Active Recovery

13 of the Best Neck Massagers a Chiropractor Says Will Ease Every Bit of Tension

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When you spend most of your waking hours hunched over a laptop or smartphone, you're bound to feel the effects in your neck—they don't call it "tech neck" for nothing, after all. Which is where a good neck massager comes in handy. Arching your head forward to bang out an email (or, okay—watch someone try to climb over a whole bunch of crates on TikTok) forces it out of neutral alignment with your spine, which can lead to stiffness, balance issues, and pain. Sound familiar? But though technology may be the source of all of this discomfort, it's also behind some of the most effective fixes. Enter: The best neck massagers on the market.

Best neck massagers at a glance

According to Vikki Petersen, DC, certified clinical nutritionist, chiropractor, and functional medicine practitioner, treating your neck to a tech-y massage offers benefits beyond just helping you relax (though, FWIW, it definitely does that, too). She says that using a neck massager can improve circulation, alleviate mild-to-moderate neck and shoulder pain, help with headaches and migraines, reduce muscle tension and soreness, improve neck mobility, and decrease stress.

How to use a neck massager

Before you go all-in on a DIY desk massage, it's important to be aware of the best practices when using this type of device. "You mostly want to concentrate your efforts on the back of your neck—avoid the front, which contains sensitive nerves and blood vessels," says Dr. Peterson. "The real key, though, is to start gently and assess how you feel." If you don't feel any relief after a few repeated uses, check in with your GP or a chiropractor to see what's going on.

What to look for in a neck massager

Neck massagers may all have the same general goal (which is, obviously, to massage your neck), but they're not all created equally. "The best massagers have a variety of pressure options so you can find what is best for you—the right amount of pressure will provide relief without stressing your muscles," says Dr. Petersen. "Look for a massager that kneads and rolls your muscles in a fashion similar to that of a masseuse."

Can everyone benefit from a neck massager?

Though neck massagers are great, they have some limitations, and shouldn't be used as a cure-all for more serious ailments. "If you have badly strained or sprained a muscle in your neck, a neck massager might be irritating, and a moderate-to-severely pinched nerve could also be worsened by a massager," says Dr. Petersen. "Another problem would be a swollen disc in your neck, which would not be remediated by a neck massager" For any pain that goes beyond mild discomfort, it's best to consult a pro before trying to treat it yourself.

Ready to invest in one of your own? Shop her (and our) picks below.

Best chiropractor-approved neck massagers

Resteck Massager for Neck and Back with Heat — $65.00

Dr. Petersen is a fan of this massager, thanks to the fact that it offers a number of different options within a single device. You can control the heat, pressure, speed, and direction of the kneading for a truly personalized experience on aches and pains all over.

What other reviewers are saying: Bought this 2 years ago. We have used it almost every day. Stiff neck… excellent relief. Sore shoulder…excellent relief… I sit at my desk in our home office and roll this up and down from my neck to the middle of my back. Totally smiling at how great this feels. Actually feels as if someone is giving you a back massage.” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • 3D kneading nodes
  • Portable
  • Customizable heat and direction

Cons

  • Some reviewers say the cord is short
InvoSpa Electric Deep Tissue 3D Kneading Massage Pillow — $50.00

Another Dr. Peterson-approved fave, this heated kneader is great for deep tissue massages. Inside the sleeve there are eight massage rollers, which move bi-directionally to ease tension, and the heat also helps to relax your muscles. You can adjust the intensity between light, medium, and heavy depending on what your body needs on a given day.

What other reviewers are saying: “Really like this massager for my neck, have tried it on the lower back and it seemed to help as well…love that the amount of pressure is based on how the individual presses their own hands down…so you have more control on the depth of the massage.” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • 8 massager roller balls
  • Three strength speeds, two massage directions
  • Optional heat feature
  • Auto shut off

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it’s heavy and bulky
Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager — $70.00

The final device to get Dr. Petersen’s stamp of approval is this over-the-neck massager, which allows you to control the heat, speed, and direction of your massage. Its ergonomic design makes it just as friendly to your back and calves as it works at your neck, which means you can use it to melt away muscle knots anywhere.

What other reviewers are saying: Wow! This is the real deal. I seem to always have headaches. This massager allows me to pull with the handles so I have the perfect amount of pressure. The heat option and the ability to increase the speed are total pluses.” –Naipo customer

Pros

  • Ergonomic for full body use
  • Deep kneading
  • Can control intensity, direction, and heat
  • Overheat protection

Cons

  • Some reviewers say the massager is bulky

Best heated, splurge neck massager

truMedic MagicHands truShiatsu Neck and Back Massager — $200.00

This device was designed to mimic the experience of being massaged by human hands, which is exactly what it does. It offers a heated, deep tissue massage by way of four nodes, which are meant to feel like thumbs (which is creepy, but effective) in order to really knead down into your muscle knots. Think of this as your own, personal massage therapist.

What other reviewers are saying: “This made Oprah’s list of favorite things and I can see why! It literally feels like real fingers and hands massaging you. You can put it in on your neck, head, and back (Or wherever you want like legs or feet) and it feels great! You put your arms through the straps to apply more pressure. It gives a very deep intense massage or lighter depending on how you situate it.” –truMedic customer

Pros

  • Four massage nodes
  • Optional heat
  • Feels like a real person massaging you

Cons

  • Expensive

Best heated, budget neck massager

Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager — $32.00

This device checks all of Dr. Petersen’s boxes—it’s heated and offers adjustable kneading pressure—but will only run you $32. You can choose between light and heavy pressure and two different directions, and thanks to the device’s lightweight, easily-packable design, you can take it with you anywhere for a hands-free massage on the go.

What other reviewers are saying: “This massager is awesome! I use for my neck and shoulders. Two settings; less intense and more intense. I use the latter. Who needs human hands when you have this?! I recommend!” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • 8 kneading nodes
  • Optional heat
  • Armrest design
  • Portable

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it’s bulky

Best deep tissue neck massager

massage guns
Theragun Mini — $159.00

Real talk: Is there anything the Theragun can’t do? The mini version of the device comes with two different heads and offers three speeds. Plus, it’s ergonomically correct and easy to maneuver, which makes it perfect for getting to all those hard-to-reach spots on the back of your body. Pros say your best bet is to use it on any tight spots and move your neck up and down, letting its vibrational powers do the rest.

What other reviewers are saying: “Perfect traveling size, and it’s a bit quieter than my normal sized Theragun. Relieves tension in my back after a long day of traveling!” –Therabody customer

Pros

  • Super portable
  • 150 minute battery life
  • Three speeds

Cons

  • Hard to use it for full body

Best customizable neck massager

Cholas Massage Gun — $40.00

With this device, you can reap all the benefits of a percussive therapy massage for only $56. It offers 30 adjustable speeds and 10 different heads, which you can mix and match depending on what type of relief you’re looking for. Plus, it’s ultra-quiet, so you can use it at your desk without disturbing your coworkers (or, erm, your dog).

What other reviewers are saying: “This is one of the best things I’ve ever bought. I struggle with knots in my back often, and this tool never fails to help me. Sometimes it can be awkward to use depending where on my back I am trying to reach but overall this product is great. The battery seems to last forever.” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • 30 adjustable speeds and LCD touch screen
  • 10 types of massage heads
  • Quiet motor
  • 6 hour battery life

Cons

  • No heat function

Best low-tech neck massager

Wilson Prime All Court Tennis Balls (Pack of 3) — $10.00

It may seem weird to see tennis balls on this list, but according to pros, they’re one of the best ways to get an at-home neck massage without having to spend any big bucks. Simply lay down on a hard floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, and place a tennis ball under your neck in the exact spot you’re feeling any tension. Let the weight of your head and neck relax into the ball, then gently rock back and forth. This will stimulate circulation and blood flow, helping to release tension and rid your neck of knots.

What other reviewers are saying: Just the right hardness and size for trigger point massages.” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Portable
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Have to manually add pressure

Best pillow massager

MoCuishle Back Massager
MoCuishle Back Massager — $30.00

This pillow mimics the kneading effects of a shiatsu massage, and is meant to be used anywhere you’re feeling tension—including your neck, back, calves, and stomach. It heats to 113℉, and shuts off automatically after 15 minutes. The massage balls automatically change direction every minute.

What other reviewers are saying: “As a massage therapist if 17yrs, I totally recommend!! I love how easy this is to use. It’s portable and has a plug for the car lighter. The heat is great. If you love deep tissue massage, then this is a must have. Gets those sore upper neck muscles. And I even use it on other parts of my body if needed.” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • Four massage nodes
  • Heating function
  • Portable, includes AC and car adapter
  • Corded hand control
  • Auto shut off

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it’s not as comfortable behind the neck

Best neck massager wand

HoMedics Percussion Action Massager with Heat — $45.00

This heated wand allows you to get into the nooks and crannies of your neck, making for an ultra-targeted massage that hits all the right spots. The dual-pivoting heads pulse up to 31,000 times per minute, and the device allows you to choose from four speeds.

What other reviewers are saying: “When I tell you, this is one of the best investments I’ve made! I’m a long distance runner and this definitely helps loosen up my muscles before and after my morning runs. I love how it really gets the bones and releases a lot of built up tension.” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • Dual heads and interchangeable attachments
  • Four speeds
  • Portable
  • Optional heat

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it’s heavy

Best electrical neck massager

clitalies Electric Pulse Neck Massager
clitalies Electric Pulse Neck Massager — $36.00

There’s no kneading or pulsing here. Instead, this device uses electrical stimulation to send pulses deep into your muscle tissues, helping to release any tight spots. It has five different heated massage modes, and folds up into itself for easy portability.

What other reviewers are saying: “This is amazing!!! Does wonders for your neck and is very strong powered! Multiple different settings and intensity! Would recommend to everyone!” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • 6 modes, 15 levels of intensity
  • 4 point heating
  • Portable and cordless
  • Ergonomic design

Cons

  • May not fit thick necks
  • Not everyone may like the electric pulses

Best for trigger-point neck massage

CuraCane Handheld Massager — $14.00

This massager is designed to hit the trigger points in the back of your neck, giving you instant relief. Simply hold the handles, and roll back and forth with as much pressure as your body needs. The silicone balls will hit the magic spots where tension tends to multiply, and you’ll feel a release right away.

What other reviewers are saying: “I have neck pain and migraines. This is perfect for me. Easy to use, light weight, soft foam balls. Great price!” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • Firm massage nodes
  • Ergonomic handles
  • Lightweight
  • Deigned to reach trigger points

Cons

  • Have to apply manual pressure

Best chair pad neck massager

Comfier Shiatsu Neck & Back Massager — $160.00

Avoid back and neck pain before it starts by turning your desk chair into a full-blown massage chair. This tech-y pad fits over your standard seat, and is equipped with four nodes and heating capabilities to deliver multi-faceted relief. It integrates finger pressure Shiatsu, rolling, compression, and vibration techniques, and all you have to do after you plug it in is literally sit back and relax.

What other reviewers are saying: “This is incredible!! The first time I used it was amazing, like a completely different sensational experience. This massager has everything from vibration, air compression, heat, different types of massage styles (2d/3d kneading, rolling), full back, lower back, neck. Everything is customizable / configurable, and all the options are amazing and are noticeably different.” –Amazon customer

Pros

  • Massages back, neck, waist, and seat
  • 2D and 3D Shiatsu rotation nodes
  • Optional heat and adjustable compression
  • Adjustable rolling and spot massage functions

Cons

  • Some reviewers say the neck nodes are not as comfortable
  • Some reviewers say depending on your height, the nodes might not hit your neck in the right spot


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