Have you ever wondered why neck pain is getting more and more common and why it happened so frequently in mankind nowadays?
Perhaps it has got to do with the way we work now - you know, long hours in front of the computer (for most). Or perhaps it is due to the constant mobile phone swiping that so many of us are so very well accustomed to nowadays.
In any case, it all goes down to one thing - poor posture.
It can be quite the nuisance though, these neck pain episodes. Muscles pulled together with the whole region feeling tight and sore. Then there is this constant underlying strain that does not seem to go away no matter what you do.
Thankfully, there are many devices that we can employ nowadays to ease and get rid of THAT pain and discomfort, in the form of – neck massagers.
Types of Neck Massagers
With the growing demand for it, there are now many different types of neck massagers available in the market.
They come in different sizes, shapes and designs, and each performs quite differently from the other.
Nevertheless, we can divide them into three types – neck massager, neck and shoulder massager and handheld percussion massager.
A. Neck Massagers / Neckband Massagers
First and foremost, we have the neck massager or as some would call it - the neckband massager.
Straightforward as its name indicates, a neck massager predominantly focuses on the neck region only. Thanks to the advanced technology it employs though, the shoulder area benefits greatly from it as well.
How It Looks
Smart, intelligent and non-invasive, you can see that it has a sleek and modern design - not quite like your usual massage device.
Shaped in the form of a 'headphone' or 'headset', it is probably the lightest and most compact massage equipment out of all.
Adopting a cordless design on top of it, it is the best portable neck massager out of all the neck massager reviews we have done so far.
This is basically what entails in a standard neckband massager.
Although there will be slight variations in different brands or different models (for example, some units have 3 electrode pads instead of 2), generally, the above is what a smart neck massager will have.
Last days of use after 1 full charge, it hangs around the neck ergonomically and discreetly.
You can walk around, shop with it or even have a quick neck massage session while at work or meetings and no one will be the wiser. This is because it literally produces NO SOUND at all.
How It Works
Smart neck massagers employ quite the new technology, that is, TENS low-frequency pulse massage.
This is very different from the traditional roller base concept that is adopted in most massage devices used to mimic the human hands to deliver massage techniques.
Emitted via these electrode plates that are embedded inside the curve of the neckband as shown above, TENS produces streams of electric current that penetrates deep into the skin.
What this does is that these electric pulses will simulate massage techniques like shiatsu, acupuncture, scrapping, tapping and the likes to stimulate the nerves of the body for therapeutic purposes.
Depending on the model, you can have up to 10 massage modes for different purposes and sensation.
The concept behind? It integrates the relaxation principle of Western muscle fibers and the stimulation reaction principle of Oriental meridians to stimulate and relax the muscles simultaneously.
Compared to traditional massage, you get a more deep tissue massage. Blood circulation is achieved and muscle pressure is relieved in a much deeper way.
Electric pulse massage also stimulates the release of endorphins and other substances that have the ability to reduce the transmission of pain signals to the spinal cord and brain.
Through this way, smart neck massagers provide pain relief for the user overall.
How To Use
First of all, wipe the back of your neck and the 2 metal pads with a wet washcloth. This is very important as it gives better efficiency and comfort.
Next, swing the U-shaped device around your neck and position the electrode pads at the back of the neck touching your skin.
Most models, at least these ones here in our best neck massager reviews have an intelligent 3D suspension design so you can be sure it fits the neck well.
Once positioned right, you can then switch the device on and select your mode and intensity. You can either do this via the control embedded on the side arm of the device or through a remote control.
Now, different models have different variations in terms of their switch and controls.
For example, this one here employs the fuselage switch whereas this one here uses integrated buttons instead but generally, you are required to press on the start button for a few seconds to turn the device on.
Next, depending on your model, you press on the button accordingly to select your mode and intensity level and voila, you’re all set. We do encourage you to read the user manual before using your smart neck massager for the first time in any case .
Things to Note
Do note that you may feel an electric shock at the beginning – do not worry, that is completely normal due to the use of electrical impulses therapy.
Try to lower the intensity level and only increase it when you have gotten used to the sensation and you should be fine.
B. Neck and Shoulder Massager
The TENS technology that is a smart neck massager is admittedly, not for everyone.
Some do not like the sensation, others may be prohibited by their existing medical conditions.
Which is why the demand for a traditional neck and shoulder massager is big and many, and continues to be on the rise.
How It Looks
By traditional neck and shoulder massager, we mean devices like that pictured above. We have extensively covered the topic here in our neck and shoulder massager reviews in fact, which you can head over to find out more.
The very first thing you will notice is that it is much bigger in size compared to the neckband massagers.
It also has this strap or handle hanging on each side of a central massaging unit - a bulkier section where massage nodes or rollers are installed to carry out the massage function.
These neck and shoulder massagers are mostly non-cordless, and they usually come with a handy carry bag for easy portability.
How It Works
Like any traditional massage equipment, a neck and shoulder massager employs the use of massage nodes or rollers to carry out a series of different massage techniques.
Most units have 8 nodes, but 4 is pretty common as well.
They are not perfectly aligned as they aim to hit at a different angle, so that they can work on a different muscle every time they rotate.
Speaking of which, a good neck and shoulder massager will have bi-directional nodes with auto-reverse rotation function available.
For those looking for the best shiatsu neck massager, this is the type you'd want to go for because shiatsu is the main massage technique focused by most models.
Kneading is very common too, which is the pressing of tissues against the hard surfaces of the bones.
It is especially helpful in alleviating joint and muscle aches so people who suffer from stiff shoulders and neck will find this technique particularly beneficial.
Compared to neckband massagers, this type of neck and shoulder massager has a much bigger coverage.
It does not massage just the neck but both shoulder and back area can receive massages at the same time as well but wait, it does not stop just there.
You can actually place the device anywhere you need to get a massage - mid back, lower back, abdomen and even the feet and calves - anywhere.
Because of such versatility, many love this type as they feel it gives the best value for money.
In particular, it is the best neck and back massager for many because the size of it is just nice for these two areas which, probably are the the most susceptible to pains and aches.
How To Use
Like an intelligent neck massager, it is very easy to use - it's just in a bigger U-shape.
You too sling the device around your neck and position the centre massaging section (where the nodes are) at the back of your neck.
Likewise, there are buttons and switch incorporated on the side of one arm for you to choose the mode and intensity you want.
Hold onto the straps/handles to keep the device in place.
This is also one of the most commonly used method to control the level of intensity manually - tighten your grip if you'd like a more intense session, loosen if the pressure is too much. You have control entirely.
Things to Note
Do note that most neck and shoulder massagers do not come with a remote control though.
Instead, most come with a car adapter so that you can even charge the device in the car or have someone use it while you're driving (we do not recommend using it yourself when you are driving).
C. Handheld Percussion Massager
Then we have the handheld shiatsu massager.
Strictly speaking, it is not a neck massager per se. However, it has long been a popular choice for many to get some form of pain relief from the neck aches they suffer, thanks to the highly effective properties it has in terms of accelerating recovery and improving ranges of motion.
They come in a few variations, with the following being the two most popular designs:
As indicated by its name, a handheld percussion massager provides a percussion action massage for the entire body. It comes with interchangeable spheres/massage heads for you to target at different areas, including the neck and shoulder area.
It is worthy to note that this is the most expensive type out of all three neck massagers, in particular the massage gun.
Read more about our take on percussion massager reviews here.
Neckband Massager vs Neck and Shoulder Massager
The neckband massager and traditional neck and shoulder massager are often compared against one another.
Which one is better and which one should you get if you are to choose one only?
Perhaps this comparison table may be of help to you:
Neck and Shoulder Massager
Size and Weight
Smaller & Lighter
(avg 7 x 7 x 2 inches, 0.35 lbs)
Bigger & Heavier
(avg 15 x 6 x 8 inches, 4.5 lbs)
Neck, shoulder, back, any other body parts
Comes with carry bag
Micro USB port, power bank
Wall adapter, car adapter
TENS electric pulse
Nodes and rollers
As you can see, the two are quite different in many aspects. In terms of which is the better though, it really depends on your requirements and preference.
You see, some people prioritise portability while others prefer versatility. Then as mentioned above, some people may not like or be suitable for the TENS technology whereas some may like the deeper tissue massage effect it brings.
So yes, there really isn't one better than the other we think. The two are quite different, despite both being primarily a neck massager.
It also depends on other factors like do you already own other massage devices such as a massage chair, massage chair pad or back massager? All these will determine which type of neck massagers you eventually go for.
For instance, if you already have a back massager, then getting the neckband massager will suffice.
On the other hand, if this is the very first massage equipment you are getting, then no doubt the more versatile neck and shoulder massager will be a more ideal choice for you.
Also, do not forget one very important point in your consideration - what is your ailment? Is it primarily just the neck (which may pull at the shoulder) or is it a bigger area than that?
If it is the former, a neckband massager will be the best neck massager for you because it is just so portable and discreet, you can have a neck massage any time and anywhere you go.
If your situation is more on the back area, then the traditional type will be the best neck and shoulder massager for your circumstances.
Let's now look at what are some of the best products we will recommend for each category.
In fact, we have a separate review for each - if there is a type that you're particularly interested in, we suggest checking out the individual neck massager reviews separately as there are a lot of useful information that will guide you to make an informed decision.
Best Neck Massager
A newly released device, the OSITO Neck Massager is the best neck massager in our opinion, having taken the massage parameter world by storm with its total 10 modes of massage and 50 intensities setting as soon as it was launched.
Yep, when the standard is 3 modes and 15 intensities, you can see just how far ahead it is from its competitors in this regard.
It is also the best neck massager with heat in our opinion as it offers 3 heat settings which again, is very rare in the industry.
It doesn't stop there though - this is probably the only neck massager to date that has a built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery with such a large capacity. We're talking about a life expectancy of 500 times or more, which last you about 2 to 3 years of use without having to replace the batteries.
And, it comes with additional electrode pads for other body parts read full review here...
[To see other choices in our full list of best neck massager reviews, click HERE.]
Best Neck and Shoulder Massager
An Amazon's Choice, the best neck shoulder massager in this category has to be the RESTECK Shiatsu Kneading Massager.
This is one of the most popular, if not the most popular neck massager in the market.
Here's why it continues to receive close to perfect rating from users worldwide.
For firsts, it gives one of the most natural-feeling massage that is comparable to that of a professional masseuse.
Aside from that, it also warms up much more quicker and has a heat that is more penetrating than any other neck and shoulder massager out there. Because of this, we also regard it as one of the best neck massager with heat.
What really stood out for us though is that the RESTECK has the ability to allow you direct where the massager works and let you control the precise intensity on the muscles.
It can be placed anywhere along the neck, shoulder or back, but you can also use it on other body parts to alleviate acute joint and muscle pain.
The capability of a much more precise and fluid control is what sets the RESTECK apart from its competitors. Continue reading here...
[For the full best neck and shoulder massager review, click HERE.]
Best Handheld Percussion Massager
Out of all handheld massager reviews, the trademarked MIGHTY BLISS™ Deep Tissue Handheld Percussion Massager is probably the best rated one.
It does many things, but one of the most commended feature is its ability in getting rid of those unbearable knots. If you're looking for the best handheld massager for knots, this will be the one.
Being a handheld percussion massager, it has a super powerful 3,700 RPM percussion motor. This gives it the ability to relax hurting muscles and cramps in seconds - literally that, seconds.
Cordless and lightweight, it has 6 different massage heads that will cater to all parts of the body. With a long lasting battery life, it even comes with lifetime warranty and hassle-free lifetime replacement. Continue reading here to find out why this is the best handheld massager...
[For the full best handheld percussion massager reviews, click HERE.]
Overall, different massage apparatus have different functions and benefits - it's just a matter of choosing the right one for yourself.
This comparison chart here sums up pretty well what we've discussed above:
It is not a case of the more expensive, the better it is. In fact, we'd say pricing is not that big a factor here because most neck massagers are pretty much within the same price range.
Rather, you'd want to take into consideration your requirements, your lifestyle and your needs. Start from there and you should know which one to go for . Happy shopping!