Not everyone likes having to travel to get a professional massage every time they want to loosen up their tight neck and shoulders.
Not only that, but having to pay over and over again can become very costly over time.
Wouldn’t it be great to pay once and be able to experience it from the comfort of your own home?
Electric neck and shoulder massagers are a great option for anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of a spa-type massage in their own home, office, or even when on the couch watching TV.
In this post, I’ll briefly discuss the benefits of such devices and what features you should be looking for in a neck and shoulder massager.
After that, I’ll take you through the best neck and shoulder massagers on the market and then reveal which one I finally chose for my own personal use.
Why Use an Electric Neck and Shoulder Massager?
Numerous studies have confirmed the effectiveness of Shiatsu massage – a Japanese style of massage that involves rubbing, tapping, squeezing, and applying deep pressure to muscles – in treating neck pain.
New research now suggests that proper timing is the key to maximizing the benefits of massage therapy.
In a 2014 study, researchers at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle compared improvements in neck pain between 228 men and women who received either one, two, or three 30- or 60-minute massages per week, and a control group who received no massages at all.
The participants who received three 60-minute massages weekly showed the most improvement after four weeks of treatment.
Neck and shoulder massagers are designed to mimic the deep kneading action of a Shiatsu massage performed by a professional therapist.
While these devices are not intended to completely replace professional treatment, they are an ideal solution for those who are unable to find a massage therapist in their area, can’t afford pricey massage sessions, travel a lot, or are too busy to visit a massage therapist regularly.
Neck and shoulder massagers are also useful for pain relief and maintaining range of motion in the upper trap area.
What to Look for in Neck and Shoulder Massager
Neck and shoulder massagers come in many different designs and offer a variety of features.
Below are a few things to look for in the best neck and shoulder massagers.
Ease of use
When you’re in need of pain relief, the last thing you want to do is waste time fiddling with complicated massage settings.
When shopping for a neck and shoulder massager, look for a model that has simple, straightforward controls.
Often times the fewer the buttons the better.
Neck and shoulder massagers are covered with a variety of materials, including neoprene, synthetic rubber, and PU leather.
Look for a massager made from a material that feels comfortable and won’t irritate your skin.
If you perspire a lot, look for a massager covered in a breathable material like mesh.
If you want to take your massage experience up a notch, be sure to look for a massager with heat options.
Then during your massage you can select how much heat you wish to apply.
Cordless vs Wired
A cordless massager is more convenient than one which requires it to be plugged in before it works.
There’s nothing worse than having to untangle yourself from all the wires that run across your body every time you use your massager.
With a cordless massager this isn’t an issue.
Most cordless massagers have the option to either be used with a cord or without.
Although a cordless massager is more convenient they are more costly than a wired one.
The design of the electric massager is important, especially if you plan to use the device to massage other areas of your body, such as the legs, abdomen, or feet.
A wraparound design with handles that allow you to adjust the pressure on different parts of the body will provide the most versatility.
Some neck and shoulder massagers also include velcro straps on the handles which allows you to wrap the massager around your body without having to hold on to them.
Electric neck and shoulder massagers vary widely in price.
Those on the lower end of the price scale are generally not as effective or durable than more expensive models.
Before purchasing a massager, it’s a good idea to consider your budget and needs.
If you only plan to use the massager for a short period of time, a cheaper model may be sufficient for your needs.
If you’re looking for a powerful massager that will last you for many years, you’re better off investing in a more expensive unit.
The Best Electric Neck and Shoulder Massagers
For someone who is unfamiliar with all of the different types of neck and shoulder massagers currently on the market, choosing the right unit can be an overwhelming task.
To help you choose the right massager for your needs, We’ve rounded up the best neck and shoulder massagers available today.
We’ve based these selections on ease of use, design, quality, price, and overall customer satisfaction.
1. FIVE S Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager
The FIVE S Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager features a wraparound design that allows you to use the massager around your back, neck, shoulders, arms, torso, legs, and feet.
It has 8 massaging nodules that rotate in two directions and at 3 different speeds.
It also has a heated massage setting, which is great for soothing sore muscles.
A convenient car adapter is included in the box, making the FIVE S Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager a great option for anyone who’s always on the go.
What we love most about the FIVE S Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager is its ease of use.
All you have to do is plug the unit in and choose your desired massage speed and directions.
We also like the handy automatic shut-off feature, which ensures you don’t exceed the recommended treatment time.
In terms of performance, the FIVE S Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager is tough to beat.
It delivers a deep, intense massage that mimics the hand movements of a Shiatsu massage therapist.
Some users, however, have reported that this massager is too rough for their liking.
Another common complaint is that the massager doesn’t get hot enough, even at its highest heat setting.
Overall, though, the FIVE S Shiatsu Massager is a great option for those seeking a lightweight, versatile, and portable neck massager that won’t break the bank.
Pros: 8 massage modes, heated massage setting, auto shut-off, 3-year warranty
Cons: Not hot enough even at highest heat setting, massage may be too intense for some
2. Naipo Cordless Back Neck Shoulder Massager
The Naipo Cordless Back Neck and Shoulder Massager features a similar wraparound design to the FIVE S Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager, with the addition of velcro straps that hold the massager in place and allow you to leave your hands free.
The Naipo Cordless Back Neck and Shoulder Massager has a heated massage setting.
Its cordless design makes this massager an excellent choice for anyone who wants to be able to continue their daily activities while enjoying the benefits of a deep Shiatsu massage.
The secret to the Naipo Cordless Back Neck and Shoulder Massager’s effectiveness is its four 3D massage nodes, which are designed to deliver a deep tissue massage that is almost indistinguishable from a professional massage.
Customers love the portability and versatility and hands-free design of this unit, although some have complained that the massager is less powerful when running on battery power alone.
Others have said that the massager doesn’t get hot enough.
Despite these minor complaints, the Naipo Back Neck and Shoulder Massager is a great portable device that can be used around the home, while driving, at work, or on vacation.
Pros: Cordless operation, 3D massage nodes with heat, long battery life
Cons: Less powerful when running on the battery alone, doesn’t get hot enough
3. InvoSpa Deep Tissue 3D Kneading Pillow Massager
Like the Naipo and Five S neck and shoulder massagers, the InvoSpa features a U-shaped design that drapes over your shoulders.
It also has arm straps that allow you to adjust the intensity of the massage depending on which body part you’re massaging.
Like the FIVE S Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager, the InvoSpa comes with a car charger adapter for use while travelling.
What sets this massager apart from similar models, though, is that it uses infrared technology to produce a more consistent heated massage.
We love the streamlined design of this electric neck and shoulder massager, which allows it to be easily transported.
We also like that the unit comes with a carrying case for added portability.
The built-in straps do take some getting used to, however, and some may find the overall shape of the InvoSpa awkward.
This massager provides a moderately intense massage, which can be effective in relieving mild neck and shoulder pain.
If you’re looking for a unit that can give you a powerful deep-tissue massage, however, the InvoSpa may not be the right massager for you.
Pros: Lightweight, comes with carrying case, auto shut-off, three massage speed and massage intensity settings
Cons: Less powerful than other models, shape is awkward
4. Brookstone Cordless Shiatsu Neck & Back Massager with Heat
The Brookstone Cordless Shiatsu Neck & Back Massager is a heavy-duty massager designed to bring maximum relief from neck, back, and shoulder pain.
It features eight deep-kneading nodes that help you target hard-to-reach areas, such as between the shoulder blades, and a heated massage setting for soothing tense, tired muscles.
Two built-in loop handles allow you to easily hold the massager in place while massaging different areas of the upper body.
The Brookstone Cordless Shiatsu Neck & Back Massager is equipped with a powerful lithium-ion battery that provides up to 3 hours of continuous use on a single charge, making this unit ideal for on-the-go pain relief.
This massager provides an intense neck and shoulder massage that can aid in post-workout recovery and reduce the severity of delayed-onset muscle soreness.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Brookstone Cordless Shiatsu Neck & Back Massager is designed to be used on the neck, back, and shoulders only.
Another important consideration is that the massager is quite heavy.
Elderly individuals or those who have a limited range of motion in the neck and shoulders may find using this massager difficult.
Pros: Cordless design, targeted massage intensity, powerful kneading action, heated massage setting
Cons: Designed for neck and back only, too heavy for some
5. MaxKare Shiatsu Neck Shoulder Massager
What sets the MaxKare Shiatsu Neck Shoulder Massager apart from the other massagers on our list is its breathable mesh cover, which allows for better airflow during heated massage sessions.
Deep, kneading massage is provided by eight bi-directional nodes that imitate human touch.
The included AC and car charger adapters allow you to enjoy a soothing massage at home, at the office, while driving, or anywhere else in between.
The MaxKare Shiatsu Neck Shoulder Massager features a contoured design that allows the unit to fit snugly against the contours of the lower back, waist, abdomen, and legs.
That said, some users have complained of discomfort when leaning back against the unit.
This massager does come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, though, so you can easily test it out before making the decision to purchase it.
Pros: Heated massage setting, bi-directional node movement, 30-day money-back guarantee, ergonomic design
Cons: Can be uncomfortable against the back, the netting can be rough against the skin, stops if too much pressure is applied
6. TruMedic InstaShiatsu Massager
The InstaShiatsu neck and shoulder massager from TruMedic is a comfortable, form-fitting massager that comes in two models: the IS-2000 and the IS-3000 Pro.
Both offer great value because they’re just over $100 and can be used virtually anywhere on your body. You can use it on your back, thighs, or even your feet.
Because it’s rechargeable, you get to use it anywhere.
The faux leather material makes it not just comfortable and aesthetically appealing, but also easy to clean.
The InstaShiatsu features adjustable velcro to keep the massager in place on your shoulders as you work at your desk or move around your home.
The only downside to the TruMedic InstaShiatsu is that it may not last you more than a year.
While TruMedic gives you a 1-year warranty, covering it for you if it breaks, many users experience it breaking once the warranty expires.
Some customers even experienced the material wearing down from regular use within less than a year.
Pros: Made of a faux leather material that looks nice and is easy to wipe clean, stays in place with adjustable velcro, can be used anywhere on your body for an effective massage with shiatsu rollers
Cons: Can quickly wear down or break, may not last more than a year
7. Naipo oCuddle™
The oCuddle from Naipo features patented straps users love because they’re extremely comfortable (hence, the name) and you can adjust them to the perfect fit.
The unique straps are made of premium PU leather, and there’s a breathable, washable fabric that can go around them if you prefer.
The straps have loops you can place your arms inside, enabling you to pull the neck rollers deeper into your neck.
Or, you can simply use them like a cozy armrest while you relax.
Whereas many neck and shoulder massagers have a breakable mesh covering the shiatsu rollers, this device protects them with a more opaque fabric.
On the Naipo oCuddle, you can choose the speed and direction of the shiatsu rollers, which feel like thumbs pressing into the back of your neck.
The oCuddle is one of the most affordable shiatsu neck and shoulder massagers, and Naipo even puts a 2-year warranty on the product.
Pros: 2-year warranty, arm straps for increasing the intensity of your neck massage, affordable, sleek design
Cons: Only features four small nodes that massage the back of your neck, without digging into your upper traps
8. Ellesye Cordless Back Neck Shoulder Massager
Like Naipo’s oCuddle, the Ellesye neck and shoulder massager is one of the most affordable options, yet it’s a high-quality product.
Although it only has 2 speeds and the shiatsu kneading intensity isn’t particularly high, many users love saving money with the Ellesye because it’s enough to get the job done for them.
Whereas the oCuddle only has 4 small massage nodes for the back of your neck, the Ellesye has 4 for each side of your upper back and neck.
By covering a larger surface area, it helps relieve more tension in your upper body and better restore blood flow to your head.
Another way the Ellesye compares to the oCuddle massager is that its straps have loops for hooking your arms inside.
This enables you to gently pull on the device to better dig into your muscles.
However, some users found they couldn’t find the intensity they needed, because too much compression on the rollers caused them to stop.
Pros: Affordable, cordless with 3-hour battery life, arm straps for comfort and adding intensity
Cons: Doesn’t offer a high-intensity level, shiatsu rollers can stop under too much pressure
9. Cordless Rechargeable Neck & Back Shiatsu Massager by Bruntmor
While the leather part is well-constructed with heavy-duty double stitching, the mesh holding the shiatsu rollers in place is prone to tearing, which can cause the rollers to fall out of the device.
On the plus side, the Bruntmor can offer a high-intensity level.
Users find when they hook their forearms inside the loops of the massager’s straps, they can pull down and provide whatever level of compression they need.
The Bruntmor is easy to use virtually anywhere on your body.
However, if you have a wide frame, there’s a chance it could be too small.
Some users found this device to be smaller than others like it.
Overall, the Bruntmor neck massager is a good value, and with a 1-year warranty included, you ensure you get your money’s worth.
Pros: Comfortable arm hooks for holding the device in place and adding intensity, cordless with 3 hours of battery life, heating feature, 1-year warranty
Cons: Mesh material is prone to breaking, could be too small if you have a wide frame
10. NURSAL Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager
The NURSAL neck and shoulder massager has 8 shiatsu rollers, and users report they work wonders on the lower back as well as the neck and shoulders.
You can use it on your thighs, too, and it has a heating option.
Probably the best part about this model from NURSAL is the 3-year warranty included, which ensures you don’t waste your money.
Nonetheless, the device itself is quite affordable.
The drawbacks are that you have to keep the device plugged in to use it, and it doesn’t offer different speeds or intensity levels for the massage nodes.
Pros: 3-year warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee, cheaper than most shiatsu massagers, contains 8 massage nodes with a heating option, features straps you can pull to apply more compression on muscles,
Cons: Not cordless, only one-speed setting, a bit too simple
Recommended Pick: Naipo Cordless Back Neck Shoulder Massager
In the end, I went with the Naipo Cordless Massager and have to say I absolutely love this thing!
I don’t just use it on my neck and shoulders, but all over the body particularly the upper and lower back.
When I’m sitting down in a chair, I’ll place the massager against the back of the chair and lean into it.
It really has done wonders for releasing tension in my back.
What I like about the Naipo massager is that it is powerful.
When it comes to kneading my muscles I like to push very firmly against the nodules and the Naipo massager can handle the pressure I put on it without it stopping.
This was not the case with the Maxkare version. Whenever I put even a little force the massager simply didn’t like it and would grind to a halt.
The other good thing about the Naipo is it has a solid build and quality feel to the material.
When I used the Maxkare version on my neck the netting seemed really rough and felt like it was scratching my neck, however, the Naipo massager was very smooth and comfortable.
That being said the Naipo massager isn’t perfect.
One of the big selling points of the Naipo massager is that it is cordless.
Whilst this function works very well, if you are like me and like to put a lot of pressure onto it, you do notice the massager being slightly weaker than if it was plugged in.
Personally, I always used it plugged in, which kind of defeats the purpose of it being cordless, but I like the effectiveness of the massager so much that I don’t mind.
The other issue I had is that there were a couple of faults in the products I received.
The first Naipo massager’s stitching came loose quite early on into using it, and the second one seemed to have some charging problems.
Usually, I would have given up but I knew through the results it was yielding that it was worth persisting (and at least it gave me a chance to test the customer service, which was good too!)
All Massagers Look Alike, But Can Yield Very Different Results
When I first got my massagers I assumed they were all the same since they look almost identical (the Maxkare and the Naipo massagers even have the same box, the only difference being the brand name on it).
However, the difference between the Maxkare and the Naipo effectiveness of massage is very different.
As I stated already, the Naipo was more powerful, but also the nodules seemed to be spaced apart at a more effective distance for me.
The Maxkare nodules seemed a lot wider apart, which didn’t really work for me, whilst the Naipo nodules seemed to be placed at a distance which hit the sweet spot.
This example shows how one massager may work well for one person, and may not work well for another, and also highlights the importance of going for a brand with good customer service and a money-back/satisfaction guarantee.
Other Types of Massagers
Depending on issues you have concerning posture and symptoms like pain and stiffness, a neck and shoulder massager may not be right for you.
Explore your options before you decide.
Here are some alternatives you might consider:
Some neck massagers combine the pulse technology of a TENS unit with shiatsu massage and sometimes heat therapy to stimulate continual blood circulation in your neck.
This is a more advanced device that gives you more therapy options.
You may prefer a massager that targets the neck only.
Related: Best neck massagers
Trigger Point Massage Sticks
A trigger point massage stick is a versatile, lightweight stick with knobs you can use to help massage trigger points.
The effect is being able to dig like a firm thumb into hard-to-reach muscle tissue.
A massage stick can also be used like a foam roller to roll out large, smooth muscle surfaces and release the fascia.
Related: Best Trigger Point Massage Sticks
Shiatsu Massage Pillows
A shiatsu massage pillow is similar to a neck and shoulder massager.
Without the straps, it’s easier to manoeuvre around to place on various muscle areas throughout your body.
However, some shiatsu massage pillows come with straps, enabling you to put the massager on the back of your chair.
Shiatsu Massage Chair Pads
A shiatsu chair pad offers a massage on your entire back, and sometimes even your glutes and thighs.
These pads are simply placed over an existing chair you own.
While it costs more, it typically has over 12 massage nodes, giving you a much better massage.
If full-body relaxation and kneading into your back is important, this type of massager may suit you.
Related: Best massage chair pads
A percussion massager is an electric handheld massager you can use for a more precise action that you would get with a neck and shoulder massager.
Though you get a massage from one node instead of multiple, most percussion massagers have interchangeable massage heads, so you can adjust the shape and size of the node for the perfect feel.
Related: Best Percussion Massagers
Safety Tips & Precautions
Neck and shoulder massagers are generally considered to be safe, but you’ll still want to take a few precautions when using one of these devices.
With any kind of neck manipulation comes an increased risk of injury to the spine.
Here are a few tips for using electric neck massagers safely.
- Focus on massage frequency, not massage length. Shorter, more frequent sessions are recommended over long, intense massages.
- Most neck massagers have a recommended treatment time of 15 minutes. To ensure you don’t massage your neck for too long at one time, choose a unit that has an automatic shut-off feature.
- Remove anything around your neck before using your massager. Necklaces, scarves, and neckties can get caught in the massager and increase your risk of injury.
- Avoid using electric massagers on the front of the neck. Using a massager around the throat may result in carotid artery damage.
- Avoid using electric neck and shoulder massagers on children. Most neck massagers are designed solely for adult use and can seriously injure a small child’s neck
Will a Neck and Shoulder Massager Beat Professional Treatment?
Most likely no, however, factoring in price and convenience neck and shoulder massagers are a good alternative.
Many people find these type of massagers very effective whilst some people find it simply isn’t for them.
If you don’t find them effective then sometimes it’s down to not selecting the right electric massager, or you may need a different type of tool altogether.
There are many effective neck and shoulder massagers on the market, but the ones we’ve reviewed in this post provide the best value in terms of price, performance, and versatility.
The information contained in this guide should help you understand all of the different features that are available so you can choose the best unit for your needs.