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The 6 best neck massagers for pain relief and relaxation at home

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These days, nearly everyone deals with pain and stiffness in their neck and shoulders. Some are hunched over a keyboard or phone for most waking hours, others work jobs that require you to lift your arms regularly and most of us suffer from long commutes in the car.

Seeing a chiropractor or massage therapist on a regular basis for manual manipulation can definitely help loosen things up—but neck pain, especially from prolonged sitting, is most effectively addressed in the moment, says Camilla Moore, D.C., chiropractor and holistic musculoskeletal specialist based in Providence, RI. That’s why the best neck massagers and other assorted massage guns allow you to address such tightness on a more regular (and affordable) basis, which is better for your body in the long run, she adds.

However, the anatomy of your neck and shoulders is complex and sensitive, so it’s important to choose a neck massager that offers different intensity levels. In doing so, you can start slow without overworking the muscles of your neck. Here, we’ve rounded up the best neck massagers for different needs.

Best Neck Massager Overall

An Affordable, Powerful Neck Massager For Controllable Pressure And Relief

Mirakel Shiatsu Neck Massager

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Weight: 4 lbs | Battery Life: Plug-in | Heat: Yes

The Mirakel Shiatsu Back And Neck Massager is strong enough to work out serious knots, offers heat to help muscles relax further and ergonomically sits on your neck and shoulders with hand stirrups to help you control the pressure—that, plus the price, makes it our top pick for the best neck massager available.

Mirakel’s Shiatsu Massager uses eight powerful, bi-directional nodes to delicately knead tight spots. The click of a button can have them change direction; while some models will auto-change directions every minute, the manual control is nice if you have a particularly sensitive nerve that doesn’t like one direction.

Mirakel’s Massager offers a heating function, which Jessica Crow, licensed massage therapist and founder of CNTRD Wellness, recommends because “the heat will also soften the tight muscles and tissues so that the percussion, kneading or vibration is more effective and safer because you’ll be able to relax more deeply—your muscles won’t be ‘fighting’ against the massage pressure, which in some cases can cause more damage.”

Both Crow and Dr. Moore like the stirrup design for the arms, as it helps to keep the massager right where you want it and it allows you to create more focused pressure with gentle pulling, while also allowing your upper traps to relax. Just go lighter than you think with the pressure to start, Crow advises.

While the concept of a neck massager that requires you to use your arms might sound annoying, it’s actually kind of ideal because it forces you to take a break from activities like typing or scrolling that contribute to neck pain. The stirrup design also allows you to maintain pressure if you want to move the massage nodes down onto your traps, your back or anywhere that’s sore.

We also love the safety protection of the Mirakel Massager: It has overheat protection built in, and the massager automatically shuts off after 15 minutes so you don’t risk over-kneading any tender areas.

The main gripe with this massager is that it isn’t cordless, so you’re tied to a single location for your massage. However, power from a cord often means a stronger battery and more power. And we love that there’s both a wall-plug and car plug for passengers on long road trips. Lastly, we love that this neck massager comes with 30 days of free returns and a one-year manufacturer replacement policy.

Pros:

  • 8 bi-directional massage nodes
  • Arm stirrups for controlled pressure
  • Heat feature

Cons:

  • Not cordless
  • Heat could be stronger

Best Cordless Neck Massager

A Powerful Neck Massager You Can Move Around With

Etekcity Cordless Neck Massager

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Weight: 3.75 lbs| Battery Life: 3 hours | Heat: Yes

Following the same design as our top overall pick, the Etekcity Cordless Neck Massager offers stirrup straps for your arms to help control the pressure from the eight bi-directional rollers and heat activation for enhanced muscle relaxation.

However, there’s one big design difference: It’s completely cordless, which makes it more convenient to move around during your massage.

The battery will last for 3 hours and is rechargeable with the included charger. Unlike its corded brethren though, the power behind the nodes noticeably fades as the battery starts to die.

The reason this didn’t make our top spot is it’s not as universally ideal: The overall design is a bit cumbersome and blocky and you have to pull down more to get deep knots out, which may be more difficult for people with limited mobility or strength. The nodes also change direction automatically every 30 seconds, which can be uncomfortable depending on what kind of neck pain you’re dealing with. Plus, it’s more expensive and some people report the heating element isn’t strong enough for their needs.

However, some people may actually prefer the automatic direction change, and be willing to trade off node power and weaker heat for cordless convenience.

Pros:

  • Cordless
  • 8 strong, bi-directional massage nodes
  • Heat

Cons:

  • Bulky design

Best Portable Neck Massager

A Small But Mighty Handheld Massager You Can Take Anywhere

Enowpo Handheld Percussion Back And Neck Massager

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Weight: 5.04 oz | Battery Life: 180 minutes | Heat: No

Whether you travel regularly or you want to be able to toss your neck massager in a hand bag and pack for on-the-go use, the Enowpo Handheld Percussion Massager is lightweight, has a battery that lasts 180 minutes (usually about 1 to 2 weeks) and is barely bigger than a tennis ball.

Despite being small, it packs a serious punch: Its powerful motor runs up to 15,000 vibration frequencies per minute, coming out one of the three legs for strategic pressure. This handheld massager uses percussion which hits deeper in the muscle compared to vibrating options, says Dr. Moore.

We love the ergonomic design that sports a comfortable handhold, and that this massager can be used not just on the neck but also on the back, shoulders, forearms, legs and even your feet.

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Versatile use
  • Strong vibration
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • No heat

Best Neck Massager For Athletes

A Lightweight-But-Powerful Massage Gun For Post-Workout Relief

Hypervolt Go 2

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Weight: 1.5 lbs | Battery Life: 3 hours | Heat: No

If you have neck pain but you also work out regularly, let your money do double duty by opting for a massage gun that can be used to work out kinks in your neck and speed recovery in other muscles. Percussive massage guns, such as the Theragun, tend to go deeper into the muscle than vibrating tools such as the Hypervolt, which is why the latter is more ideal for relief in the base of the neck where your structures are more delicate, Dr. Moore explains.

The Hypervolt Go 2 is the lightweight, travel-friendly option among the Hypervolt line but it still retains its umph. With a high-torque 40W motor, three speeds of 2,200 to 3,200 ppm and up to 40 pounds of stall force, this convenient massage gun has the ideal amount of power for neck and shoulder relief, while still being strong enough to work on other, meatier muscles of your body. The battery lasts up to 3 hours, and the gun comes with two head attachments to work different muscle fibers.

One note: Don’t use your massage gun on the smaller muscles near the top of the neck, Dr. Moore warns. Stick to the bigger muscles along the base of the neck and into the shoulders, which are meaty enough to handle the power of a massage gun—focus here will help with pain further up the neck.

Pros:

  • Versatile for all muscle soreness
  • Strong motor
  • Travel-friendly size
  • Solid battery life

Cons:

  • Might be too powerful for small neck muscles if you’re not careful

Best Manual Neck Massager

A Low-Tech Versatile Massager For Manual Manipulation

Thera Cane Massager

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Weight: 0.01 lbs | Battery Life: N/A | Heat: No

The Thera Cane is shaped like a cane with six treatment balls strategically placed to tap into painful knots in your neck or elsewhere on your body. This device is a favorite of chiropractors and physical therapists, including Dr. Moore who recommends the Thera Cane as the manual design allows you to better control the pressure while you’re finding pain relief.

The Thera Cane is also ideal if you have limited mobility or strength, as you don’t have to reach your arms overhead at any point to find relief and you can access the most hard-to-reach places on your back. It’s also made from incredibly lightweight plastic, weighing just 0.01 pounds.

While the Thera Cane doesn’t have any of the fancy features of other massagers, like heat or percussion therapy, its battery-free operation and diverse application means this one device will serve you for years.

Pros:

  • Controllable pressure
  • Versatile use beyond just the neck
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Requires manual pressure

Best Neck Massager for Driving

A Powerful Pillow-like Massager with a Car Adaptor

Papillon Back Massager Pillow

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Weight: 3 lbs | Battery Life: Plug-in | Heat: Yes

A neck massager that can provide relief while you’re driving is ideal for a huge category of people susceptible to upper back, shoulder and neck pain—both professional drivers who sit all day, and anyone who experiences pain during the daily commute.

There are a lot of back massagers that act like a rigid pillow, but the Papillon Back Massager is one of the few with every feature you want: It has three speeds, optional heat settings (which Crow says speeds up the benefits of the massage) and both a car adapter (12V DC) and an AC adapter (110-220V) so you don’t have to worry about the battery running out.

The Papillon is ergonomically designed with four 3D massage nodes that automatically change directions every minute. The outside is made with soft, breathable material so you won’t start sweating with the heat function. Plus, you can shimmy the pillow down and use it as a back massager or, when you’re not driving, a foot massager too.

The biggest complaint is that the massager auto-shuts off after 15 minutes, which can be frustrating. But this is actually ideal for overall neck health as both our experts say its important to make sure you’re not over-kneading the sore area, and if you need longer than 15 minutes of massage, that’s probably a sign you should see an in-person professional.

Pros:

  • Heat
  • Plug-in battery
  • Auto shuts off after 15 minutes for tendon safety

Cons:

  • Not cordless
  • No strap to attach to headrest

 

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