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Massage is a form of therapy that involves manipulating the body’s soft tissues. It may help alleviate pain, and many individuals find it relaxing. A person may find at-home massage tools more convenient than visiting a massage therapist.

This article discusses massage chair pads, how to choose one, and alternatives. It also explores the benefits of massage therapy.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

For targeting different parts of the back: Comfier Deep Kneading Shiatsu Back Massage Cushion 2606MC

  • List price: around $120
  • Special features: can massage hips and thighs. Heating option

This massage chair pad has four rollers for shiatsu massage along the length of the back. It also features a vibrating massage for the hips and thighs and an optional heating section.

The customization feature allows the user to focus massage action on specific parts of their back. It also comes with a detachable intensity control flap.

The company offers free shipping and free returns for 30 days.


  • offers option to customize zone massage
  • has a heating option
  • reportedly easy to use


  • some online reviewers found the deep massage too intense
  • online reviewers found the heat option not hot enough
  • some users said it was difficult to access the remote control
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For an adjustable neck massager: Snailax Shiatsu Full Body Massage Chair with Heat & Kneading Air Compress SL-236

  • List price: $206
  • Special features: optional heating, eight shiatsu rollers

This product also features:

  • an adjustable neck massager
  • four different rotation nodes

It can target three massage zones in a person’s back. It also has three pressure levels and three levels of vibration intensity.

The product comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


  • allows users to target specific body parts
  • the remote control is attached to the unit so it does not get lost
  • the unit is reportedly very portable


  • some online reviewers said it broke quickly
  • some users state that no matter how they adjust themselves, the massage does not reach their lower backs
  • does not have an option to reach the shoulders
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For a detachable body massager: HoMedics 2-in-1 Shiatsu Massage Cushion and Cordless Body Massager

  • List price: $389.95
  • Special features: two intensity speeds, remote control, heating

A person can use this product for a rolling, deep-tissue shiatsu, or to massage specific areas.

The cordless body massager detaches from the pad, and individuals can use it to massage the body’s lower legs, neck, and other areas.

This product is rechargeable and has a 1-hour runtime.


  • detachable body massager makes it easier to reach specific spots
  • the adjustable headpiece helps users get neck massages
  • some users report that it works for people of all ages


  • more expensive than other products
  • some users found the massage painful
  • some users said the device was not designed to accommodate larger frames
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For vibration-only massage: Snailax Heated Massage Pad with 6 Vibrating Motors SL-262P

  • List price: around $70
  • Special features: five program modes, four vibration intensities, heating

This product has six vibration motors that target four different areas.

The company also states that the product has a soft, plush fabric cover and a nonslip rubber bottom.


  • can be used while driving
  • some users describe the product as a good value for the price
  • reportedly fits well in a variety of situations


  • does not offer kneading, or Shiatsu massage
  • some users found it very loud
  • some users reported problems with durability
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Best for lower budgets: Conair Body Benefits Heated Massaging Seat Cushion

  • List price: around $43
  • Special features: remote control for adjusting heat and intensity, cushioned lumbar area, heating

This product has three motors to target the upper back and lumbar region.

The company offers a 1-year limited warranty.


  • suits most budgets
  • some users appreciate the heat option
  • online reviewers found it helpful for the lower back


  • some users say that this product does not last
  • reportedly very loud
  • does not have an automatic off
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For a wearable massager: Nekteck Shiatsu neck and back massager

  • List price: around $75
  • Special features: unique design allows it to be worn where needed

This device has a different design from other portable massagers. A person drapes the unit over their shoulders and rests their hands in the ends instead of placing it on a chair.

They can also wrap the unit around their waist, lower back, or legs.

It has eight shiatsu massage heads and a heating function. The massage heads have three-speed modes and can rotate in different directions. The heating unit has built-in protection against overheating.

It is made from what the manufacturer calls “eco-friendly leather and breathable mesh fabric.”


  • comes with a free car adapter
  • online reviewers found it helpful for neck and shoulder massage
  • some reviewers said it worked well for the back and legs


  • not cordless
  • not suitable for persons with heart disease, joint replacement, or other major diseases
  • some users said it hurt them
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For a massage pillow: Papillon Back Massager with Heat

  • List price: around $55
  • Special features: lightweight, so very portable

This massage pillow is ergonomically designed to target the back, shoulders, feet, and legs. It has a three-speed deep kneading massage that a person can control to rotate in opposite directions.

The device also has a heat option that the manufacturer states heats to the best level for massage without burning the skin.

It is made from fabric the manufacturer states is friendly to the environment and the skin. Weighing just three pounds, this massage pillow can be used with an adapter at home, work, or in a car.


  • lightweight and portable
  • online reviews state that the device can deliver a powerful massage
  • users describe it as helpful for back problems due to long stretches of sitting


  • can be intense on the neck
  • no cordless option
  • mesh covering has potential to irritate skin
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Below we compare the massage chair pads in this article.

List priceSpecial featuresReturns
Comfieraround $120can massage hips and thighs. Heating option30-day return policy
Snailax Shiatsu$206optional heating, eight shiatsu rollers30-day return policy
HoMedics$389.95two intensity speeds, remote control, heating30-day return policy
Snailax Heatedaround $70five program modes, four vibration intensities, heating30-day return policy
Conair$43remote control for adjusting heat and intensity, cushioned lumbar area, heatingno information available
Nekteckaround $75wearable massager30-day return policy
Papillonaround $55lightweight, portable design30-day return policy

When shopping for a massage chair pad, a person may wish to consider the following:

  • Portability: Size and flexibility may be important for some people, especially if they store the chair pad when it is not in use.
  • Placement of rollers: Manufacturers of most high quality pads place rollers or kneading implements along the length of the product, from the neck to the lower back.
  • Heating capabilities: Some individuals may prefer a massage chair pad that warms their muscles as heat therapy.

It is important to note that further research into the efficacy of at-home massage devices is necessary. A person may wish to consult a doctor before purchasing a massage chair pad, particularly if they intend to use it to help with a health condition.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy has a number of benefits and can help:

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that massage therapy has short-term benefits for some types of pain, such as neck and shoulder pain. Long-term massage therapy may also help manage some symptoms of fibromyalgia.

However, seeking in-person treatment from a massage therapist may be costly or inconvenient.

At-home massage tools cannot provide the same level of treatment as a trained professional. However, they may allow people to enjoy some of the benefits of massage in the comfort of their home.

According to the NCCIH, massage therapy poses fewer risks when a trained professional performs it. It is of note, however, that a person with health conditions should contact a doctor to find out whether massage therapy is safe for them.

Learn about types of massage here.

How we choose products

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Products are available for a range of budgets.
  • Features: Products have a variety of features to suit individual needs.
  • Suitability: Products come in a range of styles and sizes.
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Alternatives to a massage chair pad include:

  • an in-person massage with a trained professional
  • foam rollers
  • massage balls
  • hand-held massage devices
  • full-body massage chairs

An in-person massage with a trained therapist may be more expensive, but it is likely the most effective option.

People may use foam rollers, massage balls, and hand-held devices to relieve muscle tightness and soreness. Although such products are generally less expensive than a massage chair pad, a person may need further guidance to use them effectively.

Full-body massage chairs can target more areas of the body, and they often come with more features than massage chair pads. However, they can be costly and require more space.

Below are some common questions about massage and massage chair pads.

What are massage chair pads and how do they work?

A massage chair pad is a chair cover with kneading, vibrating, or heating technology inside. The chair cover can be a contoured shell or a more flexible, pad-like product.

Most massage chair pads use vibrating elements to simulate massage therapy. Some products use rolling balls to recreate the kneading motions of shiatsu massage. Many chair pads also include heating to relax muscles further. Other massage chair pads use all three elements.

An individual may prefer to use a full-body massage chair. However, a massage chair pad may cost much less and take up less space than a full-body massage chair. It may also be easier to store.

Learn more about full-body massage chairs here.

How long should you use a massage chair for?

If the chair is not causing any discomfort, a person can use a massage chair for as long as they like.

When should you not use a massage chair?

If a person is experiencing pain or discomfort, they should avoid using a massage chair. Additionally, any underlying conditions should be considered before using a massage chair or pad. A person is advised to speak with a healthcare professional should they have any concerns.

Are massage pads good?

A massage pad may be a good alternative to a massage chair as they are generally significantly cheaper in price. Massage pads can also be lightweight and easy to transport.

Massage may help reduce pain, improve mental well-being, and help manage chronic health problems. A massage chair pad may enable a person to enjoy some of these benefits from home.

However, research into the effectiveness of at-home massage devices is limited. A person may wish to seek guidance from a doctor before purchasing a massage chair pad, particularly if they intend to use it for a health condition or to manage ongoing pain.