After reviewing back massagers of all shapes, designs, and sizes, we’ve finally found a winner in Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager With Heat. With a very affordable price, you can enjoy lightweight, compact, and portable massager equipped with 4 deep-kneading, three-dimensional, and rotating massage nodes that release tight muscle knots on almost any part of your body–from the neck and back to calves and even your feet.
The heat feature in Zyllion massage pillow is also worth noting. The warmth it gives off is enough to loosen muscle tension, not to mention it’s switchable so you can turn it off if you prefer massage only.
It’s one of the few massagers that come with an adapter both for car and home use; an overheat protection device which automatically shuts it off once the temperature goes beyond recommended level; and an adjustable strap that attaches the massage pillow to virtually any type of chair in your home or office.
The only flaw I can see in Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager With Heat is its lack of vibration and a relatively weaker neck massage compared to other back massagers. But this should be expected as massage pillows like Zyllion’s are “general” massagers and rarely focus on one body part.
If you want a more robust neck massager, there are other products that specifically target the neck and shoulders, in addition to the back muscles. One fine example is the Brookstone Shiatsu Neck And Back Massager With Heat.
Like the Zyllion pillow massager, Brookstone’s neck and back massager also comes with a 1-year warranty from factory defects/malfunction and is lightweight enough to carry during travels.
However, Brookstone has 8 rotating massage nodes–2 times that of Zyllion. The latter also focuses on the neck, shoulder, and back muscles but is versatile enough to be used anywhere in the body. It has an ergonomic design that allows you to move the massagers up or down depending on the location of the tension spots.
In other words, it gives you more control over the intensity and location of the massage. The downside, however, is you need to hold it in place and therefore won’t be able to perform another task while having the massage.
For the most flexible and affordable back massager ever, you can never go wrong with the Body Back Buddy Trigger Point Massager. Relatively cheaper than electric massagers, it has also earned the highest score among the three trigger point massagers we’ve reviewed.
A trigger point massager like the Body Back Buddy releases tight muscle knots in virtually any part of the body. As a self-massaging tool, it can help you remove muscle tension without relying on someone else’s fingers/hands.
Body Back Buddy owes its durability to the high impact glass filled nylon which is its main component. It has more massaging knobs (11, as opposed to TheraCane’s 6), which means more ways to leverage the device to reach hard-to-reach parts of the body.
The only con I can think of for Body Back Buddy is its relatively larger size and difficulty in storing it. If the manufacturers only designed it with something that allows it to be separated into two for travel and storage purposes, it would have been the best back massager ever.
Shoulders, And Back
- 1 Best Back Massagers: An Overview.
- 2 Health Benefits of Back Massagers: A Quick Overview.
- 3 How To Choose The Best Back Massager – Our Criteria.
- 4 Best Back Massager Reviews – Our Top Picks.
- 4.1 Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager With Heat (Black).
- 4.2 Brookstone Shiatsu Neck And Back Massager With Heat.
- 4.3 Homedics Shiatsu Massage Pillow With Heat Review.
- 4.4 Body Back Buddy Trigger Point Massager.
- 4.5 Zyllion ZMA-14-BK Shiatsu Massage Cushion With Heat.
- 4.6 Thera Cane Massager.
- 4.7 Backnobber® II Massage Tool.
- 4.8 Homedics HHP-350 Percussion Action Massager.
Best Back Massagers: An Overview.
Thanks to technology, the number of Americans who are engaged in remote work has increased tremendously in the past few years.
But with the emergence of work-from-home professionals also comes the risk of muscle pain which often results from sitting in front of the computer for hours on end. The same holds true for office-based workers, nurses, construction workers and even athletes who always push their bodies to the limit.
Of course, there are massage chairs ranging from cheap to high-end that can provide immediate relief from muscle tension without the aid of a human therapist. However, not everyone can afford their hefty price tags, not to mention the space requirements needed at home to accommodate these bulky monsters.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go broke just to give your swelling back some much needed TLC. There are low-cost back massagers in the market specifically designed to give you immediate relief from back pain even while you’re working. You can carry these lightweight devices anywhere you go and are versatile enough to be used as a massager for other parts of your body.
Health Benefits of Back Massagers: A Quick Overview.
Studies that have explored the benefits of massage–particularly back massage–to our health are not conclusive. However, the mere fact that it helps us feel better is enough proof that back massagers are beneficial to our overall well-being in the long run.
As expected, back massage provides great relief from low back pain. In 2001, a study by the Touch Research Institute of the University of Miami found that massage not only reduces pain in patients with low back pain but also improves their mental health and quality of sleep. A similar finding by the researchers of Cochrane Collaboration reveals a combination of exercise and massage is the perfect recipe to combat low back pain.
More studies showed even more compelling results. In 2011, 400 participants agreed to receive massage for their body pains while the control group were allowed to manage the pain on their own. After 10 weeks, those who received massage reported less pain and better functioning, regardless of whether they received full-body or spot massage that targets the back, hips, etc.
A 2010 analysis of at least 17 clinical trials also revealed that massage therapy may help alleviate symptoms of depression. Based on these results, we can conclude that massage, regardless if they’re given by a therapist or an electric back massager, is an underrated method that can be as powerful, if not more potent, as pain relievers and anti-depressants.
How To Choose The Best Back Massager – Our Criteria.
This comprehensive guide is a result of a painstaking and extensive research to find only the best back massager in the market today. To choose the most outstanding products among the dizzying array of choices, we’ve prioritized the criteria we think are the most crucial in bringing user satisfaction:
Just because back massagers are priced lower than massage chairs doesn’t mean the massage quality shouldn’t be on par. An ideal back massager has rotating plastic nodes that feel comfortable and don’t stab the back muscles like a knife. The pressure or intensity should also be adjustable so people who are sensitive or have lower pain tolerance can also enjoy the massage as much as everyone else.
A good back massager is designed with the same level of flexibility as a massage chair. As we all know, stressful lifestyles can take its toll not just on a single area such as the back. More often than not, tension spots ripple from the back towards nearby areas such as the neck, shoulders or butt, and vice versa. Therefore, good back massagers should function like a Swiss army knife, bringing the benefits of the massage to anywhere you place them.
The warm hands of a therapist are one of the few things that set human massage from those given by robotic devices. Although it can’t completely replace the soothing touch from human hands, the best home back massager also offers heat in addition to massage in an effort to mimic the former. Heat must be optional, with the temperature level sufficient enough to loosen tight muscles and relieve pain.
Ease of Use.
The best-rated back massager has intuitive buttons even the elderly and those with poor eyesight can clearly understand. And depending on your preference, the back massager should also have handles which you can push to increase the intensity of the massage, or a strap that allows you to hold the massager in place while you’re using it. There are a lot of features you can look into, but the bottom line is the back massager should be ergonomically designed for your own comfort.
Low-cost massage devices, especially those manufactured in China, often have shorter life span. Unfortunately, most them don’t offer money back guarantee, let alone a product warranty for at least a year, giving an impression that they’re more after the profits than customer satisfaction. Don’t be fooled; choose the best massagers for back that offer at least 1-year limited product warranty.
Size & Weight.
One thing that separates back massagers from massage chairs is how lightweight they are. Choose the best handheld back massager that not only allows you to carry it with your hands but is also small enough to fit in your travel bag/luggage. After all, your need for a quality massage may hit anywhere you go.
Best Back Massager Reviews – Our Top Picks.
Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager With Heat (Black).
The Good: Versatile, operates quietly and very lightweight, this Zyllion shiatsu massage pillow is one of the best products in its category. Unlike other massage pillows, ZMA 13 BK also comes with a car adapter as well as a strap to help users experience its 3-dimensional shiatsu-style massage anywhere they go–whether they’re in a car or sitting in a chair.
The Bad: The massage nodes don’t protrude that much, so the neck massage it provides is relatively weaker as the nodes barely touch the tension spots on the sides of the neck.
The Bottom Line: Notwithstanding its weak neck massage (which is already expected from massage pillows like Zyllion), this massager excels in other uses it was created for. It’s smaller size is also a plus, since more and more people are traveling nowadays, hence the need for portable massagers.
Read Full Review: Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Pillow Massager With Heat (Black) Review
Brookstone Shiatsu Neck And Back Massager With Heat.
The Good: Lightweight and versatile enough to be used not just on your back but also on the neck, shoulders, legs and butt. You can pull the straps downward or forward whenever you want a stronger massage, giving you full control of the massage intensity.
The Bad: It’s portable, but not in the way most people imagine. It requires an outlet where you can plug the device, as opposed to other back massagers that are either rechargeable or don’t require any electricity at all.
The Bottom Line: A simple, no-frills back massager that works exactly as advertised. However, don’t expect it to do everything for you. It’s not an automatic device like massage chairs; rather, it requires arm mobility to move it towards the target spot and to pull the straps so you can achieve the desired massage intensity.
Read Full Review: Brookstone Shiatsu Neck And Back Massager With Heat Review
Homedics Shiatsu Massage Pillow With Heat Review.
The Good: Complete with rotating massage nodes, heat, vibration and a 2-year warranty. Due to its smaller size, you can use it to massage virtually any part of your body. You can also place it on your back while you’re working in front of the computer, without the need to hold straps or handles.
The Bad: Massage nodes made of plastic are a bit too hard and painful when pressed against the back muscles. It doesn’t come with a car adapter nor a strap which would have helped users to hold the massage pillow in place.
The Bottom Line: Another simple back massager that doesn’t offer much, but is good enough for its price. What it lacks in features is offset by its fantastic 3D massage complemented by heat and vibration. Indeed, it proves that great things come in small packages.
Read Full Review: Homedics Shiatsu Massage Pillow With Heat Review
Body Back Buddy Trigger Point Massager.
The Good: Similar to Thera Cane but has more therapy knobs plus two curved ends for easier placement in the body. You can also get leverage by attaching it to a strap or door jam, making it easier to reach sore spots on your back with minimal effort.
The Bad: It’s slightly bigger than Thera Cane but there’s no mechanism that allows it to fold up or dismantle into two pieces, making it a bit of a hassle to carry during travels.
The Bottom Line: Hands down the best trigger point massager on the market, but would have been better if the manufacturer has made it more portable. If you want a similar device that can be broken into two pieces for easier storage, please see Backnobber. For a deeper and more satisfying trigger point massage experience, however, you should stick to Body Back Buddy.
Read Full Review: Body Back Buddy Trigger Point Massager Review
Zyllion ZMA-14-BK Shiatsu Massage Cushion With Heat.
The Good: It gives users full control over the position and intensity of the massage. This Zyllion massage cushion also has no weight restriction, as long as you keep the backrest in an upright position.
The Bad: Not the most portable of massagers as it can’t be folded or disassembled to fit inside a luggage. The remote control also releases beeping sounds for the shut-off alarm. The sound can’t be muted.
The Bottom Line: Compared to massage pillows, this Zyllion shiatsu massage cushion requires users to do nothing except to sit and let the massage nodes do their work. However, its larger size makes it less portable and versatile than its smaller cousins. The overall massage quality pales in comparison with those offered by robotic massage chairs. For its price, however, this product can be considered a bargain for people who spend most of their time sitting.
Read Full Review: Zyllion ZMA-14-BK Shiatsu Massage Cushion With Heat Review
Thera Cane Massager.
The Good: Cheap, durable and extremely versatile, this unique back massager is designed to break up the knots or trigger points anywhere on your body while giving you full control of the pressure or massage intensity.
The Bad: A back massager without the bells and whistles, Thera Cane massager isn’t equipped with vibration, heat and other fancy features commonly seen in the more expensive electric back massagers.
The Bottom Line: If you want a simple, no-frills back massager that you can use anywhere you go without the need to be attached to a wall outlet, this one fits the bill. Otherwise, you can choose more expensive options if you prefer more than simple trigger point massage.
Read Full Review: Thera Cane Back Massager Review
Backnobber® II Massage Tool.
The Good: It only has two knobs which in some way makes it easier to move around or maneuver. It’s also the only trigger point massager which breaks into two for easier storage inside the cabinet or luggage for the travelers.
The Bad: There’s no info about the product’s warranty either on its website or Amazon page. Its knobs also lack shape variety, unlike Body Back Buddy which has a pointed knob designed to provide deeper muscle penetration.
The Bottom Line: Backnobber takes the benefits of a trigger point massager a notch higher through a unique mechanism that allows it to break into two pieces for easier storage and travel. If simplicity and portability are major considerations, you’ll never go wrong with Backnobber II.
Read Full Review: Backnobber® II Massage Tool Review
Homedics HHP-350 Percussion Action Massager.
The Good: A handheld percussion massager that uses tapping technique to provide a relaxing massage slightly more intense than simple vibration. It’s made by Homedics, an established brand offering 2-year product warranty and backed with a good track record in customer service.
The Bad: It only has one button for the switch and for the speed settings of the percussion massage. In other words, you have no choice but to press it several times to achieve your desired intensity or to turn off the device.
The Bottom Line: Homedics HHP 350 percussion action massager is a slightly better version of vibrating devices. However, both belong to the same category of massagers that provide gentle muscle stimulation. If you prefer a more intense or deeper massage, this may disappoint you.
Read Full Review: Homedics HHP-350 Percussion Action Massager