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This $50 heated massager is the perfect antidote to carrying around a heavy backpack — it relieves my shoulder and back tension

This $50 heated massager is the perfect antidote to carrying around a heavy backpack — it relieves my shoulder and back tension

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I use my at-home massager both after work and after runs, and I'd highly recommend others do the same.

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I use my at-home massager both after work and after runs, and I’d highly recommend others do the same.
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Amazon
  • I recently purchased the InvoSpa Shiatsu Back, Neck, and Shoulder Massager with Heat from Amazon for $50, and it is a game changer for anyone like me who struggles with back and neck pain on a daily basis.
  • My life is very different now that I get daily, professional-grade massages. If I were to visit a masseuse that regularly in New York City, I’d be down close to $100 per week at minimum.
  • What makes this at-home massager even better than going to a professional, however, is that you remain in total control as you use it.
  • This massager also has a timer, so it automatically shuts off every 15 minutes.

As a freelancer in New York City, I’m regularly hauling around a backpack filled with my computer, its charger, a work book, a fun book, hand sanitizer, a water bottle, a just-in-case umbrella, and about 14 inkless pens. My bag not only burdens my back, but it also strains my neck, shoulders, legs, and arms as I contort my body to fit into crowded subways and carry it in one hand while the other roots around for an elusive, working pen. Then when I arrive at my destination, I sit down and type for hours, hunching over my laptop like Golem guarding his precious.

None of this activity helps ease my back pain. After I tried repeatedly to hand-massage myself for relief (about as satisfying as scratching that itch at the middle of your back), my friend whose job entails a lot of upper body work let me try her at-home shiatsu back, neck, and shoulder massager with heat. I’m not exaggerating when I say it changed my life. I immediately went home and ordered my own off of Amazon for $50.

Those times when I’ve tried to get a knot out of my upper back by using the edge of a door frame? This kneading massager from InvoSpa is infinitely more effective in its ability to dig deep into my muscles, relaxing tensions I barely even knew I had. Its pack-like shape – featuring two straps you can slip your arms through while positioning dual massagers comfortably on your neck, back, or shoulders – mimics that of my backpack, allowing me to hit all the sore spots that wearing my bag daily creates.

The apparatus has a groove for your neck, with one massager on either side, each consisting of four, rotating nodes. The four larger nodes loosen up your muscles while the four smaller nodes really get in there, tackling the most stubborn knots. Four controllers on one strap let you turn the massagers off and on, change the direction of the rotation, alter the speed, and switch on and off the heat, respectively. I find that the direction of the nodes changes regularly enough, so I end up pressing the heat button most. Using heat at the start of the massage helps relax my muscles before I apply more pressure for heavy kneading, at which point I turn the heat off.

I mentioned that this massager has changed my life, and it’s true – my life is very different now that I get daily, professional-grade massages. If I were to visit a masseuse that regularly in New York City, I’d be down close to $100 per week at minimum.

As with all massagers, it's also not good for you to use it for too long. Luckily, this one has a timer, so it automatically shuts off every 15 minutes.

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As with all massagers, it’s also not good for you to use it for too long. Luckily, this one has a timer, so it automatically shuts off every 15 minutes.
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Amazon

What makes this at-home massager even better than going to a professional, however, is that you remain in total control as you use it.

The straps make it very easy to manipulate its position, letting you reach the nagging sore parts that are nearly impossible to explain to other people (“No, a little more to the left…”). And even though it’s called a “back, neck, and shoulder massager,” it feels amazing on the soles of my (clean) feet.

However, you can’t use the massager on any old body part. I learned this the hard way. The manual warns you’re not supposed to put it on “joints and bony parts of the body,” which I didn’t read until after I’d ended up with some sore knees joints – a fate people who read manuals (or this article) can easily avoid. As with all massagers, it’s also not good for you to use it for too long. Luckily, this one has a timer, so it automatically shuts off every 15 minutes.

This massager’s only other minor downside is that it has to be plugged into the wall to work. That being said, the cord is plenty long. I’ve never had a hard time getting it to my couch, bed, or desk chair, some of which are closer to outlets than others. Impressively, it’s still portable. It comes with a car plug and a convenient, handheld case.

Even if you don’t lug around a full backpack every day and hunch over your computer, doing any kind of physical work, exercising, or even just experiencing stress can lead to tight, painful muscles. I use my at-home massager both after work and after runs, and I’d highly recommend others do the same. It’s giving me a foot massage right now.

Buy the InvoSpa Shiatsu Back, Neck, and Shoulder Massager with Heat at Amazon for $59.97.

The best foot massagers you can buy

The best foot massagers you can buy

  • We tested the top-rated foot massagers to find the best ones you can buy to relieve chronic foot pain.
  • The Belmint Shiatsu Foot Massager is the best foot massager we tested, thanks to its perfect application of pressure, heating function, and reasonable price.

I’m getting an expert foot massage as I write this – not by a person, but by a machine that looks like a tiny spaceship. This is Belmint’s Shiatsu Foot Massager, and it has become an integral part of my daily routine.

While training to run a half marathon over the past few months, my feet took regular beatings. The soreness only increased when I had to switch from my running sneakers back to shoes appropriate for office work. I needed a remedy, and daily visits with a masseuse proved financially prohibitive. So I did the next best thing. I tested a bunch of at-home foot massagers.

Every foot massager I tried had something slightly different to offer, and I learned more than I ever imagined I would about the ins and outs of getting a massage from an inanimate object. Kneading is better than prodding, slight smelliness can be difficult to avoid, simple squeezing can be surprisingly effective, and mobility and power don’t often go hand in hand. Ultimately, the range and style of at-home massagers impressed me. It also impressed my friends who picked out their favorites from my growing collection.

The half marathon came and went, and I’m still devoted to my favorite foot massager – and, to be honest, a couple others. Foot massagers, it turns out, do more than just relieve pain in your feet. They also help improve circulation and stimulate your muscles. The calming effects are key to curbing my everyday stress. Whether you’re preparing to run 13 miles or just unwinding from a long art class where you had to stand for three hours in a row – a weekly occurrence, for me – a well-done foot massage is an effective and relaxing way to recover.

While I didn’t test every at-home foot massager on the market, there are a few common, general prototypes that multiple companies offer. From these types, I’ve chosen a range from electronic massagers with multiple pulsing nodes and plug-in parts to simple, analog pressure-relievers. Some are best for home use, and others can come with you to the office.

Here are the best foot massagers you can buy:

Updated on 07/26/2019 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices and formmatting.

Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.


The best overall

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Belmint

The Belmint Shiatsu Foot Massager feels like a person massaging your feet, and the pressure is spot-on.

In testing out a number of foot massagers, I learned a lot about comfortable pressure. There’s the kind of squeeze that leaves you groaning in relief, and there’s the kind that leaves you limping. Of all the electronic foot massagers I tested out, Belmint’s Shiatsu Foot Massager proved the best at causing only the former – as long as you learn what pressure setting best meets your personal needs.

Some massagers tickled and others prodded. This one felt like a massage and a hug, perhaps in part because you’re sliding your feet into two snug, cloth-lined nooks. Nothing eyebrow-raising, like repeated jabs to the back of my sole, happened during the 15 minutes of the Shiatsu Foot Massager’s timed session.

The heat made me feel like I was a melting puddle of Jell-O, and the massager never got too hot, even though my feet were sitting in compact, heated chambers for a quarter of an hour at a time. When I removed my feet from this massaging cocoon, it felt like a butterfly emerged.

What makes this electronic foot massager seriously great is the combined effect of kneading motions that differentiate between areas of your feet and overall pressure. While one roller hits that key relief point in the middle back of your heel, another set of rollers glides firmly from your arch over the balls of your feet, all with alternating pressure. Lastly, another set kneads and squeezes around your toes.

While all of this is taking place, the air pressure in both foot compartments constantly fluctuates. Sometimes, the compartments get tight around your feet for a deep squeeze and other times they loosen up. The combined squeezing and kneading sensation is swoon-worthy. When there’s free space in the compartments, I usually like to flex my feet so I can partially control how deep the kneading nodes penetrate my muscles.

Heat can be turned off and on during a massage session. I usually like to start with it on to loosen up my muscles and turn it off midway, when I start getting warm.

It’s not only the movement, pressure, and temperature of this massager that made me fall in love (yes, this is romance!). It’s the fact that it leaves no part of your foot untouched. The nodes in this shiatsu massager correspond to the rise of your arches, the space between your toes, and your often-ignored heels, hitting all the key points on your foot. Many at-home foot massagers fail to reach every single one of these spots, or they just graze them.

Belmint’s Shiatsu Massager gets in there to quell aches and alleviate stiffness you may not have even realized you had. If you get tired of the repetitive kneading, the massager offers two settings. One consists of constant, back and forth kneading. The other kneads in spurts and then pauses while applying increasingly more pressure to eat foot.

Pressure is adjustable on a scale of one to five. I find anything over two overwhelming. The lowest setting usually suffices, unless I’m particularly sore. Then I opt for two or maybe three. More than that and I would fear actual injury, but I have relatively slight feet and my job mostly consists of sitting at a desk. A day after a particularly long run is when I opt for the higher pressure settings, but I would advise anyone trying this massager for the first time to increase the pressure level with care.

Pay attention to what your feet are telling you. If something hurts more than a reasonable good hurt, stop the massage or decrease the pressure.

The Belmint Shiatsu Massager is also fairly compact. While you’re not going to want to lug it with you to work, it’s easy to stick under a table by your couch or in your closet between uses. The fact that it looks like a cute, miniature UFO doesn’t hurt. It appears sleek and unobtrusive, but not clinical.

Since this is a heated massager that you stick your feet into, you do have to consider sweaty foot smell. Luckily, the cloth lining in this massager is washable. The only other downside is the lack of physical flexibility. You have to pretty much keep your feet put during the massage, which can be frustrating if you’re used to more control over your massage. If you want a comprehensive massage in which you get to sit back and relax, this machine is for you.

Pros: Varies pressure and movement during session, sleek design, pays attention to all parts of your feet

Cons: You can’t move your feet when using it, not immune to foot smell, clunky to move


The best for chronic pain

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TheraFlow

The TheraFlow Dual Foot Massager Roller relieves the pain of plantar fasciitis.

I don’t have plantar fasciitis or chronic foot pain, but from pouring through numerous reviews, I learned that people who do adore this massage roller. Made of high-quality Theaceae wood, this TheraFlow massager is durable. Unfortunately, after looking it up, I found that this plant species is threatened due to environmental factors and logging.

Unlike electronic massagers, it doesn’t need a warranty. You can use one of these for years without worrying about upkeep or servicing. For something so low-tech, it’s shockingly effective.

The raised, pyramid-shaped parts on each of the four front rollers are pronounced, digging deep into users’ foot muscles and paint points. The intense pressure relieves the pain of plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis occurs when the band of tissue that extends from your toes to your heel bone becomes inflamed, often due to exercise like dance and long-distance running. Obesity and jobs that keep you on your feet, like serving at a restaurant or teaching, are also risk factors. The worst symptom is stabbing pain near your heel, which peaks first thing in the morning and usually gets better throughout the day.

To be clear, this massager doesn’t cure plantar fasciitis. However, many people said it provides the best temporary relief they’ve found, including compared to other similar massagers with less distinct protrusions. In addition to the four rollers with the pyramid-shaped points that hit the front of the feet, the TheraFlow Dual Massager Roller includes a back roller with longer, cylindrical knobs that directly attack the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.

You can also turn the massager around, so those longer nodes hit your toes and the balls of your feet. Tip: Let the longer nodes rest between your toes and then try and squeeze them all together. Toes often get ignored, so giving them a good squeeze feels surprisingly satisfying.

When using this massager, you have the freedom to position your feet so that the nodes hit a number of different tight muscles and pressure points. Myofascial pain, like the inflammation of tissue that occurs in sufferers of plantar fasciitis, is said to manifest in certain trigger points. Being able to stretch out those points can help cause relief, which the combination of this massager’s rolling motion and its raised nodes can provide.

The TheraFlow Dual Foot Massager weighs only 1.6 pounds, so it’s easy to drag around the house. The sturdiness means this at-home massage roller can withstand the weight of a heavy, standing adult.

If you need a break from serious, regular foot pain, this massage roller does not mess around. It’s also affordable and portable.

Pros: Durability and strength of material, portable, combines a deep massage with ability to tailor it to the specific pain points on your feet, low cost

Cons: Made of wood from a threatened plant species, lack of heating mechanism makes it harder for your feet to ease into the massage


The best high-end foot massager

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Belmint

The Belmint Foot Calf and Leg Massager with Heat treats your entire lower leg.

This foot massager is a dream. The only reason why I didn’t stick it at the top of this list is because it can be overwhelming. Between the multiple air pressure settings and the calf attachments that look and act like blood pressure cuffs, there’s a lot going on with the Belmit Foot, Calf and Leg Massager. It also weighs close 30 pounds and has been a challenge to store in my small, New York City apartment.

Each foot platform consists of four separate sections. By your toes, there’s a vibration area, then there are rolling and massage sections for your front sole, your arch, and your heel area. The arch section includes optional heat. Surrounding your feet, an air bag offers increased compression, and between your feet, a console features many adjustment options.

On the console, you’ll find a button for turning the heating element on and off, buttons that adjust vibration frequency, and buttons that change the air pressure. There’s also a button to switch between three different “modes” of massage.

When the light on the “mode” button turns green, that means it’s air pressure only – the machine vibrates but the kneading stops. This is nice if you want to relieve pressure after you’ve been standing for hours but not necessarily exercising. Squeezing the feet alone is a unexpectedly effective massage.

When the “mode” button is red, the air pressure turns off and you get a massage consisting exclusively of kneading and vibration. This works best for when you’re experiencing tightness in specific areas of your foot. The blue mode incorporates all of these features at once. All massages start off with intense vibration to loosen up your muscles, preparing you for the squeezing and/or kneading to follow.

This foot, calf, and leg massager includes an adjustable bar that you can use to position it at an angle, meaning you don’t have to have your calves positioned 90 degrees from the ground while you use it. This machine lets you recline in your chair and put your feet up during your massage.

Now for the leg attachments. Calf muscles do a lot of hard work because of their position between your active knee and ankle joints. Improving circulation in your calves promotes blood flow throughout your entire body. Having attachments that focus on your calves while your feet get a simultaneous work-through takes relief to the next level.

This elaborate massager is fabulous for a day after rigorous exercise or, let’s be honest, the morning after a night of drinking. It will bring your sore, tired muscles back to life and flush metabolic byproducts that build up when you exercise – and that have trouble breaking down when you drink.

Pros: Comprehensive – pays attention to calves and all parts of your feet individually, multiple adjustable settings lets you customize your massage

Cons: Difficult to store, clunky to move, some set-up required


The best for the office

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Moji

The Moji Foot Pro is easily portable and gives you full control.

When I first saw this hand-sized package waiting for me in my apartment, I approached it quizzically. What kind of at-home massager would be smaller than a single foot? Based on all the others I’d seen, it needed to at least match your foot to hit all the necessary spots at once.

Turns out, you don’t need to hit all the spots at once with Moji’s massager for a satisfying session. The concentrated pressure from leaning a single part of your foot on top of these five rolling, stainless steel balls is enough to make a big difference in how you feel.

You get to completely control the kind of massage you’re getting and what parts of your feet you want to focus on. Sure, sometimes you want to surrender to an electronic foot massager that does all the work for you. However, there’s something to be said for getting to determine exactly the direction, length, and speed of the massage yourself.

Say the balls of your feet are sore from a particular shoe you’ve been wearing lately. You don’t want incessant kneading at your heel, you just want to work out a centralized kink. The Moji Foot Pro allows for that. It also facilitates low-commitment massages. You don’t have to strap yourself in for 15 minutes of intense kneading and vibrations. Instead, you can casually roll your feet across it while it sits unassumingly beneath your desk as you answer emails.

While the five balls on the Moji Foot Pro roll with the movements of your feet, the massager’s non-slip base stays affixed to the ground. This is a good solution to the many circular or cylindrical rolling massagers that tend to roll away while you’re trying to use them.

However, the base of my Moji accumulated dust over several weeks of use, so now it’s starting to slip around more than it used to. Fortunately, you can easily clean the foot massager with either a damp wipe or soap and water.

The Moji’s packaging recommends that you try putting it in the in the freezer for an “ice massage.” To be honest, that sounded unpleasant. However, even though the cold retained by the Moji’s five, metal balls was alarming at first, it ultimately made my feet feel alive.

I tried the ice massage right after waking up in the morning, and not only did it help bring down some nighttime foot swelling, but the cold also proved numbing to the point where I could use the massager to dig deeper into my muscles without discomfort. I was able to do more meaningful work on my feet.

Lastly, you can use this massager on your hands, arms, and legs, as well. Since it’s not designed for those uses, rolling it over your arms and legs isn’t exactly comfortable, but the effect on your muscles is pleasing nonetheless. The best alternative use is for your hands, because you can set the Moji on a table and roll your hands across it like you would your feet. Just make sure to clean it between foot and hand massages.

Pros: Easy to move around, very low risk of breaking, no need for power source

Cons: Can slide around on the floor when it gathers dust, doesn’t hit toes or other tough-to-reach spots of the foot


The best manual and electronic

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Homedics

The HoMedics Triple Action Shiatsu Foot Massager cooperates with you to facilitate the best massage experience.

The HoMedics Triple Action Shiatsu Foot Massager is the ideal cross between a massager that does all the work for you and the Moji, where you have to move your feet around to get targeted relief.

This straightforward massager only has one control button that moves you between three settings: off, on with heat, and on without heat. There are two foot-shaped areas where you place your feet, and each includes three kneading shiatsu rollers.

The top and bottom roller rotate counter-clockwise while the middle roller rotates clockwise. Each include three, raised nodes that push into your muscles. They can reach different muscles depending on where you decide to position your feet.

After trying out electronic massagers with a dizzying array of settings, the simplicity of the Triple Action is refreshing, not to mention much less intimidating.

The platform may be shaped like feet, but you can also lean your whole calves across each set of rolling massagers. This effectively works out kinks and stiffness in the middle back of your calf muscle. You can even maneuver to get the back of your thighs on there if you prop yourself up with your arms, but that can cause undue stress on your arm muscles and isn’t very effective, anyway. Still, having the option is nice, especially compared to massagers that are less versatile and only fit your feet.

The nodes on this massager’s shiatsu rollers did make one of my friends who tried it giggle. She said it felt like the massager was gently poking her (she also admitted to being ticklish). I could understand why this massager, of all the ones I tried, elicited that reaction. It feels less like a person working over your feet and more obviously like a machine, with nodes that rotate without seeming to differentiate between a heel and an arch. But that’s where you get to (literally) step in.

By planting your feet on the Triple Action massager in whatever position you choose, you’ll find yourself with a versatile massaging tool. During the massage, you can constantly adjust your position on the rotating rollers, depending on where you need pressure most.

Meanwhile, the rollers will continue to move in circles that simulate kneading, so you end up working with the machine to create a customized massage. Reviewers with plantar fasciitis have also commented that using it before they go to bed makes them feel less pain when they wake up the next morning.

Pros: Versatile – can use on alternative parts of foot and other parts of body, simple, relatively compact and easy to store

Cons: Impersonal – doesn’t differentiate between parts of feet, no way to change movement settings

5 signs your new relationship is moving way too fast

5 signs your new relationship is moving way too fast

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“We should take our time to know a person and make sure they are who they appear to be,” Sussman said.
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Warner Bros.
  • While committing to another person is a fulfilling experience, there are some signs that you should take a step back and slow the process down, New York City-based therapist Rachel Sussman told INSIDER.
  • If you plan multiple dates in the same week with one person, can’t go long without texting or calling them, or just got out of another relationship, you could be moving too fast.
  • “We should take our time to know a person and make sure they are who they appear to be,” Sussman said.

When you’re navigating a brand new relationship, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all before realizing things are moving too quickly. While committing to another person is a fulfilling experience, there are ways to tell if you should take a step back and slow down, Rachel Sussman, a New York City-based therapist, told INSIDER.

“We should take our time to know a person and make sure they are who they appear to be,” Sussman said. She added that trust is earned over time and through experience, so rushing into something won’t allow trust to form naturally.

These are the signs to look out for if you might think your new relationship is moving too fast.

You plan multiple dates in one week

While going on dates is a great way to get to know someone, Sussman told INSIDER that planning too many get-togethers can be a sign that you’re moving too fast.

Sussman recommended one date per week when you're just starting to see a new person.

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Sussman recommended one date per week when you’re just starting to see a new person.
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Maksim Toome / Shutterstock

“You want to be able to process it and think about that person after the date and miss them even,” Sussman said, adding that going on lots of dates in a short time span won’t allow for that processing period. She recommended one date per week when you’re just starting to see a new person.

You can’t go an hour without texting them

Similar to planning too many dates into a short period of time, constantly being in contact with a potential partner could be a sign things are moving too fast.

Read more: 8 signs of a cheater that you could be able to spot on the first date

Sussman said you shouldn’t be afraid to lessen the frequency of texting, calling, or emailing if you feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, if you feel like you have to be in constant contact because you’re worried the person will lose interest or refuse to commit to you, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship with them, Sussman told INSIDER.

To better understand a person’s level of commitment, you can look for signs that suggest they aren’t serious about the relationship. These signs include never introducing you to their family or friends, not following through with plans, and refusing to talk about the future, INSIDER previously reported.

You’re already meeting their parents

While meeting a person’s family and friends is an important step in a new relationship, Sussman said doing so too soon can raise some red flags. Before you meet your partner’s inner circle, you should establish a close connection with them and clearly define your relationship status.

Before you meet your love interest's inner circle, you should establish a close connection with them and clearly define your relationship status.

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Before you meet your love interest’s inner circle, you should establish a close connection with them and clearly define your relationship status.
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Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Sussman generally tells people to give it about three months before meeting parents and friends. “If you had three dates and they’re like, ‘my parents are in town, want to meet?’ it’s too early,” Sussman said.

You just got out of another relationship

If your new relationship is following another relationship you recently ended, it could be a sign you need to slow down. There is no specific amount of time you should take between relationships, but you do need to come to terms with why your relationship ended and resolve any feelings (both positive and negative) you have about your ex, Susan Winter, an NYC-based relationship expert, previously told INSIDER.

“Take it slow because if you fall for someone, they can end it at any time,” Sussman said. “Ask yourself if you’re in a space to handle that.”

You talk about making major life plans with them

It’s one thing to know you want to eventually get married and have children, but planning your life with someone you only are starting to know could be a sign you need to re-evaluate how quickly your relationship is moving.

In the same vein, if your new love interest won’t stop telling you how much they want to buy a house or hit another major milestone with you and it makes you uncomfortable, that’s a huge red flag.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

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