Looking for the best handheld massagers? You’re in the right place as we’ve rounded up our top picks so you can sit back and relax. Handheld massagers are designed to ease muscle tightness in your legs, shoulders, neck, and back, all from the comfort of your home. These nifty devices can be used at any time including between your usual massage appointments. Many of our picks come with accessories so you can customize the massage depending on your needs. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking to relax, aid recovery post-workout or you’re in the market for a percussive massager to relieve deep knots.
All the best handheld massagers offer a variety of settings, though a few come with impressive additional features. Look out for heated options which can help relax muscles. For the tech-savvy, app control allows you to customize settings from your device. Percussive massagers or massage guns are a superb choice for people who exercise regularly. They’re designed to give you a deep-tissue style massage that can improve blood flow which is essential when it comes to post-workout recovery.
If you’re new to handheld massagers, you may want to consider choosing one with different speed and intensity levels. This allows you to start slowly and increase the intensity as your muscles recover.
Our picks of the best handheld massagers are the models by HoMedics and Pado. If you’re looking for a percussive massager, we were impressed by the devices from Therabody (Theragun) and HyperIce. Our top pick is the Theragun Mini thanks to the nifty technology where the device works with an app to customize a massage sequence for your individual needs.
Have you been spending more time at your desk this year? The good news is that a percussive massager can help to soothe the pain associated with poor posture and spending too much time sitting. If that sounds familiar, we recommend checking out our guide to the best standing desks and the best best ergonomic office chair. Often wake up feeling stiff and achy? In that case, the culprit may be your bed. Check out our guide to the best mattress online guide if so.
For now, we’ve rounded up our top picks for the best handheld massagers to help relax your muscles and soothe those niggly aches and pains.
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 looking for the best handheld massager for you, you’ll want to consider a few factors:
Versatility and focus areas
It’s worth checking which parts of the body the massager is suitable for — some may only work in one area while other options may be more versatile. Remember too that some massagers only work skin deep though others offer a deep tissue massage.
Another consideration is weight. You’ll find that many of the more powerful models are heavier as they contain more mechanical parts which may make them tricky to hold for extended periods. Bear in mind that the more powerful models also tend to come at a higher price point.
If you’re after a massager designed purely for relaxation, they tend to be powered by vibration or non-mechanical means. You’ll be pleased to know that these models tend to be lighter compared to a typical percussive massager.
When it comes to soothing muscle pain, a massager offering heat therapy is ideal. Adding heat promotes blood circulation which can help alleviate niggly pain. Not many massagers offer this feature so if this is a priority it will likely narrow your search.
Consider whether you would prefer a plug-in device or a battery-operated one. If you choose battery powered, then this means you can move around more freely mid-massage though you do need to remember to charge or replace the batteries.
Whatever your budget, you can find a model for you. We reviewed the best handheld massagers which range in price from under $10 to over $250. That range reflects differences in each model’s design, the functionality it offers, and the quality. You can expect the higher-end options to offer multiple settings. Percussive massagers tend to be more expensive due to their power to soothe muscle tightness and tension at a deep-tissue level.
Best handheld massagers: types of massage
Here are some of the types of massage you can expect from a handheld massager:
This Japanese technique involves applying pressure to various points in the body to provide relief to tight muscles. It’s suitable for most healthy people though it can be intense if you’re a massage newbie. This may be a good pick for you if you suffer from strained shoulders. If you have any issues with back pain, however, it is best avoided.
This is one of the most common types of handheld massagers available. It works by applying constant pressure to the part of the body you’re focusing on. It offers a low to medium-intensity massage so it’s suited to most people including those new to massage. This is the one for you if you have a physical job as it provides a low-impact way to massage the lower back muscles.
This is not so common among handheld massagers. They are usually designed for use on either side of the spine. The circular motion is beneficial for easing tension and relaxing strained pressure points. This may be the one for you if you’re looking for a higher-intensity massage.
Some handheld models offer a percussive massage. These devices produce a series of rapid strikes to the muscle tissue in a short period. While it may sound violent, it’s an effective way to relax the muscles. They are rightly popular with athletes as they can ward off muscle soreness post-workout.
Take your massage up a notch by adding heat to any of the above massage styles. The heat helps to relax muscles which in turn means they’re more receptive to a massage. Another draw is that the option of heat minimizes the possibility of straining or injuring muscles.
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.