It’s been a tough day. You had a difficult meeting with your boss. The principal at your school gave you one of those nasty lectures about how your child behaves. Then the kids are upset because of what you cooked for dinner. From start to finish, the stress you’ve kept inside builds up tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.
Once everyone gets to bed and you’ve got some time to yourself, one of the best ways to relieve that tension is to use a neck and shoulder massager. You can wrap it around you as you watch a favorite movie, eat some ice cream, and prepare yourself for what may come tomorrow.
And that’s just one version of a stressful day. Your version may be unique, but the benefits that the best neck and shoulder massager offers are available to everyone.
Which Products Are the Best?
The products in this category are fairly straightforward and have similar designs. What sets them apart from one another, therefore, is the quality of the product, its potential longevity, and the effectiveness of the massage points. These are the top-rated neck and shoulder massagers that you’ll want to think about first.
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Massage Nodes||Price|
|Naipo Neck and Shoulder Massager||4.5||8||$$$|
|Five Star S Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager||4.3||8||$$|
|Naturalico Shiatsu Massager||4.2||4||$$|
|ComfySure Shiatsu Electric Shoulder & Neck Massager||4.8||8||$$|
|Zyllion Shiatsu Pillow Massager with Heat||4.5||4||$$|
|Viktor Jurgen Shiatsu Neck and Shoulder Massager||4.0||8||$$|
|Belmint Shiatsu Neck & Shoulder Massager||4.3||4||$$|
|Naipo Cordless Massager for Neck & Back||4.5||8||$$$|
|Nekteck Shiatsu Deep Kneading Massager||4.7||8||$$$|
|Koo-Care Cordless Neck & Back Massager||4.9||8||$$|
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Massage Nodes||Price|
Why Does My Neck Hurt So Much?
If you wake up with a stiff neck, it won’t take long to discover how often you turn your head over the course of a day. It can be annoying. It can be a sign of stress.
It can also be the indication that there is a medical problem that may need to be addressed.
The primary reason why your neck and shoulders hurt is because of a muscle strain. An activity, which places your neck and shoulders into an awkward position, offers the potential to strain the muscles. It may be how you work at your computer, hold your smartphone, or even how you sleep at night.
Your neck is also part of your cervical spine. Over time, muscle stiffness, arthritis, neurological issues, and other disorders can place heavy amounts of wear and tear on your neck and shoulders. This creates chronic neck pain that can also contribute to acute, sharp painful encounters.
There are two common causes of chronic pain in the neck and shoulders.
- Disc Problems. The vertebrae discs in your neck and spine are soft tissues. They provide a “cushion” between each bone in your neck and back. If one of those discs slips loose, it can be very painful as it presses against nerve endings.
- Stenosis. The joints of the neck can begin to place pressure on the central nervous system, especially when arthritis is involved. It is the pressure against the nerve that causes the pain, which causes the muscles around the affected area to tense up as a way to protect the injury.
A condition that affects about 10% of the population is called osteoid osteoma. It can happen to anyone, but usually isn’t diagnosed until a person reaches their 40s or 50s. It is a tumor, always benign, that develops within the bones of the neck. Although it creates discomfort, the tumor doesn’t spread to other parts of the body and is usually left alone unless the pain is difficult to manage.
Infections can cause immediate pain and stiffness in the neck as well, but this usually feels different than the typical soreness that stress or the other conditions.
If you cannot turn your head without intense pain, medical attention should be sought.
How to Treat a Stiff Neck and Sore Shoulders
The CDC reports that about 15% of Americans suffer from the soreness of a stiff neck and shoulders in a given year. For most people, the cause of this stiffness and pain is either overuse of the muscles that are sore or a misuse of them.
If you look at a computer screen throughout much of the day without proper posture, the muscles that are around the joints of the neck begin to overstretch. This causes fatigue, which then creates the muscle soreness that is experienced. Over time, without treatment and a change in habits, the neck joints can become displaced, adding even more pain into the daily mix.
The best actions you can take are proactive to solve your neck and shoulder pain problems.
- Raise the level of your computer monitor on your desk so you aren’t looking downward.
- Sit up straight when working at a computer, playing video games, watching TV, or any other sedentary activity.
- Avoid the urge to twist or tilt your head to the side for prolonged periods while using electronic devices.
Even with these actions, however, muscle soreness can still happen. That’s when the best neck and shoulder massagers can provide some help.
Before using your preferred massager, it is a good idea to properly stretch out your neck first. This will make the muscles more receptive to the massage and resolve many of the pain issues that you are facing. Neck stretching can also help to prevent future neck and shoulder soreness when performed regularly as well.
Here are the best stretches to do if you’re experiencing neck soreness right now and you’re getting ready to give yourself a nice massage.
- Roll your shoulders. Rotate them backwards and down for at least 10 rotations.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades. Bring your shoulder blades together and hold the stretch for about 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Push your head backwards. You’ll want to press your head into the back of whatever chair you’re sitting in right now. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
- Bring your ear to your shoulder. Place your left ear on your left shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Then place your right ear on your right shoulder and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat up to 10 times.
You should never roll your neck as a way to relieve soreness. This action can cause damage to the neck joints if the muscles have tightened to protect against an injury occurring.
Your Actions After Your Neck and Shoulder Massage Matter Too
After sitting with the best neck and shoulder massager for 20-30 minutes, you may feel a lot better. The muscle tension could be gone. For most people, the next step is to continue on with their day because their neck and shoulders aren’t sore.
That may not be the right option. Post-massage actions can help future neck and shoulder issues from becoming painful problems.
If your neck is recently sore and the circumstances are unusual, then apply heat or ice to the affected region. Apply the heat or ice for up to 20 minutes, and then allow the area to rest for 20 minutes before applying heat or ice again. Continue for up to 3 days, and then use heat only when treating the neck and shoulders.
It is important for you to keep moving your neck and shoulders after a massage using smooth movements. Avoid the temptation to try cracking your neck. Use the stretches for relief if you feel like your neck needs to pop instead.
How you sleep matters as well. If your neck problems persist, it may be due to your positioning while sleeping. Try sleeping on a firm mattress with a thin pillow to see if relief can be experienced for acute pain. If chronic pain has developed because of sleeping habits, it may take 2-3 weeks of sleeping on a thin pillow or with no pillow before a change in the symptoms is experienced.
For some individuals, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help to lessen the pain being experienced in the neck and shoulders. There are also muscle creams that are specifically designed to relieve the pain of sore muscles.
How Much Should I Budget for a Neck and Shoulder Massager?
Here’s some good news: virtually all neck and shoulder massagers are priced under $100. Most are in a price range of $35-$70.
You have two different options here to experience relief. Some massagers are designed to drape over you, while others are designed to operate like a pillow, but with massaging contact points that work on your sore muscles.
If you have sore shoulders, the pillow-style version of these massagers will not provide much relief. The goal of the pillow design is to be supportive of the neck. Releasing tension in the neck may release the tension in the shoulders as well, but results tend to vary.
All massagers in this category tend to involve features such as heat, changes to the massage style, and light vibration. The primary distinction you’ll find is between corded and cordless massagers.
With a corded massager, you’re tied to an outlet, but you can give yourself a massage of unlimited time. Cordless massagers allow you to go anywhere with the tool, but most have a limited usage period before needing to be recharged or have its batteries replaced.
Both styles, however, get the job done.
Choose the Best Neck and Shoulder Massager for Personal Use
A single push-button operates each command, making the controls super simple to use. You do need to cycle through the different speeds, however, so if you miss the right speed the first time, you’ll need to keep pressing the control button until you get back to the correct setting. Because the hand straps sit a bit higher than on other models, taller individuals may find the ergonomics of this massager to be a little uncomfortable. For the average person, the shape, size, and length are just right for a good session of self-massage therapy.
With a power cord length of 10 feet, you have a better range of motion when using this neck and should massager compared to other models. Although the heat function only turns on and off, you do have extra portability with a DC to AC adapter so you can use it in a vehicle. Governors are in place to prevent the massager from overheating. The manufacturer recommends a maximum run-time of 45 minutes to prevent an automatic shut off from happening. If the shut off does happen, it takes between 1-3 hours for the unit to cool enough so it can be used again.
The most impressive aspect of this neck and shoulder massager is its overall profile. At 4 pounds, it weighs half of what other massagers do in this category. You’ll want to make sure you’re either sitting up or standing when using this massager. Putting extra pressure on it causes the mechanism to grind and this can lead to a premature end-of-life scenario. You can pull lightly on it to increase pressure a little. If you discover that the pressure along the neck and shoulders isn’t quite right, use this as a foot massage option and you’ll be satisfied.
What is nice about this particular wrap-around massager is that the nodes hit common points of tension in the neck and shoulders automatically. You’ll feel the lower and upper back begin to relax thanks to the wrapping design and how it contacts the muscles, along with a release of tension over the first few minutes of the massage. It also comes with a car power adapter so you can take the massager with you almost everywhere and is programmed with a 15-minute automatic shutoff.
This pillow massager is remarkably effective at what it can do. The massage nodes create enough of a kneading action that muscle tension just melts away. You do need to place your neck in the center of the pillow to receive the best results and there can be a light pinching that happens when too much pressure is applied. The nicest part about the design of this massager, however, is the attachment straps. You can secure it to a chair and use it on your back, your legs, or other problem spots too.
This neck and shoulder massager offers 8 nodes of rotational support, providing you the chance to have a massage that is powerfully deep. The synthetic leather-like shell of the massager is easy enough to clean and care for over the life of the massager. The button placement is a little awkward with the massager in place, considering the overall length of the hand straps. If you’re on a tight budget and need a proven winner, however, you will feel happy that you purchased this helpful tool.
This shoulder and neck massager is one of those products that creates mixed feelings. On one hand, it offers an extended area of massage therapy, allowing the massage nodes to envelope the neck and provide a thorough massage. On the other hand, the mesh component of the massage tool can bind and bunch when operating, which can create skin friction on the higher settings. The heat setting is nice and the massage is consistently good, so it’s all about controlling the tempo of the massage to maximize your investment.
The problem with so many massagers in this category is that they leave you tied to an outlet. Power cords can be as short as 6 feet. Use the massager in the car and you maybe have 5 feet of cord – if you’re lucky. With this rechargeable massager, you get to go cordless. Forget sitting in an uncomfortable chair. Wrap this massager around you while you watch a favorite movie in your recliner. Take to the office. Take it to the gym. Take it with you when you take the kids to the playground. It really is one of the most versatile massagers available today.
It’s the length that we really liked about this particular shoulder and neck massager. Even when the hand straps drape down, they don’t dangle because they’re so long or flap about because they’re too short. Your arms get to hang in a natural position and that promotes stress and tension release. The controls are placed in a fairly comfortable position as well, but far enough out of the way where you won’t accidentally bump them. Although the power cord could be a little longer, we really enjoyed using this model. Choose from one of two color options.
We’ve got some mixed feelings about this massager. The issue is the hand straps. On one hand, we appreciate the width of the strap, which is more supportive than other models. On the other hand, the positioning of the straps makes you look like you’re getting into a defensive position as a boxer. The actual massage area is oversized and consistent, offering 3 adjustable settings that are supported by 8 massage nodes. If you can handle the position your arms will need to be in to hold this massager in place, we think you’ll enjoy the outcome it can provide.
The best neck and shoulder massagers will help you get kinks out, make stress disappear, and help you become a happier you. Make the investment for yourself today and it may just be one of the best purchases you complete this year.