It’s safe to say almost everyone has suffered with a stiff neck, or upper body tension, at some point in their life - and as I can personally attest, it’s not fun!
Some may have pulled a muscle, found stress causes tension to build up in the neck and shoulders, have an uncomfortable WFH set up, or slept awkwardly and woken up with a crick in your neck, and a massage is often the key to releasing that stiffness.
What are the benefits of an at-home neck massager
While we can’t always visit a masseuse to work on those knots, having the tools to give yourself a pamper, or expert treatment in the comfort of your own home - and without the hefty price tag - is a welcome solution.
Neck massagers can help reduce stress and alleviate aches and pains, and many can also be used for relief in hard-to-reach parts of your body like your lower or upper back area. They're also a time-saving and budget-friendly choice, if you can't go for a professional massage or want to reduce expensive visits to the spa.
"I first discovered at-home neck massagers in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic when my neck and shoulders were so stiff and painful from an improvised work from home setup," says HELLO! Online Senior Lifestyle Editor Karen Silas. "I bought an Amazon wraparound Shiatsu style one with multiple speeds and heat settings – and complete with a carry case – and was so surprised at how effective it was. It really works the knots out and makes me feel so much better.
"With lockdown far behind us, I admit there are quite a few gadgets I impulse bought that are gathering dust. But not my neck massager! I still use it for my neck and shoulders and my lower back, too."
How we chose our favourite neck massagers
We have found a whole host of neck massagers to help loosen up those tight areas, from Theragun and Shiatsu heated electric massagers, to manual handheld devices and affordable rollers. There is something to suit all budgets, but how did we choose the best for our edit?
- Price: We took cost into consideration, being sure to include devices at various price points including less expensive models that we consider to be a great value for price.
- Quality: When we’re not able to test the back massager ourselves, we analyse ratings and reviews from verified shoppers and chose only those with top marks making sure that the pros far outweighed the cons.
- Customisable settings: While a basic back massager might do the trick, we added extra weight to our evaluations for models which feature various speeds and heat settings.
- Accessories: We love a carry case! Where possible we selected models that are easy to store in their own bag.
Shop our edit of the best neck massagers
Now that you know how we've chosen our top recommended neck massagers, now it's time to get shopping to find your perfect solution for tense and achy muscles...
Amazon portable deep tissue massager
Portable deep tissue massage gun
This deep tissue massager has received glowing reviews on Amazon, racking up over 2,000 five-star ratings from shoppers. It has six interchangeable heads and comes with a travel case so you can bring it to the gym. It's super silent and has an impressive battery life of up to five hours when used at the lowest speed and 10 hours when on standby.
Pros: Very handy, as it comes with its own carrying case, is cordless and rechargeable - plus there's a one-year warranty and 30-day refund or replacement policy which lowers the risk if possible.
Cons: It's very powerful and may not suitable for more delicate users such as the elderly.
Theragun neck massager
The ultimate neck massager if you ask us, and though it is a higher price point it has all the bells and whistles to reach every knot, and alleviate almost all aches and pains.
What we love about the Theragun is it that it's state-of-the-art with its own Bluetooth app which is compatible with Apple Health and Google Fit. It also comes with a carry case to house additional props to fit onto the device, which helps you to get into every nook and cranny for an intense massage.
Pros: Ergonomic, and the app can learn your behaviours and habits to develop a personalised wellness routine.
Cons: The price! It's quite an investment.
Shiatsu neck massager
Shiatsu Back Shoulder and Neck Massager
With over 41,000 glowing reviews, over 84% of which have been rated 4 stars and above, this is a neck massager you will not want to miss out on.
The Shiatsu Back, Shoulder and Neck massager may resemble a sling, but has multiple functions to get into those hard to reach aches and pains. It features eight massage rollers, which can be heated and set on various intensity settings, which, combined with the bi-directional movement mimics that of a real life massage. Plus, you can use it on your legs and other areas too.
Pros: Great value for price and can be worn while relaxing on the sofa or in bed. It effectively kneads your muscles and applies heat at the same time for quick relief.
Cons: On the heavy side, and while you can use it on other parts of your body, it can be awkward and the cord gets in the way.
Bodi-Tek Neck & Shoulder Massager
Relieve neck and shoulder stress and muscle tightness with combined relaxing electrical muscle stimulation and gentle soothing heating. The easy-to-wear and hands-free Neck & Shoulder Massager fits snugly around the neck and can be worn while relaxing, watching TV or sitting at a desk.
Totally silent and lightweight it has been ergonomically designed to relieve stress and discomfort in a gentle soothing easy way. Choose from six programmes with 16 intensity levels to tailor the massage to your exact needs.
Pros: Silent, lightweight and you can wear it at almost any time.
Cons: Not very versatile - it's for your neck only compared to other massagers that can be used for your back or other parts of the body.
Budget-friendly neck massager
Vibrating Neck Massager
Want to go hands-free? This affordable gadget will allow exactly that.
This design neatly sits around your neck to send electric pulse massages, aiming to relieve muscle pain and stimulate blood circulation.
Pros: Makes a great quirky and inexpensive gift, is plush and cosy, and is battery operated so perfect for travelling.
Cons: Reviewers have cited the device's bulkiness and that the heat and vibration levels are low. Batteries are also not included.
HoMedics massage chair cushion
HoMedics GEL Shiatsu Massage Cushion
HoMedics is another leading brand for those on the hunt for neck massagers and pain-relieving technology.
This creation is genius, and though it is on the pricey side, it aims to massage and provide heat therapy to the upper body, which can be controlled via a remote control attachment.
Pros: Remote controlled; easy to use; gives a full back and neck massage like a massage chair would.
Cons: One size fits all so may not be suitable for people who are extremely short or extremely tall; on the high end price-wise; a wireless remote would be an improvement.
HoMedics Comfort Neck and Shoulder Massager
Worn in a similar way to a shawl, this device provides heat therapy, as well as a vibration massage to release any tension in the upper body.
This device has six pre-set programmes so you can alter the intensity to get into those deep knots. The wearable design allows you to go hands free and continue working while working on the problem area - should you choose.
Pros: Gentle, and a good choice for elderly people.
Cons: The massage is a vibration effect so not a good choice for people expecting a strong kneading massage.
The Body Shop wooden roller massage tool
Total Body Relaxer
For those looking for a bargain buy to resolve any tension in the neck, this Total Body Relaxer is the answer.
It is lightweight, durable, and ideal for those on the go. The prop itself boasts a classic design with the roller ball fixture to knead into tight muscles with ease, with the pressure depending on your preference.
Pros: Extremely portable, you can fit it in your handbag; lovely design; no need for charging or plugging in - it will never run out of batteries because there are none!
Cons: You (or someone else) has to do all the work for an effective massage.
Homedics rechargeable shiatsu pillow
Shoppers “highly recommend” this top-rated design, as it is cordless, and perfect for those in need of a neck massage.
Lean into the pillow, which has in built rotating massage balls, and a heat option, to warm up the target area, and massage away any knots or tension.
Pros: Cordless for on-the-go massages; has a deep shiatsu kneading effect despite its small size; can be used on various parts of the body.
Cons: The heat effect isn't as strong as larger devices; if not positioned properly it doesn't massage effectively.