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As many as 40% of adults in the U.S. have chronic pain, and around 15% experience regular symptoms of stress, including muscle tension. Needless to say, a lot of folks are dealing with tense shoulders, achy backs, sore necks, and all-around stiffness. Whether it's from work, exercise, or general burnout, if you're anything like us, you probably crave relief.
Deep-tissue massage used to be something you could only get from a licensed masseuse, chiropractor, or physical therapist. But as you may be aware, at-home spa treatments are currently having a moment, and massaging tools are no exception.
The right massager can alleviate pain and stiffness while aiding in muscle recovery, reducing lactic acid buildup, enhancing circulation, improving your range of motion, and lowering stress. Best of all, you no longer have to rely on a pal or partner's elbow grease for relief. From gun-style gadgets and manual devices to handheld contraptions and on-the-go instruments that target your neck, back, and shoulders, there's something for everyone, every budget, and every ailment.
What are you waiting for? Scroll down for the best deep-tissue massagers you can order today.
Best Overall: Hyperice Hypervolt
Delivers up to 3,200 percussions per minute
When it comes to at-home massage, Hyperice isn't messing around. The Hypervolt uses state-of-the-art percussive technology to address stiff muscles, alleviate tension, and improve mobility. It boasts three-speed settings to deliver as many as 3,200 percussions per minute, all while staying notably quiet.
This Bluetooth-enabled handheld massager connects to the Hyperice app to guide you through custom massages and recovery programs. It runs on a lithium-ion battery and offers three hours of ultra-relaxing massage on a full charge. Though it's not particularly cheap, we appreciate that the Hypervolt isn't as exorbitantly expensive as some other deep-tissue massage guns on the market.
Manual or Electric: Electric | Features: 3 speeds, 5 attachments
Best Budget: Rykr Roll MYO rykr roll
Can be used anywhere on the body
Lightweight and travel-friendly
Can be put in freezer for cryotherapy
Want something that doesn't cost an arm and a leg but can surely relieve stress in those legs? Check out this little guy from Rykr Roll. The MYO rykr roll uses the pressure of your hand to deliver deep-tissue massage nearly anywhere on your body—shoulders, back, neck, calves, you name it—while enhancing blood flow and sending oxygen to your muscles.
The steel rolling ball glides effortlessly over your muscles while targeting achy areas, and the ergonomic design makes it easy to maneuver around your body (or someone else's). Weighing less than 5 ounces and measuring just over 6 inches in length, it's the best size for your purse or gym bag. Craving some cryotherapy? Put the Myo in your freezer for an hour before using it.
Manual or Electric: Manual | Features: Curved design
Best Splurge: TheraGun G3PRO
Sleek, ergonomic design
Adjustable arms for total body reach
Theraguns have become all but synonymous with deep-tissue massagers. Yes, the price is a little alarming, but if you're open to splurging on something that takes your muscle tension seriously, you won't be disappointed with the G3Pro.
This top-of-the-line percussion therapy device features adjustable arms for total-body reach and is calibrated to get 60% deeper into your muscles than others in its category. It has an impressive industrial-grade motor and runs on a lithium-ion battery, which charges in roughly an hour and runs for over two.
Manual or Electric: Electric | Features: 6 attachments, adjustable arm
What Our Editors Say
"The Theragun Pro is a godsend for my shin splints. Regular high-impact exercise classes have seriously inflamed my shins and calves, and nothing gives me relief quite like my Theragun. A few sessions a week speeds up recovery, eliminates soreness, and just generally feels amazing on my body." — Holly Rhue, Editor
Best for Shoulders: Naipo Shoulder & Neck Massager
Hands-free design drapes over shoulders
Adjustable intensity levels and direction
Features a heated mode
Got shoulder tension? Who doesn't? With this in mind, Naipo created this brilliant wearable contraption. The Shoulder & Neck Massager drapes over your shoulders and gets deep into your muscles, thanks to eight kneading nodes.
You can adjust the intensity level, switch the direction, and even turn on a heated mode for soothing massage therapy. This deep-tissue massager plugs into an outlet or a car adapter and can be used at your desk, in the car, on an airplane, or while streaming a show.
Manual or Electric: Electric | Features: Automatic shut-off, heat, 8 massage modes
Best for Neck: Viktor Jurgen Neck Massage Pillow
Small and portable
Features a heated mode
Intensity and direction can’t be controlled
Folks with stiff necks should reach for this beauty from Viktor Jurgen. Featuring rotating nodes in all the right places, it gives you the deep-tissue Shiatsu massage you crave. Turn on the heat function to soothe aches and pains in your neck and move it down to your shoulders, back, and calves to target other areas.
Manual or Electric: Electric | Features: Heat, dust cover, 4 massage nodes
What Our VPs Say
"Don't know how I got through the pandemic without this. It's gotten me through some serious tension headaches and stress-induced muscle lock-ups. My husband has fallen asleep with it under his calf. The price is a total steal." —Leah Wyar, SVP/GM
Best for Lower Back: Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager with Heat, ZMA-13
Small and portable
Comes with strap to hold in place
Can use on neck, calves, and more
Intensity and direction can’t be controlled
If you're like the 25% of adults with lower back pain or have a habit of arching your back while sitting or standing at work, the Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager with Heat, ZMA-13 will give you the relief you crave. This pillow-style shiatsu massager uses four thoughtfully placed rolling balls to deeply knead your lower back and alleviate muscle tension.
It plugs into a regular outlet or a car adapter for on-the-go massage. Switch on the heated setting for a more soothing, relaxing experience for overworked muscles.
Manual or Electric: Electric | Features: Heat, 4 massage nodes
Best Cordless: Geniani Rock Cordless Electric Muscle Massager
Adjustable speeds and operating modes
Full charge lasts two hours
Looking for a cordless contraption? You can't go wrong with the Geniani Rock Cordless Electric Muscle Massager. This tool runs on a lithium-ion battery and offers as much as two hours of deep-tissue massage on a full charge.
It boasts adjustable speed and three operating modes, using percussive therapy at a rate of up to 3,700 taps per minute, all while staying notably quiet. Weighing just over three pounds, it's lightweight and easy to maneuver too.
Manual or Electric: Electric | Features: 6 massage sticks, 3 speeds, 120-minute charge
Best Foam Roller: Trigger Point Performance GRID 1.0 Foam Roller
Firm, but not too hard
Durable design has a 500-pound capacity
Great grip to prevent slipping
Difficult to target some areas
TriggerPoint is a linchpin in the world of foam rolling, and the brand's GRID 1.0 Foam Roller is a tried-and-true tool for at-home sports therapy. Featuring an EVA-wrapped gridded exterior and a hollow core, it's undoubtedly hard but not to the point of being uncomfortable.
It's also exceedingly durable, supporting up to 500 pounds of weight without losing its shape. A favorite among athletes, this foam roller targets your trigger points and carefully works out knots and muscle tension throughout your body.
Manual or Electric: Manual | Features: Online instructional video, grid design
Best for Self-Massage: Thera Cane Massager
Great for hard-to-reach areas of the back
User has full control over pressure
Large and somewhat awkward to store
When you have a knot in your back that you can't quite reach, you'll be glad to have the Thera Cane on hand. Featuring four balls and two nodes, this cane-shaped massage tool allows you to access aches and pains throughout your entire back.
It's really nice to be able to target sore muscles without having to recruit a friend. Plus, unlike many other deep-tissue massagers, you'll have full control over the amount of pressure.
Manual or Electric: Manual | Features: 6 treatment balls, curved design
Best Portable: FitRx On-the-Go Massager
Lightweight and pocket-sized
Delivers up to 2,600 percussions per minute
Includes four different massage heads
Want something you can bring with you on a trip, to the gym, to the office, or anywhere else you're headed? Your best bet is this pocket-sized gadget from FitRx. The On-the-Go Massager is just 6.5 inches long and weighs only 1.5 pounds.
If you think that means you'll have to sacrifice power, we're pleased to tell you this portable device is no slouch. It charges with a USB power cord and runs for up to two hours, packing a serious punch with speeds of up to 2,600 percussions per minute.
Manual or Electric: Electric | Features: Travel-friendly
Best Features: MillonEssentials V2Pro LCD Massage Gun
Delivers up to 3,200 percussions per minute
LCD touch screen for easy customization
Relatively affordable for its value
Doesn’t include power pack
Looking for a versatile, feature-rich device for those tight hips? The V2Pro LCD Massage Gun pulls out all the stops. This deep-tissue massage gun has a smart AI chip, an LCD touch screen for easy customization, and a high-powered brushless motor that offers up to 3,200 percussions per minute.
It comes with ten interchangeable massage heads to accommodate aches and pains throughout your entire body. What's more, the lithium-ion battery offers up to six hours of massage. MillonEssentials also backs this product with a one-year warranty.
Manual or Electric: Electric | Features: 3,200 percussions per minute, LCD screen, 10 attachments
If you're looking for a percussive deep-tissue massage gun, your best bet is the Hyperice Hypervolt (view at Amazon). It has three-speed modes and can deliver up to 3,200 percussions per minute while remaining notably quiet. However, if you want something a bit more affordable (or portable), opt for the FitRx On-the-Go Massager (view at Walmart). And if you want a manual self-massage device, go with the Thera Cane Massager (view at Amazon).
What to Look for When Buying a Deep-Tissue Massager
Manual vs. Powered
When browsing deep-tissue massagers, you'll see manual and powered options. Whether they run on a rechargeable battery or plug into an outlet, powered options take some of the guesswork and physical effort out of massage. That said, with manual devices, you'll be controlling both the pressure and the direction of the massage, which can be beneficial when working out a knot.
If you're getting a battery-powered massager, you'll want to check how long the battery lasts. Some options with lithium batteries run for up to six hours on a full charge, while others offer closer to two hours of power.
A lot of deep-tissue massagers use percussive therapy. The rapid pulsing movements direct blood flow to muscles throughout your body to alleviate pain and tension. Deep-tissue massage guns typically use percussive therapy.
Another thing to consider is size. If you want a portable option you can carry in a bag or suitcase, be sure to check both the weight and the dimensions because devices often look smaller or larger online than they are in real life.
Do deep-tissue massagers hurt?
Deep-tissue massagers aren't supposed to hurt. However, people with extreme muscle tension or existing pain might be more sensitive to at-home massage tools than others. Additionally, a deep-tissue massage session might make you a little sore afterward. If you're constantly in pain while using a deep-tissue massager, try a gentler setting. If that doesn't work, you may want to stop using it.
What are the benefits of using a deep-tissue massager?
There are many benefits to using a deep-tissue massager. For one, it allows you to get a spa-level massage and physical therapy in the comfort of your own home—and for much cheaper than seeing a pro.
Additionally, Rykr Roll, founder John Hetzel, says deep-tissue massage can help "relieve muscle aches, pain, and stiffness, reduce myofascial tenderness and trigger point knots, improve range of motion, increase blood circulation and oxygen flow, and speed up recovery from sore muscles." It might also relieve stress, alleviate arthritis and fibromyalgia, break up scar tissue, support lymphatic drainage, and aid in recovery from strenuous workouts.
How often should you use a deep-tissue massager?
You can use a deep-tissue massager as often as every day. "We feel pain in muscles because muscle tissues or cells do not get enough blood supply, oxygen flow, and nutrients to the nerve endings in the affected muscle area," Hetzel tells Byrdie. So, if you're experiencing chronic soreness or tension, daily use can be really effective in offering relief.
Having said that, if you're experiencing pain while using a massager or are notably sore for several days in a row, it's a good idea to take some days off.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Theresa Holland is an experienced commerce writer specializing in beauty, fitness, and self-care. As someone who constantly craves the relief of deep-tissue massage, she's tried a handful of products on this list, including the Rykr Roll Myo, Geniani Rock, Naipo, Zyllion, and Thera Cane. You can read more stories by Theresa on MyDomaine and The Spruce.