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A well-rounded fitness routine isn’t just about working out regularly. Recovery is a key part of the process. “Post-workout recovery is so important if you want to get the most out of your workout,” Studio SWEAT onDemand trainer Tatiana Koval says. Of course, there are plenty of productive ways to unwind after a workout—or a stressful day, for that matter. You can stretch, take a hot bath, or even get a massage. (Yes, we did just call massages productive—you can thank us later.)
“Massages are incredibly rehabilitating,” Dani Robertson, Senior Instructor at SoulCycle in Atlanta, says, adding that she sees massages as both a luxury and a necessity. But what if you don’t have the budget to cover a regular massage? Treat yourself to a self-massage, instead. Helpful tools—like neck massagers—abound, making it easy to get a massage without breaking the bank. Opt for a wraparound neck massager that’ll do all the work for you, or try one of those massage guns you keep seeing everywhere. No matter what you choose, rest assured knowing you’re in for a treat.
Read on to learn more about neck massagers—and to see the best neck massagers worth adding to your recovery routine.
Best Overall: RESTECK Neck and Back Massager
If you’re looking for a solid neck massage, nothing beats a wraparound massager. (For the uninitiated, that’s a massager that wraps around your neck and shoulders, getting all those pesky spots you just can’t reach with your hands.) What we love about this device, especially, is that it doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all massage. It comes with four different adjustable settings, allowing you to make your massage as gentle, intense, or warm as you want it to be.
Best Budget: MagicMakers Neck Massager
The MagicMakers Neck Massager feels good and looks great. And did we mention it’s also surprisingly affordable? The wraparound massager is designed to target your neck and shoulders, though if you opt for a looser fit, you can get parts of your back, too. The massager comes with three different massage speeds. And since it boasts an adjustable heater, you can indulge in a little warmth any time you want. The cherry on top? The massager is actually pretty cute—which is something we never expected to say about a neck massager.
Best Splurge: Legiral Massage Gun
Looking for a massager worth splurging on? Spring for a professional-grade massage gun, like the Legiral Massage Gun. Massage guns have quickly become a must-have in the fitness space, thanks to the intense, targeted pressure they’re able to provide. And if a hyper-intense neck massage sounds a little intimidating, don’t worry—this massage gun comes with 20 different intensity settings so you can easily customize your massages to meet your needs.
Best Handheld: RENPHO Handheld Massager
Handheld massagers require a little more work than wraparound massagers—but since they put you in control of the massage, they’re totally worth it. This one is an easy-to-hold pick that’s long enough to target some of those hard-to-reach places. And since it comes with five different attachments, you can get a dynamic massage that suits exactly how you’re feeling on any given day.
Best Portable: BUTYCE Neck Massager
This device is a wearable neck massager that takes up hardly any space—making it a particularly great pick for taking on-the-go. Simply slide the compact massager around your neck, and let it go to work. Its built-in massagers will pulse or heat up, depending on what you’re looking for. So play with its three massage modes and 15 intensity settings until you’ve found a combination that works for you.
Best Massage Ball: Zongs Massage Ball 2-Pack
If you don’t mind putting in a little work, a massage ball—like the Zongs Massage Ball—can make a big difference. Simply take the massager in your hand, and rub the ball all over your neck and upper back. It will dig into your skin in a way fingers just can’t, leaving you feeling like you just got a lovely massage. What’s nice? Since the ball is small, you can use it to massage just about anything—including your arms, legs, feet, and more. Use it to soothe sore muscles or add a little luxury to your life. Either way, you’re in for a treat.
Best Massage Cane: LiBa Back and Neck Massager
There’s nothing wrong with doing things the old-fashioned way—and this LiBa Back and Neck Massager proves it. The cane is basically the massage equivalent of a backscratcher. Loop it around your neck to target common pressure points, or use one of its ball-lined ends to dig into your peskiest problem areas. The obvious downside of a massage cane? It requires you to do a fair amount of work. But the cane can get to those hard-to-reach spots better than your hands ever could—and that counts for a lot.
Best Massage Pillow: Zyllion Massage Pillow
Massage pillows are neck massagers you can lie down on (yes, seriously), so you can enhance bedtime and naptime with a quick, intense massage. The Zyllion Massage Pillow is crafted from vegan leather and breathable mesh, so you can comfortably lie down on it—without worrying about getting overheated. Alternatively, slide it behind your neck, back, legs, or anywhere else that could use a little attention.
Best for Temperature Therapy: Wahl Hot Cold Therapy Massager
Hot and cold therapy can take a massage to the next level, and the Wahl Hot Cold Therapy Massager makes it easy to indulge in both. The handheld massager comes with seven different attachments, which you can use to change up the texture—and the temperature—of your massages. Use the hot attachment any time you need some soothing warmth, and opt for the cold one whenever your muscles need a break. When you have seven different options to choose from, you have even more excuses to give yourself a massage.
Best for Headaches: VOYOR Neck Massager
It may seem weird that a neck massager could soothe your headaches, but that’s exactly what the VOYOR Neck Massager promises to do. Simply slip the lightweight massager around your neck, and kick back as it does most of the work for you. The silicone balls on the massager target your pressure points, giving you a gentle squeeze you can enjoy—even if you’re relaxing and doing nothing at all. And if you want to up the intensity of your massage, you can manually move the massager around to knead anywhere that needs a little extra love.
Best Massage Seat: Comfier Neck and Back Massager Comfier Neck and Back Massager
If you don’t mind a splurge, why not spring for a massage seat (which is basically a more versatile version of a massage chair)? Whereas massage chairs are bulky (and frankly, hard to decorate with), massage seats can fit inside the chairs you already own. Plus, they’re couch-friendly. So if you’re really hoping to relax, you can plop down in your living room and let the massage seat do its thing. The seat is lined with massagers from top to bottom, so you can target your neck, back, and thighs all at once. And since it comes equipped with a back heater, you can get some cozy warmth any time you need it.
Self-massage can be a great way to make your recovery routine feel more luxurious—without absolutely wrecking your budget. If you’re looking for an effective massager that won’t ask you to do much work, you can’t go wrong with the RESTECK Neck and Back Massager. The wraparound massager is soft and cozy. And since it’s portable, you can easily take it with you on-the-go. If you’d prefer a more intense, targeted massage, opt for the Legiral Massage Gun, instead. Since it’s a handheld massager, you’ll have to do a little work. But what you’ll get in return is an intense massage that’ll target any muscle that needs a little love.
What to Look For in a Neck Massager
There are tons of different neck massagers out there, and some require much more effort than others. If you’re looking for a low-effort massage, opt for a wraparound massager, a massage seat, or a massage pillow. If you don’t mind putting in a little work, choose a handheld option, instead.
Some massagers are more intense than others. If you want a lower-intensity massage, try a non-motorized option, like a massage ball or a massage cane. If you’d prefer a massager with more discreet and diverse intensity options, opt for something with a motor.
Many neck massagers aren’t just neck massagers—they’re total-body massagers you can use on your neck. But some are strictly designed to massage your neck and shoulders. If you’d prefer a more versatile option, opt for anything handheld. Since handheld massagers put you in control of the massage, you can use them just about anywhere.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Lindsey Lanquist has years of experience in the health and fitness space. And as an avid shopper, she knows what a bummer a bad product can be. That’s why she makes sure to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and widely beloved by those who’ve tried them.
How We Test Neck Massagers
Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain products; you can read more about our product review methodology here.