Whether you have experienced sitting at a desk all day, sleeping weirdly, working out too hard, or a serious sports injury, most of us have encountered neck problems from time to time. Neck massagers are an incredible tool for relaxation and recovery. It can help relieve uncomfortable issues like stiffness, muscle strains, soreness, whiplash, and postural issues.
Going to a massage therapist regularly can be expensive and not feasible for some people. So if you don’t have the time and money to get a regular professional massage, investing in an at-home neck massager is a cost-effective alternative. Plus, you can use them whenever you want them to instead of sticking to a massage appointment.
In this article, learn about neck massagers, their benefits, and what to look for when buying them.
What is a Neck Massager?
Neck massagers refer to various massage tools and devices that target the neck. The neck is a common problem area that gets painful due to knots, stiffness, poor posture, improper sleep patterns, strained muscles, and other reasons.
There’s a wide range of neck massagers – from manual, hand-held rollers to massage chairs with heat and vibration that works out the whole body. While there are types of massagers that are designed to target the neck, many neck massagers are versatile enough to use for the whole body.
Popular types of neck massagers include:
1. Kneading massage pillows
A kneading massage pillow is designed to fit around the neck like a pillow. These massagers come with kneading massage nodes that target the muscles to relieve pain. Massage pillows are great for people with an injury because instead of needing to twist and turn to massage themselves, you can stay in a neutral position by sitting against it.
2. Percussive massagers
Also called a massage gun, a percussive massager is a drill-like device that gives soft and fast blows to the muscles to release muscle tension. It uses a percussive force to access the deep knots and tension in the muscles, just like a massage therapist would do with a deep-tissue massage. This makes them effective at relieving muscle stiffness in the back and neck, but using them requires care and knowledge to avoid injury. This massager may also require the help of another person so you can reach certain areas.
3. Massage balls
Massage balls are manual massagers similar to foam rollers. You only need to hold the massage ball and use it to press the area of your body that needs pain relief. This way, you can manually control the pressure.
4. Massage wands
Wand-style massagers typically have long handles to reach the back, but you can also use them to apply force on the neck as well.
5. Shiatsu massagers
A shiatsu massager is another type to consider, as it is great for relaxation since it works out the tension in the muscles like a shiatsu massage. There are scarf-like massagers that have positioning handles and arm loops for massaging the neck and shoulders.
6. TENS devices
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) devices are battery-powered and designed to deliver an electrical impulse to relieve muscle soreness and pain.
Benefits of a Neck Massager
Neck massagers offer physical and even psychological benefits, such as:
Relieving stiff neck
A stiff neck isn’t just uncomfortable and painful – it can also lead to other health issues if left untreated. The reduced blood flow in a stiff neck can also cause malfunctioning of the immune system. As a result, you can experience fatigue and dizziness. A neck massager can help ease muscle tension and improve neck flexibility.
Relieving acute pain
If you suffer from acute pain that may be caused by muscle overuse, muscular tension, or surgery, a neck massager can help ease the pain. Also, if you have tight muscles that cause pain, it can be remedied through massage. It can also boost blood circulation and alleviate inflammation in the body.
A neck massage increases the body temperature and the temperature of the connective and muscular tissues to reduce stiffness in the joints and relax the muscles.
High-stress environments can cause tension to build in your muscles, causing discomfort and pain. One of the most basic benefits of a neck massage is that it releases muscle tension and encourages relaxation. If you are having trouble sleeping, it may be caused by stress so that a relaxing massage can benefit your well-being.
When the body becomes relaxed, it releases endorphins that improve the mood and helps relieve or prevent anxiety and depression. Massages can also help discharge toxins from the body.
Those who play sports or engage in physical activities can also benefit greatly from a neck massage, which can help reduce chronic or temporary pain.
What to Look for When Buying a Neck Massager
The best neck massagers come with features that set them apart from the rest. Here’s what you need to look for so you can get the best massager for your specific needs:
Type of massager
There are many types of neck massagers, like the ones mentioned above. Choosing which one will depend on many factors, including your budget, concerns, and your desire to perform the massage to target problematic areas manually. For instance, massage balls and canes can target the knots or pressure points. You may also opt for a massage chair to work the whole body, not just the neck.
If the neck is often a problem area for you, go for a massager designed for the neck, like massage pillows and products marketed as neck massagers. But if the neck is just one of your problem areas, you may opt for a more versatile massager that can be effectively used for other parts of the body.
Electric or manual
Electric massagers can give you an effortless and stable massage, while manual massagers require more effort but offer you control of pressure and speed. Choosing the right one will depend on your personal preference.
Sometimes with manual massagers, people don’t know how fast or how aggressive the massage should be. If you’re going to use a manual massager, use one with caution because too much pressure can be damaging.
Speed and function
Electric massagers often have speed settings and multi-functional controls. More than one speed is important when looking for a neck massager. Some massagers come with different-shaped heads so that you can customize the experience. Most massage funs, and wands come with different heads and offer multiple intensities and speeds.
Meanwhile, when it comes to pillows, chair covers, and other passive massagers, they should include at least a few speed and direction options. These let you tailor the massage to your liking and needs. – not too hard nor too soft, slower or faster, up and down, or side to side.
Heat therapy has been known to relieve intense muscle soreness, spasms, stress, tension, and stiffness. It can also help stimulate blood flow. So, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, you can benefit from a massager with a heating function. For the most part, percussive massagers do not have this option, but many pillow massagers do.
If you are to pick a massager with a heat function, be careful not to leave the heat on for extended periods of time, especially if you’re prone to falling asleep while using a massager. Some pillow and chair massagers may also have an auto-off function to prevent overheating.
Cordless or corded
For electric massagers, check to see if it’s cordless or needs an outlet for use. This will depend on your personal preference, but if you’re looking for a portable option, a cordless massager is the better option. If you are prone to neck aches and are always traveling, a rechargeable or battery-operated, cordless neck massager is the one to pick.
A massager with an ergonomic design sits snugly around the neck, shoulders, and calves. If it fits your body well, you will get better results as it can target specific body muscles more efficiently.
If your body aches frequently, a portable model is right for you. This way, you can easily carry it to the gym, office, or anywhere else. There are some massagers that come in handy when traveling and can fit your luggage easily.
When buying a neck massager, safety is of utmost importance. You want to be confident that your purchase will provide relief without risking injuries. It’s always best to start massaging on the lowest setting when you first start using your neck massager, then slowly ramp it up. This way, you’ll be aware of how your body responds to the device.
Also, check with the instruction manual of your device if it is safe to sleep with the neck massager on. Some types of massagers, like massage pillows, are designed for overnight use. If your massager isn’t designed for this purpose, don’t sleep with it on. Electrical devices attached to your neck or shoulders also pose a strangling hazard.
For most neck massagers, there are time restrictions for their use. If you use it long after it has done its job, you’re doing more harm than good.
Also, when using the massager, discover your limits. Using the massager can be uncomfortable at the start, but as your body adjusts to the massaging, it should provide some relief. But if it feels more painful, you should discontinue using it immediately.
Self-massage using neck massagers may have benefits for pain reduction, relaxation, and stress relief. There are different types of neck massagers to alleviate neck muscle issues, and the best product for you will depend on many different factors.