Whether you’re looking for something to sink your feet in to after a long day at work, general stress and anxiety relief, or pain relief for something more specific like plantar fasciitis or neuropathy, you should know what to look for when searching for your new foot massager.
It’s our goal to make the buying process easy for you, and we hope the information we’ve gathered below will help you in your decision making.
Best Foot Massager Comparison Chart
So as not to bury the lead, we’ve compiled a table of the best foot massagers available today in each of their respective categories.
The Types of Foot Massagers You Should Know About
With so many different types of foot massagers, it’s difficult to know where to start. We’ve combined the various massagers into what we feel are logical groupings based on the buyer.
Shiatsu Foot Massagers
Most foot massagers that you come across online are of the shiatsu variety. According to Google, “shiatsu is a form of therapy of Japanese origin based on the same principles as acupuncture, in which pressure is applied to certain points on the body” — in this case, the feet!
Circulation Foot Massagers
Many people face the problem of poor circulation in their feet and legs. These issues can stem from diabetes and neuropathy, or other serious conditions. People dealing with this type of issue want to avoid shiatsu foot massagers for the most part, because they can’t always sense the pressure being applied to their feet. Luckily, there are many foot massagers designed specifically to combat poor circulation. These massagers typically use vibration or electrical stimulation, and avoid the deep kneading and compression you find in shiatsu massagers.
Foot Spa Massagers
Foot spa massagers are a bit different in that they don’t provide as intense a massage, but they can definitely achieve a relaxing effect through the use of vibration, bubbles, warm water, and some light massage. They stand out from the others on this list because they require water to function properly.
Foot and Calf Massagers
Foot and calf massagers follow many of the same massage principles as the shiatsu units, but they are designed to accommodate both the feet and calves (either at the same time or separately). You’ll find that these are larger machines for obvious reasons, that can provide some added relief if you’re feeling tension in your lower legs.
Handheld Foot Massagers
Handheld massagers are small and more portable than the previously mentioned types, and they’re not limited to use on the feet. You can use a handheld massager on all different parts of the body, with the tradeoff being that you are more physically involved in the massage process. Sometimes it’s great to pinpoint pain areas, but other times you just want to sit back and let the machine do the work.
Manual Foot Massagers
Manual foot massagers do not plug in to the wall or use batteries. They sit on the floor while the user does most of the work rolling their foot around. Manual massagers come in many different shapes and sizes, as simple as a lacrosse or tennis ball, and more complex units that feature wooden rollers with spikes for added pressure.
Foot Massager Reviews
1. Belmint Shiatsu Foot Massager – “Best Shiatsu Foot Massager”
The Belmint Shiatsu is top of the class when it comes to shiatsu foot massagers (and foot massagers in general). Slide your feet into the cozy openings and turn it on the lowest setting to begin. It comes with five adjustable settings to increase or decrease massage strength as needed. You can also turn on the heating function if you wish, and then let the compression and deep-kneading massage do it’s magic. You can use this massager with or without socks, and it’s super easy to remove the cloth covers and wash them on a regular basis. The Belmint can be plugged in to any standard 110v outlet and comes with a 6′ cord which should accommodate most living spaces.
We have one of these machines at home and it has essentially become a part of our family! It sits in our living room binge watching Netflix with us (it is nice and quiet) as it relieves our sore feet on a daily basis. We are big fans of the Belmint Shiatsu Foot Massager and recommend it to everyone looking for a good foot massage machine!
2. MedMassager – “Best Foot Massager for Stimulating Circulation”
When it comes to stimulating circulation in the feet, you typically have two options: vibration or electrical stimulation. We prefer the former, and the MedMassager is hands down the best vibrating foot massager on the market. Those of you who suffer from diabetic foot pain or peripheral neuropathy know that stimulating foot circulation is key to relieving pain. The MedMassager is used clinically to “stimulate local circulation, ease muscle tension and alleviate joint pain and swelling.” This machine was designed for clinical use and is approved by the FDA for therapeutic use. It is the real deal when it comes to circulation stimulation.
The MedMassager comes with an 11-speed variable setting allowing you to find just the right amount of vibration for your needs. It has a pressure point targeting surface and an arch bar that allows you to target the arch of the foot if desired. It comes with non-slip feet and can be used on hardwood or tiled floors. The MedMassager is the vibrating foot massager you want for circulation stimulation.
3. Ivation Foot Spa – “Best Foot Spa Massager”
The Ivation Foot Spa Massager hits the sweet spot of features and price. It is a premium foot spa massager that has a water heater, vibrating massage, electric rolling massagers, soothing bubbles, and the ability to add massage oils or aromatherapy additives. The Ivation is adjustable allowing you to use only the features you need. We maintain an extensive foot spa massager buying guide and the Ivation took the #1 spot out of 40+ reviewed units.
Foot spa massagers are quite different from most other foot massagers in that they require the use of water. Most of these machines will not function unless you fill the basin with water. You also won’t get as intense of a massage as you would find in a shiatsu unit, for example. But, they definitely have a place on this list, and are very popular if you are trying to recreate the spa experience in the comfort of your home.
4. Cloud Massage Foot Massage Machine – “Best Foot and Calf Massager”
We chose the Cloud Massage as our best foot and calf massager for several reasons. First, it has a unique design that we absolutely love! While most foot and calf massagers require you to sit with your knees together at a 90 degree angle, the Cloud Massage gives you flexibility to find a comfortable position. And while it doesn’t simultaneously massage the feet and calves, we think the added flexibility is a great tradeoff.
The Cloud Massage offers multiple settings for heat, pressure, and vibration, and provides the user with a deep kneading shiatsu massage at their preferred comfort angle. You can even flatten the unit out and use it on your heels/calves while lying in bed if you so desire. It is a super-functional and super-effective foot and calf massager.
5. Naipo Handheld Percussion Massager – “Best Handheld Foot Massager”
Handheld foot massagers are interesting when compared to the other foot massage machines on this list because they are so versatile. A handheld massager is not limited to foot massages, but can be used on most body parts. The tradeoff in versatility of course is that it’s a very manual process on the part of the end user. You can’t just slide your feet into warm, cozy holes and let the massager take you to comfort town. You have to physically hold the massager and move it to where you need it most. An important distinction to take in to account when shopping for foot massagers.
If you are, however, set on a handheld foot massager, then we feel the Naipo is the best choice. The Naipo comes with 6 massage nodes in silicone and plastic that you can swap in and out to find just the right type of pressure. It has a rotary knob you can spin to turn the intensity up and down as needed. There is also a heating function which can be turned on that will provide some added relief to sore feet (or other areas of the body, for that matter). Another advantage of the Naipo when compared with larger foot massage machines is that it is very small in size. So compact even that you could travel with it in your suitcase if you found that you loved it that much. This is also a nice benefit when it comes time to store the machine.
6. TheraFlow Dual Foot Massager Roller – “Best Manual Foot Massager”
If you want to be in complete control of your foot massage, then a manual foot massager is probably the way to go (at least for starters). As mentioned earlier, manual foot massagers come in many shapes and sizes. The TheraFlow we’ve chosen as our best manual foot massager is lightweight and extremely portable, has a unique design that features 10 independently moving rollers, and allows the user to massage both feet simultaneously — something you don’t see in a lot of manual foot massagers.
As with the handheld units, a manual massager requires a bit of work, but it also allows the user to determine how much or how little pressure they want to apply at any given time, and on which part of the foot they need relief. Manual foot massagers also travel exceptionally well, and this TheraFlow can be thrown into a carry on bag even. Super convenient if you are planning a trip where you know you’ll be on your feet a lot.
Foot Massager Buyer’s Guide: Features
Though we’ve mentioned many of the features listed below, we haven’t gone in to great detail on them. We feel that these are the important features you need to take in to account when seeking out the best foot massager for you!
When it comes to foot massagers, you’ll find that kneading is a feature found in all shiatsu models. Kneading is a circular massage technique that uses a rotating motion on the skin and underlying muscle tissue. The skin and muscles are moved in a circular motion and are compressed against each other or the bones underneath, and as the kneading continues the muscles and skin are then pulled away from the compressed state. Kneading is what will provide relief to your feet after a long day at work.
While we mentioned the word “compressed” above, the compression we’re talking about here is slightly different. On massagers such as our best foot massager — the Belmint Shiatsu — you’ll see that the feet slide snugly into the machine. When you turn it on, depending on the settings you choose, you’ll notice pressure being applied all around the foot (not just on the bottom). This pressure is air compressing down on your feet, and providing a more snug fit in the machine while the massage nodes knead the bottom of the feet. Think of one of those blood pressure testing machines you’ll often find in a pharmacy where the band pressurizes around your arm and squeezes pretty tightly. It’s a very similar sensation for your feet in a foot massager.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but is important to note. Vibration in a foot massager can help increase circulation and get the blood pumping all the way to the toes. This is a key feature for those looking to treat neuropathy of some sort. You won’t find vibration to be a common feature in most of the foot massage machines available, unless you are specifically looking at something for improving circulation.
Again, this feature is pretty self-explanatory, but should not be overlooked. We feel that getting a foot massager with a built-in heat feature (complete with on/off button of course) is absolutely necessary! Heat applied during your massage just takes the comfort and relief to the next level. A gentle warmth allows you to relax further into your seat as the foot massager does the rest. Of course there are times when you won’t want heat (maybe it’s really hot outside), so the option to turn the heat on and off is key.
On that note, the more adjustable the settings on your foot massage machine, the better. You’ll find that adjustable settings come pretty standard nowadays on most foot massagers, but really take a look at what it is you can adjust. As mentioned above, can you turn the heat on and off? Can you turn the intensity up and down? How many levels of intensity are there to choose from? Can you turn compression on or off and just get a kneading massage? Is there a timer with an auto-shutoff when the massage is complete? These are all things to think about when it comes to the adjustable settings in your foot massager.
This feature only applies to the foot spa massagers, but it’s a key distinction to make. Having to fill a basin with water every time you want a foot massage is a bit of a commitment when compared to simply sliding your feet in and pressing power. While a nice foot spa massager is a great luxury item and offers a nice change-of-pace to a typical foot massager from time-to-time, it is a bit more work and is something to consider when searching for the best foot massager for your personal use.
Benefits of a Foot Massage
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, we are big fans of foot massages (and responsible foot care in general!). We believe that the feet are the foundation of the body and should be treated as such, and when it comes to your feet, there aren’t many things that bring more joy than a good foot massage — not to mention there are many benefits associated with a foot massage!
Relaxation, for me, is the first thing that comes to mind when I think “foot massage.” There is no greater benefit for me than coming home at the end of a long day and sliding my tired feet in to my foot massager and letting it relax my body and mind. It’s just such a great way to unwind and recharge the batteries, both physically and mentally.
Stress Relief / Anxiety Relief / Mood Improvement
These three benefits are grouped together because they really go hand-in-hand (they could also have been grouped with relaxation!). Taking a minute to yourself while your feet get a gentle rub down allows you to press the reset button on your day. Let any built up stress, tension, or anxiety wash away as you sink into your foot massager. You’ll find that incorporating a foot massage into your nightly routine will allow you to fall asleep in a better frame of mind than you may have been in when coming home from work, and you’ll be a happier person for it!
Lower Blood Pressure
This benefit can be seen as a natural correlation to relaxation, stress relief, and an improved mood. I know when I achieve those things personally, my blood pressure takes a noticeable dip. However, lower blood pressure from foot massages are typically rooted in the idea of Reflexology. If you provide the proper pressure on the proper part of the foot you can achieve any number of results throughout the rest of the body. (We wrote an article on Reflexology a while back that is an interesting read, if you’re so inclined.)
Some foot conditions that cause pain and discomfort can be partially relieved through regular foot massages. For instance, plantar fasciitis is a persistent injury that effects many people who are on their feet for a majority of the day. It can cause significant pain in the arches and heels of the feet. Finding a foot massager that is able to gently rub the pain areas may lead to some relief.
We’ve touched on this several times and it is a key reason why many people purchase foot massager machines. Decreased circulation in the lower legs and feet is a serious issue. It can be very painful and lead to other, even more serious problems down the road if you’re not careful. As anyone with severe neuropathy can tell you, finding a way to increase/stimulate circulation and keep the blood flowing is objective number one. Finding the right foot massager, such as the clinical strength MedMassager, can be a godsend for people in that situation.
Reduce Symptoms of Headaches and Migraines
Again, whether you think this benefit is related to Reflexology or simply a byproduct of total relaxation and stress relief in the body, it has been shown to work. Many people are able to find relief from headaches and migraines through the simple process of a good foot massage.
Foot Massager FAQ
Finding the best foot massager may not be super-straightforward depending on your situation. While we hope we’ve helped you out with this guide, we understand that questions do still arise during the buying process. Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions we’ve received about foot massagers.
Are foot massagers good for neuropathy?
Yes, the proper foot massager can work wonders for neuropathy and stimulating circulation in the feet and lower legs! We say proper because it’s important to know what to look for. Avoid foot massagers that compress and knead the feet, and instead focus on machines like the MedMassager that focus on vibration for improving circulation and relieving neuropathy-related pain.
Are foot massagers good for plantar fasciitis?
It depends. As with any foot disorder, plantar fasciitis should be addressed on a case by case basis. We can’t say with certainty that a foot massage machine will provide relief for all plantar fasciitis sufferers, but there are a large number of people who have found pain relief through regular massage.
Are foot massagers safe during pregnancy?
While you always want to consult your doctor before making any changes, we see no reason for pregnant women to avoid foot massagers. In some cases foot massagers have been shown to induce labor, so be prepared if you’re near the end of your pregnancy!
Do foot massagers improve circulation?
Yes. As mentioned in the neuropathy answer above, if you find the proper foot massager they can work wonders as far as improving circulation in the feet. We recommend you take a look at the MedMassager for just such a thing.
Are foot massagers bad for diabetics?
We assume this question is also related to circulation issues. The reason you might hear this is because diabetics and other neuropathy sufferers often lose feeling in their extremities. If they were to then stick their feet inside a foot massager, they might not be able to tell if the pressure is too much potentially leading to further issues. We recommend sticking with a circulation stimulating massager, or maybe even a manual massager where you have full control over the pressure being applied.
Are foot massagers safe for people with pacemakers?
People with pacemakers will want to avoid all foot massagers that aim to increase blood flow through nerve stimulation. It can be risky to send any type of stimulation through the body. However, there should be no problem when it comes to shiatsu massagers such as the Belmint.
Are there foot massaging bath mats?
Sure, there are mats you can attach to the floor of your bathtub/shower that allow you to manually massage your feet over the top of. Nothing too fancy, but effective in scrubbing/massaging the bottoms of the feet while you’re cleaning up.
What’s the best foot massaging oil?
We are big fans of this Sensual Massage Oil from Honeydew.
Can I massage my feet with a ball?
Yes! In fact, this is a very common practice among athletes. Massaging or rolling out the foot on a lacrosse ball or tennis ball is an easy alternative to an actual foot massaging device. It allows you to quickly spot-target areas of the foot that need massaging, and is the epitome of portable!
When buying a foot massager, think of it as an investment that will pay for itself many, many times over throughout it’s lifetime. Whether it’s shiatsu, circulation improvement, foot and calf, handheld, manual, or foot spa massager, there are no shortage of options. We hope that this guide has helped you narrow your search for the best foot massager for your needs! Let us know if you have any questions!