Best Neck and Shoulder Massager Buying Guide
Features to Look For When Buying a Neck and Shoulder Massager
Before deciding on a neck and shoulder massager, it is important, not only to look into its features but to actually understand them. Knowing what each feature does is one step closer to finding the perfect massager for your needs. However, their efficiency is what separates the top of the line product from the rest.
Different massage techniques
Each neck and shoulder massager uses one or more massage techniques. Of course, the more options you have the better. Now let’s take a look at how each of them helps.
One of the most popular techniques is shiatsu massage, which is incorporated in most of the modern neck and shoulder massagers. Performed by a professional masseuse it is applied by rolling palms and fingers over a particular pressure point. In order to mimic the movement of hands, massager uses massage nodes that rotate around their axis providing the massage. Normally, the nodes aren’t perfectly aligned, so each time they rotate they apply pressure to a different muscle. When it comes to this massage technique, it is very important for a massager to have a dual directional movement that changes automatically.
Also very popular, kneading massage is a technique used by a lot of models. This is one of the most efficient techniques for relaxing tight muscles. This massage is performed by pressing muscles and skin against hard surfaces of the bones to soften the muscles and provide relief. It also increases local blood circulation which will bring more oxygen to the tissues, which is very helpful for those users who suffer from muscle aches. This massage will also affect muscle flexibility and provide relief for stiff shoulders and back.
This technique is mostly incorporated in massage chairs, but can also be found in some of the neck and shoulder massagers. Vibration massage is mostly used as a relaxation technique because it simulates the blood flow which relaxes muscles. Thanks to its relaxation properties, it can be also used to reduce pain.
The heat therapy feature is very popular in modern neck and shoulder massagers because it provides a similar effect as stretching before training. As the muscles warm up, they become more relaxed and their ability to stretch increases as well as their flexibility. Heated massage also increases blood circulation in your body which will send more oxygen to your muscles and provide the feeling of overall relaxation.
Of course, the heat needs to be low. If the massager doesn’t have a heat regulation feature, you shouldn’t even consider it. Heat regulation is supposed to heat the massager gradually and prevent it from overheating. It normally takes about 5-6 minutes for the massager to start heating after you turn this feature on.
How effective your massage depends on the amount of pressure applied to your body. So basically, the more powerful the massager is, the more relief it will provide for your neck and shoulders.
More powerful massagers are often more expensive, but can you really put a price on a pain relief?
Powerful neck and shoulder massagers usually come with a heating feature in combination with shiatsu or Kneading technique, providing an outstanding relaxation effect.
Different neck and shoulder massagers use different power sources. Some massagers run on batteries, while others need to be plugged into a power outlet.
Battery operated massagers can work without recharging for 2-3 hours depending on how many features you are using all at once, while electric massagers run for as long as you’d like (unless they have an auto shut off feature). There is no way to determent which power source is better than the other simply because what is a con for one user, might be a pro for another.
So, if you need a massager that can be used on the go, you should probably go for the one with the batteries, or an electric one with car adapter. However, if you want to relax in the environment of your home, an electrical massager is the perfect choice for you.
Although we are talking about massagers that are specially designed for massaging neck and shoulders, it is nice when they aren’t limited to only those areas of your body. The versatility of a massager mostly depends on its size and the layout of the nodes. Therefore larger units are good to use on the lower back, hips, thighs, and feet, medium sized units could be a good choice for massaging your neck, lower back, and thighs, while small units are the best choice for neck and feet massage.
When it comes to a neck and shoulder massager, it is important for it to be lightweight. This is a unit that you are going to put around your shoulders, and if it is heavy, it will only cause more pain instead of providing relief. This doesn’t mean that you should go for the lightest one, but for the one that has a good balance between power and ergonomics.
The perfect size of a neck and shoulder massager isn’t a universal thing. It should be big just enough to cover your neck and shoulders, but not bigger. Since the size is individual, it would be ideal to try it out in the store before purchasing. Only the massager that fits you perfectly will provide a proper massage.
Benefits of Having a Neck and Shoulder Massager
Having your neck and shoulders massaged provides many more benefits than just a feeling of relaxation.
- Provides relief for upper back tension
Whether you spend a lot of time exercising or sitting in front of a computer, you are probably experiencing upper back tension. Upper back pain occurs due to the tension of the muscles that become tighter over the years due to a bad posture of the body. This affects the whole body and can lead to more serious problems, so if you are experiencing upper back tension, I highly recommend getting yourself a neck and shoulder massager. Massaging these parts of your body provides the feeling of relaxation in the muscles and allows them to stretch which will ease the tension and the pain.
- Increases blood circulation
As you already know, even the simplest massage stimulates your muscles which increases your local blood circulation. This way more oxygen, nutrients and white blood cells are brought to your muscles which has a vitalizing effect on your body. Having more nutrients and white blood cells brought to your muscles, you allow them to regenerate themselves naturally. If you are suffering from muscle aches and painful joints, you will certainly benefit from increased blood circulation. It won’t only provide a pain relief, but will also improve your mobility and vitalize your muscles.
- Has a good effect on the brain
Having neck and shoulder massage doesn’t only relax muscles in those areas, but the nerves too. This, of course, has a beneficial effect on your brain. You will also feel good physically which will decrease stress and allow you to sleep better.
- Reduces tension headaches
Tension headaches occur due to the contractions of the muscles in your head and neck areas. These headaches are very strong and painful, and if not treated they become more frequent and more painful. Some people experience them once in a few months, while others have these headaches almost every day.
Taking a pill probably seems like a logical choice, but that won’t really help you in the long run. The best way to fight a tension headache is to get rid of the cause. Using neck and shoulder massager, you will easily relax muscles in those areas and relieve the tension. When relaxed, muscles won’t be tense and won’t cause headaches.
- Improves shoulder mobility
If you suffer from a condition called frozen shoulders, you probably know how serious that can be. If not treated correctly, this problem can last up to 24 months. This is when neck and shoulder massager steps in. Massaging these areas of your body improves shoulder mobility and provide pain relief. In this case, heated massages are highly recommended because they will warm up your muscles and allow them to stretch properly. Heat will also stimulate your blood flow and, as we already mentioned earlier, this will allow muscles to regenerate themselves naturally.
Different Types of Neck and Shoulder Massagers
Not all neck and shoulder massagers are the same. They can differ in power, included features, the power source they use, and design.
There are four general groups that all neck and shoulder massagers can be divided into, so let’s take a look.
If you are looking for a small device that can fit into your purse, this is the one to look for. Handheld massagers are the smallest ones out there which makes them extremely portable. When moved in circular motions, the device vibrates, providing a relaxing effect. However, as the name indicates you will have to hold it the whole time. This kind of massager is the most affordable, but that also comes with a bunch of downsides. Besides having to hold it the whole time, handheld neck and shoulder massager doesn’t include features of a more serious massager.
These massagers are made of stiff materials, but with a soft, comfortable cover. All you have to do is wrap it around your neck, leaving the sides over your shoulders and turn it on. Some of these massagers use batteries while others have to be plugged into an electric outlet, which makes a difference only in terms of portability. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, you can get one with more or fewer features, but they will all massage your neck and shoulder areas just fine.
As the name indicates, these neck and shoulder massagers are designed in a form of a pillow. Most of them are shaped like a bed pillow, only smaller, but some are designed in a U-shape that can be wrapped around neck and shoulders. These devices are very comfortable thanks to the soft material used for a cover that provides instant relief and relaxation.
These massagers are usually the biggest and feature multiple attachments that provide different degrees of pressure. This means that you can customize the massage t your unique needs. It also allows you to use it not only on neck and shoulders but on other parts of your body too.
Best Neck and Shoulder Massager FAQ
Q: What Is a Neck and Shoulder Massager?
A: Neck and shoulder massager is a device specially designed to target muscles in those areas of your body. There are a few different types of these massagers including, handheld, wrap, pillow and all in one, but they are all designed with the same idea to provide relaxation and pain relief for your neck and shoulders.
These massagers use a various number of massage rollers that move around their axis providing the massage. This kind of motion is supposed to mimic the movement of human hands so that you would have an experience of receiving a professional massage.
Q: How long should you use a neck massager?
A: This is a tricky question because there isn’t really a universal answer. It’s not the same for every massager. Per instance, if you use a basic handheld massager you can use for as long as it feels good (or at least until you battery lives), but if you are using a massager with a heating option, you probably shouldn’t use it for longer than 20 minutes.
Most of the modern neck and shoulder massagers have an auto shut off feature which shuts off the unit after a certain period of time. I really wouldn’t recommend going over that time limit.
Q: Is it safe for everyone to use?
A: Neck and shoulder massagers are generally safe to use. However, if the safety concerns you, you should check if the unit is FDA approved before making a purchase. If yes, that means that the massager has passed all the necessary guidelines referring to safety.
On the other hand, if you have some kind of medical condition, or you are pregnant, make sure to check with your doctor if it is ok for you to use a neck and shoulder massager.
Our Top Pick
The first product on our top 10 list is the Zyllion Shiatsu Back Neck Massager. This compact massage pillow is ergonomically designed to provide relaxation and pain relief to several parts of your body including neck, thighs, calves and lower and upper back. It features four deep kneading functions and three-dimensional nodes that provide relief for aching muscles. The massage rollers, feature a dual-dimensional movement that changes its direction automatically every minute, imitating the movement of actual human hands. Having the heating therapy feature, this massager gives you an option to warm up the muscles during the massage, which will increase their ability to stretch as well as their flexibility. Heated massage will also increase your blood circulation which will send more oxygen to your muscles and provide the feeling of overall relaxation. This feature can be easily turned on and off depending on your personal preference. Another thing that makes this massager great is the overheating protection feature that won’t allow the device to reach the heat over the temperature limit.
The massager features a strap that secures it to a chair or a car seat and keeps it stable while in use which allows you to fully relax during the massage.
Lastly, we need to mention that the massager has passed all the necessary guidelines of FDA which means that it is completely safe to use.