Best Neck Massagers

Updated February 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
283 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best neck massagers

Last Updated February 2019

A neck massager can bring the relaxing and therapeutic effect of a massage into your home. Models vary in their technique and usage, so you should consider how you intend to use your neck massager and what sort of relief you are looking for.

A Shiatsu neck massager uses heat and rollers to target deep tissue. Pillow neck massagers are cordless and allow you to relax while the massager does the work for you. Handheld neck massagers are easy to use and can massage parts of the body beside the neck. Each type of massager varies greatly in its use and effects, so you might even want to consult with a doctor or professional masseuse to see what kind would be best for you. Different models may also vary in their settings and overall size.

If you know what you are looking for in a neck massager, consider our top recommendations. Or, continue reading to learn more about the factors that should go into this decision.

Tie long hair up when using your massager to avoid it getting caught in the workings.

Why buy a neck massager?

If you're still deciding whether or not to buy a neck massager, here are some benefits to consider.

  • A neck massager can help to relieve pain in the neck and shoulders.

  • A neck massager costs less money in the long run than a series of professional massages.

  • Recent studies suggest massage may help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can help with a range of medical conditions, including Crohn's disease and arthritis.

  • If you're stressed or just need to unwind, you may find a neck massager helps you to relax.

DID YOU KNOW?

A neck massager can speed up muscle recovery between workouts by increasing blood flow.

Types of neck massagers

Shiatsu neck massagers

Shiatsu neck massagers are designed to replicate traditional Japanese massage using balls that knead pressure points.

Pros:

  • Shiatsu neck massagers use rollers that massage deep into the tissue.

  • Many Shiatsu neck massagers utilize heat, which is a pleasant sensation and helps relax muscles.

  • You can find a wide range of Shiatsu neck massagers on the market, so you have plenty to choose from.
     

Cons:

  • Home neck massagers can't fully recreate the effects of Shiatsu massage, which is traditionally only performed with fingers, thumbs, and palms.

  • Some Shiatsu massagers can be quite heavy and bulky.


Price: Basic Shiatsu neck massagers start around $20. High-end Shiatsu neck massagers can cost as much as $200 or $250.

Pillow neck massagers

Pillow neck massagers are pillow-shaped with some padding. They can be used like a pillow and placed behind your neck while you recline.

Pros:

  • Many pillow neck massagers are cordless, giving you the ability to use them anywhere you please – even on the go.

  • Pillow neck massagers tend to be fairly easy to use.

  • Since you sit back and let the pillow massager do all the work, they're comfortable to use for longer periods of time.
     

Cons:

  • Some cordless pillow neck massagers don't have a very long battery life.

  • It can be tough to target specific problem areas with pillow neck massagers, as they aren't highly maneuverable.


Price: Basic pillow massagers cost as little as $15 to $25. High-end models can cost hundreds, but you can find some very good mid-range options around the $50 mark.

Some pillow neck massagers have long straps with loops. You can use the loops to position the unit and apply pressure as desired.

Handheld neck massagers

Handheld neck massagers are held by a handle. You can reach back and position the massaging head wherever you need it.

Pros:

  • You have greater control over a handheld neck massager; it's easier to target areas that are giving you trouble.

  • Many handheld neck massagers are fairly small and lightweight.

  • Handheld neck massagers can be used to massage other parts of the body.
     

Cons:

  • A handheld neck massager is less relaxing and comfortable to use for long periods of time, since you have to reach your arm back and hold it in place.

  • Many handheld neck massagers are corded, which restricts the locations in which you can use them.


Price: Basic handheld neck massagers start at around $10, but we don’t recommend paying less than $20 if you want a reliable model. High-end options can cost as much as $150.

EXPERT TIP

Handheld neck massagers are ideal for working out deep knots that are hard to relieve by hand.


Staff  | BestReviews

Considerations for selecting a neck massager

Before you purchase a neck massager, it pays to find out a little bit about the product. Try to find the answers to these questions before you make your investment.

How easy (or hard) is it to use?

Turning on your neck massager and selecting the right setting shouldn't be rocket science, which is why you should look for a model that's easy to use. If in doubt, check reviews from existing customers. A massager that is straightforward and user-friendly will get more use.

EXPERT TIP

A neck massager with large, easy-to-press buttons is preferable for a person with limited sight or hand dexterity.


Staff  | BestReviews

Which massage techniques does the massager use?

Different neck massagers utilize different techniques to work out those kinks. Most models use one or more of the following techniques.

  • Heat to warm and relax muscles

  • Balls or rollers to knead the muscles

  • Vibration to reduce muscle tension

  • Bumps and knobs to stimulate acupressure points

EXPERT TIP

Look for neck massagers that provide heat in addition to kneading or vibration. The heat helps relax muscles and adds an extra dimension to your massage experience.


Staff  | BestReviews

How many settings does the neck massager have?

Your neck massager should allow you to select from a range of settings, all of which offer different speeds and different knead or vibration patterns. It's good to have more than one option, since sometimes you might want a gentle massage and other times you might want something more intense.

DID YOU KNOW?

Shiatsu neck massagers usually have either four or eight balls inside them. Massagers with eight balls give a more efficient massage that covers a larger area.

How large and heavy is the neck massager?

Think about the size and weight of your chosen neck massager. Some massagers lend themselves to travel, whereas others are best left at home. For example, pillow neck massagers can be quite large and heavy – you probably wouldn’t want to lug one around in a suitcase.

Check the product specifications for the exact size and weight of any neck massager you're considering.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some pillow neck massagers have an adaptor so they can be used in the car. You'll find that traffic jam a bit more relaxing if you're receiving a pleasant neck massage all the while.

Tips

  • To avoid injury, remove any necklaces, neckties, or scarves before using your massager.

  • If you want freedom of movement while using your neck massager, opt for a cordless model. Or, choose a corded massager with a long power cord.  

  • Select a neck massager made from durable materials that isn't going to fall apart after a few months of regular use.

  • Read the instruction manual carefully before using your neck massager for the first time. You don’t want to miss any important safety advice.

  • Children should not use neck massagers.

  • Some neck massagers are fairly noisy. If noise would be a dealbreaker for you, seek out a neck massager that operates quietly.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Avoid electric shock. Never use your neck massager in the bathtub or anywhere it could get wet.

FAQ

Q. Can a home neck massager replace a professional massage?
A.
That's a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Sure, a neck massager can relieve pain and tension in the same way a professional massage can, but it's an altogether different experience. Many people who own neck massagers still like the immersive and luxurious experience of getting a professional massage, although they may get them less frequently than they did before. On the other hand, some people who own neck massagers would never consider getting a professional massage, anyway.

You can find neck massagers (usually pillow varieties) with an auto shut-off function. This means the massager will switch itself off after a set amount of time – usually around 15 minutes.

Q. Can I use my neck massager on other parts of my body?
A.
Although neck massagers are designed for use on the neck area, don't let that stop you from using one on your back, legs, or other body parts, should you wish. It might not work the area quite as effectively, but it should still do a fairly good job. Some handheld models have different attachments or modes for use on different areas, such as the face and scalp.

Q. Is there a limit to how long I should use my neck massager in one sitting?
A.
Some neck massagers have a maximum recommended time limit of 15 minutes. Others are suitable for longer sessions. If you'd like a neck massager you can use for long periods of time, check the specifications before you buy to avoid disappointment.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alice
    Alice
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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