Many of us have hectic office jobs that involves a lot of sitting. Software engineers are particularly susceptible to this as their job involves many hours of continuous sitting. Keeping the body stationary in a sitting stance can give neck and back pain apart from overall health issues.
A massage parlor or spa is a great choice for sure, but very few of us have the time to visit spas and massage parlors. Not just that, visiting a massage therapist or spas can burn a hole in your pocket.
A good electric back massager can not only give you good massage and improve blood circulation but also gives you the flexibility of getting a good massage at your convenient time and place.
We have experience with dozens of massagers, initially this website was supposed to be an extensive review on every massager we could lay hands on, but then found that the visitors are most interested to find the best ones and did not seem to like reading about massagers that didn’t meet our quality test. Given below are some of the top massagers that we feel will do justice to the money spent.
Back Massager Reviews
The Thumper mini pro 2 is a quality professional grade massager that is part of the famed thumper series massagers that uses the patented percussive thumper action. The massager weighs close to 3 pounds and measures 16 x 8 x 8 inches. So it is portable and relatively light in weight.
This helps it to be maneuvered easily. What would strike you immediately is the fact that the massager is relatively light but does feel wonderfully heavy and substantial on the massaged area.
There are 3 power settings that enable it to work well on both the thick and thin muscle groups. the 3 settings are devised to deliver 20, 30 and 40 thumps per second respectively. the massager has a percussive action, that means the heads of the thumper massager bounce or thump back and forth in the same manner as a massage therapists hand would.
The anatomically designed massage spheres on the thumper massager are designed to pivot vertically and can send deep penetrating waves in the massaged area which can disperse knots in the body.
How to use the Thumper Mini Pro 2 Massager
Its best to start at speed 2 and place it on the sore muscle groups and park it there for about 20 seconds. Resting it on sore areas for short intervals will help relax the sore muscle groups, so its important not to simply glide over them. If you would like to massage your back you can hold the handle and massage your back over your shoulder.
You could also use it lying sideways and using you opposite hand to use it on your back. Ofcourse you can use it on your thighs, hands and legs too.
The thumper mini pro 2 is an outstanding portable massager that is perhaps the best massager within its price segment. This is the massager that is used and recommended by many chiropractors and massage therapists including yours truly. What we liked about this massager is that while it is reasonably light to hold it also has the wonderfully gritty and substantial feel on the muscle groups.
On the negative side you might feel some strain in your hands if you try to use it on your back for longer periods of time. So for that reason while this can be used effectively to self massage, it is still best used as a back massager if you have another person to use it on you.
The thumper mini pro2 is a strong therapeutic massager that goes well on the body contours. The massager is absolutely brilliant in releasing knots along the thighs, buttocks and back and I have no reservations in recommending this product wholeheartedly.
Unlike the Thumper massager described above, the Jeanie Rub Massager has an oscillating movement rather than a thumping action. We found the Jeanie massager to be particularly good at alleviating deep seated muscular pains and improving circulation with its soothing oscillations and vibrations.
The massager itself is built solidly with quality die cast aluminum and sports premium grade vinyl pads. It has a variable speed motor that operated from 1,400 to 4600 rpm.
The Jeanie rub massager can be used on sensitive areas and also on the bony surfaces. We found that the Jeanie massager is better preferred by thin people with less muscle mass compared to a percussive massager like the Thumper massager. This massager has a more gentler kneading and oscillating type action where as the thumper has a knocking, thumping and vibrating action.
We interviewed Dr Lavonne Hill from the National College of Naprapathic medicine and she swears by the Jeanie rub massager which she claims is her favorite massager and the one that she uses in her practise every single day. This is another one of the massagers that you will find in the arsenal of many chiropractors.
The massager is very good in relieving pains due to pinched nerve or knots and is particularly good for the back, especially if you have someone to use it on you. If you intend to use it on the back yourself, you can just place it behind on the couch and lean against it. Both the Thumper massager and the Jeanie Rub Massager are brilliant massagers.
The thumper massager is preferred by people who want a more invasive and strong massage experience whilst the Jeanie Rub massager is liked by people who like to be kneaded. The Jeanie Rub massager is quite a bit heavier than the Thumper massager and perhaps less portable. You will not go wrong with either of the two top massagers and we recommend both equally.
Homedics has come a long way from being just a one dimensional company manufacturing just handheld massager products to growing to become an authority in the electric and shiatsu massager category. The QRM-400H Therapist Select Quad-Roller Massaging Cushion is a top grade shiatsu cushion based massager with heat capabilities.
We have had some bad experiences with massage cushions in the past and most have design problems but this cushion pleasantly surprised us. The cushion has two separate mechanisms for the back and shoulders and this we feel is a must for any good massage cushion.
It is also height adjustable, so should fit most backs. The QRM-400H Shiatsu Massaging cushion can provide circular and kneading shiatsu massage and/or up and down roller massage.
This is the latest model and a big upgrade from the older SBM 400H model in that this massaging cushion has 4 rollers with 2 rollers on each arm whereas the previous model had just two massaging heads.
What’s more, this massager is currently priced at a discount. You can visit the product page at Quad Roller Massaging Cushion.
The cushion can work in 6 modes and can be controlled with a remote control. At its max
setting this cushion is simply outstanding and the level of pressure and heat combine to give a wonderful shiatsu massage. The experience is almost as good as a professional massage at a massage parlor, not quite but pretty close.
Probably the best massaging cushion and definitely worth the price. Highly recommended.
Back Pain Symptoms
Almost all of us have experienced back pain at some point of time in our lives, some more than others. Infact it is estimated that 4 out of 5 adults experience considerable episodes of back pain in their lives.
Back pain may occur due to various causes – some due to bad lifestyle while others could be due to muscle strains, degenerative spinal conditions, accidents or sports injuries.
Laying down back pain symptoms can be tricky as sometimes more serious conditions like a large herniated disc can be painless whereas a simple muscle strain that only needs some massage and rest could give acute pain. Also, many of the conditions share identical symptoms.
Symptoms of back pain
- Persistent stiffness or pain along the spine – anywhere between the hips to the base of the neck.
- Chronic pain in the lower or middle are of the back particularly after extended standing or sitting period.
- Back ache that radiates lower to the buttocks and thighs and sometimes onto the calf and feet.
- Muscle spams in the lower back when standing straight for some time.
- Acute pain in the upper back, lower back or neck that is more localized and arising or aggravated after engaging in strenuous activity.
When to seek medical attention
- If you feel numbness in the limbs and experience even a little loss of control. This could indicate spinal cord damage.
- If the back pain extends upto the calf of the leg it could indicate a condition known as sciatica and will need a doctor’s attention.
- If the pain is acute while bending forward or coughing it could indicate a herniated disc and will need medical attention and therapy.
- If the back pain is often accompanied by urinal or fecal incontinence.
- If you are over 50 years old and experience pain in a particular area of the spine which aggravated when getting up from bed or whilst lying down then it could indicate osteoarthritis which will need medical care.
Back Pain Causes
Back pain and in particular lower back pain is perhaps the most common of medical problems. On the good side, many episodes of back pains will subside and resolve within a few weeks but sometimes back pains can linger for long causing frustration to both the patient and even the doctor as it can get difficult to treat.
Understanding the root cause of a chronic back pain will effectively determine the course of treatment and cure. So if that famed massager isn’t giving you relief as it will in most cases then you should indeed look further. some of the common back pain causes are laid out below.
Lumbar Muscle Strain
The most common cause of back pain is undoubtedly muscle strains. Patients might not remember the cause of the strain but the good news is that it is very easily treatable with massage therapy and rest. A good back massager should hold you in good stead in such cases.
A herniated disc is a pretty common cause of back pain and the treatment depends on a case by case basis. It is also known as pinched disc or bulging disc or slipped disc and is often a source of confusion to the patients as different doctors use the terms randomly.
Generally when a patient is suffering from herniated disc, it is not the disc space that usually pains. The pain is actually caused by the disc herniation pinching a nerve within the spine. This pain is radicular in nature and can stem down to the leg or traverse up to the neck too.
This is a condition that usually affects senior citizens. As people age the spinal column can narrow and constrict creating pressure in areas where the spinal nerves leave the spinal column thereby causing pain.
Symptoms might appear very slowly and include pain, numbness or weakness in the legs and arms and pain in the neck and back. Treatments include physical therapy, braces, medications and even surgery if needed.
Discogenic Back Pain
This is another common back problem and occurs due to inter-vertebal disc damage(without the disc herination). A discogram will be needed to diagnose discogenic back pain.
This problem usually occurs in middle aged individuals after the spine has undergone a lot of wear and tear. In the beginning stages pain will be minimal but if the condition is aggravated it can cause acute lower back pain.
Treatments include oral medication, spinal injections, braces often accompanied by massage therapy usually by a qualified massage therapist. A good back massager could help too.
Lumbar Spine Arthritis
Arthritis normally affects knees and finger joints but it can also affect spine joints like in the case of lumbar spine arthritis. Patients suffering from this condition will experience back pain when they flex and move.
Osteoporosis is caused by decreased bone density and bone tissue thinning. This can result in a plethora of orthopedic issues and general discomfort. Back pains due to osteoporosis is generally linked to vertebral compression fractures. It causes bones to weaken and can lead to fractures.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition wherein the adjacent vertebra loses stability and begins to develop a tendency to slip. An individual suffering from this condition will experience tightening of the hamstrings and overall stiffness of the back affecting gait and posture. This is caused due to spine degeneration due to age or lifestyle.
A person suffering from acute spondylolisthesis tends to rotate the pelvis more than normal as a result of decreased hamstring mobility, such a person will appear to waddle more than walk.
Back Massager Benefits
It has been scientifically proved that a good massage begets involuntary mechanical and relaxation responses from the body that can produce both emotional and physical benefits.
Relaxation response is brought about caring safe touches or gentle vibrations that has a calming effect on the brain and body.
This causes the blood pressure to stabilize at optimum levels that slows down the breathing rate which in turn reduces the stress hormones to truly bring about muscle and tissue relaxation.
All this causes alleviation of the hormone seotonin that is responsible for positive thoughts and emotions.
The vibrations and physical pressure involved in a good massage causes and increase in the lymph and blood circulation. This also causes normalization of muscles, tendons, ligaments and tissues that causes relief from pain and soreness and offers positive energy and general well being.
- The obvious benefit is ofcourse pain relief. The endorphin release irons out knots and tensions in the body and alleviates and reduces pain caused by various muscle strains and musculoskeletal injuries.
- Massage is known to reduce anxiety in patients and the transient anxiety levels before and after massage has been clinically documented.
- A good massage can immediately reduce blood pressure and hypertension patients can benefit greatly.
- This is a freak one but true. A good massage is also shown to improve the computational capabilities and alertness of the brain.Electroencephalography tests have attributed this curious effect to the decreased stress hormones during a massage and right after it.
- Better blood circulation.
- Reduces cramps and spasms.
- Reduces PMS symptoms in women. Helps in reducing menstrual cramps and water retention.
Long Term Benefits Of Repeated Therapy
- Regular back massage can give long term relief from chronic back pain. Chronic body pains and restlessness are side effects of some chronic ailments like diabetes. Massagers can help the patients lead better quality of life.Some studies claim that quality of life and disease progression of HIV patients improves with good regular massage therapy, however this treatment is not scientifically supported.
- Reduces depression and susceptibility to anxiety and panic attacks.
- Improves mobility and stamina. Shown to reduce stiffness in chronic arthritis.
- Better pulmonary function is noticed in some asthmatic patients.
- Tissue regeneration in some cases. This is why even patients suffering from paralysis and muscular dystrophy are put on a strict massage regimen.
- Reduces stretch marks and scar tissue.
- Aromatherapy massage is shown to increase the PBL or the peripheral blood lymphocytes that results in the stimulation of the human immune system. The same effect can be achieved by using a good back massager after applying lavender or almond oil on the body.
How to Manage Back Pain
These bones are differentiated as being:
- Cervical vertebrae which consist of the 7 bones in the upper part of the spine (in the head and neck)
- Thoracic vertebrae which are the 12 bones between the neck and lower back (the lumbar region)
- Lumbar vertebrae which are the 5 largest and strongest bones (yet, are most prone to injury)
- Sacrum which is formed from 5 bones fused together, along with the Coccyx (more commonly known as the tailbone) which is made up of 4 bones fused together.
Back pain is pain not necessarily in the back (the spinal column) but possibly in the muscles, nerves, joints or anything radiating from or in the spine. The pain can be abrupt, short-lived, or long-term; constant or intermittent; be localized or move to other areas, especially the extremities of the arms, hands, feet and legs; and may include tingling, weakness or numbness.
Back pain is extremely common. After headaches, it is the most common location of pain. Specifically, pain in the lower back is the most common form of back pain because it bears most of our weight.
Lower back pain (also called lumbago) is the fifth most common reason for visiting a physician, and accounts for 40% of the missed days of work in the United States, and is the leading cause of disability throughout the world. It is most common in people between the ages of 35 and 55.
Doctors different it by its location: either neck pain, middle back pain, lower back pain or tailbone pain. It can be acute (up to 12 weeks), chronic (more than 12 weeks) or subacute (one lasting 6-12 weeks). It can be nonspecific (and usually associated with muscles, fascia and ligaments) or specific (such as having an infection or cancer).
Virtually all (98%) of back pain patients are those who have nonspecific acute pain which has no other ailments or diseases as causes. You may (or may not) feel severe back pain, but that does not necessarily mean harm or damage to your body.
Think of a paper cut: it is small and superficial, causes a great amount of pain but does no harm (it usually seals itself before any infection can arise). However, the 98% does leave 2% of patients as possibly having an infection, cancer or other condition that can also result in back pain.
It can be diagnosed with x-rays, a CT scan or an MRI scan, but because back pain is usually (98%) not associated with a location, these are rarely effective. Thus, the doctor usually prescribes things for the result (the pain) rather than the cause, whatever it may be.
Other Back Pain Causes
Just as diet and exercise comprise very many of the treatments of very many ailments and diseases, so too are there a few general causes of back pain. Such causes can be described as being:
There are innumerable conditions that can cause back pain. It would be counter-productive to list them here in this article, but they can be found at this webpage.
Perhaps the most common ones are spinal disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, kidney stones, lumbar spinal stenosis, trauma (accidents, especially), muscle strains or pulled muscles, cancer, infection, fractures, inflammatory disease, and sciatica.
There is also pregnancy, during which half of all women experience lower back pain. In keeping with the theme of this article (avoidance), it would be easy to suggest not getting pregnant. Of course that, in itself, may not be desirable. Just be aware that if you do become pregnant then there is a very good chance that you will feel back pain.
There are also innumerable medical drugs that have back pain as a possible side effect. These drugs can be found here. If you are prescribed any of these then ask you may want to ask about the likelihood of you getting back pain, and whether or not alternative medicines are warranted.
If you are taking these and then develop back pain then do consult your doctor right away. If you already have back pain and are prescribed any of these drugs for other conditions then ask your doctor about the likelihood of your back pain worsening.
2) Psychosocial: This would comprise stress (especially mental stress at work), anxiety, job dissatisfaction, distress, depression, cognitive dysfunction, dysfunctional family relationships, and others
3) Activity such as heavy physical work; repetitive work; frequent bending, twisting, lifting, pushing or pulling; static postures; and vibrations.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following: pain that does not lessen, or worsens even when resting; pain which is worse when laying down; severe pain; increasing weakness or numbness in a leg or foot; difficulty in walking, standing or moving; fever, unexplained weight loss, or other signs of illness along with the back pain; numbness in the genital or anal area; loss of bowel of bladder control; a burning feeling or difficulty in urination; if you have had a trauma, such as a fall or impact; or if you or your family has a history of cancer.
Lifestyle Changes To Alleviate Bac Pain
To avoid or minimize back pain, regardless of cause (except for medical causes, which often require medicine or surgery) you can do things differently. If you are overweight or obese and now have back pain then lose weight through diet, exercise, surgery or other means. There is no proof yet that obesity can cause back pain, but there is a high correlation between the two. Other suggestions can be grouped around:
Change yourself In my other article about back pain, I suggested trying Tai Chi and other methods of reducing stress. Other methods which reduce stress (and hence reduce the possibility of getting back pain and of minimizing its effects) are meditation, counseling, stress management classes, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques and yoga (which I discussed in yet another article about back pain).
Perhaps the best–and certainly the simplest–are breathing exercises. One very easy exercise is to find a comfortable position; focus on breathing, and in doing it slowly and steadily; feel your tension escape as you breathe out; and do this for 10-15 minutes.
Change the things that you do Avoid the activities that can cause back pain. If you have to do them then do them differently and better. For example, if you have to lift heavy things then use your legs more and less of your back in lifting.
Avoid sitting and avoid standing. Of course, these contradict each other; the qualification is that you should avoid doing these for extended periods of time. If you do need to sit for a long period of time then try doing it on an ergonomically designed chair, or try using a standing desk.
If you do need to stand for a long period of time then use a small footstool by alternating a leg on it, taking the load off your back. You can use the same footstool while you are sitting, so that your knees are above your hips.
Sit up straight! You mother and teachers told you this, and it is especially helpful now if you have back pain. This is especially relevant for those who have desk or office jobs. When you are at your desk, sit up straight and as far back in your chair as possible, while keeping your feet flat on the ground.
When you stand, keep your shoulders back and your weight evenly distributed between both feet. Always be aware of when you may be slouching and then remove that.
People change jobs and even professions for many different reasons. If you have back pain then consider job training for another position within your company.
Sleep well and correctly. Be like Goldilocks and find a bed that is neither too hard nor too soft but one that is just right. It is best to sleep on your side but if you continue to sleep on your back then you can place a pillow under your knees, and if you sleep on your stomach then you can place a pillow under your stomach to counteract the effects.
Exercise and exercise more. In my other article, I suggested strength training, tai chi, pilates and aquatic therapy. You do not have to go to a gym, and you can try things that are even simpler than my suggestions.
In 2008, the USDA Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report advised just 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, and two or more days a week of strength training.
Children were advised to be physically active for at least one hour each day, and other guidelines can be found here. All of these can be as simple as walking, biking or swimming. Maintain your activity, and gradually increase it to help you recover from back pain sooner.
Change other things Do not wear high-heeled shoes; wear comfortable shoes; and look for shoes with arch support.
Avoid having objects, such as a wallet, in your back pocket while you are sitting. Make sure that you have a comfortable chair in your car, or add beads to it, especially on long drives.
Your spine, along with the enamel on your teeth, are one of the strongest parts in your body and is, along with the enamel on your teeth, very difficult to damage. Your back can take a lot of wear and tear, although it can break down, but also recovers (usually) just as quickly.
With the correct and complete information, help, support and treatment, you should be able to manage and remove your own back pain.
How Does Vibrating Massagers Work?
Many of the vibrating massagers work using the principle of centripetal force. An unbalanced weight is rotated around an axis that is not inline with the center of axis thus creating a significant centripetal force.
Now this force follows the weight around as it makes fast 360 degree rotations causing repeated directional cycles of centripetal force which feels like high frequency vibrations.
The frequency of vibrations is directly proportional to the number of times the weight is slung around the axis within the massager.
Modern electrical back massagers build on this principle and take it further. For example, the thumper massager has a thumping action apart from the usual vibrations to give extra impact and relief.
How Vibrating Massager Relieleve Back Strains
In the relaxed state muscle cells are long and narrow and under stressful situations they contract and become shorter and thicker.
Once the strainful period is over they are expected to go back to their relaxed state but sometimes quite a few of these muscle cells only relax partially which results in thicker loosened cells that can cause pain as they press against nerves.
This my friends cause back strains and knots resulting in discomfort and pain. A vibrating or percussion massager exerts force on the muscle tissues that creates what we call ‘microscopic pulling’ that helps the constricted muscle cells to return to relaxed state which in turn relieves pressure on the neighboring nerves thereby providing pain relief.