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If you have neck or back pain, you might be wondering what you can do for some relief. Massage chair pads to the rescue!

Before you start shopping, know this: Massage chair pads aren’t the same as massage chairs. Massage chair pads work the same magic as a massage chair, but they’re handy contraptions that strap onto or sit on a regular chair. Mechanisms inside the pad create a massaging sensation and sometimes generate heat to help provide relief for sore muscles.

They’re a more affordable, targeted, and space-saving alternative to a full-on massage chair like you might find in a nail salon or mall kiosk, and can save you multiple trips to the massage parlor to soothe sore muscles.

When choosing a massage pad, functionality and, above all, comfort are important. We looked at a combination of massage features, durability, overall value, and customer reviews to find those that offer the most relief for the most people.

Best shiatsu option

HoMedics Gentle Touch Massage Cushion

Price: $$

HoMedics is a name you’ll see a lot when it comes to health and well-being gadgets, so it makes sense that their Gentle Touch Massage Cushion has high marks from reviewers. Many massage chair pads can be a pretty rough ride — even if they have settings. The ball rollers in this cushion are covered in a gel coating, which gives effective relief with a lighter touch.

Best splurge

HoMedics Perfect Touch Heated Massage Cushion

Price: $$$

Turns out you really can put a price on comfort. The HoMedics Perfect Touch Heated Massage Cushion offers tons of customization to suit your specific needs, with four different massage styles and adjustable height, and mechanisms that massage your shoulders, neck, and back. You can also control it from your smartphone.

The only drawback is that, at 27 pounds, it’s heavier than other massage chairs, but it is sturdy.

Best for the car

Comfier Vibration Massage Seat Cushion

Price: $

If you’re looking to level up from Grandma’s beaded seat cover — though, those still work great! — try this pad that offers vibration and massage to offer relief on long drives. This lightweight and portable pad comes with two heat levels, three massage settings, and an auto shut-off feature.

A minor inconvenience is that it only comes with a wall charger, so you won’t be able to charge the cushion from your dashboard.

Best budget-friendly option

SNAILAX Vibration Massage Seat Cushion

Price: $

Maybe your muscles only ache occasionally, or maybe this is your first massage pad ever. No need to break the bank when a basic massage chair pad will get the job done. For that, we recommend the SNAILAX Vibration Massage Seat Cushion.

This massage pad provides vibration massage, not shiatsu, so it’s a good fit for someone without severe muscle pain.

Best value option

Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager

Price: $

Versatility wins out here, in the form of this small pillow-sized shiatsu massager that’s effective at targeting small areas of soreness.

Thanks to its handy size, the Zyllion Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager can cradle your neck or slip behind your lower back for quick relief. Reviewers say it gets the job done and then some.

It comes with straps to secure it to a chair for easy targeting of muscles and a car charger for on-the-go charging.

Best for sciatica

Healthy Spirit Gel Enhanced Seat Cushion

Price: $

Sciatica is a painful condition that occurs when your sciatic nerve, which runs from your neck to your legs, gets irritated. This can result in an intense pain sensation in your back, glutes, or legs, and can even result in numbness.

Relief can be pretty simple and affordable with a chair pad that fits only the seat of your chair. The Healthy Spirit Gel Enhanced Seat Cushion has gel nubs to gently massage your glutes while relieving pressure.

Best gentle option

Beurer Shiatsu Air Compression Seat Cover

Price: $$$$

If you find regular shiatsu massage chairs to be a bit too much, the Beurer Shiatsu Air Compression Seat Cover combines the usual shiatsu balls with air compression for a less intense, but still effective, all-over massage. It also includes heat for added relaxation and is large enough to accommodate a wide range of body sizes.

The only real precaution to take with a massage chair pad is, if it has a heating function, to not sit on it for too long to avoid the risk of burns. Many models of massage chair pads come with an automatic shut-off feature to prevent this.

If you’re using a shiatsu massager, some settings can feel more rough than relaxing and can even cause pain. So if anything feels uncomfortable, lower the intensity or discontinue use entirely.

Note that if you’re unsure if using a massage chair pad is right for you, be sure to speak with a doctor or another healthcare professional before trying.

Back and neck pain can’t be cured by a massage chair pad entirely, but it may ease some soreness. There are loads of options to choose from to fit your specific needs, from commute-induced muscle fatigue to sciatica relief, and at a wide range of price points to fit practically any budget.