The 7 Best Neck Massagers of 2021

Relive tension with these at-home devices

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First Look

Best Overall: InvoSpa Back Neck and Shoulder Massager at Amazon

"Wraps right around your neck and shoulders, with loops you can thread your hands through to add pressure."

Best for Headaches: LuxFit Trigger Point Manual Muscle Massage at Amazon

"Simply glide the balls over your neck, and they knead out the knots and kinks with a feeling much like that of real hands."

Best Shiatsu Massager: HoMedics Shiatsu Deluxe Neck & Shoulder Massager at Bed Bath & Beyond

"It has hand straps you can thread your hands through, while still keeping them free to work."

Best Neck Massage Ball: Massage Roller Ball by Vive at Amazon

"They do a great job working out knots and are easy to use on yourself or on someone else."

Best for Travel: Papillon Back Massager with Heat at Amazon

"Has a car adapter, so you can use it during long drives or cold winter mornings."

Best Massage Gun: Hyperice Hypervolt Vibration Massage Device at Amazon

"Each charge provides up to three hours of use, so you don't need to worry about it giving out on you mid-massage."

Best Tens Unit: HealthmateForever YK15AB Tens Unit at Amazon

"Takes away pain by sending tiny currents of electricity into your muscles, telling your brain to relieve the tension."

Many of the things we do on a day-to-day basis put a strain on our neck and shoulders. From looking down to read text messages to sleeping in an uncomfortable position, there’s so much built-up tension in these body parts. 

Since opting for back-to-back neck massages isn't practical for everyone, purchasing an at-home neck massager is hands down the best way to get the relief you need, whenever you need it. Neck massagers come in various shapes and sizes with an array of different features, so do your research to find one that best suits your needs.

Here are the best neck massagers on the market today.

Best Overall: InvoSpa Back Neck and Shoulder Massager

Pros
  • Provides deep tissue relief

  • Comes with a carrying bag

  • Wall and car adapter

Cons
  • Controller awkwardly placed

  • Not flexible

InvoSpa Back Neck and Shoulder Massager is equipped with eight massage roller balls that provide deep tissue relief for your entire body.  Additionally, three separate speed strength levels are offered with two hand loops, so you’re able to push towards the ground to optimize pressure. It even includes an infrared heat function that easily soothes sore muscles and also comes with a carrying bag allowing you to take it anywhere with you. In case your neck begins to ache during a future road trip, the massager has wall and car adapters you can use on-the-go.

Added Features: Infrared heat function, eight massage roller balls, three separate speeds, carrying bag, and car adapter

Best for Headaches: LuxFit Trigger Point Manual Muscle Massage

Pros
  • Provides targeted pain relief

  • Relieves tension headaches

  • Portable and lightweight

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Not long-lasting

  • Manual massager

  • Needs lotion to lubricate massage

Are you trying to get rid of a massive headache? The LuxFit Trigger Point Manual Muscle Massage is a manual massager that provides targeted pain relief. It has two knobs made to apply direct pressure to the back of your neck or other pressure points to promote healing for tension headaches and migraines. Its ergonomic handles allow you to easily control all aspects of the massage such as pace, direction, and intensity, so you can get the relief you need.

Added Features: Firm silicon balls and targeted massager

Best Shiatsu Massager: HoMedics Shiatsu Deluxe Neck & Shoulder Massager

Homedics
Pros
  • Wraps around shoulders and neck

  • Portable and lightweight

  • Customizable rotation

  • Heated massage option

Cons
  • Wears out over time

  • Doesn’t fit smaller necks as well

Wrap the HoMedics Shiatsu Deluxe Neck & Shoulder Massager around you for the ultimate relaxation. Gone are the days of neck and shoulder cramps, this portable, lightweight massager can be used anywhere. It features an ergonomic, U-shape design that can be adjusted to fit snugly on your neck with loops for your arms to slip through. 

The massager has two small and large nodes you can customize to rotate in any direction you’d like. They can be controlled to rotate in or out and of course, there’s a heated massage option. You’ll be able to regularly get a deep-kneading Shiatsu-style massage every time you use this machine.

“Shiatsu neck massagers are helpful in releasing tight muscles and trigger points," explains chiropractor Dustin Martinez. "They’re not for the faint-hearted, however. Shiatsu massagers are designed to target trigger points so they tend to be more deep tissue to get a concentrated release of the muscle.”

Added Features: Three speeds, heat, and wrap-around ability

What Our Experts Say

“I like the Hypervolt massage gun (view at Amazon), as well as the Homedics Shiatsu massager. These massagers are good because they can loosen muscles that are tight around the neck and shoulder blades and therefore alleviate pain and tension that the muscles might be causing from pulling on the vertebrae in the neck. That being said, one should be careful and not massage on the bones, just the muscles.” Dr. Theresa Marko, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedics

Best Neck Massage Ball: Massage Roller Ball by Vive

Pros
  • Package of two

  • Portable

  • Affordable

  • Latex-free and hypoallergenic

Cons
  • Not easy to clean

  • Balls can get stuck

Who knew this simple Massage Roller Ball by Vive can be the comfort you need? Two come with each purchase and the handheld balls can be used together or kept in separate spots for rapid, on-the-go relief. 

This latex-free, hypoallergenic product won’t irritate your skin and is durable as it’s made from high-quality resin that won’t crack no matter how much pressure you put on it. You won’t have to worry about any friction either. The roller balls glide smoothly on bare skin or clothing leaving you with an effective and soothing massage.

Added Features: Hypoallergenic and portable

Best for Travel: Papillon Back Massager with Heat

Pros
  • Portable

  • Comes with car adapter

  • Heat function

  • Works on several parts of the body

Cons
  • Noisy

  • Automatically shuts off after 15 mins

  • Wire easily unplugs

Stay on the go with Papillon Back Massager with Heat that delivers a heated massage wherever life takes you. This device has a car adapter, so you can use it during long drives or cold winter mornings.  

The high-quality pillow kneads the uncomfortable kinks in your neck by rapidly changing direction every minute. It also gives off heat and safely warms your tense muscles. There’s no forgetting the massager’s ergonomic layout as it fits perfectly behind the neck and contours to several parts of your body including the lower and upper back, abdomen, calf, and thigh areas.

Added Features: Car adapter and heat function

Best Massage Gun: Hyperice Hypervolt Vibration Massage Device

Hyperice
Pros
  • Interchangeable heads

  • Cordless with three hours of battery

  • Three speeds

  • Strong pulse

Cons
  • Pricey

  • Noisy

Bring the spa to you with this massage gun from Hyperice. The gun's three-speed setting can deliver up to 3,200 pulses per minute and includes four interchangable head attachments so you can get the exact kind of relief you need. Each charge provides up to three hours of use, so you don't need to worry about it giving out on you mid-massage. At only 2.5 pounds, it's easy to hold when you need a longer massage.

Added Features: Bluetooth, Wireless, 5 Interchangeable heads, and 3 Speeds

What Our Editors Say

"After agonizing over whether I should should buy a Hypervolt or Theragun for nagging running-related aches and pains, I chose the Hypervolt. It offers more percussions per minute on the highest setting: 3200 compared to 2400 with the Theragun G3. It also comes with a forked attachment (the Theragun does not), which is great for getting both sides of the neck at once. While my intention was to use the Hypervolt mainly for sports injury prevention, I find it's actually really useful for lower back, shoulder, and neck pain associated with all the poor posture of working from the couch every day!" Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editorial Director 

Best Tens Unit: HealthmateForever YK15AB Tens Unit

Pros
  • 15 modes and 20 intensities

  • Six massage settings

  • Comes with everything you need

  • Affordably priced

Cons
  • Complicated to apply to skin

  • Not for people with certain medical conditions

  • Lots of wires

The HealthmateForever YK15AB Tens Unit may seem intimidating at first, but it's easy to use. It’s designed with four outputs and eight pads to be directly applied on the skin using electrotherapy known as a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit.

There are 15 modes, 20 levels of intensity, and six massage settings to choose from. If you’re pregnant or have any pre-existing conditions, just make sure to consult your doctor before giving it a try.

Added Features: Electrotherapy pain management

Final Verdict

When acute neck pain strikes, neck massagers are a great avenue to explore when searching for relief. Figuring out the root of your neck pain should be the first step. Talk to a physician to nail down an appropriate and effective treatment plan. InvoSpa Back Neck and Shoulder Massager (view at Amazon) is one of the best options for at-home relief that is both affordable and effective. If you want a massager that helps headaches related to neck pain, the LuxFit Trigger Point Manual Muscle Massage (view at Amazon) can help.

What to Look for in a Neck Massager

Portability

Nothing beats on-the-go pain relief. Whether you’re working from home or need a pick-me-up after the gym, make sure you know exactly how your massager works. It may be battery operated, which is easier to carry around, or if you're staying mostly at home, a plug-in option may be best for longer use.

Heating and Cooling Therapy

Using heating or cooling remedies is always a common debate around alleviating pain. Eeric Truumees, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Texas Spine and Scoliosis in Austin, Texas, and the president of the North American Spine Society (NASS) says for issues just below the surface, icing can be the remedy, but for deeper tissue issues like neck pain, heat is often the best way to go. “I’ve had patients swear by icing as a means to control their neck pain. For me, though, heating seems to be more helpful overall. The major structures of the cervical spine cannot be iced, they are too deep; the muscles will benefit from heat.”

However, Dr. Truumees cautions against jumping straight into using heat if your neck pain is due to something like a sports-related injury. “I would avoid [heating] for a few days if you’ve had a significant strain with any bruising or swelling. The soft, foam cervical collar is another way to keep the neck muscles warm, but I try to avoid braces, when possible, so as to avoid any increased stiffness.”

Usage

An important factor in purchasing a neck massager is how easy it is to use. As Dr. Truumees says, if you suffer from pain that radiates to the skull causing headaches, you may want to avoid percussive massagers that could only add to discomfort. If you suffer from arthritis and cannot have things draped over your shoulders, wrap-around Shiatsu massagers are not the right tool for you.

TENS units are very gentle and should not cause strain for people with more sensitive neck and shoulder areas. According to Dr. Truumees, “Many people’s neck pain will radiate well into the upper back. I would recommend taking that into account when choosing machines you want to try.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should you use a neck massager?

    While there are no formal guidelines for how long to use a massager, you shouldn’t use them for too long, especially not in one place on your body. “There are reported cases of fascial damage from excessive massager use,” explains Dr. Lev Kalika, owner of New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy. “Patients should understand that massagers are not intended as self-treatment, but rather a supplemental tool. It is very easy to create a fascial or cutaneous nerve damage if you use excessive pressure or excessive time under pressure.”


    That’s why, he says, he wouldn’t recommend holding the massager over one spot for more than a minute at a time. You should also avoid areas with large blood vessels, avoid the front of your neck, use soft tips, and apply pressure gradually.  


    “I think that massagers are not a bad idea as long as they are not pushed too strong and not overused,” says Dr. Kalika.


    In total, you shouldn’t use a neck massager for more than 20 minutes, explains Dr. Theresa Marko, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedics, even if you are moving it around from spot to spot. That’s why many neck massagers have an auto-shut-off function. 


    In addition, “if you are needing [a neck massager] more than once or twice a day, you should consult with an expert to get some help,” says Dustin Martinez, chiropractor.

  • Can you get a neck massage while pregnant?

    Yes, neck massages are generally considered safe while pregnant, says Kalika. However, you should always discuss it with your doctor beforehand, just in case. You should stick to your neck area and not use the massager on other places of your body. You should also take care not to overdo it.


    Given your pregnancy, it might be more advisable to get a neck massage from a trained professional. It’s also worth noting that massage is generally not recommended during the first trimester of pregnancy because it can cause dizziness or worsen morning sickness.

What Experts Say

"People experiencing neck pain should stay active overall. Bed rest is not the answer for most causes of neck or back pain. Muscles do better when the blood is flowing. Walking or other aerobic exercise is a good idea, while massagers and heat are another way to keep the blood flowing,” 

—Eeric Truumees, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Texas Spine and Scoliosis in Austin, Texas, and president of the North American Spine Society (NASS)

Why Trust Verywell Health?

Isis Briones is a seasoned health writer who works to find products that work best for you and your conditions. You can count on her to always provide a variety of recommendations from licensed medical professionals because she has tested and reviewed tons of products over the years to know everyone is different.

Additional reporting to this story by Janae Price and Simone Scully

As a health writer, Janae Price understands the importance of a knowledgeable and honest review. When there are so many different opinions out there, it's great to have a concise answer that cuts through all the junk online. Every product in this piece has been thoroughly researched and sourced by professionals with potential user needs in mind.

Simone Scully is a New York-based writer and editor with years of experience writing about health, wellness, science, and lifestyle. Her byline has appeared at Healthline, Well+Good, Narratively, Romper, Motherifigure’s magazine, Nautilus, Narratively, AskMen, among other places.

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