increasing it, if necessary. The product is convenient to use as it is padded and comes with a 112-inch power cord. The latter allows you to install the machine where it is most comfortable for you. On top of that, the device has a 40W motor, which makes it energy efficient.

Therapeutic Machine

Compex Wireless USA 2.0 Muscle Stimulator: photo

Electric muscle stimulators is a great choice for any serious athlete or someone who cares about his or her health. They differ by the number of programs, modes, and electrode pads included in the pack.

Whether you need to make your muscles stronger or recover them after workouts or injury, Compex EMS unit is a proven way to do that. The unit delivers nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, feeding them and making more flexible. Four high-quality electrode pads are included, just connect the wires to the unit, attach the sticky pads to the problem area and that’s it!

This model is produced by a Swiss-based company that has spent years on research and development of professional-grade electrical stimulators. Depending on your needs, you can choose the most comfortable level of intensity out of 10 programs. The product is cost-efficient as it does not consume much energy and is powered by rechargeable battery. So you will not have to bother with buying new batteries each time they die.

Also read our article about other massagers:
Best infrared massagers
Best eye massagers
Best cellulite massagers
Best facial massagers
Best portable massage chairs