Disclosure: Some links may be affiliate links. If you buy an item via links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
Neck pain can stop you in your tracks and it can also be somewhat limiting when it comes to the things you can do. Even the simple act of looking behind you can become incredibly painful when your neck muscles are stiff and tense.
However, there are many neck and shoulder massagers on the market that can help to relieve pain and free up your movement.
Neck & Shoulder Massagers Comparison Chart
Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Wrap-Around
Papillon Back with Heat Pillow Massager
RENPHO Rechargeable Hand Held Deep Massager
iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit
Comfier Neck and Back Massager Massage Chair Pad
Hand held massager
Chair pad massager
Type of Massage
Electrical nerve stimulation
Shiatsu, air compression
5 interchangeable nodes
(4) 2″ x 2″ pads, (2) 3.5″ x 5″ pads
What are the Benefits of Using a Neck Massager?
Many of us carry tension in our neck and shoulders and one of the greatest benefits of using a neck massaging device is that it can drastically lower your stress levels and aid in relaxation. According to research, massage can have significant psychological benefits including removing the harmful effects that stress can bring.
Much more than this, a neck massager can help on a physical level. Primarily, this type of equipment will help to relieve localised pain and tension in the muscles. This works as a result of increased circulation. When massage is applied to an area, the blood flow is increased and this means that more oxygen is brought to the area, soothing and aiding in healing.
As a direct result of this, you may feel lower levels of pain and the tension in the muscles is vastly reduced. This can be beneficial for people who need to get on with their responsibilities in comfort. It is believed that just one to two massage sessions a week can be enough to significantly reduce pain and improve functionality.
Research has been conducted on how massage has a direct impact on tension headaches. If you regularly suffer from tension headaches, this may be relieved to a degree by applying pressure to certain tension points.
Finally, it goes without saying that having a massage is a great way to relax. Many of us live extremely busy and demanding lives and rarely take time to look after our wellbeing. However, even just ten minutes a day can make a significant difference in your stress-levels and give you an improved feeling of wellness.
Types of Electric Neck & Shoulder Massagers
When you choose your neck and shoulder massager, you will notice that there are several different types. Each of these has its own pros and cons, and depending on the type of pain that you are experiencing and your personal preference, you may choose any of the following.
A wrap-around massager might be described as a wearable piece of equipment. These massagers wrap around the body and are often beneficial for people who have pain in more than one area. Some massagers drape around the shoulders and offer relief in this area as well as the upper back and neck. There are even some that cover the entire back.
One of the great things about these massagers is that they often come in a sling-like design and this means that they can also be used on other parts of the body including the waist, legs, feet, and arms. If you have pain in areas other than the neck, these devices give you a high degree of diversity.
As its name may suggest, a pillow massager comes in the form of a pillow. These pillows typically use around three types of stimulation for the circulation and muscles. Inside the pillow, there are a series of nodes or massage balls that move to create the stimulation.
There are massage pillows that come with an air pressure system. This uses a series of air-filled cells that inflate and deflate, applying pressure on certain parts of the neck and shoulders, relieving tension and stiffness. A lot of these devices have a heat function which is excellent for relaxing the muscles and helping to regain function.
A massage pillow may also feature a vibrating function which typically comes with the option to increase or decrease the intensity. While vibration won’t typically work well for deep tissue massage, it will provide a soothing sensation for localized, temporary pain relief.
TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and is a type of treatment often used to soothe pain and loosen muscles. However, unlike other types of treatment that work directly with the muscle, a TENS machine works with the nerves and how pain signals are sent to the brain.
These devices feature small pads called electrodes that are applied to the skin. The machine is then switched on and small electrical signals are sent through the pads and into the nerves. These pulses affect the number of pain signals that are sent to the brain, therefore, reducing the pain that the user experiences. While this might sound intense, you will only feel a tingling sensation. However, these devices do have the option to increase the intensity for more severe conditions.
In addition to stimulating the nerves, a TENS unit may also encourage the release of endorphins. These hormones can reduce pain and are often referred to as being our body’s natural pain relief.
Percussion Deep Tissue Massager
If you are suffering from a deep tissue injury or strain then some types of massage may not get down into the soft tissues and effectively treat the problem. However, percussion massage relies on a series of short yet intense pulses that are easily able to penetrate down into the tissue providing relief from pain and stiffness.
This concept works because as the massage takes place, blood flow is increased to the affected area and this delivers more oxygen which is imperative in healing and pain relief. For this reason, this type of massage is often used by professional athletes who are looking to more rapidly heal injuries.
Neck and Back Chair Pad
If you find it difficult to use a handheld massager or simply want the benefit of being massaged while seated, then a neck and back chair pad may be suitable for you. These devices are normally larger yet are still very portable. They attach to the back of your chair and you lean into them to receive the massage.
One of the great benefits of this type of massager is that they typically offer a variety of therapy options including Shiatsu massage, heat, and vibrations. Your chair pad may also offer a variety of programs so that you can set the massager and sit back and relax. These are excellent for using while sitting at your desk or on the couch.
What to Consider When Buying a Neck & Shoulder Massager
Even after you have decided which type of neck massager will best meet your needs, there are several other things that you should consider. For this reason, we would urge you to look over the following points before making a final decision.
Type of Massage
One of the great things about modern neck and shoulder massagers is that they have the option to use various types of massage. While some devices will deliver several different types, others use only one. It is important to think about the kind of pain relief you are looking for as this will help you to decide on the right massaging device for you.
As a rule, neck and shoulder massagers offer the following types of massage:
- Percussion massage which is excellent for deep tissue injuries and pain.
- Shiatsu massage which may benefit secondary conditions such as PMS, insomnia, fatigue, arthritis, and many others. This is also excellent for joint pain.
- Kneading massage simulates a traditional massage with the fingers and can help to release tension and stiffness.
- Vibrations which provide soothing sensations and help to stimulate the nerves.
For many people, time is of the essence and sitting for prolonged periods at home to receive a massage simply isn’t an option. For this reason, a lot of people like to take their neck massagers with them wherever they go. This makes it easy to take a massage during your morning commute, while at work, or when you are on vacation.
The neck and shoulder massager that you choose should be lightweight and compact enough to pack into a bag. A cordless device is typically preferable if you will be on the go since you won’t have to rely on finding a power source to use it.
Many neck and shoulder massagers have the option to add heat to the treatment. This is excellent for opening blood vessels and improving circulation as well as loosening tight muscles. However, you should keep in mind that heat works best on injuries and muscle pain that is at least 72 hours old. Before this, there may be inflammation which could be worsened when applying heat.
If the massager does have heat, you should look at whether it has the option to adjust the heat to a level that feels comfortable for you.
The massage nodes that are located inside the massager will move in a predetermined direction. Each neck and shoulder massager will have a different type of node, some may use rolling massage, others may use kneading, and some might use vibrations. It is therefore important to look at whether the massage nodes can be programmed to meet your needs. There should be an option to alter the direction and pressure allowing you to tailor the therapy session to your unique needs.
A neck and shoulder massager needs power to run and they will either be powered with a rechargeable battery or through the mains electricity. There are pros and cons to both types with the electric massager benefitting from continued power. However, you must consider that, in order to use these devices, you will need to be near a power socket which can limit you.
Alternatively, a battery-operated neck massager gives you the advantage of being able to use the device wherever you are. You can take it to work, on vacation, and even use it on the train. However, there will be a limit on how much you can use it before the battery drains. For this reason, it can be helpful to find a massager with a generous battery life. You might also wish to look at how quickly the device charges and whether it can be used while it is charging.
Having the option to alter the intensity of a massager is imperative for two reasons. The type of pain that you are experiencing may need a more or less intense level of massage. Some people may be more sensitive to the massage and may find that higher intensities bring on more pain.
Most massagers have a choice of intensity levels. While some may only have three to five, there are others that might have 20 or more.
Best Neck and Shoulder Massagers
There are many options when it comes to neck and shoulder massagers, however, not all of them will live up to your expectations. After considering the above points, we firmly believe that these are some of the best massaging devices for the neck and shoulder on the market today.
1. Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Wrap-Around
This is an easy to use and lightweight massager that is corded so you do not need to worry about the battery draining. With the ability to massage both the neck and the shoulders, this is an excellent choice for people who have radiating pain. The control buttons are conveniently located on the front of the massager so you can operate it without having to remove it from your body.
You can choose between a variety of speeds and select the direction of the massage, tailoring the experience to your particular needs. Moreover, there is the option to use heat for relief from stiff and tense muscles. What really stands out about the massage is that it comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can feel confident of its quality.
This is a kneading massage that simulates being massaged by a human and has an automatic shut off timer for safe use. When you have finished using it one the neck, the device can also be used on other areas of the body, making it incredibly versatile.
- Massager type: wrap-around massager
- Type of massage: shiatsu
- Heat function: yes
- Massage nodes: 8
- Product size: 17.4″ x 15.1″ x 9″
- Product weight: 4.6 lbs
2. Papillon Back with Heat Pillow Massager
The wonderful thing about this neck massager is that it comes in a super soft fabric that feels incredible on the skin. It won’t cause discomfort or irritation and is ideal for relaxation. Furthermore, the material is breathable and lightweight.
This is a Shiatsu massager that boasts three modes, each of which is tailored to a different type of pain. What’s more, the neck pillow massager has the option to add heat to relieve sore and aching muscles. There is also an infrared sensor designed to prevent burns or overheating.
The massage pillow is easy to use and has two simple buttons, one for power and one to adjust the intensity. Thanks to its lightweight and portable design, this massager is ideal for those who are on the go; use it in the car, in the office, or when traveling.
- Massager type: pillow massager
- Type of massage: shiatsu
- Heat function: yes
- Massage nodes: 4
- Intensity levels: 3
- Product size: 11.81″ x 3.94″ x 7.09″
- Product weight: 3.15 lbs
3. RENPHO Rechargeable Hand-Held Deep Massager
One of the great benefits of this neck massager is that it is a cordless device meaning that once charged, it can be used anywhere. Its unique design makes targeting the back of the neck and other hard to reach areas much simpler and it is lightweight and easy to handle.
The massager comes with a choice of five heads, each of which is designed for a different type of pain or problem, making this a very diverse piece of equipment. What’s more, you can choose from five intensity levels to suit your needs.
This is a percussion massager that delivers up to 3600 pulses per minute. There is a handy timer that automatically shuts off the device after 20 minutes to help avoid injury and overheating. The battery is very reliable and once fully charged will deliver up to 120 minutes of therapy.
- Massager type: hand-held massager
- Type of massage: percussion
- Heat function: no
- Massage nodes: 5 interchangeable nodes
- Intensity levels: 5
- Number of modes: 5
- Product size: 15.55″ × 4.72″ × 5.5″
- Product weight: 1.8 lbs
4. iReliev TENS + EMS Combination Unit
This TENS massager is perfect for relieving pain in the muscles and comes with a range of useful features. There are 14 therapy modes in total including one that is specifically designed for arthritis sufferers. Seven of these modes use TENS while the remaining seven use EMS therapy.
Users have a choice of 25 levels of intensity allowing you to enjoy a massage that suits your needs. There is a 60 minute adjustable timer so you can set the device, lie back and forget about having to do anything else.
The device comes with four TENS pads and an easy to use remote control. Once you have treated the neck area, this is a device that can also be used on other parts of the body including the stomach, arms, legs, and back.
- Massager type: TENS + EMS unit
- Type of massage: electrical stimulation
- Heat function: no
- Intensity levels: 25
- Number of programs: 14
- Channels: dual channel
- Output strength: 80mA
- Product size: 7.1″ x 5.5″ x 2.3″
- Product weight: 0.75 lbs
5. Comfier Neck and Back Massager with Heat Shiatsu Massage Chair Pad
Sometimes, the pain you experience radiates down from the neck and can affect the back. In this case, a full-body massage pad may be a better option. This soft, leather chair pad provides a deep Shiatsu massage and has the option to move the massage balls to suit your specific needs,
There are four massage options for the neck as well as four modes for the back, allowing you to tailor the experience to you. The massager includes an option to use heat to relax stiff muscles and a spot massage to target particularly painful areas.
The massager can be strapped to any chair securely for a massage wherever you are. With adjustable air compression and variable vibrations, this is a great choice for people who want versatility.
- Massager type: chair pad massager
- Type of massage: shiatsu, air compression
- Heat function: yes
- Massage nodes: 4 (adjustable)
- Intensity levels: 3
- Product size: 32.91″ x 21.1″ x 8.43″
- Product weight: 23.19 lbs