Top 5 Best Neck And Shoulder Massager Reviews

Looking for the best neck and shoulder massager?

We’ve got you covered!

So without any further ado let’s get to it…

What are the top 5 neck massagers? After exhaustive research and testing, we have narrowed down the top neck and shoulder massagers to the following five:

  1. Homedics 3D Shiatsu & Vibration Massage Pillow with Heat
  2. Brookstone Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager with Heat
  3. SereneLife Deep Kneading Massager
  4. RESTECK Deep Tissue 3D Kneading Pillow Massager
  5. Zyllion Shiatsu Back Neck Massager

Why don’t we just recommend one?

Well because we know that not everyone is looking for the same thing in a massager they purchase.

We have determined the best massager for each of the following five criteria:

  • Design
  • Performance/Quality
  • Features
  • Value
  • Portability

As an added bonus, we have decided include the Ohuhu Rechargeable Muscle Pain TENS Unit which isn’t really a neck and shoulder massager, but it’s awesome and works really well for the neck and shoulder, area among other things.


The Criteria We Based Our Picks On

It’s important that you know in a bit more detail the criteria we used to analyze the machines and determine which are the best.

Features: For the most part many of the neck massagers we analyzed have a lot of the same features, but differ in terms of the feature combinations (heat, massage style, vibration, etc) and power.

We’ll be listing everything the model has and offers to make it easy to reference and compare to the other massager recommendations.

User-Friendliness: Is the neck massager intuitive and easy to use? Ease of use is a nice benefit to have because it can be frustrating to have to read the manual. If children and/or elderly are going to use the massager than this becomes a more important feature.

Pain Relief Rating: This, along with the features, is our biggest consideration a neck and shoulder massager will be judged on. This would answer the following questions:

  • Does it provide pain relief?
  • Would you use the machine regularly?

Design: When we say design we’re talking about design functionality. Are the buttons placed in a convenient spot? How is the structure of the neck massager? We also look at things like how long is the power cord.

Aesthetics: We didn’t put much weight on the aesthetics of the machine except when two machines are comparatively equal in every other aspect.

Extras: Extras are features that you may or may not expect a neck and shoulder device to have. Extras add value to a product in some way. For example, a very convenient extra is the cordless feature or remote control.

Note: The majority of the neck and shoulder massagers in the list have price points between $50 to $250.


Why Buy A Massager?

Massage is not just a luxury, for many, it’s a necessity.

If you are in chronic pain, regularly scheduled massage therapy sessions can help you manage your pain symptoms.

One session from a massage therapist usually goes for about $60 – $140 per hour.

As you can see regular sessions can start to get costly quickly.

Your health insurance may or may not cover your massage sessions, depending on where you live in the world, your line of work and the company you work for.

So not everyone can afford to visit a massage therapist regularly or as often as they like.

This is when a massaging device comes in handy.

Although these portable massage machines usually aren’t as good as getting a real massage from a masseuse they can still provide you with a lot of relief, and at least hold you over until your next massage appointment.

A massive benefit of purchasing a home neck and shoulder massager device is that you can use it as many times as you like, as often as you like.

This is a HUGE benefit.

Another big benefit is that massagers are cheap when you compare it to the long-term cost of going to a massage therapist.

When it comes to purchasing a neck massager we recommend you buy the most expensive model you can afford because there is a noticeable difference between the cheaper massagers and the more expensive massagers.


A Word Of Caution

The neck is strong but exercise a little bit of caution around the carotid arteries located on either side of the neck, where you feel your pulse.

Vigorous rubbing of the carotid arteries could overstimulate your nerve endings and cause your blood pressure to change.

For adults, most neck massagers won’t reach the part of your neck where your carotid arteries are located so you don’t need to worry.

Also, there are some minor side effects that a small percentage of people can experience with massages. To learn more check out this article on massage side effects.


Our Top 5 Neck Massager Picks Plus A Bonus Review


HoMedics 3D Shiatsu & Vibration Massage Pillow – Best In Design

The HoMedics 3D Shiatsu & Vibration Massage Pillow with Heat is a nice looking machine.

This models scores high in the aesthetic as well as the design department.

Massager Features: The HoMedics 3D Massage Pillow has shiatsu nodes that rotate in a circular direction. It can go clockwise and in the reverse direction. Speed and intensity have one speed and intensity setting.

If shiatsu is not your thing, you can use the vibration mode to loosen tightness in your muscles. The vibrations reach muscle areas that the shiatsu nodes could not.

The heat option helps to relax the muscles. The heat and vibration mix also increases blood flow to the sore areas. Use the heat first and follow it up with either the vibration or kneading to get the just-right combination of relief and relaxation.

User-Friendliness: The HoMedics 3D Massage Pillow is plug and play. The controls are integrated on the lower right side of the pillow. No more remote controls to use or batteries to replace.

Simply press the power button to turn the massager on or off. Pressing on the red wave button switches modes from shiatsu or vibration. The heat function will only work with the massage option and can not be used on its own.

Pain Relief: 4/5. The rating would have been higher if there were speed and intensity options to change the massage experience.

Design & Aesthetics: The integrated concept makes the use of the massage pillow smooth. Minimal 2-button control takes away any confusion. The buttons are toggled by pressing multiple times.

The sleek lines and ergonomic curves of the pillow cradle the head and neck at the correct angle. The color blends into any decor and has a luxury feel to it.

The cover is not removable, which would have been nice.

Extras: The HoMedics pillow massager is lightweight at 4.18 pounds and can be easily tucked into a bag to take along. The massager can be used on the lower back, arms, legs, and feet.

The cord is extra long at 6 feet allowing you freedom of movement while using the machine.

There is also a preset 15-minute massage that automatically shuts off so you don’t over massage your neck or cause the machine to overheat.

This unit comes with a 2-year limited warranty.

Price Point: $$$

Pros

  • Lightweight and discreet looking massager
  • Easy toggleable controls
  • Multi-use massager for the neck, back, and legs

Cons

  • Pillow cover is not removable and can not be washed
  • Only one speed and intensity of the massage and vibrate function


Brookstone Shiatsu Neck And Back Massager – Best Performance And Quality

The Brookstone Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager with Heat is our pick for best massager based on performance and features.

This model checks all the boxes in our criteria.

It has shiatsu nodes, vibration, and heat packed in an easy to use product.

Massager Features: The Brookstone Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager with Heat has 8 shiatsu nodes that rotate in a circular direction. The massaging nodes have 2 pre-programmed modes – auto-reversing and single direction.

This neck massager model does not have a vibration option because there are 8 shiatsu nodes that can do powerful massage kneading on tired and tight muscles.

You can control the intensity of the kneading by slipping your fingers or hands through the slot in the handles.

Increase the kneading pressure by pulling on the massager with the handles to really get into those tight spots and areas that normally wouldn’t be reached by conventional massager placements, like in between the shoulder blades.

The Brookstone also has a heat option. Use it to relax muscles with the multiple massage options for a more soothing massage experience.

User-Friendliness: The Brookstone Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager with Heat can be used out of the box. There is no assembly required; just plug it into the wall socket, turn on, and use. There are 3 simple control buttons placed on the upper portion of the right handle.

The three easy to figure button modes are heat, power, and massage. Plug and press the power button to start using the massager. Toggle your preferred massage mode by pressing the arrow button.

The Brookstone model is a more user-controlled experience.

The pressure you put on your massage site is equal to how much force you can exert when pulling the massager onto the area. You can go as light or go nuts with the pressure you can apply.

Pain Relief: 4.5/5. The rating is not perfect and you can only do so much contorting and controlling to maneuver the Brookstone on a particular body part you want to massage.

The controls of this unit is fantastic for the hard to reach areas of the back and shoulders. The elderly may not have the arm strength or hand grip to control the massager.

Design & Aesthetics: The buttons simple and easy to figure out. You won’t have to read the manual to operate the massager. The design is simple and uncluttered. There are no extra parts to attach, or lose for that matter.

The clean lines highlight the quality of the materials used to create the product. The material is tough and easy to clean, a quick wipe down after your session is all that’s need to keep it clean. There is only one color option – black.

Extras: The Brookstone neck and back massager is lightweight at just 4 pounds. It would have been nice if it came with a bag to pack everything in but it’s not a dealbreaker by any means. Brookstone Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager can also be used on the waist, hips, and legs.

The Brookstone cord extends to 10 feet so you don’t need to run extension cords. The motor is quiet, you will only hear a faint buzzing, which adds to the relaxing experience. The Brookstone is programmed to turn off after 20 minutes to avoid the machine overheating.

Price Point: $$$$$

Pros

  • Lightweight and can be taken anywhere
  • Can be manipulated and pulled down onto sore muscle spots for added pressure and massage intensity
  • Easy to use and streamlined control panel

Cons

  • The price is on the highest end of the scale and might be unaffordable for some
  • Does not come with a carrying case
  • Heat cannot be adjusted


SereneLife Deep Kneading Massager – Best Feature-Packed and Compact Design Massager

The SereneLife Deep Kneading Massager is neck and neck with the HoMedics massager in terms of design.

Excuse the pun on words!

The SereneLife massager looks super cool and space-agey, and packs a powerful punch in such a small device.

Massager Features: The SereneLife Deep Kneading Massager is packed full of features. It has acupressure massage to soothe stress and improve blood circulation in your neck. You have the option to adjust the intensity of the vibration, pulsation, and heat.

It also has 6 preset massage modes with timer settings. The presets include mode, time, pulse, intense, vibrate, and heat.

The SereneLife also offers electrical pulses to help the muscles contract and relax. The vibration and the electrical pulses mimic an acupressure massage.

It feels amazing.

The SereneLife is perfect for those who do not like the friction from getting their skin rubbed.

User-Friendliness: The SereneLife Deep Kneading Massager has a large LCD display that shows the modes and presets selected for the massage. You can also fiddle with the controls and settings using the remote, which also has a digital display. Toggle between settings with the arrows and press the center to select.

There are no straps to work with or locks to click. The massager opens and clips to rest comfortably around your neck. The size is universal but the collar is flexible to accommodate larger neck circumferences.

Pain Relief: 4/5. There is no shiatsu massage action, but 15 minutes with this massager work wonders on your neck. I’ve found this massager to also help ease headaches too.

Since the SereneLife neck massager uses electrical pulses in its massage, people with pacemakers and other electrical implants, and irregular heartbeats should not use the machine. Consult a doctor first before using to avoid complications that may affect their condition.

Design & Aesthetics: The cool design makes this massager easily one of the best in terms of design.

This model is the second lightest of the massagers we reviewed, weighing just 1.5 pounds! Wearing it around your neck will not add to any discomfort.

Extras: As noted above, the SereneLife neck massager is lightweight and cordless, which I love! You could even use it in the car while on the road, just make sure you’re not driving!

The SereneLife comes with a full one-year warranty.

Price Point: $$$

Pros

  • Portable and extremely lightweight
  • Cordless
  • Comes with remote control and an LCD screen on both the unit and remote control
  • Looks amazing

Cons

  • Can only be used on the neck
  • Not advised for people with certain health conditions


RESTECK Deep Tissue 3D Massager For Neck and Back – Best Value For Money

On a budget? The RESTECK Deep Tissue 3D Massager For Neck and Back is the one for you.

resteck deep tissue 3d massager for neck and back

Massager Features: The RESTECK Deep Tissue 3D Massager For Neck and Back has shiatsu nodes and heat option.

The shiatsu nodes are 3D massagers and it’s able to deliver a good deep tissue massage. This RESTECK massager has 6 nodes. More expensive models have more.

The shiatsu rollers can knead going in opposite directions, or just turn in one direction if desired. The heat can be turned either on or off, there is no option to adjust the heat intensity.

The heat function is quite soothing and relaxing.

You can control the speed of the rotation with the touch of a button.

User-Friendliness: The RESTECK neck and back massager has an integrated control panel on the upper portion of the right handle. Its 4 buttons are Power, Speed, Direction, and Heating.

Similar to the Brookstone, this machine is plug and play. The buttons are simple and can be easily figured out without the manual.

The handles are used to add more pressure. This a great because it means you get to determine the exact amount of pressure. The pressure can become deep-tissue if you want, which I absolutely love.

The slots are wide and big enabling you to easily rest your whole hand inside. This helps make controlling the machine’s massage intensity a lot easier; giving you a better grip on the handles so that you can apply as much or little pressure as you like.

Pain Relief: 4.25/5. Offers great pain relief due to its ability to really get into the muscles.

As with the Brookstone unit, the RESTECK could be challenging to use for the elderly who have mobility issues or limited movement in their arms.

Another point to consider is weight. The RESTECK is close to 5 pounds, which is a bit heavier than some of the other massagers we’ve recommended here.

Design & Aesthetics: What’s great about the RESTECK’s design is the continuity of the quilting detail from the handles to the carrying bag.

The handles are also wider at the bottom which will ensure your hands can fit and rest comfortably inside the slots. The wider handles also let you have more control over the pull and pressure you exert when you use the massager.

The material used is PU leather which adds a luxury feel to the product, but without the hefty price tag.

Extras: The RESTECK comes with a car adapter which allows you to use the massager on the go. When you buy a unit, it also comes with a carrying bag to neatly pack everything, making it grab and go.

Price Point: $$$

Pros

  • Portable and can be plugged into a car charger port with the included adaptor
  • Comes with a carrying bag for an easy pack-and-go
  • PU leather material gives the machine a luxury look and feel

Cons

  • Has no vibration function
  • Only has 6 shiatsu nodes


Zyllion Kneading Massage Pillow – Best Portability

The Zyllion Kneading Massage Pillow is our pick for the best portable neck and shoulder massager because it’s light, a good massager and easy to clean.

Massager Features: The Zyllion incorporates all the best features found in a neck massager like shiatsu nodes and heat.

It has 4 shiatsu nodes that roll inwards and alternates directions every 60 seconds. With the Zyllion you can choose between shiatsu massage with heat or shiatsu massage only.

Similar to the HoMedics pillow, the heat cannot be increased or lowered, only turned on and off.

The Zyllion powers off after 20 minutes to keep the unit from overheating and ensuring user safety.

User-Friendliness: The Zyllion Kneading Massage pillow ranks high in user-friendliness. The control uses only one button, which I personally love. Toggle through the settings and features to turn on the machine and cycle through the massage features.

Press the power button once to turn on the device and use the shiatsu nodes with heat. Press the button twice to turn off the heat. Pressing the button for 3 seconds will turn off the massager.

There is one control button placed on the upper right side of the pillow. It’s located away from heads, necks, or shoulders, or other body parts that can unintentionally turn the machine off or change massage settings.

Pain Relief: 4/5. The shiatsu nodes change directions every 60 seconds. It would have been nice if it was a little longer than 60 seconds so that it gives us more time to enjoy that specific direction.

If there was an option to choose which direction the shiatsu nodes go, the pain-relief score would be much higher.

Another feature that would have been a nice option in the Zyllion massager is a vibration option.

Design & Aesthetics: I love the soft material and luxurious feel that covers HoMedics’ massage pillow, but I absolutely really like the sleekness and bone-shape of the Zyllion. Its curves fit snugly behind my head and cradle my neck correctly.

The black color streamlines the design and gives it a sleek, smooth look. Both HoMedics and Zyllion have the same dimensions but the Zyllion beats the competition with its width size – just 3.5 inches! There is no unnecessary bulk.

The material is synthetic leather which makes cleanup a breeze. All the Zyllion needs is a wipedown with a damp cloth and a swipe with a dry one and the massager is good as new.

Extras: The Zyllion has a power adapter to plug to a wall outlet and an DC car adapter that allows you to use the massager on the go.

It also has adjustable straps so you can attach the pillow to any chair you are using. Use the straps to attach the massager on other areas of the body you want to work on like the lower back or the legs.

Price Point: $$$

Pros

  • Ultra-portable and compact at 3.5 pounds
  • Comes with adjustable straps for easy attaching to any chair
  • Includes a DC car adapter
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Has no vibration function
  • More nodes would enable the massage to penetrate more deeply
  • The 60 seconds switching of directions could be a bit longer to enable us to enjoy that specific direction


Ohuhu Rechargeable Muscle Pain TENS – Bonus Review

We just had to include the Ohuhu TENS unit even though it’s technically not a neck and shoulder massager, rather more of a muscle stimulator.

ohuhu tens unit

This TENS unit works on any body part, not just the neck and shoulder area, but it’s very effective for relieving stiff muscle and pain, which is why we’ve decided to include it.

Massager Features: The Ohuhu uses electrical pulses to stimulate the muscle to contract and release. The contractions help to keep the muscles engaged and not lose mass, the rhythmic contraction helps to ease soreness and stiffness.

There are multiple massage modes settings that you can choose. Some of the massage options include knocking massage, acupuncture, head massage, even foot reflexology!

You have the option to decrease or increase massage intensity with 20 intensity level options. Time options allow between 10 to 60 minutes

User-Friendliness: The Ohuhu is jam-packed with options so it’s not as easy to figure out as some of the one-button massagers reviewed in this article.

The Ohuhu comes with an LCD screen with a navigation button that uses a trackpad-style control and is easy enough to use.

The reusable self-sticking electrodes pads do not leave a residue. The sensation of something sticking to your skin feels a little unusual at first, but you get used to it quickly.

After many usues, you’ll likely need to change the electrode pads. TENS electrode pads are available for purchase separately.

Pain Relief: 3.5/5. The Ohuhu does not give a traditional massage the same way a massager with a shiatsu node does. The electric stimulation and contraction do help with pain relief, although a minority of people may not like the feeling of receiving electrical pulses.

Also, since this machine uses electrical pulses, it is not suitable for those with electronic implants like pacemakers.

Design & Aesthetics: The machine itself fits in the palm of your hand and looks like an old school mobile phone. It comes with a dual output system which allows it to be used by 2 people at the same time.

This TENS unit has a rechargeable lithium battery making it truly portable. Bringing it around everywhere is super easy because it hardly weighs anything.

The unit is small and compact, made of glossy plastic material.

Extras: The Ohuhu comes with 12 reusable pads in 2 sizes – small and large. It also has 2 output cords and a charging cable. The extras from the unit are in the 16 modes of massage built into the machine but the accessories are basic.

The device is FDA-cleared so it is safe to use.

You can use the Ohuhu on your arms, abdominals, feet, glutes, and more. Just remember to change pads and use specific pads for different areas of the body.

Price Point: $$

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Can be used by 2 people at the same time
  • Cordless

Cons

  • Involuntary muscle contraction may not be relaxing for some
  • Has a lot of options, almost too many options


Who Shouldn’t Use Neck Massagers

Massagers are not recommended for use for people who are pregnant, take blood thinners, have high blood pressure, or impaired sensations.

The use of a massager while on blood thinners may cause you bruising or internal hemorrhage.

Any product that may contain magnets, like HoMedics, is not recommended for use by patients with pacemakers.

The same goes for machines that use electrical impulses.

Magnets, low-level electric current, and the like may interfere with your implant and cause injury or serious health complications.

For people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, avoid massagers with a heat function as it may cause nerve damage.

It is best to consult your doctor or a medical professional for guidance.


Benefits Of Neck Massages

Nowadays neck pain and back pain is very common.

Repetitive movements, poor posture, a lack of physical activity, and genetic predisposition to certain illnesses all combine together to create prime conditions for developing neck and back pain.

There are three main reasons neck massages brings pain relief.

The first is massage lessens tension.

The tension in the neck builds up due to overuse, repetitive movements, or the muscles locking into a state of tightness.

A neck massage will bring relief and allow the muscles to relax and release from contraction.

The friction applied to stiff muscles helps in loosening the tightness.

It would be helpful if oil is used so that the fingers glide over the muscles.

Multiple passes and pressure over the stiff muscles will improve movement.

The next benefit of neck massage is it reduces stress.

Stress can be mental or physical and both are harmful to the body especially if prolonged.

When a body is under stress or in pain, it releases hormones to ready the body against attack (cortisol) or to endure pain (endorphins).

Prolonged exposure to cortisol has negative effects on your body.

One way to lower the cortisol and endorphins released by the body is to reduce the stress that triggers the release of these hormones.

An excellent way to reduce stress is to get a massage for the whole body and not just the neck and back.\

The relaxation brought by massage increases blood flow to the muscles.

Increased circulation nourishes the muscles with oxygen-rich blood and also helps repair damaged muscles and maintain healthy ones.

The third benefit is massage increases sensation.

Tensed and locked muscles can lead to pinched nerves.

Compression in the nerves can lead to touch sensitivity and limit mobility.

Tingling, numbness, or crawling sensations on your skin can result from nerve compression.

Relaxation in the tensed muscles release pinched nerves and will eventually lead to sensation returning to normal and improving what we feel in terms of touch and temperatures.

We could add a fourth benefit of massage, pain relief.

The three previous benefits all combine together to alleviate pain.

When the muscles are relaxed, the stress is reduced which signals the body to lessen the release of stress and pain hormones.

The improved sensations from the decompressed nerves would also send signals to the brain that the new sensation is not pain but relief which helps the body to recover.


Recap

Whew that was long. Let’s recap.

For the best value of features and quality, we recommend the Brookstone Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager with Heat. This machine gives all three main neck massager features of shiatsu nodes, vibration, and heat. It packs it all in a streamlined, clean design.

If you want portability and mobility, our pick is the Zyllion Shiatsu Back Neck Massager with its light product design and the DC car adapter. You get shiatsu node massage and heat that is transportable.

For discreet and cordless massage, we like the SereneLife Deep Kneading Massager that can be used without cords to plug. Just let it get a full charge and you can bring the unit anywhere.

Good health and stress relief are important to a productive life. You do not have to live with chronic pain. The options presented in this review will hopefully give you a clearer picture of what to buy to get relief for your neck and shoulder pain.


References

Neck Massage. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.physio.co.uk/treatments/massage/massage-for-body-parts/neck-massage.php

Mayo Clinic staff. (2019, March 19). Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037

Harvard Health Publishing staff. (2008, January 1). Ask the doctor: Can a massage cause a stroke. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/ask-the-doctor-can-a-massage-cause-a-stroke

Cutler, N. (n.d.). Educate Your Clients About Electric Massagers. Retrieved from https://www.integrativehealthcare.org/mt/dangers-of-electric-massagers/

Heid, M. (2018, January 3). Are Massages Really Good For You? Retrieved from http://time.com/5085140/massage-health-benefits/

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