From neck ache to trapped nerves and sleepless nights, sore muscles can be the cause of some debilitating health problems. The sad truth is, though, as much as we would like to, not many of us have the time or budget for weekly massages.
Whether hunched over a desk all day or putting your body through the paces of a gruelling training regime, daily living can put a lot of strain on the back. When one area is out of whack, it can have an impact on the rest, which is why it’s so important to regularly address those tight spots.
A handy way of keeping things in check between massage or physio appointments is to get yourself a massage tool. These nifty tools are great for easing tight spots and preventing a build up of knots. To get the most out of you self-massage tool or electric massager , it’s a good idea to either bathe or shower as the warmth of the water will heat up and relax muscles, making them much easier to manipulate. Just a few minutes of use every evening can reap benefits beyond easing tension too – the practice can help with everything from improving flexibility to increasing energy and mental wellbeing.
We had the difficult (ahem) task of taking them for a road test and have rounded up the options we found the easiest to use that garnered the best results:
Reviber Zen Physio Deep Tissue Massager
Though quite bulky to store, the Reviber massager is light and easy to manoeuvre and comes with a long handle for an easy reach around to the back. Featuring two rubber massage heads (that come with switchable attachments), the tool uses circular motions to knead out tight knots. The pressure is perfectly balanced too, so there’s no need to press down hard. Thanks to its three metre long cord, this deep tissue massager is ideal for using on harder- to – reach areas like the glutes and lower back.
£69.98 | Amazon | Buy it now
Naipo Neck and Back Massager
Perfectly shaped to cocoon the base of the head, the Naipo offers Shiatsu massage style relief to the neck. Incorporating four massage nodes, it can get to work on your tension whilst you read or watch TV. There’s a handy attachment strap included too, so you can even add it to your car seat – particularly useful if you’re about to undertake a long journey. Being one of the quieter models we tested, you can even use it to aid sleep without irritating your partner.
£24.99 | Amazon | Buy it now
HoMedics Compact Percussion Massager
Those looking for a lot of scope from their massager will love the versatility of the HoMedics model. It comes with four interchangeable attachments for varying pressure and has two different speed settings to choose from. Working with a kind of up-down motion and delivering up to 3.000 pulses per minute, it’s especially good at dissipating troublesome knots – great for long distance runners. An ergonomically shaped handle makes it easy to grip and guide around the body.
£39.97 | Amazon | Buy it now
Bodi-Tek Circulation Plus Active Foot Massager
Similar to a power plate, this Bodi-Tek massager uses high speed vibrations (officially known as Electrical Muscle Stimulation) to pulsate the muscles and increase circulation and blood flow through the legs. Anyone dealing with low mobility – whether it be due to convalescence, ill health or being stuck at a desk all day – will find this useful for getting energy flowing through the lower body. Including a remote control, the speed, time and intensity of the massage can be tailored to suit your needs.
£104.99 | Argos | Buy it now
Madisana Massage Pillow
If you suffer from stress or work in a highly pressured environment, half an hour spent lying on this beauty each night will do your blood pressure wonders. The double whammy of heat and massaging nodules works intensely to loosen up muscles, particularly in the neck and shoulders. Slightly larger than the Naipo model, it’s spacious enough to use in replacement of a pillow too. Offering two programs, the pillow uses vibration to stimulate sore spots and relive tension.
£99.99 | Argos | Buy it now
Shiatsu Back, Neck and Shoulder Massager
Sure, it may look like a cross between a lifejacket and a scarf, but the intuitive design of this shoulder and back massager makes it one of the easiest to use. One of the best things about this massage tool is the material, which feels more like leather than plastic and is easy to shape around the body. The eight incorporated massage balls use a rotation motion in the style of a Shiatsu massage, which traditionally uses the fingers to apply firm pressure to troublesome spots. By placing your hands in the straps you can both increase the intensity of the massage and give your arms a rest, which helps to open the back out to more intensive work. It also comes with its own carrier bag, too, so is easy to store away neatly.
£34.97 | Amazon | Buy it now
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
For a deeper muscle compression, TriggerPoint will be your new best friend. Favoured by physical therapists and athletes alike, the grid design of this massage tool helps you relieve tight muscles as you roll over the dense structure. This handy device is sturdy, long-lasting and encourages circulation. Highlights aside, it just feels really good to use on those tight spots.
£26.50 | Amazon | Buy it now
Trigger Point Grid STK
Whether you are at the gym, home, at work or abroad, the Grid STK roller’s compact size ensures you can alleviate muscle soreness on the go. Use on your quads, back, hamstring or calf to improve circulation and loosen tight muscles. We especially loved using this massage tool on our quads after a run but found a quick calf roll after sitting all day at the office felt incredibly good too. Bonus: stash it under your desk for little one minute sessions throughout the day, it's an at-work game changer.
£28 | Amazon | Buy it now
Drive Massage Ball
If you don’t want to commit to buying an electric device before you’ve experienced some of the benefits of other massage tools, the massage ball is a nifty and thrifty half-way house. Made from rubber and covered in spikes, it may look like a torture device but can actually work wonders. The spikes provide acupressure whilst the ball shape makes it easy to roll. Simply place under the problem area and gently roll the body over it. Light and compact, it fits easily into a backpack making it a handy sidekick to take out on long cycles or runs for emergency relief.
£11.99 | Argos | Buy it now
Lockeroom Pocket Physio
Locate and release muscle tension and tightness with the Lockeroom Pocket Physio massage tool. This tool provides a deep massage in different areas of the body depending on which size variation you opt for that we found absolutely dreamy at relieving shoulder blade and mid-back aches. Instead of rolling you simply place in the affected area, lay back and just breath deeply.
£11.50 | Amazon | Buy it now
This innovative massage tool allows you to reach the middle of your back even with limited mobility. Simple and effective, the Thera Cane provides relief to knotted or spasmed muscles. Incredibly versatile, the shape ensures you can relieve muscle pain in a variety of different position around the body.
£29.99 | Amazon | Buy it now
Medisana Anti Cellulite Massager
Forget dry body brushing – the Medisana provides the most effective way to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Similar to the massage ball, it uses rubber spikes to apply acupressure to the skin with the circular motion helping to strengthen connective tissues within the muscles and buff away the orange peel. An adjustable handle makes it easy to hold and the plastic body feels sturdy enough to take a bit of pressure.
£17.41 | Athleteshop | Buy it now
For the purposes of alleviating muscular pain, our favourite electric massager is by far the Reviber. It’s light, easy to use and the kneading motion is the most comfortable. If you’re a little strapped for cash, a simple massage ball can work wonders too. For self-massage tools the TriggerPoint Grid STK was an absolute knockout for both the home and office.