Whether sore or tired feet are caused by an underlying condition or as the result of a long and busy day, there’s nothing pleasurable about them. That’s where a quality foot massager can come in handy. They are available in a wide range of options, and the best foot massagers can be electric or manual, with or without heat, and isolated to only the feet or include the ankle and calf too. Here are top picks meant to soothe your weary soles.
- BEST OVERALL: Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager with Heat Therapy
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: TheraFlow Foot Massager Roller
- BEST FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS: Simple Spectra Foot Massager & Spiky Ball Therapy Set
- BEST SHIATSU: Miko Shiatsu Foot Massager With Deep-Kneading
- BEST HEATED: QUINEAR Leg Massager with Heat Air Compression
- BEST WATER SPA: MaxKare Spa Bath Massager with Heat Bubbles
- BEST ANKLE MASSAGER: FIT KING Leg Massager for Circulation with Heat
- BEST FOOT AND CALF: Human touch Reflex SOL Foot and Calf Massager
Foot massagers come in a few varieties, but each is worthy in its own right. There are electronic, manual, and foot spas that require water.
Most electronic foot massagers need to be plugged in to function. They tend to be larger units with a broader range of functions to massage your feet better. Most electronic foot massagers will cover your feet entirely and provide different modes of massage, various speeds, and sometimes heat applications. Electronic foot massagers are more expensive than manual but provide many more options for the type of massage applied.
Unlike electronic models, manual foot massagers do not require any electricity and instead are handheld or placed on the floor to roll with your feet. They typically come in the form of roller boards, spiked balls, or textured rolling bars to target pressure points on your feet. Because they are much simpler and don’t require any electricity, manual foot massagers are much more affordable. They also tend to be easier to transport for use at the gym or on the go.
Foot spas take the massage functions of electronic foot massagers and add water. They also need an outlet to operate and use heated water, bubbles, solid rollers, and sometimes vibrations to massage your feet as they soak. They, too, often have various modes such as the intensity of massaging vibrations, level of heat, and bubbles. Foot spas are designed to rub away pain, improve circulation, and relax muscles with the benefits of heated water. Most allow for the addition of Epsom salts while using.
The type of foot massager is not the only essential shopping consideration to keep in mind when choosing the best foot massager for your needs. It’s also critical to consider your desired purpose, massage style, how it’s applied, intensity levels, and more.
Foot pain can occur nearly anywhere on your feet but is most often felt along the arches, heels, balls, and toes. A few of the most common foot afflictions include plantar fasciitis, diabetic neuropathy, flat feet, hallux valgus (bunions), or general foot fatigue and soreness.
The root of pain for most foot afflictions stems from overly tightened or inflamed ligaments, tendons, muscles, or fascia. Targeted massage digs deep into these tissues to stretch them out, loosen tightness, and promote blood flow. When done regularly, foot massage can provide pain relief and sometimes promote healing over time by encouraging these tissues to return to a normal position.
For example, plantar fasciitis is caused by foot strain that inflames and tightens the thick band of tissue that connects the heels of your feet to your toes. It can cause heel pain and sometimes arch soreness. Foot massagers stretch out the tight tendons and fascia on the bottom of your feet to guide these tissues to a relaxed posture, which provides relief.
There are a few techniques for massage, which essentially means how pressure is applied to your feet. The most common methods include oscillation, kneading, heat, air pressure, and Shiatsu. Sometimes techniques are used alone to isolate certain spots, but often they are applied in conjunction with one another. Oscillating massage uses vibrations to dive deep into muscle tissue to promote blood flow, whereas kneading stretches and moves the muscles in different directions to increase flexibility.
Shiatsu massage originates from Japan and is sometimes called finger-pressure massage. This technique applies pointed pressure to a locale and is believed to improve blood flow, increase energy, and relieve pain. Air pressure massage uses the compression of air to squeeze and manipulate muscles. Finally, heated massage applies heat to relax the muscles and can be used with all of the above methods.
When choosing the best foot massager, it’s necessary to consider your preferences. Some foot massagers are an open design in which you place your foot on or partially inside of the massager. Others are fully encased either with massaging wraps or a solid base that closes over your feet. Both are great massage options with minor differences. Closed machines may provide a massage all over your feet versus an open machine that applies pressure only to the bottom of your feet.
There are also foot massagers that massage more than just feet. If you also experience ankle or calf pain, there are options for you. Some localize the entire lower leg to massage and provide relief. However, others massage only one body part at a time, but you can position them to massage the feet, calves, or ankles.
Most foot massagers feature various heat and pressure levels and different massage styles to accommodate most people’s preferences. For manual products, the intensity of pressure is fully controlled by how hard you press down on the massager. For electronic foot massagers, typically, there are one or two levels of heat, three or more massage styles, and two or three pressure intensities you can control using buttons on the device.
Some extra features to consider when shopping for the best foot massager include versatility, ease of transport, and whether it comes with a remote control. Many foot massagers are designed to provide pain relief to the foot only, while others can be adjusted or used to massage other parts of your body. If your foot pain stems from working out or your sports league, the ability to transport your foot massager may be vital to you, in which case something lightweight and manual makes for a great choice. Lastly, some electronic foot massagers come with a remote control to conveniently change the settings from a comfortable position.
Our Top Picks
Here are top picks for the best foot massagers that fit a range of needs and come from reputable brands.
The Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot Massager is a product that offers users a wide variety of options. It has three intensity levels starting at gentle, then going to medium and up to strong, to reach deep tissues. There are also five settings for massage techniques. You can choose from compression therapy, rolling massage, heat, sway, or quiet mode.
Compression therapy uses airbags to press down on muscles and promote circulation. The rolling and sway settings use applied pressure and motion to knead muscles and can be combined with heat. This foot massager is unique in that it has an adjustable base so you can position the machine at different angles. It can also be used on ankles and calves.
This roller foot massager by TheraFlow is an excellent option that provides pain relief without breaking the bank. Wooden beads with grooves and nubs are set on a rotating rod to knead the soft tissue on the undersides of your feet, but it can also massage other parts of your body.
To use it, place the wooden massager on the ground, press your feet into the beads, and start rolling. It is long enough to use with both feet at one time, but you can also hold it in one hand to massage your other hand, back, legs, and more. This foot massager works to alleviate pain from various ailments, including plantar fasciitis, diabetic neuropathy, or tired feet. This item is also great because it’s small and light enough to travel.
Caused by overuse and strain, plantar fasciitis is a pain in the foot, but this three-piece set from Simple Spectra helps alleviate soreness with their easy-to-use foot massagers. The set comes with two spiky balls, one soft and one firm, as well as a rigid foam foot roller so you can effectively target critical pain points on your feet with the right amount of pressure.
The rollers are easy to use on other parts of your body, including calves, ankles, and thighs. This set also comes with a convenient carrying bag to safely store your massagers in one place and to make traveling with them easy.
Miko’s electronic foot massager utilizes the deep kneading power of Shiatsu to apply pinpointed pressure to soothe tired, aching feet. With your purchase, two wireless remotes are included so you can control the experience without disturbing your comfortable position. With the remotes or the buttons on the massager, you can choose from five different air pressure levels, the kneading intensity, and the heat function.
This machine is designed with two foot chambers that fully envelope your feet during the massage and are lined with soft and washable linens to help keep your massager clean. Although this Shiatsu foot massager is a model that fully encloses your feet, it’s important to note that it does not target the ankle, only the bottom of the feet.
This Velcro wrap foot massager by QUINEAR delivers a powerful heat massage directly to your tired body. Using a soft and breathable fabric that bends to the curves of your feet, you get a more precise fit and a more personalized massage experience. The material features an inner liner that can be removed and easily washed after use.
There are two heat levels, three massage styles that mimic the kneading application of hands, and three intensity levels to choose from, all operated by the wired remote. You can also opt to turn on the 20-minute timer. This massager uses airbags to stimulate tissue.
Pamper yourself while relieving stress and soreness with MaxKare’s foot spa. This foot spa is one of the best because of its beautiful and easy-to-read digital display that shows the water temperature and allows complete control over the heat, vibration, and bubbles. After you add water to the foot bath, the machine quickly heats up to your desired temperature between 95 and 118 degrees Fahrenheit. The bottom of the spa has 16 total manual rollers with nodes that dig deep into your muscles at your preferred pressure intensity.
There are three modes: a high-frequency vibration massage, heating therapy with aerobic bubbles, or a combination of the heating therapy, bubble massage, and vibration. Engineered with hydroelectric separation that ensures your safety while using it with water, this foot spa is also easy to disinfect after use. Just clean out with soap and water.
FIT KING’s leg massager is an adjustable wrap that measures 12 inches long and reaches from the ankle to the top of the calf. It’s secured using Velcro to conform to your body, and anyone in your home can use it. The wrap features a removable, washable cover so you can have a hygienic massage every time.
There are three air compression modes, three intensities, and two heat modes for you to choose from, as well as a 20-minute automatic safety shut-off. Not only is this ankle massager helpful for sore ankles, but it also targets varicose veins and cold legs. The massager comes with a mesh carrying bag for safe storage and easy transportation.
Human Touch delivers an electronic massager that reaches 18 inches tall to effectively massage the soles of your sore feet, up to your tired calves. It has two auto-massage functions and two speed options. This machine also has WarmAir technology to improve circulation and relax your muscles.
On the bottom of the massager, there is a tilt stand to customize the machine’s angle, as well as powerful rollers and vibration technology to target deep tissues effectively. The foot and leg sleeves are removable and can easily be tossed in the washer and dryer.
There are many benefits to owning a foot massager. Not only do they offer comforting massage and heat therapy that can help melt away the stresses of everyday life, but they also help eliminate pesky foot pain and discomfort. Rather than you paying for an expensive visit to the spa, using an at-home foot massager is a cost-effective way to comfort your tired feet. There are also many options at various price points so you can get the best foot massager for your needs and your budget.
Foot massagers can sometimes be an affordable alternative to physical therapy for minor foot injuries. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis or neuropathy caused by diabetes, regular and targeted foot massages may be the answer to your foot pain. In summary:
- Foot massagers are a great way to pamper yourself and offer a way to relax and unwind after a long day on your feet.
- The best foot massager can help ease pain and discomfort caused by various foot afflictions and general fatigue.
- They can improve the blood circulation in your feet, which keeps oxygen pumping to injured tissues to promote healing.
As foot massagers come in a wide variety of options and functions, it’s only natural for you to have questions. Here are answers to your burning foot massager questions.
Q. How long can you use a foot massager?
You can use a foot massager a few times a day for no more than 20 to 30 minutes per area.
Q. Do foot massagers improve circulation?
Yes, foot massagers improve blood flow because the pressure and kneading movements physically get the blood flowing through the body’s tissues while pushing through any congested areas that may exist.
Q. Can you use a foot massager while pregnant?
It is safe to use a foot massager while pregnant, but be sure to watch out for blood clots that may show up as warm, red, or swollen spots on your feet and legs. If you notice these bumps, do not massage, and see a doctor immediately.
Q. How long does a foot massager last?
A manual foot massager can last for many years with proper care, whereas an electric foot massager has a life span of a few years. But it depends entirely on the brand and specific product.