Best Massage Pillows

Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best massage pillows

Anyone who’s dealt with back pain or muscle aches can tell you how good a soothing massage feels. With a massage pillow, you can enjoy a gentle massage in the comfort of your home, office, or even car.

A massage pillow is a small pillow that’s electrically powered via either a wall outlet or a rechargeable battery. Pads or nodes inside the pillow knead your muscles using a variety of massage techniques. The pillow can work well for treating neck, shoulder, and back pain or tension and is usually compact enough to take on the go, so you can enjoy a massage whenever you need it. If you’re going to invest in a massage pillow, you want to choose one that suits your needs.

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A massage pillow is a budget-friendly alternative to a massage chair, which can not only be extremely expensive but also take up a great deal of space.

Key considerations


Choose a pillow that’s large enough to target your particular area of concern, such as the neck and shoulders or lower back. A massage pillow that’s approximately 13 to 15 inches long and 9 to 11 inches wide is large enough to treat significant areas of the body and compact enough to be portable.

  • Portability: Depending on how often you plan to use your massage pillow, portability may be a key feature to consider. Most massage pillows are small enough to take on the go. If you want to use your pillow at home and take it to the office as well as when you travel, you’ll want a lightweight, compact model that can easily fit in a bag. Keep in mind that rechargeable massage pillows are usually more portable than those that must be plugged into an outlet.

Massage types

Massage pillows use a variety of mechanisms to provide the kneading action. While all types of massage can help loosen your muscles and relieve pain, you might prefer one method over the others.

  • Nodes: Massage pillows with nodes typically provide a deeper, more intense massage. The number of nodes usually determines how deep the massage is.

  • Airbags: Some massage pillows have bags that inflate and deflate to provide a similar sensation to the hands of a massage therapist kneading your muscles. These pillows usually provide a gentler massage.

  • Percussion: Massage pillows that offer a percussion-style massage create an almost thundering sensation as they work your muscles. It provides a deeper, more intense massage that’s similar to a deep-tissue massage you’d get at a spa.

  • Kneading: Massage pillows that offer a kneading massage style are ideal for working knots out of your neck, shoulders, and back.

  • Shiatsu: Shiatsu is a type of Japanese massage that involves the massage therapist using their fingers, thumbs, and palms to apply pressure to specific trigger points. Massage pillows that offer this style mimic the feeling you get from a therapist using their hands to work your muscles.

  • Vibration: Some massage pillows vibrate in addition to massage. The entire surface of the pillow vibrates to enhance the massage experience and further loosen up tight muscles. Not all users find the vibration necessary, so you may not want to pay extra for it.
"Some massage pillows give you the option of a massage with or without heat. Other pillows only provide heated massage."

Massage pillow features


  • Intensity: Many massage pillows offer different intensity options, while some models only have a single intensity level. Multiple levels allow you to choose how deeply you want the pillow to knead based on how tight your muscles are or the amount of pain you’re experiencing. More choices make it easier to customize your massage experience.

  • Speed: In addition to the intensity of the massage, you may want to customize how quickly the pillow’s massage function operates. For a gentler massage, you’ll likely prefer a slower speed. For a more intense, vigorous massage, you may want a faster speed. Some massage pillows only operate at a single speed, but you can choose a model that offers up to three speeds for the most versatility.

  • Heat: When you’re suffering from muscle or joint pain, heat can offer significant relief. That’s why some massage pillows provide steady warmth as the pillow massages you. You’ll pay extra for a heated pillow, but if you regularly suffer from neck, shoulder, and/or back pain, it can be an extremely helpful addition.

  • Automatic shutoff: For safety reasons, it’s a good idea to choose a massage pillow that shuts off automatically, which prevents the pillow from overheating by turning it off after 15 or 20 minutes. This also keeps rechargeable models from accidentally draining the battery.

  • Memory: If you want to treat a chronic issue, choose a massage pillow with a memory or recall feature. It stores the intensity, speed, and type of massage that you prefer so you can quickly turn the pillow on and treat your issue without having to cycle through all the various settings.


The benefit of a massage pillow is that it’s usually designed to fit any chair. You simply place the pillow between the back of the chair and the area of your body that you want to massage. If you don’t want to worry about the pillow sliding around, it helps to choose one that has straps to hold the pillow in place on the chair. The straps are usually made of a stretchy material, so they can fit around nearly any chair back.


All massage pillows require electricity to power the massage action. Some models must be plugged into a wall outlet, which may limit where you can use the pillow. However, you can find some massage pillows that use rechargeable batteries, allowing you to use the pillow nearly anywhere. When choosing a rechargeable massage pillow, pay attention to how long the pillow can run on a single charge, as well as how long it takes to fully charge the battery. If you want to take your rechargeable massage pillow with you, opt for a model that includes a car charger. It allows you to charge the pillow with your car’s cigarette lighter outlet.

Massage pillow prices

Massage pillows vary in price based mainly on their features. Most pillows cost from $20 to $130.

Inexpensive: The most affordable massage pillows, which cost between $20 and $40, are basic models that offer a single intensity level, speed option, and massage style. These typically don’t have heat or vibration options and must be plugged into a wall outlet.

Mid-range: These massage pillows range from $40 to $90 and typically feature two or more intensity and speed options, as well as multiple massage styles. They usually have a heat feature as well and can be plug-in or rechargeable models.

Expensive: The most expensive massage pillows cost between $90 and $130 and offer a wide range of special features. Most provide three or more intensity and speed options, as well as multiple massage styles. They have both heat and vibration features and may be plugged into an outlet or run on rechargeable batteries.

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Did you know?
Using a massage pillow while you’re driving isn’t recommended. Only use it as a passenger or when the car is stopped.


  • Limit the time you use the pillow. To prevent muscle bruises or pain, you should be using the pillow for just 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

  • Don’t press or lean on a massage pillow too firmly. You might pinch your skin or cause an injury.

  • Store your massage pillow in a cool, dry location. Keep it away from sharp objects that might tear the fabric cover, too.

  • Never submerge the pillow in water. Most massage pillows can be spot cleaned with a soft, damp cloth. Never use an abrasive cleanser to clean it.
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In addition to helping with muscle aches and pains, regular massages can also help relieve stress and anxiety.


Q. Is it safe to use a massage pillow?

A. In most cases, a massage pillow is perfectly safe to use for treating minor aches and pains or loosening up your muscles. However, if you’ve suffered a serious injury, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before using a pillow. Pregnant people, individuals with cardiac issues, and people with serious illnesses should also seek medical advice before using a massage pillow.

Q. Can I use a massage pillow on my lower body?

A. You should always check the instructions for recommended usage, but most massage pillows can be used to treat muscle pain in your thighs, calves, and even feet. However, unless you’re using the pillow in a recliner, you’ll need to lie down on a bed or couch to keep it pressed against the right part of your leg.

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