The best neck massagers of 2023


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Working from home may be more comfortable in many ways, but it can also do a number on your muscles—the kind of number that calls for a neck massager. Typing with your laptop in your lap on the couch or looking down at your phone throughout the day can cause tightness and strain in your neck. According to John Hopkins Medicine, at least 25 percent of Americans experience neck or back pain at some point in their lives.

Investing in a neck massager is one way to get some relief at home. These devices “significantly improve blood circulation in the neck region,” says Kevin Huffman, D.O., specializing in bariatric surgery and treating whiplash and other car accident injuries. “Improved blood circulation delivers not only instantaneous relief, it also hastens the recovery process and delivery of vital nutrients to impacted areas.”

He adds that neck massagers also provide rhythmic pulses on pressure points that help alleviate muscle tension, which lessens pain and promotes relaxation. So, if you’ve got some knots in your neck, we’ve rounded up the best neck massagers to provide some relief.

What causes neck pain?

Neck pain is the fourth leading cause of disability around the globe. While most acute cases resolve themselves within about a month, nearly 50 percent of people go on to experience more pain or frequent occurrences. This pain can result from both our environment and underlying conditions.

“Our lifestyle choices contribute to neck pain. These include enduring constant stress—whether professional or personal—which often precipitates physical manifestations of the tension we feel; one such manifestation is chronic neck discomfort,” Huffman says. “Moreover, a lack of attention towards ergonomic health in our work and living environments can permit conditions that exert undue pressure upon our necks, resulting in persistent strain and subsequent pain.”

As we increasingly adopt sedentary lifestyles and become more dependent on technology, the prevalence of neck pain could get worse. Poor posture is, arguably, the most pervasive cause. “And in our digital age, a modern epidemic known as tech neck has emerged due to continual strain on the neck muscles from looking down at handheld devices,” Huffman says. “And as we age, the degeneration caused by wear and tear on our neck joints can lead to painful sensations.” Chronic conditions like migraine and osteoporosis can also result in neck pain. And muscle soreness can also result from strenuous exercise and injury.

That said, neck massagers can only do so much. If your neck pain is a result of an injury or underlying condition, you should always consult your healthcare provider if your aches increase or persist over time.

How we chose the best neck massagers

In searching for the best neck massagers to help alleviate some of that pain, we considered options from leading brands, including Homedics and Victor Jurgen. We also prioritized the new technologies developed by Hyperice and Theragun. We looked for various form factors in these devices, from massage guns to U-shaped models people hang around their necks. In addition, we considered the types of massage provided by these devices, whether they provided heat, and how customizable and portable they were. We also consulted user reviews when making our picks.

The best neck massagers: Reviews & Recommendations

Whether you’re looking to relieve tech neck, are searching for some targeted relief after a tough workout, or are looking for some respite from a chronic condition, these neck massagers can help relieve muscle tension and help you feel more relaxed.

Best overall: VIKTOR JURGEN Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager


Specs

  • Type: Shiatsu
  • Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Power: Corded electric
  • Heat: Yes
  • Settings: High, medium, and low

Pros

  • Allows you to customize intensity of massage
  • Heated
  • Can be used on different parts of the body
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Controls are small
  • Extension cord isn’t long

When your neck is aching after a long day working on a computer, VIKTOR JURGEN’s Neck and Shoulder Massager can rescue you. This massager is designed with eight massage heads and infrared heat for deep tissue Shiatsu massage. Just plug this massager in, pull it around your neck and shoulders, and choose between high, medium, and low-intensity settings for targeted relief. It will knead tired muscles in your neck, back, and shoulders and provides about 113 degrees Fahrenheit of heat to encourage blood flow. The controls on the front of the device also allow you to customize the Shiatsu massage in three modes: Auto-Reversing, Single Direction, and Timed Interval, which goes for 15 minutes before it automatically shuts off.

Best for neck, shoulders, and back: Homedics Shiatsu Neck and Body Massager

A gray neck massager by Homedics that you place around your neck with red panel that provide heat and massage.

Specs

  • Type: Shiatsu
  • Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Power: Corded electric
  • Heat: Yes
  • Settings: High, medium, low

Pros

  • Works on different types of body
  • Can turn heat on or off
  • Compact

Cons

The Homedics Shiatsu Neck and Body Massager has lots in common with our best overall pick. This massager is similarly designed for users to hang around their neck and control the deep kneading settings with the control panel on the handles. Users choose between three intensities: high, medium, and low. Heat is an option you can turn on and off. This neck massager is particularly attractive because of its easy portability and the option to use it all over the body: shoulders, lower back, calves, and more. Looking for more targeted relief? Check out the best back massagers.

Best intelligent: COMFIER Portable Heated Neck Massager

A white semi-circular heated neck massager with controls made by Comfier in front of a product box.

Specs

  • Type: Six modes, including Shiatsu
  • Weight: .72 pounds
  • Power: Battery
  • Heat: Ranges from 100.4 to 118.4 degrees F
  • Settings: Cupping, tapping, scraping, Shiatsu, acupuncture, and relaxation, plus 15 levels of electric muscle stimulation (EMS)

Pros

  • Provides six different types of massager
  • Offer 15 levels of EMS
  • Features two electrodes for extra coverage
  • Portable

Cons

  • Some users had a hard time getting it to work

If you’re looking for a greater range of therapy from a neck massager, the COMFIER Portable Heated Neck Massager might be the right option. This battery-powered U-shaped device features six modes of massage: Cupping, tapping, scraping, Shiatsu, acupuncture, and relaxation. This massager also incorporates 15 levels of electric muscle stimulation, which uses electricity to stimulate muscle contractions. You can also incorporate heat into the experience, which ranges from 100.4 to 118.4 degrees F, and change the settings through a remote control. And the battery life is impressive as well. The company says a three-hour charge should last up to 10 days.

Best handheld: TruMedic Massage Gun

A black Trumedic massage gun with a massage ball on the end.

Specs

  • Type: Percussion
  • Weight: 3.61 pounds
  • Power: Battery
  • Heat: No
  • Settings: Six levels, plus

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Powerful
  • Portable

Cons

  • Should only use low settings on neck

People who need more powerful relief may want to consider a massage gun like this option from TruMedic. This percussion massager features six frequency settings, from 2,000 to 7,000 vibrations per minute. The TruMedic also comes with six interchangeable heads that users can use to customize the intensity of their massage. Powered by a lithium-ion battery, this massage gun has a quiet motor and can last up to four hours on a single charge. And it’s also ultra-portable and can be used all over the body.

Best for athletes: Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro

Black Hyperice Hypervolt 2 percussion massager with five attachments against a blue and gray gradient

Specs

  • Type: Percussion
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Power: Battery
  • Heat: No
  • Settings: Five percussion speeds

Pros

  • Modern design
  • Powerful
  • Comes with five head attachments for customizations

Cons

Muscle soreness is common for athletes, so investing in a high-quality massager for your whole body makes sense. The powerful HyperVolt 2 features five different head attachments to customize your experience: fork, ball, cushion, flat, and bullet. This gun also operates at five speeds, but given the sensitivity of the neck area, Hypervolt recommends that you use the slow and easy setting around that area. This massage gun may be overkill if you’re only concerned about your neck. But if your whole body needs relief, this massage gun is up to the task.

Best pillow: Homedics Back and Neck Massager, Portable Shiatsu All Body Massage Pillow

Fitness & Exercise photo

Specs

  • Type: Shiatsu, vibration
  • Weight: 4.18 pounds
  • Power: Corded electric
  • Heat: Yes
  • Settings: Shiatsu, heat, vibration

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide range of vibration or heat levels

When you just want to lie your head down at the end of a long day and relieve your aching neck, consider Homedics’ Body Massage Pillow. This cushion has massage nodes that let you switch between Shiatsu, vibration, and heated settings. The pillow adjusts to the contours of your body and can be used for your back, shoulders, and calves, as well. The heat also has an automatic shut-off after 15 minutes should you be lulled into slumber. If you’re looking for full-body relaxation, check out the best massage chairs.

Best mini: Theragun Mini Gen 4

A black triangular-shaped Theragun Mini Massage Gun.

Specs

  • Type: Percussion 
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Power: Battery
  • Heat: No 
  • Settings: Three speeds

Pros

  • Small
  • Powerful
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Works on range of body parts

Cons

The Theragun Mini Gen 4 provides impressive power in an extremely portable package. This pocket-sized, battery-powered percussion massager weighs in at just one pound. Yet it can provide up to 20 pounds of pressure. It’s ergonomically designed to be easy to hold, and you’ll want to use the lowest speed for your neck. But this deceptively small device can provide relief for your whole body.

Best budget: Homedics Neck Massager with Heat

A black and gray neck massager by Homedics with red panels that provide heat and massage.

Specs

  • Type: Shiatsu and vibration
  • Weight: 1.14 pounds
  • Power: Corded electric
  • Heat: Yes
  • Settings: Shiatsu, vibration, heat

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Provides Shiatsu massage, vibration, and heat
  • Lets you combine settings
  • Portable

Cons

  • Some users say it doesn’t fit ergonomically on the neck

If you’re looking for a neck massager that covers the basics but doesn’t cost a lot, Homedics’ Neck Massager with Heat checks all the boxes. This device lets users switch between Shiatsu massage, vibration, and heat modes or use them together for maximum relief. This foam massager is also comfortable, and the handles let you manually control the intensity of the experience. You can also complement this device with one of the best foot massagers.

What to consider when choosing the best neck massager

There are lots of options on the market for massagers. Before making a purchase, consider these elements to find the best option for you.

Types of massage

Neck massagers feature several types of massage, and some combine different methods. The most common are:

Shiatsu: Originating in Japan, Shiatsu, which translates as “finger pressure,” is a type of massage in which practitioners use their hands and fingers to knead muscles to release tension. Neck massagers that feature Shiatsu massage mimic that kneading motion. 

Vibrating: Vibrating massagers vibrate at a frequency, typically between 20 and 60 hertz, that causes muscles to contract and relax in quick succession, increasing blood flow to the muscles.

Percussion: Percussion massage combines vibrating massage with quick, forceful, and repetitive motions that encourage circulation and oxygen and nutrient flow to the muscles. Massage guns typically are percussion massagers, and they often feature a variety of attachments, such as balls, forks, bullets, and more, that allow users to customize the experience of the massage.

Percussion massagers often operate at a range of speeds, which are typically measured in vibrations per minute. And users can also choose the intensity of the massage. For the neck, it’s always best to use the lowest setting.

Heated: Many massagers also include heated elements. Some allow you to adjust the temperature to your liking, while others operate at a fixed temperature once they heat up. Often, heated massagers are designed with automatic shutoffs for safety. It’s worth noting that massage guns typically don’t provide heat therapy if that’s a feature you’re looking for.

Electric muscle stimulation: With this type of therapy, a massager uses electrodes to send electrical impulses to the muscles, which causes them to contract. 

Other modalities: Some massagers offer settings for cupping, tapping, acupressure, and other types of massage.

Form

Neck massagers come in a variety of forms, from U-shaped devices users hang around their necks to foam pillows to massage guns. Before making a purchase, consider whether you prefer to have the massage be more of a passive or active experience. Would you like just to turn the massager on, adjust the settings, and let it get to work? Or are you (or a partner or friend) interested in more of an active experience using a massage gun to target neck pain? Take into consideration that reaching the neck area with a massage gun may be hard for one person, depending on your mobility.

Versatility

Some neck massagers specifically target the neck, while others also simultaneously provide relief to the shoulders and upper back. Many devices, such as Homedics’ Shiatsu Neck and Body Massager, are designed to target several body parts at once. Others work specifically on the neck. Massage guns are typically more expensive than other neck massagers, and buying one makes more sense if you also plan to use it on different locations on the body.

Portability

Many neck massagers are corded electric, so you’ll need access to an outlet or another power source to use them. Other options are designed with rechargeable batteries and are lightweight, making it much easier to take them with you in the car or when you travel.

FAQs

Q: How much do neck massagers cost?

The price of neck massagers depends on what features they provide. The latest model of massage gun, like the Hyperice Hypervolt 2 Pro, which can be used on the whole body, costs about $329. Our budget pick, the Homedics Neck Massager with Heat, is a lo-fi option that specifically targets the neck and costs about one-tenth as much as the Hypervolt 2 Pro.

Q: Do neck massagers really work?

Neck massagers increase blood flow to the area, which encourages the release of muscle tension, helping to alleviate pain and promote relaxation. Using one may be safer and provide more relief than taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. That said, you should consult your healthcare provider about acute neck pain or injury that persists.

Q: How long should you use a neck massager?

The best practice is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how long to use a neck massager. It’s worth noting that devices incorporating heat are also often designed with an automatic shutoff after 15 minutes for safety reasons.

Q: How do you massage the back of your neck?

You can massage the back of your neck by opting for one of the neck massagers on this list. You can also massage your neck yourself several times a day with these steps provided by the Arthritis Foundation.

Final thoughts on the best neck massagers

Fortunately, relieving the neck pain you get from sitting hunched at your desk or looking down at your phone all day can often be remedied with some electronic massage and heat. The best neck massagers are a relatively affordable way to release that tension without medication and promote overall relaxation and well-being.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.





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