The best handheld massagers are an excellent way to relieve tight muscles around your legs, shoulders, neck and back at home. They can be used any time, or picked up between your usual hands-on massage appointments. Most handheld massagers come with accessories so you get precisely the right type of massage. So whether you need a massager for general aches, pains and post-exercise soothing, or a powerful percussive massager (massage gun) to ease deep knots, help is at hand.
Percussive massagers are popular among people who exercise regularly. That’s because massage guns deliver a deep tissue-style massage and promote better bloodflow (good for post-workout recovery). While all the best handheld massagers have a range of settings, a few have extra functions. This includes heat therapy and app control. Massagers usually come with different massage heads (or ‘points’) too, which are designed to work with different types of muscles.
Most of our recommended massage devices also have different speed and intensity levels; ideal if you want to start gently and then build up as your muscles recover. The best handheld massagers are made by HoMedics and Pado, while the top-rated percussive massagers come from Therabody (Theragun) and HyperIce. The Theragun Mini works with an app to deliver the perfect massage sequence for your needs, and is therefore our top pick.
If you’ve been working from home more, a percussive massager can help relieve pain brought on by bad desk posture. On that note, we’d also recommend a standing desk and a good ergonomic office chair. If you feel stiff and achy in the mornings, your bed might be to blame - check out our best mattress online guide if so. For now, let’s take a closer look at the best handheld massagers and how they could bring you relief.
The best handheld massagers to buy now
1. Theragun Mini: Best handheld massager overall
Theragun massagers are some of the most coveted wellness products in the world, so we were very excited when the Theragun Mini landed. This dinky handheld massager is now the baby of the Theragun bunch, yet it still delivers an incredibly powerful performance despite its small stature.
Therabody’s Theragun Mini is super-simple to use, with an on/off button and three speed settings to cycle between. As such, you can enjoy a more custom massage in the exact area you need it most. It’s a total game-changer among the best handheld massagers, and can be used on various parts of your body to ease muscle tension and soreness.
You’ll be able to enjoy 150 minutes of use per full charge, with Therabody’s own QX35 Motor with QuietForce Technology helping to keep the noise down. We don’t agree with Therabody that it’s ‘so quiet you can hardly hear it’, but compared to other handheld massagers, it’s far more discreet.
We’d highly recommend the Theragun Mini to anyone looking to engage in a regular practice of deep tissue massage at home, and to gain relief from muscle soreness and tension. We'd also recommend it for enjoying a deeper sense of proper, full body relaxation to help you feel replenished, as via the Therabody app you can even find massage routines to perform to help relax your muscles ready for sleep.
- Read our Therabody Theragun Mini review
2. Pado PureWave CM-07: Best handheld massager for therapy-grade treatment
The Pado PureWave CM-07 Massager is one of the best handheld massagers you can buy right now, and comes recommended by therapists too. It’s designed to take on muscular aches and pains in more ways than one using percussion as well as vibration. The PureWave is also cordless, light and slim, and simple to use with multiple therapy-grade massage tips. There is also a good selection of speed, pressure and sensations – in short, whatever your needs, the Pado PureWave CM-07is sure to help.
The tips include a silicone massage-oil applicator, an air-cushion tip for general massage, a six-head tip for deep-tissue/sports massage, a point tip for acupressure, a scalp tip and a gentle migraine tip to give a gentle vibrating massage to the head. The percussion mode is designed to relieve deep-tissue tension and loosen knots, while the vibration mode can help with more sensitive parts of the body.
The Pado PureWave CM-07 handheld massager is ideal to use straight on the skin or through clothing, and over on the company’s website it gets plenty of positive reviews including from trained therapists who use the device on patients, also recommending it for in-between treatments.
There’s plenty of power packed into this device, with the high-speed percussion motor, operating up to 3,700 RPM and facial micro-vibration motor, vibrating up to 10,000 RPM. The intensity and speed is easily controlled on the unit, so you can start slow and build up until you find the right level you need to help soothe your aches and pains.
- Read our Pado PureWave CM-07 Massager review
3. Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue: Best handheld massager for knotty muscles
If you suffer from occasional pain or tension in your neck or upper back and shoulders due to intense exercise, posture issues or a non-ergonomic desk setup, and have been cleared by your doctor to use a handheld massager at home, the Mighty Bliss Deep Tissue Back and Body Massager is a good choice. It’s powerful and effective, pushing out 3,700RPM to relax tight muscles and ease cramps and muscle knots.
While it isn’t the quietest model in our round-up of the best handheld massagers, it’s lightweight, easy to use and also one of the most versatile devices here. In fact, there are six different massage heads included to help you enjoy a range of different massage techniques on various parts of your body. This enables you to play around with what feels best for you.
The Mighty Bliss handheld massager is safe for use on your back, arms, neck and legs, and is perfect for regular use as part of an at-home massage therapy treatment. You could also use it to warm up your muscles before a high intensity fitness class or workout, though nothing substitutes for proper stretching.
The highest speed setting delivers a moderately intense massage pressure. In short, it will pummel away stiffness and cramps, providing immediate relief.
In terms of battery life, you’ll get around two hours of use per full charge, and it usually takes around an hour to charge the device. Bonus: you can even charge the massager while using it. Mighty Bliss also operates a ‘hassle-free’ lifetime replacement policy to boost your confidence when buying this massager.
4. Hyperice Hypervolt: Best handheld massager for gym use
Hyperice’s Hypervolt handheld massager is a smart choice if you need a device that’s powerful yet quiet for use at home or down the gym. But these aren’t the Hypervolt’s only great qualities, as this handheld massager is also compatible with Bluetooth allowing you to pair it with the Hyperice app, so you can work your way through a massage sequence to suit the part of the body you are working on. This is a useful feature and the app will even automatically adjust the speed of the device for you as well.
The Hypervolt’s ‘Quiet Glide’ technology is ideal if you don’t want to disturb those around you but still want the benefit of a powerful device. The high-torque 60-watt motor can be adjusted over three speed settings, while the interchangeable attachments – Fork, Ball, Cushion, Flat, Bullet – deliver the right type of massage for your needs.
Of course, you can also use the Hypervolt without the app, by simply choosing your speed manually – low for sensitive areas, medium for larger muscle groups on the arms and legs, or high for dense muscle such as on the hips and quads.
Lightweight, ergonomic and rechargeable there’s little to fault with the Hypervolt handheld massager, although some people might find the design of it a little unusual, with its functional-looking aesthetic and 90-degree handle that might make getting to certain areas – such as the back – a little trickier. If that’s the case, one of the longer handled devices on our list might be better suited.
5. Thumper Massage Sport: Best handheld massager for your back
Enjoy a deep tissue massage at home with the Thumper Massager Sport, specifically designed for fitness fans who might be dealing with muscle soreness and tension after an intense workout. But you don’t need to be a fitness fanatic to get the most out of this handheld massager - it’ll work wonders for relieving everyday tension and pain too.
The Thumper Massager Sport uses a ‘tapotement’ action, which is basically a form of percussion massage best suited to fleshier parts of the body such as the thighs. Like the Theragun Mini above, it’s designed to reach deeper into your muscles to offer deep tissue treatment. It isn’t as compact and simple to use as the Theragun Mini, but it does have a longer handle for dropping the massager right down into the middle of your back.
On the head of the massager you’ll see two interchangeable massage spheres that sit flush against your body to knead and work your muscles without dragging your skin. The Thumper Massager Sport also has variable speed control from 20-40 pulses per second. Once the speed is set, the Thumper will maintain that pulsation speed even if you apply extra pressure to the massager.
Thumper's massager is safe to use on all major muscle groups, such as your shoulders, back and legs, and can be wiped down with a damp cloth after use.
6. HoMedics Percussion Pro Heat: Best handheld massager for heat therapy
The HoMedics Percussion Pro With Heat Massager penetrates deeper muscle groups than many other handheld devices. The design makes it easy to hold while tackling those harder to reach areas of your back.
You can even choose to have a heated massage to boost recovery of tight or sore muscles. Let's be honest, heat is also massively relaxing, which makes this one of the best handheld massagers for simply relaxing and unwinding too.
There is no independent on or off switch, so if you're using the Percussion Pro With Heat on the lowest speed setting, you'll need to cycle through every speed setting before the device will shut off. That's pretty annoying.
The HoMedics massager comes with two sets of heads, one of which is soft, one firm. This enables you to choose the level of pressure and intensity you receive from your massages. Changing the heads is simple too.
The HoMedics Percussion Pro With Heat Massager is heavy, so our arms became tired quickly during testing. Fortunately, the ergonomic handle makes it somewhat easier to hold. Oh, and since there's no battery, you can't escape the mains outlet. The cord is a decent length though, so it's not a huge issue.
7. Renpho Rechargeable Handheld Massager: Best handheld massager for tight muscles
The Renpho Rechargeable Handheld Massager comes with five different massage heads, each designed to provide a different massage technique for various parts of your body, such as your shoulders and thighs. The Renpho is superb at relaxing tight muscles, especially those in the upper back, and would suit people who are used to receiving a sports massage.
If you’re looking for a relaxing handheld massager, this isn’t it - we’d point you instead towards the HoMedics Percussion Pro With Heat (above), or even the Wahl 4120-600 All-Body Massager (see further down this list). The Renpho is powerful and effective for a full body massage, though it will only run for a maximum of 20 minutes at a time to prevent the massager from overheating.
It’s among the heavier models in our round-up of the best handheld massagers, but the pay-off is fast relief from aches and stiffness, with strong vibrations that travel deep into your muscles. The Renpho pumps out 3,600 pulses per minute to reduce pain, and each of the five heads can be swiftly switched in and out. As for battery life, it will run for roughly 140 minutes per full charge.
8. Wahl 4120-600: Best handheld massager for beginners
Wahl proves yet again that you don’t need to spend a fortune in order to enjoy a spot of massage therapy at home, though we will say that the therapy on offer here is very light compared to the likes of the Theragun Mini and the HoMedics Percussion Pro With Heat. That’s because the Wahl 4120-600 All-Body Massager is an entry-level model with two basic speed settings, whereas the other massagers are far more powerful.
The Wahl body massager provides a relaxing massager and is a good tool to use if you need a hand unwinding in the evenings. On the highest setting it can also be used to help you warm down after exercise, though the Theragun is better for boosting recovery post-workout.
Wahl’s body massager compares favorably in terms of price though, as it costs a fraction of what the top-performing models do. And considering that you get four interchangeable heads with this handheld massager, that’s impressive for the sub-$30 price tag.
While we’d prefer it to be a cordless design, the cord is plenty long enough to not hold you back or impede your freedom when massaging yourself or another person. If you’re new to self-massage and want a simple to use device that provides a soothing massage, and don’t need deep tissue therapy, this is definitely the best handheld massager for you.
9. Thumper Mini Pro: Best handheld massager for deep tissue massage
The Thumper Mini Pro 2’s massage head has two pulsing spheres that apply pressure to your muscles at varied rates. The spheres perform well both on dry skin and over light clothing, and can be used on all major muscle groups.
This handheld massager is especially effective as a back and shoulder massager, and sports a long, comfortable handle to help you reach all your aching muscles. The Thumper has three speed settings measured at 20, 30 and 40 pulses per second – the lowest setting is geared more toward relaxation, while the highest setting is designed for deep tissue massage.
Annoyingly, the Thumper Mini Pro 2 isn’t cordless. However, while it requires a DC plug for power, its cord is long enough that it doesn’t limit the massager’s reach.
10. Kikkerland Scalp Massager: Best handheld massager for your head
The Kikkerland AR18-A Massager is a very specialized handheld massager, on that it works best on your scalp but doesn't really work effectively on other parts of your body. Since it weighs just 1.6oz, you arms won't get tired when using it, and as it's such a simple device, it's infinitely less expensive than the other massagers above.
There are nodes on the end of each massagers 'fingers' to gently massage and sooth your scalp. You can change your angle of approach to slightly adjust the pressure of the massage. Not only is this relaxing, it helps stimulate blood flow. The Kikkerland AR18-A Massager is only 9.5 inches tall and the fingers are flexible, which makes this a massager that's easy to pack and travel with.
Unfortunately, if too much pressure is placed on those fingers they will bend the wrong way and the metal will weaken, so be careful with it. Ultimately, if you want more of a sensory massage experience, and are focused more on your scalp than releasing muscle tension or pain, this one is fun to use.
- Read our Kikkerland AR18-A Massager review
Today's prices on the best handheld massagers
Best handheld massagers FAQ
How to choose the best handheld massager for you
When it comes to figuring out which is the best handheld massager for you, there are some things to consider...
Versatility and focus areas
Some massagers are only good for one or two areas of the body, while others can work a far greater number of muscle groups. Additionally, some massagers are only work skin deep, while others deliver a deep tissue massage.
Typically, the more powerful massagers are filled with more mechanical parts. This often makes them heavier so it might be difficult to hold them for long periods. They also tend to be more expensive.
Massagers built for simple relaxation usually use vibration or non-mechanical means in order to relax your muscles. These devices are lighter, so you won’t strain your arms as much as you would with a heavy percussive massager.
Heat therapy helps to relieve pain in sore muscles, and it could help improve blood circulation to further reduce tension. This isn't a common feature in massagers, but it's very soothing.
Some handheld massagers need to be plugged into an outlet while others are battery operated. Battery powered massagers give you more freedom to move around during a session since you won't have to sit close to a power outlet.
We reviewed handheld massagers ranging in price from under $10 to over $250. The difference in price is related to each device’s design, functionality and quality. Massagers with multiple settings generally cost more, as do percussive massagers that have enough power to provide relief from tension and tightness.
Best handheld massagers: types of massage
This focuses on pressure points and works well on tight muscles. This style of massage is good for most healthy people, though the intensity level can be high. If you have any back injuries you should avoid this type of massager, though it can feel really good on typically strained muscles like the shoulders.
Common among handheld massagers, as it involves applying constant pressure along the part of the body you're massaging. This is good if you have a hands-on job, like construction work, and is a low-impact way to stimulate the muscles in the lower back. This is a low- to medium-impact style of massage, so it's suited for most people.
Less common among handheld massagers. This is done with a circular motion, usually on both sides of the spine. This is good for soothing tension and working on particularly strained pressure points. This type of massage also has high-level intensity.
Can be done with some handheld massagers depending on the style. It's done through a series of rapid movements over a spot on the body for a short period of time. While it looks a little violent, this style of massage can relax your muscles and is effective for athletes.
Adding heat to any of the aforementioned styles of massage can take your massage to the next level. Heat relaxes muscles, making them more susceptible to the kind of massage you’re doing. Heat also reduces the possibility of injuring or straining muscles with a handheld massager.
Do massage guns work?
The easiest way to answer ‘do massage guns work?’ is by trying one out for yourself. When used as instructed, most people notice instant relief in their muscles, as well as an easing of any knots or tension. It’s certainly been our experience, especially with the Therabody Theragun Mini and the HyperIce Pro.
Massage guns are ideal for topping up massage therapy between appointments, providing short-term relief and maintaining the good work done by a professional massage therapist. While many therapists use these devices themselves, you can also ask them to show you how to use yours effectively at home, with a setting and technique that’s right for you.
For general aches and pains caused by sitting at a desk for instance, a smaller and cheaper handheld massager may be just as effective. Ultimately, the best way to reduce muscle tightness (and to figure out what’s causing it) is to speak with a physical therapist.
How does massage help sore muscles?
When we have general aches and pains, our first response is often to touch or massage the area to help relieve the pain. But if the pain becomes intense, you will often need, quite literally, more of a helping hand in the form of a professional massage, or with a handheld massaging tool.
But how does massaging help our muscles? There are two benefits:
- It relaxes the body’s soft tissue, including the muscles
- It helps improve blood and lymph circulation
If you are having a massage from a therapist, then most humans respond to touch as well, which has an additional calming effect on the body. When the massager is used to relax the muscles, this has several benefits including:
- Reduction of muscle spasms and soreness (relaxing muscles prevent nerves from becoming compressed).
- Relaxing of top layers of muscles allows the deeper muscles to be accessed.
- Can benefit the organs too, as many share the same neurological pain pathways as the muscles, and if the muscle is relaxed this can ease symptoms associated with the organs, such as menstrual cramps.
However, it’s worth noting that if your muscles are really sore, you might want to see a physical therapist who will advise how to treat your symptoms.
Does massage release toxins and help with cellulite?
Massaging the body is said to help get rid of natural toxins, but what are toxins and what harm do they cause? Toxins are a build-up of natural substances in the body, which are a by-product of normal bodily functions.
This includes lactic acid, caused by not stretching properly pre-exercise or not getting enough oxygen during high-intensity workouts, among other reasons. When toxin levels become high, they can make you feel sluggish and may manifest in other symptoms such as muscle pain and constipation.
Massage is said to be a way to release these toxins and prevent the symptoms from worsening. Drinking plenty of water will also help flush the toxins away, and is especially important to do after a massage.
Massage can also help with cellulite on areas of the body such as the buttocks and thighs. While cellulite is perfectly normal in all bodies, you may prefer to reduce its appearance. When incorporated into your self-care routine, regularly massaging the affected areas can help smooth out the skin.
Just remember that massaging cellulite will not banish it completely, and you may want to consider other options such as increasing your water intake, or making certain exercise and dietary changes.
Good sleep and gentle stretching can help reduce aches and pains, so take a look at our guides to the best pillow for better sleep, plus the best online fitness programs for yoga and basic stretching.