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An average person walks approximately 115,000 miles in a lifetime, so it's no wonder our feet need a little TLC once in awhile. Unless you have a willing and able masseur on call 24 hours a day, a good foot massager might be what you need.
You can find a huge variety of foot massagers on the market, so how do you pick the right one? Do you need a foot spa or a manual massager? Shiatsu or vibration? Kneading or infrared? The choices seem endless.
Well, if you're confused, you're in the right place. At BestReviews, our mission is to help you find the perfect products to fit your needs. We craft thorough, informative reviews based on lab testing, expert consultations, customer feedback, and good old-fashioned product research.
When you're reading to buy a foot massager, the product matrix at the top of the page features our five favorites. But, first, read on for our full guide to foot massagers.
If you're still on the fence about your potential purchase, let's examine some of the benefits of a foot massager:
Foot massagers can help relieve foot pain. They're ideal for people who work on their feet, athletes, or anyone who suffers from aches and pains in their feet. A foot massager can also help lessen the discomfort associated with a range of foot-specific conditions, such as bunions, plantar fasciitis, and heel spurs.
Massage promotes blood flow, so a foot massager can improve circulation in your lower extremities.
Many people find using a foot massager extremely relaxing.
Having your feet massaged makes them generally healthier and can help prevent future issues. What’s more, foot massagers can beat fluid retention in the feet, ankles, and lower legs, which can be an issue if you sit or stand for the majority of the day.
Never underestimate the value of self care. A foot massager could be just the thing to help you take a little "me time."
You can find three main types of foot massagers on the market: manual foot massagers, electric foot massagers, and foot spas. Below, we look at the pros and cons of each type.
Electric foot massagers plug into a power outlet and have parts that knead, heat, compress, vibrate, or a combination of these things (plus further options) to give your feet a thorough massage.
Pros: High-quality and effective massage, relaxing, a good range of settings and massage types available.
Cons: Can be bulky, high-end models are expensive.
Price: Between $50 and $300, depending on the brand, quality, and range of features offered.
Some electric foot massagers have a plate you rest your feet on, so only the soles are massaged. Others envelope your entire foot so the sides and tops get a good massage, too.
Manual foot massagers are generally made from wood or plastic. They don't massage you on their own, but they do have moving parts you can rub your feet against to massage them.
Pros: Inexpensive, no electricity needed so can be used anywhere.
Cons: Not as effective or relaxing as other foot massager types.
Price: $5 to $25.
While manual foot massagers are an interesting budget choice, this review will mostly focus on electric foot massagers and foot spas, as they're much more common and have a wider range of features to consider.
Foot spas are water-based foot massagers, like little tubs for your feet. They massage your feet using water jets and bubbles.
Pros: Gentle and relaxing, reasonably priced, water good for muscle pain.
Cons: May not give as deep of a deep massage as dry-foot massagers, can be inconvenient/messy to fill with water every time.
Price: Roughly $30 to $100.
If you prefer a gentle massage over a more intense one, we recommend a foot spa.
Foot massagers can utilize one or more different massaging methods. These are some of the most common:
A traditional Japanese massaging method, shiatsu usually involves massaging pressure points with the fingers, but in a shiatsu foot massager, the technique is replicated using rotating heads or vibrators.
This shouldn't be the sole method of a foot massager, but heat can be used in addition to other techniques to help relax muscles and generally improve the experience.
Foot massagers often have moving heads to help knead the feet.
If you suffer from any underlying health issue that you believe could potentially be negatively affected by a foot massager, always check with a healthcare professional before use.
Direct application of pressure helps relax and revitalize muscles and improve circulation, which is why some foot massagers have a compression setting.
Like heat, this isn't usually the only method used by a foot massager. However, vibration can add an extra dimension to the experience.
This is what's used in foot spas; it usually involves a combination of bubbles, water jets, vibrations, and heat to relax muscles, ease pain, and increase circulation.
Some foot massagers use infrared lights on top of other methods. The infrared exposure is said to increase blood flow and relax muscles.
The best foot massagers tend to use a combination of massaging methods for a more well-rounded experience.
If it’s important to you, look for a foot spa that easily allows you to adjust pressure, speed, and settings.
Some foot spas don't allow for these adjustments, and some people are fine with that – but others find it an annoyance.
As such, we recommend that you carefully consider this factor and choose accordingly.
Some people who suffer from arthritis find that foot massagers help relieve discomfort and inflammation.
Foot spas and some electric foot massagers offer 360-degree massage for your whole foot. But other electric foot massagers simply massage the soles of your feet. Think about where you have foot pain or other issues and whether or not you need a 360-degree foot massage.
Some electric foot massagers have a specially cushioned surface that contours to your feet, increases comfort, and improves the sensation of the massage. These cushioned surfaces are usually made from malleable plastic or gel-injected foam.
If you suffer from hard skin or calluses on your feet, some foot massagers come with a built-in scraper function that can help tackle these issues.
Consider the size and weight of your chosen foot massager. Some models can be fairly heavy and bulky.
Look at the product specifications to make sure the model you're considering is small enough to easily store and not so heavy that you'd have trouble dragging it out every time you wanted a foot massage.
Some foot massagers come with toe-touch controls or remote controls so you don't even have to bend down to adjust the speed or settings.
When you get your foot massager home, keep it out in the open, or store it somewhere easy to access. The visual cue will remind you to use it more often.
A daily foot massage can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. It’s not just about your feet!
Some foot massagers have an automatic shut-off feature. This is useful if you think you might get so relaxed during your massage that you fall asleep.
Finding a comfortable sitting spot and playing relaxing sounds or music can really help you unwind while using your foot massager.
Q. Is there anyone who shouldn't use a foot massager?
A. Foot massagers are generally very safe, but they may not be suitable for some people. A handful of experts believe that some types of foot massage can induce labor, so check with your doctor before using a foot massager if you're pregnant. Some diabetics should also avoid foot massagers, because people who suffer from neuropathy (a potential complication of diabetes) may not be able to feel if a massager is too hot or powerful. Check with your doctor before using a foot massager if you're diabetic.
Q. Are foot massagers easy to clean?
A. The majority of foot massagers are very easy to clean. Just give them a quick wipedown with a damp cloth or a mild cleaning solution. Importantly, you should always make sure your foot massager is not plugged into a power outlet during cleaning. Furthermore, you should avoid getting the foot massager more than slightly damp, as getting the device wet could damage the motor inside.
Some 360-degree foot massagers have removable covers that make them easier to clean, since they can be hard to see inside.
Q. Will a foot massager help with dry skin on my feet?
A. A foot spa is the best kind of foot massager if you're trying to remedy dry skin, since the water will hydrate your feet. However, we also recommend putting a regular moisturizing regimen in place.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.