Which handheld back massager is best?

Whether you’re recovering from a workout or a tense day at the office, sometimes a massage is the only thing that will help you feel relaxed and revitalized. Making regular trips to a massage therapist can be impractical, however, so many people buy a handheld massager, portable and long enough to reach most areas on your back. The Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Back and Body Massager is the top pick because it’s powerful and features a long reach. 

What to know before you buy a handheld back massager

Electric vs. manual

Handheld massagers are either manual or electric. 

  • Manual massagers typically feature a handle and some kind of textured surface such as a ball or a series of small knobs. They’re affordable and easy to travel with, but they can also be ineffective and tiring to use. 
  • Electric massagers are more expensive but high-tech, often with vibrating or percussive components, speed settings and even targeted heat application. Electric massagers are more effective than their manual counterparts, but they require a power source and are more prone to malfunctions. 

Massage types

Massagers use two main types of movement to provide relief. While some can provide both types, the vast majority specialize in either vibration or percussive massage therapy. 

  • Vibrations relax muscles and improve blood circulation. This type of therapy has been researched at length, with the National Institutes of Health suggesting that targeted vibrations could be effective for preventing muscle soreness after workouts. 
  • Percussive massagers use a soft hammering movement to deliver quick bursts of pressure to affected areas. Also known as massage guns, these devices can provide deep-tissue massages that alleviate muscle soreness, according to the NIH, and release the build-up of lactic acid. Percussive massagers can be expensive, but they’re often loaded with cutting-edge features. 

What to look for in a quality handheld back massager

Reach

Make sure that you choose a device that’s long enough to treat all of those hard-to-reach places. Reach length is particularly important if you have mobility issues or don’t have someone to assist you. 

Heat

Some handheld back massagers produce heat to further ease muscle tension and relieve pain. They usually have multiple temperature settings and built-in thermostats to prevent overheating. 

Interchangeable nodes

Look for a massager with a variety of interchangeable nodes. This lets you customize your experience and swap out nodes depending on your needs. Some nodes are pointed or textured for deep-tissue massages, while others are smooth for sensitive areas such as arms and the back of the neck. 

Battery life

Although some electric massagers have power cords, most are battery-powered. Before settling on a cordless device, check the product details to confirm its battery life. Some high-end massagers may last for hours on a single charge, while others could die before a single therapy session is complete. This is particularly important if you plan to travel with your massager. 

How much you can expect to spend on a handheld back massager

The cost can vary widely depending on massage type and any bonus features. Expect to pay around $40-$100 for an electric vibration massager and over $150 for most percussive massage guns. 

Handheld back massager FAQ

Can a handheld massager help you lose weight? 

A. Despite some claims on the internet, a handheld massager won’t cause weight loss. Massage therapy can, however, lead to better sleep, an improved state of mind and reduced muscle soreness, all of which can help you stick to a diet and exercise plan. 

Are handheld massagers safe? 

A. When used properly, yes. But avoid sensitive areas such as your face, and don’t use a massager on injuries or sprains. 

What’s the best handheld back massager to buy?

Top handheld back massager

Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Back and Body Massager

Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Back and Body Massager

What you need to know: This powerful massager features a long ergonomic design and impressive battery life. 

What you’ll love: The built-in motor delivers 3,700 pulses per minute, increasing circulation and relaxing sore back muscles. One battery charge lasts for over 2 hours, and the device comes with six interchangeable nodes. 

What you should consider: This device is a bit more expensive than other vibration-based massagers. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top handheld back massager for the money

Expansion Wellness Handheld Back Massager with Heat

Expansion Wellness Handheld Back Massager with Heat 

What you need to know: This versatile handheld massager is budget-friendly and features a heat setting. 

What you’ll love: It comes with six interchangeable nodes and six speed settings with a max of 3,300 pulses per minute, all of which will give you a highly personalized massage experience. The battery should last up to 140 minutes on a single charge. 

What you should consider: A few users didn’t think the heat function was strong enough. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Theragun Pro Handheld Massage Gun

Theragun Pro Handheld Massage Gun

What you need to know: This high-end massage gun features powerful percussive therapy in a sleek and compact package. 

What you’ll love: The percussive movement reaches deep tissue to enhance muscle recovery. The battery lasts up to 300 minutes on a single charge, and it can transmit information to your smartphone using Bluetooth technology. 

What you should consider: The price tag is higher than many can afford, and the compact design means it can’t reach every area on your back. 

Where to buy: Sold by Theragun

 

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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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