Best massager 2021: knead away your aches and pains

Browse the best massagers to banish painful knots and soothe your muscles at home

Best massager: Homedics Gel Shiatsu portable pillow
(Image credit: Homedics)

The best massagers can help ease tense muscles and knead away aches and pains, all from the comfort of your own home. There are lots of different options to choose from, ranging from handheld massagers to massage cushions to full mats designed to place on chairs or on the floor. One popular style is the Shiatsu massager. These are based on traditional Japanese massage therapy that uses acupressure and is designed to release tension. 

You can also pick your size and shape. You might want a small massagers designed for targeted pressure, or a larger mat for a more all-over experience, or something specifically designed for use on your neck or back. 

In this guide, we've rounded up what we think are the best home massagers for a range of purposes and at a range of price points. These devices are perfect for soothing painful knots, boosting your circulation and relieving exercise-induced strains (although if it's a specific, targeted massage you're after, we have another dedicated guide to the best massage guns.

If you're just looking for something to help you relax and unwind at home, you might also want to check out our guides to the best essential oil diffusers, to set the scene. But for now let's crack on with our pick of the best massagers for home use.

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 The best massager 2021 to buy now 

best home massager: Beurer MG 149 Shiatzu Massage Cushion

(Image credit: Beurer)

1. Beurer MG 149 Shiatzu Massage Cushion

The best home massager for most uses

Specifications
Type: massage pillow
Size:
Heat: yes
Reasons to buy
+Suitable for a range of areas+Effective massage+Heat function
Reasons to avoid
-There are more stylish looking massagers

Our pick for the best massager right now is the Beurer MG 149 Shiatzu Massage Cushion. A versatile all-rounder, this is compact enough not to annoying to store, but will deliver a satisfying massage when you need it. There's an elasticated strap that you use to attach the pillow securely to chair back, and you can place it as high up or low down as you need – from your shoulders to your lumbar region. The Shiatzu style massage heads are firm but effective, and you can switch between clockwise and anticlockwise rotation. It'll also gently heat up if you want it to. While there are cooler looking and more techy options in our ranking, so a no-fuss, effective home massager, this won't let you down. Head to our Beurer MG 149 Shiatzu Massage Cushion review to find out more.

Best massager: Renpho Cordless Handheld Massager

(Image credit: Renpho)

2. Renpho Cordless Handheld Massager

A versatile and great value cordless massager

Specifications
Type: handheld massager
Size: 15.55 x 4.72 x 5.5" (packed)
Heat: no
Reasons to buy
+Four modes and five speed settings+Five interchangeable heads+Infrared light therapy
Reasons to avoid
-Weird looking design

This cordless massager from Renpho is great value, and offers plenty of ways to give yourself an invigorating deep tissue massage. It has a powerful motor delivering up to 3,600 pulses per minute, with five speed settings so you can find the right level of intensity for you, as well as five interchangeable head attachments, including a one-point head for massaging acupressure points and round ball head that simulates tapping for relieving deep tissue pain. It also uses infrared light to help improve blood flow. Its rechargeable battery will last for 140 minutes on a full charge, but to prevent you overdoing things (and to stop it overheating) it'll automatically shut off after 20 minutes, which should be more than long enough for a rewarding massage.

best massager: Theragun PRO (4th Gen)

(Image credit: Theragun )

3. Theragun PRO (4th Gen)

The best powerful sports massager

Specifications
Type: massage gun
Size: 10 x 7.1 x 3" (25.5 x 18 x 7.6cm)
Heat: no
Reasons to buy
+Extremely powerful percussive massager +Brushless motor is quiet +Works with a dedicated app
Reasons to avoid
-Overkill for many

If you're looking for the best sports massager, the Theragun PRO Percussive Therapy Massager (4th gen) is it. This home massage gun delivers strong bursts of pressure to blast away knots and tension while improving blood flow. It’s the most powerful massager available for at-home use, relying on ultra-fast pulses (around 40 a second) to penetrate muscles on a much deeper level. Those keen to get the most out of their massager will love its Bluetooth capability, allowing it to be synced with the Therabody app to create synchronised wellness routines. We also love the ultra-quiet brushless motor. It's quieter than the average electric toothbrush, so you can also relax fully without being bothered by the noise. You'll find alternatives in our roundup of the best massage guns

best home massage mat: Homedics Stretch XS

(Image credit: Homedics)

4. Homedics Stretch XS massage mat

The best home massager for stretching you out

Specifications
Type: massage mat
Size: TBC
Heat: no
Reasons to buy
+4 programmes and variable intensity+Supported stretches you can relax into+Packs down neatly
Reasons to avoid
-A bit noisy in use

The Homedics Stretch XS is a stylish, innovative and effective home massage solution. Rather than pummeling your muscles, this massage mat has air chambers that inflate and deflate to guide your back, shoulders and hips through a series of supported stretches that you can relax right into. There are four sequences to choose from, each of which can be bumped up in intensity depending on your personal needs. It's surprisingly effective and soothing – it's not designed for medical use, but reviewers have commented that it's great for relieving back pain, and even our relatively flexible and able-bodied tester found it delivered a satisfying stretch (head to our Homedics Stretch XS review for more). This is also one of the most stylish massage mat options we've seen, and it rolls up into a neat and portable package when not in use.

Best cheap home massager: Murlien Massage Roller Ball

(Image credit: Murlien)

5. Murlien Massage Roller Ball

The best basic massager for at-home use

Specifications
Type: roller ball massager
Size: 5.8 x 6.4cm / 2.28 x 2.56"
Heat: no
Reasons to buy
+Easy-grip, multidirectional roller ball action+Compact and lightweight+No power source required
Reasons to avoid
-Basic option

With massagers you tend to pay for what you get, and some of the prices are pretty eye-watering. The Murlien Massage Roller Ball is a cheap and cheerful handheld massager that bucks that trend. With the Murlien massage ball you, rather than an electric motor, supply the pressure, so you can give yourself a light massage or press harder for some deep tissue therapy. It's compact and lightweight and couldn't be easier to use; simply locate the area that needs attention, press it on and start rolling back and forth, increasing the pressure as needed. And while it's nowhere near as versatile as most of the other massagers listed here, it'll do the job on those little muscle stress points without you having to invest in a more expensive powered device.

Best massager: HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. Homedics ShiatsuMax 2.0

The best full-back massager

Specifications
Type: massage chair mat
Size: D50 x H120 x W140mm
Heat: yes
Reasons to buy
+ Strong pressure + Different massage settings + Whole back massage 
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky when not in use

Those with serious back pain need to find a massager built to apply strong pressure to the whole back and this one from HoMedics is one of the best you can buy. Designed like a chair, this home massager offers up 14 different massage programmes of varying style and strength. A remote control also allows you to add heat and customise your massage with adjustable height and width settings. The best thing about this massager is it can be secured to any car seat or office chair, which means you don’t have to be at home to use it and instead you can get relief from aching muscles throughout the day.

best foot massager: HoMedics Luxury Foot Spa

(Image credit: Homedics)

7. HoMedics Luxury Foot Spa

The best foot massager

Specifications
Type: foot spa and massager
Size: 34 x 43cm
Heat: no
Reasons to buy
+Massaging nodes +Bubble features+Luxurious experience
Reasons to avoid
-Just for feet

If you know that your feet need the most attention, then focus on a device specially built to give them a little TLC. Homedics, the brand behind many of the best massagers on this list, has a few options designed to soothe tired toes – including this Homedics Luxury Foot Spa (which comes with a nail kit). It’s like a mini-spa for your feet and gives them a relaxing, jacuzzi-like experience thanks to bubble strips on the bottom of the device. Unlike other foot spas, it isn’t just about the bubbles. Massaging nodes built-in to this foot spa are capable of giving you a foot massage to rival your local spa but without having to pay a fortune. We can’t think of a better way to relax before you fall to sleep than giving your feet the full spa experience from the comfort of your own bedroom. If you have a bit more cash to splash, there's also a heated version

best shiatsu massager: Homedics Gel Shiatsu massage pillow

(Image credit: Homedics)

8. Homedics Gel Shiatsu massage pillow

The best portable massage pillow

Specifications
Type: Shiatsu massage pillow
Size: TBC
Heat: yes
Reasons to buy
+Works wirelessly+Soft gel massage nodes+Stylish design
Reasons to avoid
-Difficult to get positioning / pressure right

If you want a massage pillow that doesn't require you to sit next to a power outlet, try this gel Shiatsu Portable pillow from Homedics. The massage nodes are made from squidgy gel rather than being solid, to give a more 'natural feeling' massage, and as usual, you can change the direction of rotation if you want to mix things up a bit, and there's a gentle heating function for added relaxation. This cordless massager is also one of the best-looking we've come across, with simple and effective controls. However, in our Homedics Gel Shiatsu portable pillow review, our tester found it hard to get (and keep) in place for a satisfying massage – other reviewers haven't had this issue, so it might be a personal thing.

Best massager: Foreo Luna 3 Facial Massager

(Image credit: Foreo)

9. Foreo Luna 3 Facial Massager

The best face massager

Specifications
Type: face brush and massager
Size: 36 x 84 x 102mm
Heat: no
Reasons to buy
+Adds luxury to your skincare routine+Removes make-up+Anti-ageing benefits

Most of the products you can buy for an at-home massage focus on your back, neck and feet. But face massaging has many benefits, including making skincare work better, reducing signs of wrinkles and keeping skin looking firm. Foreo is a Swedish beauty brand that’s quickly becoming well-known for its skincare tech and the Foreo 3 is the latest version of its cleansing device and face massager rolled into one. This 100% waterproof decide promises to effectively cleanse your skin, and you can hook it up to a companion app for a firming massage. If you care about your skin and already have a skincare routine you love, then add a bit of extra care and luxury to the routine with the Foreo Luna 3.

Best massager: HoMedics Handheld Shiatsu Massager

(Image credit: Amazon)

10. Homedics Handheld Shiatsu Massager

The best handheld Shiatsu massager

Specifications
Type: Handheld Shiatsu massager
Size: 13.5 x 11.5 x 14cm
Heat: no
Reasons to buy
+3 interchangeable heads+ Use it anywhere + Different massage modes 
Reasons to avoid
-Some find it heavy

If you’re looking for an affordable massage option and don’t mind putting a bit of effort in, try the Homedics Handheld Shiatsu Massager. This portable and easy-to-use device gives you a feeling of a Shiatsu massage wherever you place it, allowing you to control where you massage, the speed, pressure and even the type of massage you receive from it. Although this won’t be a good option for those with limited mobility or arthritis because you do need to hold it steady yourself. There are three different massage heads that can be used, including one for muscle stiffness, another for an invigorating massage and the final one for a deep tissue massage. 

Best massager: Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager

(Image credit: Amazon)

11. Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager

The best massager for your neck and body

Specifications
Type: Shiatsu massage pillow
Size: not stated
Heat: yes
Reasons to buy
+ Use it all over your body + Heat function + Deep kneading motion 
Reasons to avoid
-Looks quite ugly

If you can't decide which part of your body you need one of our best massagers to focus on, then this shiatsu pillow massager is your ideal option. That's because you can position it to work on many different parts of your body. However, it does work particularly well on your shoulder and upper back. You can even attach it to a chair or driving seat to work on those areas as you get on with your day. This one has three different massage strengths and four massage nodes to knead away tension, as well as a self-heating function to further relieve pain and soreness. 

Best massager: Elite Massage Muscle Roller Stick for Runners

(Image credit: Amazon)

12. Elite Massage Muscle Roller Stick for Runners

A cheap option for relieving tension on the go

Specifications
Type: muscle roller
Size: 16"
Heat: no
Reasons to buy
+ Cheap + Portable and compact+ Perfect for runners 
Reasons to avoid
-Basic option

If you work out regularly, it makes sense to relieve tension in your muscles after exercising. You can use a massaging device or foam roller, but we also like these roller sticks, which many believe are actually a lot more effective than a foam roller. The super portable sticks can be rolled over sore muscles, relieving soreness and stiffness in seconds. They're perfect for taking to the gym for a post-session cooldown or keeping in your work bag if you have a lot of soreness at the office during the day.

 Choosing the best massager for you

This might sound reckless, but don’t pay too much attention to the price tag. Take roller sticks, for example: this type of massage tool often comes with the lowest price tag, but these lightweight plastic sticks are still incredibly effective when used correctly. That said, there are certainly plenty of blow-the-budget options which still offer fantastic value for money. Percussive massagers that use infrared, heated or interchangeable heads are a little more pricey, but the upside is that this type of massager can be a godsend when it comes to soothing muscle pain, reducing post-exercise recovery time and minimising the risk of injury.