Anyone who's come home with a pair of tired, aching feet knows how good it feels to finally get relief, either by putting them up on the couch, slipping into a pair of fluffy socks or getting a massage. But when no one is around (or willing) to rub your feet, trying one of the best foot massagers can help.
It may seem like a luxurious appliance to have at home, but a foot massager can provide your feet with some much-needed relief — and that's anything but superfluous.
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Through vibrating, rolling or pounding sensations, massagers create a "minor trauma" within your feet's muscles, which leads to a healing response, says James McGuire, DPM, PT, professor at the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine.
As a result, massagers can help alleviate your foot pain and potentially support faster recovery.
So whether you're seeking relief after a grueling hike or a long day at work, a massaging device may be just the thing you need to add to your self-care routine. Here, we've highlighted some of the best foot massagers currently on the market.
The Best Foot Massagers
- Best Overall: Snailax Shiatsu Foot Massager ($46.99, Amazon)
- Best on a Budget: Gaiam Restore Vibrating Foot Roller ($18.97, Amazon)
- Best Splurge: Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager Machine ($159.99, Amazon)
- Best Handheld: RENPHO Body Massager Gun ($48.98, Walmart)
- Best Roller: TheraFlow Foot Massager ($17.99, Amazon)
- Best Water Massager: HoMedics Shiatsu Bliss Foot Spa ($139.99, HoMedics.com)
How We Chose
We took Dr. McGuire's advice into account and also used the following criteria to select the best foot massagers:
- Type of massage
- Variety of settings
- Easy to control
- Extras, such as heat or water
For more information on how we choose and cover products, click here.
1. Snailax Shiatsu Foot Massager
2. Gaiam Restore Vibrating Foot Roller
3. Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager Machine
4. RENPHO Body Massager Gun
5. TheraFlow Foot Massager
6. HoMedics Shiatsu Bliss Foot Spa
What to Look for in a Foot Massager
Though all of these picks rank among the best foot massagers on the market, several factors will determine which product is right for you. Here's what to keep in mind before you make your purchase:
1. Vibration vs. Rolling
Although a machine may be marketed as a foot "massager," it's possible that it actually employs vibration to generate any sort of sensation, Dr. McGuire says.
This isn't to say that vibration alone won't make your feet feel good, but it's something to remember if you're looking for a model that can recreate the feeling of someone kneading away at the soles of your feet. If that's closer to what you have in mind, look for massagers that explicitly offer kneading, rolling or, for those looking for an especially deep massage, pounding.
Some foot massagers are designed with a "one-size-fits-most" caveat. If you're looking for a foot massager for big feet, for instance, make sure your model of choice will suit you or choose one that doesn't need to cover your whole foot to be effective, like a handheld massage gun.
What to Avoid in a Foot Massager
Use these tips to help you narrow down your list:
1. Water, if You Have Chronically Dry Skin
Foot spas that use a combination of water and vibration or massage to soothe aching feet can be wonderful, but Dr. McGuire cautions against this model of massager if your skin is on the drier side.
It may seem counterintuitive, but prolonged exposure to water and moisture will only dry out your skin more, he says. Luckily, some foot spas (including the HoMedics option above) are actually water-optional and can still relieve uncomfortable, stressed feet when used dry.
2. Heating, if You Have Diabetes
Heating might be a non-negotiable feature for some, but Dr. McGuire says that people with diabetes should avoid heated foot massagers, due to the fact that neuropathy (a common condition among people with diabetes) can make it harder to sense or tolerate heat.
3. Light Therapy
If you're shopping for a high-end foot massager, you're likely to come across some units that feature purportedly therapeutic lights, but take these claims with a grain of salt. "Anything that comes on that's light probably doesn't do anything," Dr. McGuire says.
Infrared lights, for example, may generate some heat, but that's about it. In other words, additional lights in a foot massager won't do you any harm, but they won't do you much good, either.
What Else You Should Know Before You Buy
Here are some other things to keep in mind as you shop for the best foot massager for you:
1. You Don’t Have to Break the Bank
If faced with a cheaper, bare bones foot massager and a pricier one with extra bells and whistles, Dr. McGuire says his choice would be easy. "I would try the $20 one first before you go buying the $100 one," he says. "You might be surprised."
In fact, the solution to your foot pain might be at home already in the form of a tennis ball, soda bottle or rolling pin. When it comes to such an individual matter as relieving pain and discomfort, prioritize what works for you, even if it isn't the fanciest option on the market.
2. Your Pain May Need Medical Attention
If you're dealing with chronic or severe foot pain, skip the massager and talk to your doctor or podiatrist. They might prescribe a pair of orthotics or recommend you wear different shoes, which should provide you with a more direct, effective solution to your pain.
"There may be a real reason why something hurts all the time that's correctible," Dr. McGuire says.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.