If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Maybe you slept funny, maybe you’ve spent too much time hunched over your computer, or maybe you’re just getting kinda old (sorry, sorry), but whatever the reason — your neck hurts. In addition to a good pillow, you could probably use a neck massage, and you can actually purchase some pretty effective electronic neck massagers on the internet.
The best neck massagers simulate the rolling and kneading motion of a pair of hands, helping to relax sore muscles and joints. A good neck massager will add just enough pressure to ease knots in your neck and shoulders, without pressing too hard. We prefer a neck massager that leaves your hands more or less free, with adjustable settings that are gentle enough for daily use.
What Makes a Good Neck Massager?
There are a number of good neck massagers out there, but our favorite design is the massager you wear like a shawl, with slings to rest your wrists, keeping your hands (mostly) free. Here are some of our must-haves.
Heat: Heat naturally relaxes your muscles, making it easier to massage out the tension and knots. All of our picks have a heat setting, ideally one that allows you to adjust the temperature up or down according to your need.
Adjustments: Most massagers include at least three strength settings, although we never say no to more customizable options. You should also be able to change the direction of the kneading rollers.
Auto Shutoff: We prefer the auto shutoff to happen after around 20 minutes, and neck massagers commonly automatically turn off after a period of anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes. If you need a bit more time, you can, of course, always just turn the massager back on, but the automatic shutoff lets you forget about it for a little while and keeps you from overdoing it too much.
Portable: These massagers are designed to be worn wherever there’s an outlet, as most of them operate with a power cord. If you want to use it in the car, many also come with a car adapter included. Still others are entirely wireless and battery-operated. Another nice-to-have when it comes to mobility is an included carrying case or duffel bag.
1. Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager
We love how easy this massager is to both wear and use, with comfortably long arm straps and three adjustable speeds. The device’s eight rotating massage nodes move in an ergonomically-designed U shape in alternating directions, with an auto-shutoff after 20 minutes so you don’t accidentally wear yourself out. An optional heating function warms and softens your muscles as it kneads away all the knots. The Naipo’s lowest setting is gentle yet strong enough to really work out the tender and more delicate muscles in your neck.
2. Resteck Massagers for Neck and Back
Like our top pick, this massager is worn like a scarf over the shoulders in order to massage the neck muscles, and comes with adjustable settings for heat, speed, and direction. It also includes an auto shutoff function. One of the reasons we like this massager in particular is that it also comes with a convenient duffel bag for carrying the device around, while the softness of the material makes it gentle and comfortable to wear against the skin.
3. Shiatsu Back, Shoulder and Neck Massager
This is another shiatsu massager in the same style, with adjustable speed and heat settings, and convenient straps to keep your hands at rest while enjoying your little mini massage. And like the device above, this unit also includes a matching duffel bag for traveling, as well as a car adapter for road trips (say, if you want to get a massage in while driving, or to relax in the passenger seat).
We do appreciate that unlike basic black, this massager comes in bright blue, which adds a touch of style. Worth noting: its auto shutoff function turns the massage off after only 15 minutes rather than 20.
4. Intelligent Wireless Portable 4D Neck Massager
While the shawl-style massagers don’t require you to actively hold the device in place, they do limit arm movement somewhat (it’s not like you can really cook dinner while your arms are slung in the massager). That’s why we’ve also included this wearable, cordless neck massager on our list. The massager is worn like a collar around the neck, and is operated with a remote control, which has buttons to adjust the strength and temperature of the massage, keeping the rest of your body totally free. The downside, of course, is that this is neck-specific, meaning that unlike our other picks, you can’t really also use it to massage your back or feet.