Best massage chairs 2021: Affordable way to soothe aches and pains

Discover our top picks for the best full body massage chair and the benefits of using one, according to industry experts.

Best massage chairs

by Lily Anderson and Marina Avraam |

Pulled your shoulder after a spot of gardening? Lower back hurting after repairing your favourite summer dress on the sewing machine? It's time to invest in the best massage chairs.

If you're no stranger to a spa visit or using a massage gun, then this piece of kit will feel right at home in your abode.

What are massage chairs?

Massage chairs are as relaxing as they come. It's a chair (or a device that sits on a chair) that is designed to knead, roll, heat and sometimes use shiatsu methods to help release and relieve tension in your body.

You might be surprised to find out that the first massage chair dates back as early as the 1950s. Unsurprisingly, contraptions back then were a lot less ergonomically and portable than they are today. Although technology has come a long way, some still prefer the tranquil experience of heading into a health club to get treatments.

Benefits of using a massage chair

Yes, massage chairs are great for relaxing in - but these chairs are so much more than a piece of furniture or an accessory you store in a cupboard.

Massage chairs are designed to give you a deep massage, which offers many different health benefits. Not sure what these benefits are? We enlisted HoMedics, one of the world-leading brands for in-home wellness products, to help us get to the bottom of it.

HoMedics said, "Massage chairs are brilliant for easing and relieving tired, aching muscles – possibly caused by long hours sitting at a desk, exercise, or a build-up of stress as a result of our busy lives. Our ShiatsuMAX 2.0 Massage chair is one of our best sellers. It has 14 different massage programs uniquely designed to mimic traditional Shiatsu massage, with two sets of rolling double massage nodes, perfect for relieving any muscle tensions users are experiencing.

"Controlled by remote, the treatment can be tailored to individual needs and target areas - users can select the spot Shiatsu feature to pinpoint specific areas of concern. The in-built vibration massage feature for the upper legs and thighs is particularly invigorating after being sedentary for long amounts of time.

"The added benefits of an adjustable head rest, heat option and bolstered sides and seat, mean that each individual can enjoy a bespoke treatment to reach ultimate relaxation without even having to leave the house."

Sounds wonderful, right? It's time to destress your mind and body with our selection of the best massage chairs.

The best massage chairs 2021

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Comfier Shiatsu Back Massager with Heat

Best affordable option
Comfier Shiatsu Back Massager with Heat
Amazon

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Photo: Amazon

This shiatsu back massager mimics the movement of real hands to perform a blissful, deep tissue massage, targeting knots and tension in your muscles.

The shiatsu balls can also heat up, to increase soothing and overall relaxation. For a fully customisable experience, you can choose where you want your massage to focus, a particularly useful feature if you have a problem area.

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Review: "I've always liked deep tissue massage on my back, and this product replicates Shiatsu massage perfectly. For a while I was feeling so much pain and I knew I needed a massage. I am so glad to have purchased this massager for such a great price! I'll no longer need to spend hundreds going to someone. I was very impressed by the strength of the nods, really good! Wish I had found this sooner!"

Comfier Back & Neck Massager with Heat

Best for compression massage
Comfier Shiatsu Neck&Back Massager
Amazon

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Photo: Amazon

Eliminate fatigue after a long day of slouching with this fabulous shiatsu back massager. The portable seat harnesses the power of four unique massage nodes to provide a deep tissue massage, in the form of kneading, rolling and compression, with an optional addition of heat.

The compression massage gently squeezes your hips together, targeting your lower back and providing a satisfying and relieving sensation.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review: "This deserves nothing less than five stars. I'm a 6ft 1 male who really enjoyed deep tissue massage. This relieves upper, lower back and neck pain with ease. Lots of useful features. Well built and sturdy, feels luxury and I use it daily. Has really made a difference."

HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0

Best for a real spa-like experience
HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0
Amazon

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Photo: HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0

After a luxury spa-like treatment all day, every day? The HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0 back massager is as close as you'll get. With two double massage nodes and 14 massage programs, including shiatsu and rolling massage, you'll enjoy an invigorating treatment from the top of your neck, all the way down to your thighs.

Intensify your experience by turning up the heat, and personalise your massage as much as you like with just the touch of a button.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5

Review: "After 8 years of severe back pain, I now have a gadget that supplies relief! I know that this isn't a cure, but to be able to get some respite is fantastic! I've tried so many appliances, none of which has proved of any use. I LOVE this massager. Many thanks."

Snailax Back Massager with Heat

Best for lower back pain
Snailax Back Massager with Heat
Amazon

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Photo: Amazon

Reduce stiffness, relax muscles and alleviate any pain with the Snailax massager.

Targeting shoulder, upper back, lower back, or thighs with an optional heating function to top things off, you'll feel calmer and destressed than ever before. You can also choose between three levels of vibrations, perfectly tailoring your massage to what you like.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5

Review: "I am very pleased with this purchase, I have suffered from lower back pain for a few months and this back massager has made a lot of difference. I particularly like the fact you can pick a particular spot for it to stop at so it really works on the part of your back you need it on the most. Would definitely recommend - fantastic purchase and great value for money."

Snailax Memory Foam Back Massager

Best value
Snailax Memory Foam Back Massager
Amazon

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Photo: Amazon

Say au revoir to back pain because the Snailax back massager has made an entrance. With six powerful vibrating motors targeting the upper, mid and lower back, all your tension and dreaded tech neck will be gone within minutes.

The heat therapy mode radiates gentle warmth to loosen tightness and improve blood circulation, and the plush cushion will make any chair ten times comfier.

Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Review: "Excellent product and comfortable seat, relaxing, something to look forward to in the day. Particularly liked the control unit which indicates the areas being massaged by lighting up, such as upper back, lower back, hips and thighs. Also six different settings such as pulsating, rolling, auto etc. Heat was soothing. Overall a great product, value for money and easy to use on the sofa, chair and in the car. Not bulky, so I can take it anywhere."

Aront Back Massager with Heat

Easiest to use
Aront Back Massager with Heat
Amazon

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Photo: Amazon

Shake off all the tension from your day with this great affordable option by Aront. Four spiral kneading massage nodes will mimic the feel of a professional massage, and the added heat will promote blood circulation and overall comfort.

With three vibration levels, your hip and thigh muscles will loosen up, removing all stiffness from the day.

Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Review: "Wow, never used a product like this before and my word it is great! Sounds like a low hum even with the base vibrating; minimal sound! Absolutely fantastic after my first 15 mins on there! I give 4.5 stars for comfort as, initially, while the knots are massaged out it was a tad uncomfortable and I found myself leaning forward for the first 5 mins! Then, as you relax into it, you find yourself leaning into the massage plastic bits! The feeling afterwards is just great! Very strongly recommended."

Naipo Car Seat Massage Cushion Back Massager

Best for use in the car
Naipo Car Seat
Amazon

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Photo: Amazon

With eight motor vibrations and two built-in heaters, this seat pad can target specific areas or multiple muscles to relieve soreness and rejuvenate your joints.

You'll be able to pick from four different massage options including pulse, tapping percussion and modes, as well as three different speed settings.

Rating: 4.1 out of 5

Review: "Bliss, chronic back pain in my family so also bought one for my dad. Very gentle so if you can't stand the nobbly bits of a shiatsu massager, this is perfect. Heat and vibration only and many settings. Really good range of length is long enough to reach top of legs. We love it."

Massage chair FAQs:

How long do massage chairs last?

It can be hard to predict how long any device will continue to work. If your massage chair is well looked after, maintained and repaired when needed, it can last anywhere up to 15 to 20 years. Amazing!

Can massage chairs be harmful?

According to Spine-health, "In general, any type of massage is non-invasive and considered very low risk. While there aren't specific contraindications or risks associated with the use of massage chairs, in general, any of the contraindications to general massage therapy should be followed when using a massage chair.

"Contraindications for massage therapy include: infectious skin disease, a rash, an unhealed wound, immediately after surgery, a tendency to form blood clots or if using blood thinners, circulatory ailments such as phlebitis or varicose veins, inflamed or infected injuries, areas of bleeding or heavy tissue damage, at the sites of recent fractures, sprains, or bruises, immediately after chemotherapy or radiation therapy and osteoporosis (use caution)."

Are massage chairs good for your back?

Are you suffering from back pain? If you're experiencing severe or prolonged back pain, we'd recommend getting advice from a doctor or health care professional before using this piece of equipment.

That said, a good massage chair will help elevate tension and relax your muscles, which could reduce back pain.

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Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us