10 Best Handheld Massagers Tested and Fully Reviewed

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Muscle growth, development, and health are crucial to athletes. This is especially true for long-distance runners and for those who compete in strenuous activities. Because of this, it’s important to know how to take care of your body inside and out. Massages play an important role in muscle recovery and provide a soothing solution for those regular aches and pains. Anyone who’s ever increased their run by a few miles or added a little extra weight to that bar understands just how important a massage can be to their ability to move the next day!

Not every one of us can run to a massage parlor after every serious workout. And, if you’re not wealthy enough to have your own masseuse on call, a handheld massager can be a lifesaver. Handheld massagers are designed to be lightweight, compact, and capable of reaching those deep muscle aches and pains. Many athletes actually take these with them to the gym so that they can start the deep tissue healing process faster. They can also help to displace some of the lactic acid buildups that comes with the development of new muscles.

Now that you understand just how important these products can be too serious athletes, it’s time to start the review process.

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By Tess Bercan:

For this update, we took another look at the features and updated some of the information. Take a look a the addition to our list and take advantage of the new info! Our addition is in the number one spot, so be sure to enjoy!

ACEVIVI Cordless Percussion Massager
  • ACEVIVI Cordless Percussion Massager
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Customizable experience
  • Price: See Here
Physix Gear Sport Muscle Roller Stick
  • Physix Gear Sport Muscle Roller Stick
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easy to Use
  • Price: See Here
Pado Pure-Wave CM7
  • Pado Pure-Wave CM7
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Powerful Massage
  • Price: See Here

We took into account the size, shape, functionality and effectiveness of each one of these handheld massagers. Whether you’re looking for something that has a stronger rhythm like a percussive massager, or something that will be a bit smoother like a standard vibrating model, you won’t have to look any further than this list. We’ve compiled all of the best data to make your shopping experience easier—leaving you more time for the sports that you love!

 

10 Best Handheld Massagers

 

ACEVIVI Cordless Percussion Massager

ACEVIVI Cordless Percussion Massager
This handheld percussion massager is known for its power and affordability. Not only can it be purchased for under $50 on some websites, it also comes with a large number of detachable heads for a truly custom experience. If you need true deep tissue attention, then this is the massager for you!
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Features

The strength of the massage is impressive an designed to reach even the most stubborn muscles.
This model has settings that mimic Shiatsu, deep tissue, acupressure, swedish, Chinese and thai massages.

Health benefits include: Improved circulation, better recovery times, cellulite reduction, improved sleep, reduced heart rate, and relaxation in a holistic sense.
The Impressive specs include:15-speed motor that provides 2900-3100 RMS of massaging power, lithium-ion battery which holds enough power for 2 hours of use, and extreme portability.
Pros
  • Interchangeable heads for a truly custom experience
  • 15 Unique speed combinations that improve usability
  • Long-lastinng battery
  • Easy to use and portable
Cons
  • Some complain that it's too powerful

Physix Gear Sport Muscle Roller Stick

Portable, compact yet super effective, this option allows users to roll out lactic acid build up, massage sore and tight muscles and knots. It can help prevent and massage shin splints and plantar fasciitis for runners. It is small enough to carry in a gym bad and doesn’t make any noise.
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Features

This option is equipped with stainless steel core and mounded anti-slip handles that have enough grip to really dig in deep. The body of this massager is made up of thermoplastic rollers that don’t squeak or many a simple peep. These 7 individual spindles help to relax the muscles, to increase recovery, trigger pressure points, eliminate muscle spasms and ward off soreness.

Best Used For

The Physix Gear Sport Muscle Roller Stick can be used for just about anyone looking to treat their sore muscles, but it’s great for runners looking to target their quads, hamstrings, calf muscles, treat shin splints and plantar fasciitis. It is extremely lightweight and compact, making it portable option to be thrown in a gym bag.

Learning Curve

Users won’t run into any issues post run when using this handheld massager. Just grip the handles, apply the desired amount of pressure and roll the stick back and forth. It comes with a free eBook guide for tips to using.
Pros
  • Great for runners targeting hamstrings, quads and calfs
  • Easy to use
  • Portable for taking in a gym bag
  • Very affordable with a money back guarantee
Cons
  • Spindles can pinch skin

Pado Pure-Wave CM7

Cordless and rechargeable, this handheld massager has up to 3,700 RPM to be able to relieve all those tense muscles, knots and aches while increasing blood flow after that long run or intense weight session. It has a great range of motion, comes with attachments, and is lightweight.
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Features

The Pure-Wave CM7 is the king of all electric handheld massagers. It combines two massager in one, feature both percussion and micro vibration therapy to treat sore muscles and release painful knots.

First up is its percussion head that can generate deep into the muscle tissue at 1,500 to 3,700 RPM, making it the best in class when it comes to its power. It comes with attachments such as the six-head stick, air-cushion stick, body massage oil stick , point stick, and bestow all its scalp massage stick and facial massage stick. This brings a whole body massage to a whole new meaning by being able to relax the face and head.

The handle serves as a micro vibration massage that pulses at 10,00 vibrations per minute. This makes it great for easing tension headaches.

It is lightweight at just under a pound, and is cordless, equipped with a rechargeable battery that works up to 180 continuous minutes after one hour of charging.

Best Used For

This handheld massager is so versatile that it can be used to treat every little ache and pain. This includes unwinding after a long day at work sitting at the computer, or getting that long distance run in. It’s dual massing system not only gets rid of knots, aid in circulation and sooth inflamed joints, but it also relieves tension in the jaw and temples.

Learning Curve

There are no problems using this massager thanks to its speed dial that allows the consumer to adjust the power. Simply turn the dial to add more or take away the intensity following the “+” arch for max power. Above the dial is the power button to turn on and off, and above that is the batter life indicator. The attachments are easy to use as well. The air-cushion, six-head and point attacks thread on by screwing the. The facial massage stick simply slips on, as does the scalp and body massage sticks.
Pros
  • Powerful massage with up to 3,700 RPM
  • Includes microvibration handle for massaging face
  • Cordless and has a rechargeable battery
  • Versatile option with lots of attachments including one for the scalp
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Max power may be too aggressive for some

The Stick Marathon Stick

The Stick Marathon Stick
This is a massager stick that is made with the long distance runner in mind. It relieves soreness and stiffness, as well as increases recovery. It also improves flexibility, while preventing injuries related to the muscles. It comes in various lengths, although is compact enough to put in a bag, and also comes in varying levels of stiffness.
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Features

Flexible enough for muscle compression with a semi-ridge core and with spindles that roll independently over the muscle, the Marathon Stick is made to improve strength, flexibility and endurance while repairing muscle and pushing out lactic acid post run or workout. It has grippy handles that won’t slip as the user applies as much pressure as they wish.

Best Used For

This handheld massage is great to use pre-work to loosen the muscles up, get the blood flowing and increase endurance. After a run or workout, it accelerates muscle recovery time and releases myofascia. It contours the muscles, best used on the legs. It works by using nutritional biomechanics to trigger point pain and ease muscle soreness, which makes it an option for those with fibromyalgia syndrome.


Learning Curve

Learning how to operate this stick is no problem since the user just has to hold on and start rolling. It does come in various sizes and stiffness, but the Marathon Stick is 20-inches long and weights 11 ounces with a flexible amount of stiffness.
Pros
  • Flexible, yet rigid enough for muscle relief
  • Great for runners with emphasis on leg muscles
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Mid-range price
Cons
  • Has the appearance like it could break with lots of pressure
  • Runners may opt to foam roll instead

Elite Muscle Roller Stick

Elite Muscle Roller Stick
This massage roller is manual, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as effective as electric options. The Elite Muscle Roller Stick targets sore and tight muscles for relief while also preventing muscle cramps. The consumer can apply the right amount of pressure that feels good to them, rolling out the tightness while increasing blood circulation. This differs from a foam roller since it is smaller, hand-held, and can be used more easily.
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Features

This is a foam roller and muscle massaging stick rolled together in one design. It features non-slip and easy to grip handles that are comfortable in the hands, even when really apply the pressure. This is a stiff stick, designed to really mimic deep tissue massages. There is a 2mm gap between each roller, which prevents the stick from tugging at leg and arm hair. It’s best feature is its elite myofascial release tool that keeps the muscles from knotting up and helps to keep muscle soreness at the bare minimum.

Best Used For

Use the Elite Muscle Roller Stick before and after exercise to see the best results when combating muscle fatigue. It’s ideal for legs, calves, quads, shins,the lower back and arms. It’s the perfect size to use while sitting down, standing or laying down.

Learning Curve

This stick is very easy to work. Just roller over the targeted area for about five minute to release tension and increase blood flow. Because its a manual massager, the amount of pressure is in the hands of the user. It rolls really smoothly and is much easier to use than foam roller for those new to it. The company also provides “how to" videos on its website.
Pros
  • Lightweight for taking on-the-go
  • Targets sore muscle and prevents cramps, yet easier to use than a foam roller
  • Myofascial release tool prevents knots
  • Apply as much pressure as necessary
  • Very attractive price
Cons
  • Harder to use compared to electric options for neck and back relief

Moji Curve Pro

This massager is one of the best for runners because it performs extremely well at loosening tight muscles, increasing range of motion and relieving soreness after that long run. It also breaks up scar tissue, great for those recovering from an injury. It is easy to hold with its specialized handles, and its stainless steel spheres allows for targeting pressure points. This is an option best used for larger muscle groups. Best of all, it can be placed in the freezer to use used as for an ice massage.
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Features

When it comes to design, the Moji Curve Pro has an elongated shape that consists of handles on earth side and four stainless steel balls. The handles include slots that allow for a great grip and more controlled pressure. It’s slight curve contours to the muscles nicely, getting those harder to reach areas. Like other Moji massagers, this option can be frozen to combine with ice and massage treatments at the same time to further sooth the muscles. This also helps to reduce dwelling.

Best Used For

Because of its shape, the Curve Pro is able to reach the back well, and is also great for working on the quads,hamstrings, calves, shins, IT band and hips. However, it works best on the larger muscles groups like the quads and hamstrings.

Learning Curve

There is no issues learning how to operate this massager. Just hold onto the handles, apply pressure and get to rolling. It’s stainless steel spheres are freely-rotating, meaning it provides 360 degrees of movement for an impressive feeling massage. Go side to side and up and down, really kneading out the tension and knots.
Pros
  • Great for treating the quads and hamstrings
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • 360 degree moving spheres provide great range in motion
  • Can be frozen for ice massage to reduce swelling and inflammation
Cons
  • Slight more expensive than other options
  • Not great for ankles or feet

Body Back Buddy Original

Body Back Buddy Original
With its design that has withstand a decade while still proving to be effective, this handheld massager is stronger and easier to grip than cylinder designs. This is a fully body massager that consists of 11 therapy knobs that accesses every pressure point in the body. It helps to treat muscle knots and trigger points, and comes with an instructional manual and a 30 day guarantee.
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Features

This massager has a elongated “S” shaped design that features two main “hooks” and handles on each side of its straight line. Throughout the tool is 11 knobs (with three different styles including a dull rounded and pointed one) made for every pressure point in the body for maximum ease of muscle stress. These round knobs mimic the feel of a therapist’s thumb or elbow when massaging. It’s unique shape is effect at myofascial release and deep tissue massaging. It’s lightweight at just over a pound, yet sturdy and durable.

Best Used For

This option is great for just about everyone to use, even the elderly because of how easy it is to use and its lightweight design. It is most beneficial for athletes since they can address every potential problem area in their body. This includes treating the neck, back, legs and buttocks, shoulders and even foot reflexology. Knobs 1 and 11 are used for softer or deep massages anywhere on the body, whereas 8 and 9 are made for the neck. Knots 3, 5 and 7 are for general use, whereas 2 and 10 are for the feet. This truly provides a full body massage that can be given by oneself.

Learning Curve

While the Body Back Buddy is extremely effective at treating muscle pain and soreness, it also takes some time getting used it. It’s design is impressive, but also a bit awkward to use at first. Give it some time to get used to it, but make sure to check out the included instruction manual.

Because of its design, the Body Back Buddy can be held different ways depending on the area being massaged. It has a handle on the top and the bottom for holding when upright. Hold it sideways to massage the mid and lower back. Wrap around the neck for a massage at the base of the skull.
Pros
  • Unique design that address all trigger points in the body
  • Lightweight and durable
  • User controls the amount of pressure
Cons
  • Pricier than other options
  • Slight learning curve

Moji Mini Pro

Moji Mini Pro
Great for those hard to reach areas, this mini massager from Moji is flexible and contours around muscles to really target and soothe them. It fits in the palm of the hand, making it easy to hold and has stainless steel sphere that allow for both soft and harder massages.
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Features

This option is compact and lightweight, perfect for carrying in a gym bag or purse. The Moji Mini Pro features stainless steel spheres in three differing sizes on one side designed to massage the muscles for targeted relief. The placement of the sphere allows for deep tissue massage for quick muscle recovery. The other side features a strap so that the user can hold, fitting the palm of the hand. The best part is this massager can be placed in the freezer to be able to ice and massage at the same time.

Best Used For

This massager can be used for everything from every day aches and pains to sore muscles anywhere on the body. It’s sphere size and design make it versatile, while contouring to the muscles to real dig in there and even relive scar tissue.

Learning Curve

This massager slides onto the hand, featuring an adjustable clasp that keeps it in place. All the consumer has to do is wear it on their hand and apply their desired amount pressure. Since its a manual massager, it’s extremely easy to learn how to use.
Pros
  • Very compact and portable
  • Unique design that is easy to use and targets muscles really well
  • Can also be used to ice the muscles as well
Cons
  • The smaller balls are almost too small
  • Can’t reach hard to reach back spots

RENPHO Deep Tissue

RENPHO Deep Tissue
This is an electric handheld option with an extremely portable design that includes its best feature: being cordless. It relieves pains for the entire body, coming with different attachments for a more custom massage.
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Features

The RENPHO Deep Tissue Massager puts portability in the forefront, being handheld and cordless. It has a build-in rechargeable battery than can last up to 2 hours on a full charge. This means the user can enjoy an electric deep massage anywhere including the gym locker room or the hotel post race.

It comes with various head attachments that include a 3-points design and a 3-intensive rubber head that is ideal for a soft massage. It also has a round ball hard plastic head for deep tissue massages. The one pint head is used to trigger acupuncture points, and the curved head is designed specially for arms and legs.

It’s motor is powerful, going at 3600 pulses per minute, so consumers can rest assure that their pains will subside.

Best Used For

This is an extremely versatile option, mainly since it has adjustment speed and pressures, removable heads and can be taken anywhere. It can work kinks and soreness just about anywhere in the body, especially when looking to speed up muscle recovery. It should not be used to treat fractures, and is also not recommended for pregnant women.

Learning Curve

The is no learning curve with this electric massager. That’s thanks to its single control panel that have an on/off button, as well as a Mode button (that has three strength modes) and “+” and “-“ to increase and lower the power. It has an automatic shut off feature that prevents it from overheating after 20 minutes of use so that the consumer can use this massager safely.
Pros
  • Stylish, portable, and best of all cordless
  • Power motor
  • Long lasting battery
  • Safety shut off feature
Cons
  • Pulses and vibrates, but does not rotate
  • On the heavy side
  • Turns off after 20 minutes

Ohuhu Double Head Deep Tissue

Ohuhu Double Head Deep Tissue
Made with high quality materials, this percussion massager is great for the neck, back and shoulders, coming their three removable heads for a variety of massage options. The consumer can adjust the power and intensity of the massage when they want to focus on deep tissue relief or just to rub out the soreness before a big race.
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Features

This handheld massage has a double-head design that works extremely well at promoting blood circulation and get rid of muscle aches. It has made of ABS and rubber, making it durable and weights 2.4 lbs. It can be used with one hand with its non-slip grip, although is a bit big, which means it covers more surface areas. It has three pairs of removable heads for a more customized massage.

Best Used For

This option is best used for beck, back and shoulder relief after a long day of work or post lifting at the gym. It also can treat foot pain, ideal for plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

Learning Curve

The Ohuhu Electric Double Head is easy to use since there is one button that powers it on and off. Above the power button is the customizable speed setting, with the user just needing to raise up for a faster speed and slide down to decrease the speed. It also comes with an instruction manual to learn how to change the heads.
Pros
  • Electric option with adjustable speed
  • Comes with head attachments for further customization
  • Wide deign gets hard to reach spots of the back
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Can be too heavy for some, like the elderly to use for a handheld option
  • Needs to be plugged in to use

 

The Criteria We Used for Our Evaluation

Going to a sports therapist or to the spa for a massage can be a costly venture. That’s why investing in a massager to use on yourself is a great idea. But with so many different types of handheld massagers on the market, it can seem daunting as to which really do work the best. That’s why we did all the research to uncover the pros and cons of each, as well as how well it actually works. Because of varying types we used a set list of criteria to determine which are worthy buys. These metrics are detailed below.

Performance: The most important metric here is how well the handheld massage works. Why are its main features? Can the user customize their massage when it comes to pressure? Does it relieve muscle pain and soreness?

Design: Is it the massager portable, able to be taken in a gym bag? How lightweight is this option? This plays major role because it should fit comfortably in the hand without being too bulky or heavy to use.

Usage: How easy is it to use this handheld massager? Is there ample grip, or will the hands slip? Can it get to the hard to reach areas? Does it take time to learn how to operate?

Value: Is its effectiveness worthy its price tag? What makes it stand out from other options?

Other Important Factors to Consider

The benefits of deep tissue massage are pretty apparent to anyone who’s ever suffered from a sports injury. With a high-quality massager, you’ll be able to get into even the deepest muscle groups, and to effectively increase blood flow and start the healing process. This is also a great way to help yourself relax at the end of a busy day.

We have a tendency to hold a lot of tension in our bodies. Because of this, we need to find ways to release this in order to prevent future injuries. When we walk around tensed up all day, these muscles are much easier to strain or overuse in the course of a workout. Sometimes, a massage before and after a workout is a great way to improve your performance and your recovery time. These are just a few other factors that you should consider before choosing the best handheld massager for your needs!

Health Benefits

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massages help to improve athletic performance, reduce pain, prevent injury, and reduce recovery time by dissolving lactic acid in the muscles. It has been shown to decrease onset muscle soreness, improve soft tissue function, increase range of motion, decrease swelling and improve conditioning.

As new muscles are developed, the tears can result in a buildup of something called lactic acid. This can actually contribute to muscle soreness and a loss of flexibility when it’s not properly worked out. This is another thing that a handheld massager can have a huge impact on. Again, this is an excellent way to improve your recovery time and your health in its entirety.

Percussion vs Massage Sticks

Percussion massagers are usually electric and will plug into the wall. This is because they use a stronger rhythm to target deep tissue areas. Many of these will resemble the effects of a high-end massage chair and are actually preferred by high-impact athletes. Because these are motorized, the user won’t need to apply pressure or manually manipulate the massager. The machine does most of the work and uses a hammer pad that can send rapid vibrations into even the deepest muscles. These kinds of handheld massagers are easy to use and effective at relieving tension and reducing pain.

Massage Sticks allow the user to trigger problem areas better because of its design, flexibility and mobility. They are generally more portable since they don’t require plugs, batteries or to be charged. They are often more lightweight and compact. However, the user must manually apply the pressure and roll back and forth on the muscle. This also means that they have a gentler touch, and the pressure can be customized to suit those who may have areas that are more tender than others.

Warnings

Always read the instruction manual for handheld massagers to know how to operate them properly to avoid causing further injury. Many massagers are not recommended to be used by those who have skin problems, suffer from blood clots or who are pregnant. Only apply the right amount of pressure that isn’t too painful. The massage should feel good and relaxing.

When in doubt, talk to your doctor. Your handheld massager should help to alleviate pain, not cause more of it. Always pay attention to warning labels, and consult with your general practitioner if you have any questions.

FAQ

Q: How do I use a handheld massager?

A: Percussion models will need to be held above an area so that they rest lightly on top of the skin. You can apply pressure as needed to increase the effectiveness of the machine. For stick massager, the vibration can be adjusted using pressure and by rolling the apparatus over your muscles. The level of use is really at the discretion of the user. Just make sure that you’re not doing anything that causes pain or that makes you uncomfortable.

Q: Can a handheld massager reach my back?

A: There are many options on this list that can reach all areas of the back including the lower back. Make sure it is lightweight so its not too heavy to hold and has a good grip to reach these areas.

Q: How often should I use a handheld massager?

A: Massage as often or little as desired. It’s beneficial to massage both before and after a run or workout.

Q: What is a deep tissue massage?

A: This consists of deeper pressure when massing the muscles to reach the tensions and fascia to relieve tension and tightness

Q: Can this massager work for shin splints?

A: Yes, all of the options on this list are great for treating shin splints.

Q: Is this massager noisy?

A: This depends on each model. Electric massagers tend to be more noisy than its counterparts.

Sources

  1. Kerrie Ann Frey, Benefits Of Massage For Athletes, Health Website, Mar 01, 2013
  2. Penny King , How to Use a Handheld Massager for Body?, Massage Website,
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