It might not be time to say good-bye to the calendar year just yet, but you can say good-bye to muscle, tendon, and joint pain. And not just for the rest of the year.
There's no reason to head into 2018—or spend another day for that matter—in pain.
Whether you are an athlete, spend a lot of time on your feet, suffer from headaches or body pain, or just want to relax and rejuvenate more often, massage is a key component to better health and wellbeing.
They've done studies that show massage helps patients heal more quickly and stay emotionally healthier and more positive after most procedures.
But you don't have to see a doctor or physical therapist to get the benefits of massage. A back handheld massager is one of the best and most accessible ways to relieve pain, tension, and muscle knots quickly and effectively, wherever and whenever you need it.
If you ever thought the only massager for knots was the one at the sports medicine clinic, or the only thing standing between you and the best handheld massager was a couple of hundred dollars and a trip to your favorite day spa, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out neither of these is true.
All you need is a portable massager.
There are a lot of choices out there, and we know no one has the time to scour that last year's issues of Consumer Reports. So, we've done the research for you and rounded up the pros and cons of each. One of the best models available, and our pick for the number one slot is the Pure Wave CM7 by Pado.
But there are several others that are worth considering.
Best Rated Hand Held Massagers 2017
Pado PureWave CM7
There's no point in us burying the lead. There's a lot to love about the CM7. This lightweight work horse is our top pick for the best all around, and, the best deep tissue massager machine you can buy.
Research has shown the benefits of vibration massage therapy, and for serious microvibration horsepower, you can't beat the PureWave CM7.
It delivers 3,700 RPMs. And if you don't want to take our word for it, check out this review by physical therapists Brad Heinech and Bob Schrupp. They agree.
PROS & CONS
The CM7 delivers both vibration and percussion massage therapy. It's cordless, lightweight, and compact. It weighs a mere pound and three-quarters, and it's only sixteen and a half inches long.
We love how easy it is to throw into your gym bag, leave in an office drawer, or fit right into your carry-on. The best thing about this model, though? It's actually two in one. It's a full percussion massager that comes with 6 stick attachments for your body, and it's also a vibration head and face device.
The face and scalp sticks enable you to deeply massage your temples, scalp, face, and jaw. A professional head massage relieves headaches, neck pain, and the discomfort and extreme pain that can be associated with jaw conditions, such as TMJ.
And you get all of that from it that can also work out the knots in your back, shoulders, neck, arms, and legs with the intensity level you select. The CM7 is also our choice for the best massager for athletes, as you can't find a better massage for deep tissue massage. It is also great as a massager for hands.
It also comes with a body massage oil stick, enabling you to incorporate therapeutic oils into your massage. The point, air-cushion, and six-head sticks round out the perfect set of attachments to not only hit any area that needs it—whether muscle, joint, or tendon—but to also apply exactly the type of pressure and depth required for relief.
Coming in at just under 125 dollars, we were hard pressed to find a con for this all-around winner. If you want to dig deep, you could say you would prefer a longer time between charges, but it's a hard argument to make.
The battery is fully charged in an hour, and you get about three hours per charge, or roughly a week if you use it between 20 and 30 minutes a day. Not too shabby in our opinion.
Homedics HHP-350 Percussion Massager
If don't need or want everything the CM7 delivers, or you just prefer choices, you cannot go wrong with the Percussion Pro Handheld Massager with Heat by Homedics.
This machine is about medium-high on the scale of intensity, so it's kind of hits the sweet spot when it comes to home massagers. Its well designed ergonomic handle makes it extremely easy to hold and use.
The massage is delivered via two pivoting heads, and there are two additional customized sets included, so you can choose from a heated, gentle, or firm massage.
PROS & CONS
We like the heat option in this model. Many studies have shown that incorporating heat into massage is beneficial for relieving muscle and many other types of pain.
We also found it a plus that you can customize the type of massage you want.
However, it's less than ideal that you must physically swap out the heads to move between the modalities.
There is a variable speed controller, so the ability to choose how fast or slow you want the heads to pivot goes into the "pro" column. In general, this is a good entry-level or basic handheld massager for home use.
It's not rich with features, but what it does—providing three solid types of percussion massage—it does very well.
It's two and-a-half pounds, so it's a bit heavier than the PureWave CM7, but the price point might be the only plus you need: you can pick one up on Amazon for just under 35 dollars.
You would be hard pressed to find a comparable model that is this reliable and well made.
Thumper E501 Percussive
Like the Homedics HHP-350 in appearance and functionality, the Thumper E501 delivers percussion massage by way of two rotating, interchangeable heads.
It's designed to penetrate muscles deeply, so it's advised that rather than moving it around or sliding it across large muscles on your body, you hold it in place for about 20 or 30 seconds per spot.
This is quite effective on large muscle groups, especially for those who are very athletic, and it greatly improves circulation. You can control the speed of the massage, from 20 to 40 pulses delivered per second.
PROS & CONS
The Thumper E501 is one of the heavier home models out there (it weighs 3 pounds), so it's not quite as versatile as some of the others we like a little more.
The quality of massage and ability to soothe muscles and work out the severest of knots is excellent, however. This model is highly recommended for athletes, as it delivers a very deep massage.
The handle is long, so it's easy to reach all the spots on your back, shoulders, and legs. And if you find yourself with a leg cramp in the middle of the night, this is the one you want. It breaks up knots quickly and instantly soothes the muscles around the area and releases associated tension.
You'll spend a bit more on the Thumper than you would on the Homedics Handhelm Massager it runs a little over 150 dollars—but it's still a very cost effective option for the features, quality of massage, and solid craftsmanship.
Zyllion Handheld Therapeutic Percussion With Heat
The Zyllion ZMA-16 is a nice midpoint between the Homedics HHP-350 and the Thumper E501. The price point is squarely between the two, costing 70 dollars. Like the HHP-350, you get the heat option, which is a major advantage to a handheld.
It's also a percussion model, but it utilizes a single head as opposed to dual rotating heads like the Homedics and Thumper. The intensity level is set via a dial, so you can control how vigorous or minimal you want or need the massage to be.
PROS & CONS
The price is squarely in the pro column, and we also like that it comes with three interchangeable heads, designed to target different spots and depths. This is effective for targeting surface areas versus deep tissue and larger muscle groups.
The heat is excellent for relaxation and circulation, and the ergonomic and modern styling is a plus, if you're after a device that is more streamlined.
Like the Thumper, it's a bit heavier than some of its competitors, so we put the three pounds in the con column. All told, we like the price, look, and heat delivered by the ZMA-16, but it falls a bit short on features and portability.
Many home users also prefer two heads to one for percussion massage in order to hit larger areas in a shorter amount of time.
Naipo Handheld Percussion Massager With Heating
Like the Zyllion, the Naipo handheld massager with heat has a single rather than set of two rotating heads.
It offers deep penetrating percussion massage, however, and comes with three different attachment heads. You can target various sets of muscles, tendons, and joints easily, and choose between levels of intensity and depth. The Naipo heating is excellent for improving circulation.
PROS & CONS
A definite pro of the Naipo is its sleek modern design. If looks matter, and you don't want one that tends towards the bulky, you'll like the Naipo. And if price is important, you can stop reading now.
You purchase one on Amazon for less than 35 dollars. It doesn't pack the features that the other contenders do, however. And the handle, while looking good, is not as ergonomically effective. This is a well priced, good looking, average massager that few would be sorry to own.
You can relieve muscle knots, aches, pains, and recover from exercise quickly with this massager, and it will provide tension relief and relaxation very well.
An upside to wanting professional grade massage at home is that there are so many excellent handheld model. And while the PureWave CM7 is our top pick, there are many excellent choices out there that will serve you well for years to come.
Other brands you may consider, but we think less superior are: Oster, Brookstone Active Sport.
The physical and psychological benefits of massage are well documented, so the best thing you can do for yourself is to pick the one that's right for you, and get to relieving that tension and increasing relaxation as soon as possible.