Only a few things can ease stress like a nice massage. Unfortunately, getting a massage from a professional massager on the regular can be quite costly and many people can’t afford it. That’s why it’s vitally important to get a massage pillow so you can use it whenever you feel like your back, shoulders, or neck needs a gentle, relaxing rub down.
Massage pillows take up little space and are actually portable. You can even take one along on your travels. But with massage pillows available in many different styles, sizes, and shapes, how do you choose the right one for you?
If you’re planning to buy a massage pillow, make sure to get one that best suits your needs. In our massage pillow buying guide below, we’ve taken a look at the benefits that massage pillows provide, as well as the key factors to consider when shopping so you can find the best one for your own unique needs.
If you still aren’t sure which massage pillow to go for, we’ve included our top choices to help make your shopping experience much easier and enjoyable.
What’s a Massage Pillow?
This is a device that’s placed at any part of your body that requires massaging. It provides intense kneading that mimics the action of a professional massager.
Certain kinds of electronic massagers are also available in the shape of cushion seats. No matter their shape and size, these devices provide relief from tense muscles.
The right massage pillow should be able to target specific parts of your body. So, always remember this when shopping for one.
How Massage Pillows Work
Massage pillows come in many different forms, but all of them work the same way and have the same goal. Most massage pillows exert three types of pressure to improve blood circulation and muscle movement.
First of all, massage pillows use rollers (ball-shaped nodes) that roll in a preset direction to encourage muscle movement. These nodes are sometimes heated, sometimes the nodes don’t have to be heated, and some models have no option for heating.
Whichever version you buy will depend on your personal preference, but your chiropractor or doctor can recommend a heated option depending on your specific needs.
Secondly, massage pillows can employ air pressure to constrict and expand around certain parts of your body. When it comes to massage cushions, they can be programmed to fill up with air and let the air out around your upper shoulders or legs. This process improves circulation, which may help relax tight muscles.
Thirdly, some massage pillows can use mild vibration features to promote circulation and relax tense muscles.
Why Should I Buy a Massage Pillow?
A massage pillow can provide your body with many life-changing benefits, covering both physiological and mental therapy.
If used properly, they can immediately provide relief to your body by simulating the muscles as well as easing mental strain and stress. Vibrating massage pillows can help boost your immune system as well as help your body fight against germs and diseases.
Here are the main benefits of using a massage pillow.
Sore Neck Relief
High-quality massage pillows are designed to simulate the action of a professional massager by stimulating the muscles and nerve endings.
Professional massagers treat neck pain with a strong, deep pressure to rub down the pressure points currently in pain. This ultimately brings pain relief and an increased range of motion, particularly if you use a good massage pillow.
Shoulder Pain Relief
Whatever the cause of pain and soreness in your shoulder muscles, you just need a massage to relieve pain and have an improved range of motion.
The right massage therapy can supply your muscles with fresh blood and the oxygen-rich nutrients they require.
Muscle Tension Relief
The right massage pillow can ease tightness in your muscles, letting them decrease tension and relax. The reduction in tension eases muscular restrictions and knots, helping loosen them up.
The deep-kneading nodes provide deep strokes, which further stretch your muscles. This increases their elasticity and flexibility, ultimately letting them move freely again.
Back Pain Relief
Just tuck your massage pillow beneath your back to relieve back pain, especially acute back pain. If you suffer severe pain or the pain appears to originate from a bone, stop massaging the area.
If you intend to treat your back pain with a massage pillow, always consult a chiropractor or other suitable medical professional.
Check out our guide to the Best Massage Chairs and Osaki Massage Chair Review and Guide: Best Osaki Massage Chairs if you’re’ advised that massage could help your injury.
Headaches could be caused by a million different things, including lifestyle, environmental, or hereditary factors. However, all headaches respond brilliantly to massage.
Using your massage pillow for at least 30 minutes can actually go a long way towards helping relieve your pain and headache.
Massage can help treat different types of arthritis in a variety of ways. When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, a massage pillow can boost blood circulation throughout the affected joints and decrease swelling.
However, be sure to consult your chiropractor or doctor about treating some types of arthritis because they may not respond well to massage.
In most cases, you should never have a massage in case of arthritic flare-ups.
Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Massage Pillow
When shopping for a massage pillow, make sure to consider the size, features, shape, power source, and cost of the product.
Pick a massage pillow that’s huge enough to target specific problem areas, such as the lower back, shoulders, or neck. A pillow that’s 9-11 inches wide and 13-15 inches long is enough to treat substantial areas of your body as well as compact enough to carry around.
Based on how frequently you’re going to use the massage pillow, portability can be a vital aspect to consider. Most pillows are compact enough to carry along while traveling. Remember that rechargeable pillows are typically more portable than ones that need to be plugged into a power source.
Massage pillows use various methods to knead different areas of the body. While all kinds of massage may help relieve pain and loosen muscles, you might prefer a certain technique over others.
Kneading: Pillows that provide a kneading style of massage are perfect for removing knots from your back, neck, and shoulders.
Vibration: In addition to providing a massage, some pillows vibrate. The whole surface of the massage pillow vibrates to liven up the massage and relax tight muscles further. Not everyone values the vibration, so you might not want to cough up a little more for it.
Percussion: In the percussion massage style, massage pillows create a thundering-like sensation as they work the muscles. Percussion provides a more intense, deeper massage that’s like a deep-tissue massage provided at a spa.
Nodes: Massage pillows that feature nodes usually provide a more intense, deeper massage. The intensity and depth of the massage typically depends on how many nodes a pillow has.
Shiatsu: This form of Japanese massage involves the massager using their palms, fingers, and thumbs to put pressure on specific trigger points. Pillows that offer Shiatsu massage mimic the sensation you get when a massager rubs down your muscles.
Airbags: Some pillows have airbags that fill up with air and let the air out to provide the same sensation as the one provided by a massager working your muscles. These massage pillows normally provide a much tender massage.
Massage Pillow Features
Heat: When you have joint or muscle pain, heat can provide considerable relief. That’s why certain massage pillows offer steady warmth as they massage the body. While you’ll pay a little bit more for a heated massage pillow, it can be a very helpful purchase if you regularly suffer back, neck, or shoulder pain.
Speed: You may also want to set how fast the massage function works. For a milder massage, you should choose a slower speed. On the other hand, a faster speed may suit a more vigorous and intense massage.
Intensity: Many pillows offer various intensity levels, while some models have just one intensity level. Multiple intensity options allow you to decide how deeply the pillow should knead, depending on how much pain you’re experiencing or how tense your muscles are.
Some massage pillows operate at one speed only, but you can pick one that provides up to three speed levels for optimal versatility.
Memory: If you’re treating a chronic condition, get a massage pillow that has a recall or memory feature. It keeps the type of massage, speed, and intensity you want so you can immediately power the pillow on and treat your problem without having to get through all the different settings.
Automatic shutoff: For your own safety and that of your loved ones, it’s best to pick a pillow that automatically switches off after 15-20 minutes to avoid overheating. This also prevents rechargeable models from unintentionally draining the battery.
Straps: The good thing about massage pillows is that they’re typically designed to suit any chair. All you need to do is fit the pillow between your problem area and the back of your chair.
It’s good to pick a massage pillow with straps so it’s held in place and doesn’t slide around. The straps are typically made from a stretchy material that helps them fit around almost any back of a chair.
All massage pillows need electricity to run. Some models need power from a wall outlet, which can limit where the pillow can be used. But there are some pillows that run on rechargeable batteries, letting you use the pillow almost anywhere.
When selecting a rechargeable pillow, consider how long the battery takes to get fully charged as well as how long a single charge can run the pillow. If you want a portable rechargeable massage pillow, go for one that comes with a car adapter to allow you to charge it while traveling.
Massage Pillow Cost
Massage pillows are available at different price points, depending primarily on their features. In most cases, massage pillows cost around $20 to $130.
Low-end: The most affordable pillows, which go for $20 to $40, are simple models that have one intensity level, massage style, and speed option. These usually don’t have vibration or heat options and need to be plugged into an outlet.
Mid-range: Mid-range priced massage pillows go for between $40 and $90 and usually feature at least two speed and intensity options, as well as many massage styles. They typically also have a heat function and can be rechargeable or plug-in models.
High-end: The costliest massage pillows go for $90 to $130 and offer various special features. Most offer at least three speed and intensity levels, as well as many massage styles. They both come with vibration and heat features and can operate on rechargeable batteries or are plugged into a wall outlet.
How to Safely Use a Massage Pillow
- Don’t lean on too heavily or put too much pressure on your massage pillow. You might cause an injury or pinch your skin.
- Limit how long you use your massage pillow. To prevent muscle pain or bruises, most manufacturers advise using the pillow for 15 to 20-minute sessions only.
- Never soak your massage pillow in water. Most pillows require spot cleaning with a soft, wet cloth. Never clean it with an abrasive cleanser.
- Keep your pillow in a dry, cool place. Store it away from objects that can also tear the fabric.
Our Top Picks
Based on the considerations discussed above, including extra features and price, we’ve come up with a few top pillow choices out there to help you shop wisely. We chose these pillows based on affordability, availability, and positive customer reviews. The following products come in different designs, styles, and prices to fit every shopper’s budget and taste.
Best-Selling Massage Pillow: Zyllion Shiatsu Neck and Back Massage Pillow
Want an effective, well-rounded massage pillow? The Zyllion Shiatsu Neck and Back Massage Pillow is an Amazon best-seller for several reasons, including its overall rating of 4.5-stars and over 33,000 reviews.
It boasts four strong Shiatsu nodes that change directions automatically per minute, as well as a heat feature that can be turned on or off with the touch of a button. The massager has both a car adapter and wall plug for home use or during your travels, not to mention a free sleeve with which you can lessen massage intensity.
Finally, you can use the pillow almost anywhere on your body and the convenient straps help you fasten it to a car seat or office chair.
- Features both wall plug and car adapter
- Free sleeve available to lower massage intensity
- Able to change directions automatically
- Can be used practically anywhere on the body
- Must be plugged into a wall outlet
- Neck massage function works better if it’s more angled
- Neck massage function may require taller chair
Best Budget Massage Pillow: VIKTOR JURGEN Neck and Back Massage Pillow
Costing less than $30, this massage pillow from VIKTOR JURGEN still provides most of the essential features you may need, including two different speed options, four Shiatsu massage nodes that work your muscles in two separate directions, and optional heat.
The VIKTOR JURGEN pillow also features two different adapters you can use in the car or at home. Despite being affordable, the thousands of customer reviews give it an overall rating of 4.4-stars.
- Inexpensive but effective
- Comes with several essential useful features
- Two different adapters available for use at home or in the car
- Short cord length
- Few massage modes
- Must be plugged into a wall outlet
Best Back Massager for Work: Naipo Massage Pillow
Since the Naipo Massage Pillow boasts a spectacular design that works with 80 percent of all office chairs, it’s your best option while working.
The adjustable hook attachment attaches onto the seat top, while the pillow’s body can be moved to wherever you need a massage, be it the lower back, upper back, shoulder, or neck.
When it comes to massage functions, this model features Shiatsu nodes with discretionary multi-directional rotation and heat options. According to customers, it’s also easy to use, breathable, and comfortable.
- Best option for your office
- Movable pillow body
- Easy to use, comfortable, and breathable
- Not very sturdy
Most Versatile Massage Pillow: WOQQW Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager
The majority of massage pillows on the market today are more compact, more contoured, and thicker—which are all amazing qualities for some massage styles. However, if you want a versatile model for the whole body, the WOQQW Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager is your best option.
It’s bigger but thinner than most options and it, therefore, can massage every part of your body, (including the abdomen, head, and feet) without feeling overly uncomfortable or bulky.
It has four rotating Shiatsu massage nodes that can be powered by a car adapter or standard wall outlet, as well as an optional heating setting.
- Versatile option for entire body
- Comes with four rotating massage nodes
- Has optional heating feature
- Cord could be longer
- May not work best with your car seat
Best Cordless Massage Pillow: Mynt Cordless Back and Neck Massage Pillow
If you want to avoid the hassle of dealing with cables, then you should go for the Mynt Cordless Back and Neck Massage Pillow. Its strong rechargeable lithium-ion battery can give you two hours of massage anywhere, without requiring an outlet.
But although it works wireless, it’s still effective. It boasts four flat Shiatsu massage nodes, optional heat, and multi-directional movement, all of which contribute to its award-winning design and high ratings.
- No hassle of handling cables
- Has strong rechargeable battery
- Its features make it highly-rated and effective, too.
- Heat function shortens battery life
- Needs charging every couple of hours
FAQs on How to Find the Best Massage Pillow
Answer: To choose the right massage pillow, make sure to consider the following factors:
Massage pillow features
Answer: The top-rated massage pillows on the market today include:
- Zyllion Shiatsu Massage Pillow with Heat
- Renpho Shiatsu Back Massage Pillow
- Snailax Wireless Shiatsu Back Massage Pillow
- Homedics Thera-P Shiatsu Massager
- Comfier Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager
- Snailax Gel Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager
- HoMedics Shiatsu Massage Pillow with Soothing Heat
- Gideon Vibrating Seat Massage Pillow
- Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massage Cushion
- Papillon Shiatsu Back and Neck Massage Pillow
Answer: Yes, massage pillows are effective. While they alone won’t heal an injury or treat a medical condition, many people report that using them produces positive effects. They say that the right massage pillow will not only help to ease muscle tightness, but also promote relaxation.
Answer: Research has shown that Shiatsu massage can help improve pressure pain threshold, relieve pain, ease fatigue, improve sleep, and improve quality of life in fibromyalgia patients.
Answer: For optimal relief of lower back, shoulder, and neck pain, you should use your massage cushion around 3-4 times a week. If you’re using the cushion for relaxation or stress relief, 1-3 times a week should suffice.
Wrapping Up How to Find the Best Massage Pillow
Getting the best massage pillow can be a life-changing decision in a number of ways. From short-term to long-term pain relief on your neck and back, a nice massage can be especially soothing.
Massage can benefit other body parts a whole lot, including the hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders.
Of course, an expert massager can work on your body to loosen up tight muscles and provide pain relief. But visiting a massage therapist often can be inconvenient for busy people and expensive for many.
No wonder electronic massage pillows are being widely used by people. These devices can be a smart and cost-effective solution to give yourself a massage at any time. In addition, many orthopedic surgeons recommend these devices to their patients.
Make sure to check out our top massage pillow options above to assess their features and usefulness. Read through the list and see if you can find one that will meet your needs.
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