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Best Foot Massagers: footbaths and shiatsu machines to relax your feet

Best Foot Massagers: footbaths and shiatsu machines to relax your feet

We’ve been evaluating foot massagers for the past three years. Recently, we spent more than 25 hours comparing 10 foot massagers to determine which are the easiest to use and maintain as well as have the best warranties and massage settings. Based on our research, we believe the uComfy Shiatsu Foot Massager is the best one overall. It has five intensity settings and completely envelopes your feet to massage every part of them. The booties are also machine washable, so the massager is easy to clean and hygienic.

Best foot massager

uComfy Shiatsu Foot Massager

uComfy Shiatsu Foot Massager

This is the best foot massager overall

It can give heated massages.
The foot covers are machine washable.
It has five different massage settings.
Larger feet don’t fit in it very well.
The cord limits where you can use it.
It doesn't massage your calves.

The uComfy Shiatsu Foot Massager encompasses your feet and uses mechanical nodes to give foot massages. It has five intensity settings, ranging from gentle to intense, and can even give heated massages to help you relax further. The kneading and vibrating motions can increase bloodflow and improve blood pressure.

You adjust these massage settings using the buttons located on the top of the device. However, that means you bend down to operate it. The foot sleeves can be removed and are machine washable – you simply unzip them. This saves you time and keeps the foot massager hygienic.

This device is somewhat bulky, measuring 17.7 x 15 x 18.1 inches, and it weighs 12 pounds. While it isn't the most portable, it is still small enough to pack when you travel. Users with larger feet might find this device painful and constraining. In addition, since it plugs into an electrical outlet, you need to use this device somewhere the cord can reach one.

Best budget

Dr. Scholl's Foot Spa

Dr. Scholl's Foot Spa

The top pick for anyone on a budget

It is inexpensive compared to other foot massagers.
It comes with pedicure tools and attachments.
There is a built-in pumice stone and nodular roller.
This massager doesn't heat water.
It doesn't use mechanical nodes.
It doesn’t fit larger feet.

Dr. Scholl's Invigorating Foot Spa doesn‘t use mechanical nodes and there aren't as many intensive massage features as other devices we evaluated, but it is still relaxing. And it’s inexpensive.

The Invigorating Foot Spa uses bubbles to gently massage your feet. Its floor is covered with small raised bumps to apply accupressure to your feet. There is also a built-in pumice stone and a roller that has raised bumps to help remove dead skin and massage the soles of your feet. Additionally, the foot massager comes with a spa kit that includes a nail brush with a handle that hooks to the rim, a set of nail clippers and toe separators.

Its basin is 13.9 x 16.4 x 7.7 inches, and it weighs 4.4 pounds, making it one of the lightest machines we compared. While the basin is large enough to accomodate most foot sizes, the Invigorating Foot Spa doesn't work well with larger feet. The machine features a guard to prevent water from sloshing over the sides, and you turn it on and off using a waterproof switch. This device does not heat water, but it can maintain the temperature of the water placed in it for a long time.

Best calf massager

Human Touch Reflex Pro

Human Touch Reflex Pro

Want to go beyond feet? This one does calves too

It has four massage settings and five intensity levels.
Its handle makes it easy to carry.
The foot sleeves are machine washable.
It weighs 27 pounds.
It's expensive.
You need to bend over to change settings.

The Human Touch Reflex Pro offers four types of massages and allows you to adjust each to one of five intensity levels. It is on the heavier side, and it is more expensive than many foot massagers we reviewed. However, this is to be expected since it has so many more mechanical parts.

It uses rollers that move in a figure-eight pattern to increase circulation and rub away aches and pains. The machine also has two reflexology programs, which massage devotees believe helps your body heal and improves its equilibrium. Either way, this device provides pleasant massages that can help you relax your feet and calves. 

This machine massages everything from your foot up to you calves, and you can choose to have hot air run through the device to make it more comfortable. The controls are located on the top of the machine, so you have to bend over to change the settings. Since it is open-ended, it can accommodate a wide range of foot sizes. 

The Human Touch Reflex Pro is 18 x 17 x 19 inches, and it weighs 27 pounds. Fortunately, it has a carrying handles, which make it easier to move from room to room. The foot covers are removable and machine washable, which helps keep the device sanitary. Human Touch backs the Reflex Pro with a one-year warranty, which is typical for this kind of machine.

Best for circulation

Miko Shiatsu Home Foot Massager

Miko Shiatsu Home Foot Massager

A powerful foot massager with excellent circulation

Five levels of shiatsu massage
Settings are too strong for extremely sensitive feet

The Miko Shiatsu Home Foot Massager incorporates heat and air pressure into the kneading, rolling and vibration sensations of a shiatsu massage. It has separate chambers for each foot and is operated with a central control panel that has five shiatsu massage settings.

After you select the massage level and heat settings you prefer, sit back and relax. The Miko has a 15-minute timer and turns off automatically if you fall asleep during your massage. Also, its heat settings are low enough to not overheat your feet. If your feet are extremely sensitive, you may find this machine too powerful. Most users, however, report its pressure as just right.

This foot massager weighs 12 pounds and has a compact design, making it easy to store. It’s also easy to clean, as you can remove and wash the cloth covering its foot chambers.

Most portable

Sharper Image Shiatsu

Sharper Image Shiatsu

Travelling? This is the massager for you

Easy to operate controls
Doesn’t have multiple heat and massage settings

The Sharper Image Shiatsu Foot Massager is a good value, especially if you want to take it on-the-go. It’s a small, lightweight massager that is portable enough for travel.

It fits well under your desk at work and packs easily inside a suitcase and is light for easy carrying. At the same time, it still feels stable during use.

This massager provides a basic shiatsu massage. It has six massaging nodes on each footplate, each of which has 18 nodes to knead your feet in a circular motion. Its controls are at the top of the machine, and the on/off button is large enough to operate with your toes. Unlike the chambered foot massagers we reviewed, the Sharper Image Shiatsu massages only the soles of your feet. Also, it only has one setting. To change the level of pressure, manually press your feet more firmly or lightly on the plates.

Why trust our foot massager reviews?

We have evaluated foot massagers for the past three years. While we did not test these products ourselves, we read manufacturer specifications and online user reviews to learn as much as we could about each model. During out research, we noted any common problems or unexpected perks users encountered with their own machines.

As we chose machines to compare, we focused on variety and opted to compare foot massagers that are many different sizes and offer many types of massages. The massagers we chose also range from basic inexpensive models to more expensive luxury products. After we decided which models to include, we compared them to see which ones offer the best options overall.

How we tested foot massagers

We spent over 25 hours evaluating 10 foot massagers to determine which are most convenient and have the most massage settings as well as what massage techniques they use. Products that offer more settings scored higher. For instance, foot massagers with multiple intensity settings and massage types did better than machines that only have one option. The National Library of Medicine has some helpful information and suggestions in addition to massage to help keep your feet healthy.

Since the machines we chose are vastly different from each other, we did not score them based on the massage technique they use. Additionally, price was not a factor into our rankings, though we do note where each massager falls on the price scale in its review.

We took each machine‘s dimensions into account since it determines what foot sizes it accommodates. Larger models scored higher since their size makes them useful for more people. Foot massagers are unavoidably bulky, so we also gave points to devices that are easy to carry and take up less space.

As with any kind of machine, we also took the warranty into account. Some of these foot massagers have warranties, but others do not. We gave more points to products that are covered for longer periods.

Some products are easier to keep clean than others. For instance, foot massagers with removable, machine-washable foot sleeves scored higher than products that weren't as easy to clean. 

How to massage

No matter what foot massager you use, there are numerous pressure points you should pay attention to while using it. If you're using hand-held massager, start by rolling it over the ball of your foot in slow circles. Move to the arch and the heel gradually, feeling for the spots that respond best. If you practice reflexology, you'll be told there are specific spots on the bottom of your feet that correspond to the organs and other parts of your body. Stimulating these specific spots with a foot massager can have a positive effect on the corresponding organ or body part, according to practitioners.

For example, the ball of your foot corresponds with your heart, so massaging that part of your foot is thought to help cardiovascular issues. Your nose corresponds to the outer edge of your big toe, the lymph nodes correspond to the area right below where your toes become your foot, and the kidney corresponds to what is almost the exact center of the ball of your foot. There are many varied versions of reflexology body maps available online via a simple Google search.

If you’re using a mechanized massager, sit in a comfortable chair with your feet in the device. These machines automatically find pressure points and massage them. This can be really beneficial if you don’t want to have to think at all about how your foot is being massaged, but if you have sensitive spots, you’ll want to go with a device you can manually use yourself.

Things to consider when choosing a foot massager

There are many different types of foot massagers, and what you need depends on your intensity preferences and how often you plan to use the machine. Here are a few things to consider before making your decision.

Massaging Action
Some foot massagers are simply built for relaxation, while others are built to be rigorous muscle-healing machines. Typically, foot spa massagers are on the gentler side, using bubbles and manual tools to provide a simple massage. Machines that have nodes and engulf your feet – and sometimes calves – tend to offer a variety of intensity settings. They also tend to use more deep-tissue, muscle-healing massage techniques like Shiatsu or Tui na.

You need a massager that is wide and long enough to accommodate your feet. Unfortunately, many of these devices don’t fit larger feet. If you have large feet, you should consider getting an open-ended massager, since they are more likely to accommodate them.

These machines are all decently bulky and take up a few feet of space. Massagers with more gears and nodes also weigh more. Still, the best massagers are designed to easily store away and feature a handle to make it easier to do so.

Additional Features
Machines like foot spas use water to massage and relax your feet, and they also tend to come with pedicure kits. Some massagers work your entire calf along with your foot, while others only focus on the soles of your feet. Typically, the adjustment buttons are located on the top of the machine so they are easy to reach, but you have to bend down to make any changes. The best machines can also do heated massages to help circulate your blood and relax your muscles further.

We researched foot massagers and foot spas ranging in price from under $25 to $799. Devices under $100 provide a basic massage or soak designed for relaxation. If you’re looking for more features and therapeutic value, budget between $150 and $200, or more if you’re seeking a medical device.