Around 2.5 million of us in the UK experience back pain daily, which can be caused by many different factors including bad posture and muscle fatigue. Massage therapy is a great way to treat muscle aches, but not everyone has access to a masseuse – that's why we recommend buying your very own back massager to use at home.
Whether you want to try Shiatsu, deep tissue massage or percussive therapy, there are plenty of devices out there designed to reduce back and neck pain. This guide is here to help you discover the best self-massage options to buy online at Amazon, eBay, John Lewis and Argos ranging from heated pillows and comfy chair pads to portable roller sticks. Let's get started!
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Handheld electric massagers and wand massagers are designed to directly target the source of pain. Most models are light enough to be held in one hand and can be manoeuvred around the body to reach the exact spot that needs relief.
The majority of handheld massagers employ percussion or vibration therapy, using repetitive pounding motions at varying frequencies to relieve back tension - this makes them ideal for deep tissue massage. However, try to look for a product that lets you adjust the frequency if you're sensitive - some people may find the motions too intense!
Massage pillows, chair pads, and mats let you sit back and relax while they do all the work. These electric devices can come with a range of features including motorised rotating nodes, air cushions, heating, and vibrations. As a result, they deliver the most soothing massage experience.
If you require full back coverage, you'll want to pick either a chair pad or a mat - choose the former if you prefer sitting upright or the latter if you find it more comfortable to lie down. For more targeted pain relief, we recommend massage pillows as they can be positioned under specific areas of the body such as the neck, shoulders, or lower back.
TENS machines use a low voltage electric current to stimulate the nerve endings in the back. But don't worry, these won't hurt! At most, you'll only feel a slight twitching or tingling sensation which can actually be rather relaxing.
Although there currently isn't much research into TENS therapy, experts say that it stimulates the nerves at the site of discomfort and this causes the body to produce natural painkillers, aka endorphins.
While many people with chronic pain from sciatica, arthritis and similar conditions do find relief from it, this method of massage isn't suitable for everyone and may not be appropriate if you have a pacemaker fitted. With that in mind, we recommend speaking to your GP first before making your purchase.
Foam rollers are a great choice for sports and exercise-related back pain, as they help to relax tense muscles through a process called self-myofascial release. They're also commonly used on the legs, so can offer a multipurpose solution for those who have aches and pains in other areas, too.
A fascia is a type of connective tissue found within the body that wraps around and stabilises our muscles. Usually stretchy and elastic, fascia can become tight and restricted through repeat trauma such as repetitive motion or overtraining. Using a foam roller increases blood flow to the fascia, relieving pain and aiding in faster recovery.
This kind of massager also comes in a range of different densities and textures - those with raised bumps and ridges will target muscles more deeply. However, if you're new to foam rolling, you might want to start off with a soft, low-density option instead.
Roller sticks are fantastic for preventing exercise-related aches and pains. They're similar in function to a foam roller as they can be used to soothe contracted muscles and improve blood flow. You can use one to warm up your muscles before a run or a workout, as well as to relax afterwards.
If you're looking for a manual massager for trigger point therapy, both S-shaped and multi-pronged back massagers are great options. The rigid nodes (which we'll discuss in more detail in the next section) can be firmly pressed into specific areas of tension to work out any knots along your back and shoulders.
While S-shaped massagers are designed to be handled solo, multi-pronged massagers can be difficult to use on yourself. To reach all the sore spots on your back, you may want to ask a friend or family member to help you out!
For the perfect accompaniment to hand-held massagers, check out our top 10 massage oils
Lastly, consider how portable you need your back massager to be. Although lightweight, foam rollers actually tend to be quite bulky so aren't always suitable for carrying around in your bag. If you like to give yourself a massage while out and about, a roller stick or small multi-pronged massager may be more suitable for your needs.
That being said, many people prefer to use a massager at home, in which case you won't be too bothered by the size of products like a mat or chair pad. If you have limited space though, you'll be glad to know that some models can even be conveniently folded away!
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Handheld Shiatsu Massager
A Customisable Shiatsu Massager to Help You Unwind
Muscle Roller Stick - Black
Top Choice for a Budget-Friendly, Portable Gym Massager
Stretch Mat XS - Grey
A Mat With Rhythmic Air Chambers for Total Relaxation
G3 Percussive Therapy Massager
A Very High-Intensity Option With Interchangeable Heads
The Ultimate Back Roller
A Textured Foam Roller for Relieving Back Pain
Shiatsu Massage Chair Pad
Sit Back and Get a Full Body Shiatsu Massage
Hand-held Vibration Massager｜MG16
A Palm-Sized Neck and Shoulder Soother Perfect for Desk Workers
Neck and Back Massager
Ideal for Those Looking to Target Lower Back Pain
DUO EMS & TENS Machine
The Best TENS Machine for First-Timers
The PressurePositive Co.
The Original Backnobber II
A Simple Way to Target Stubborn Knots
If you're looking for the most convenient way to unwind, you can't beat this HoMedics handheld shiatsu massager! Keep it plugged in by your desk and it'll always be ready for when you need to de-stress.
Whether it's your shoulders or lower back that you're trying to reach, the ergonomic handheld design of this product makes things effortless. It even comes with three interchangeable rotating heads to knead and soothe tired muscles, as well as pre-set programs and adjustable vibration speeds for a totally customisable experience. No wonder it's our top pick!
The Reehut Muscle Roller Stick is our top pick if you're looking for a travel-friendly massager. Requiring only a minimal amount of space to operate, it's convenient for throwing into your gym bag to help you cool down and recover after a workout session.
You can use it when seated or standing, and it's just the right length to comfortably run along your back. Plus, the 9 rotating nodules along the shaft help to stimulate and increase blood flow to tense muscles. Best of all, it's under £15 - a total bargain!
The HoMedics Stretch Mat XS provides total relaxation for the whole body. Instead of using nodes, it has 4 precision air chambers that inflate and deflate rhythmically, guiding you into gentle yoga postures for back flexibility.
More than just a back massager, you may also find the mat useful for practicing meditation and mindfulness. There's even an essential oil tab on the side for aromatherapy! When you're done, the mat can be rolled up into a carry bag for easy transportation and storage between sessions.
The Theragun G3 is a popular choice when it comes to percussive therapy at home. A high-intensity option for relieving sore muscles, it has a motorised head that's calibrated to impart up to 40 lbs of force up to 40 times per second.
If that sounds a bit too extreme, the G3 can also be dialled down to a lower intensity setting in order to deal with sensitive areas of the back. Although it's one of the more expensive products on our list, you get a lot for your money: a mains charger, 4 interchangeable heads and a handy carry case.
If you're searching for a foam roller specifically for back pain, try the Ultimate Back Roller from Acumobility! The large diameter gives you a great stretch along your spine and the product's textured surface works deep into the muscles, helping to remedy the effects of bad posture.
It may look like a medieval torture device, but we can assure you that this product is super relaxing! If it's a bit too intense, try placing a towel or blanket between your back and the roller for a gentler massage.
If you'd prefer to sit back and let your back massager do all the work, check out this Snailax chair pad with vibration and heat options. It can be attached to any chair to deliver a full body Shiatsu massage in the comfort of your own home.
With nothing to position or manoeuvre, you can use it to wind down while reading, watching TV or gaming. As long as you don't become too relaxed, you could even use it while you work. Whilst we love this product, it's rather expensive - but we'd say it's worth the investment if you have the money!
Hunching over at your desk for hours every day can lead to postural strain. If you find yourself suffering from a stiff neck and tight shoulders after long periods of study or work, you'll want to give this palm-sized, multi-pronged massager from Beurer a go!
Move the three vibrating heads in a gentle circular motion across the site of pain for quick relief. If the batteries run out, or vibrations aren't your thing, it can also be used manually to target pressure points - so handy! Although good for smaller areas, it's sadly not much use if you have all-over back pain.
The MaxKare massage pillow is perfect for targeting pain in the lower back. The four deep-kneading nodes move in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions, with an optional heating function to help loosen the back muscles.
Unlike a mat or chair pad, the pillow can be used in either an upright or reclined position, for your convenience and comfort. If you find yourself drifting off during the massage cycle, it automatically shuts off after 15 minutes of continuous use to prevent overheating. Unfortunately, it can slip or move around underneath you, which isn't ideal when you're trying to chill out!
If you're interested in trying a TENS machine for back pain, Kinetik Wellbeing's Dual Channel TENS Machine is great for first-timers as it's not quite as powerful as other models. So, if the thought of electrical current therapy makes you nervous, you won't have to worry about sudden jolts or shocks!
This massager is portable and rechargeable, so there's no need to factor in the additional cost of batteries. Plus, the unit offers a choice of 20 different intensities. This machine is perfect if you're looking for a drug-free pain relief solution that you can use in the comfort of your own home.
The Original Backnobber II is proof that even a simple massager can be just as effective at kneading out stubborn knots as an electric device. To use, hook one of the curves over your shoulder or under an arm and apply pressure where you need it.
How deep you go depends on how firmly you push down, so you can ensure the perfect amount of pressure every time. If you're looking for all-over back relief, this unfortunately won't be the right product for you. But if you require targeted pain management, you definitely won't be disappointed!
Written and researched by Wren Mann
No. 1: HoMedics ｜Handheld Shiatsu Massager
No. 2: Reehut ｜Muscle Roller Stick - Black
No. 3: HoMedics ｜Stretch Mat XS - Grey
No. 4: Theragun ｜G3 Percussive Therapy Massager
No. 5: Acumobility ｜The Ultimate Back Roller
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