Buying Guide for Leg Massagers
Why buy a leg massager?
The health benefits of massage are expansive and medically supportive. Massage can increase blood circulation, which is beneficial to sufferers of ailments like diabetes, edema, or restless leg syndrome. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, support muscle injury recovery, and reduce scar tissue. Some athletes use them to reduce the risk of muscle cramps as they’re cooling down from a workout. And a massage just plain feels good. Even if you don’t have an injury or condition, a warm, soothing massage at the end of a long day can help you to relax and decompress. A leg massage, like a neck or back or any other type of massage, offers all these benefits for your leg muscles.
The great thing about buying your own leg massager is that you don’t need to invest a bunch of money to receive leg massages regularly. The massager itself may be a relatively pricey initial expense, depending on the size and type of leg massager you buy, but they don’t have any recurring costs, unlike booking massages at a spa or clinic. If you have a condition that needs a leg massage every week as treatment, investing in even a more expensive leg massager will pay for itself within just a few weeks. And unlike with spa massages, you can use your leg massager at any time of day or night, whenever your muscles are sore, with no appointment needed.
Keep in mind that many leg massage carriers provide a warning that those with medical devices or pregnant people should consult a doctor before using a leg massager. Along the same lines, if you are interested in a massager to treat medical conditions like edema, be sure to ask your doctor what product they recommend and if they’d consider regular leg massages to be a beneficial treatment option.
What should you look for in leg massagers?
- Type: Sore muscles can stop you from doing what you love most, so it’s important to purchase a device that fits your lifestyle. There are several general types of leg massagers, but wrap-around sleeves and stationary massagers are the most common. They are both mobile, but the wraps are easier to pack (due to being foldable and less awkwardly shaped) if you want to travel with them. There are also some models that are essentially taller versions of electric foot massagers. This type makes for a great home massager and can be surprisingly versatile, but they are far less portable.
- Functions: What do you like or find most beneficial in a leg massage? Heat? Targeted pressure? Deeper or gentler kneading? Air compression? Many leg massagers have multiple massage and heat settings and come with a controller to adjust these settings with ease. You can also find products that feature timers that automatically turn the massager off after a set amount of time, useful for preventing overheating or running up your electricity bill.
- Size: Many leg massagers are designed to fit the entire leg, but some only cover from the knee down. Some only fit around the thighs or calves or ankles alone. Some will include and cover the feet; some will stop at the ankle. Be sure to consider ahead of time if you want your massager to target your entire legs or only parts of them. If you’re buying a wearable leg massager, consider your height, too. If you’re especially tall or short, you may have trouble finding a model that fits you properly. Some will have extensions or add-ons for taller folks. And if the leg massager extends to the feet, look for open-toed models, as they’re more forgiving for different foot sizes; you don’t want to cram or squeeze your toes into the massager.
What are some other factors to look for in leg massagers?
Consider how easy it is to put on and take off a leg massager if it’s a wearable model. Some wearable leg massagers are one big sleeve; some are made up of two or more different pieces. The latter takes longer to put on since there are more pieces to be put on individually, wrapped, and strapped into place. Such models may prove especially challenging for someone with arthritis or limited mobility.
While many leg massagers need to be plugged into an electrical outlet, you may be able to find some battery-powered models if you’re concerned about running up your electricity bill or want to be able to walk around while wearing or using the massager. Leg massagers with rechargeable batteries are especially useful since you won’t have to constantly spend extra money on new batteries.
Also consider the remote control—almost any leg massager you buy will have a remote rather than built-in buttons right on the device itself. Be sure that the remote control is clearly marked so you can always select the proper heat and pressure levels without needing to guess or play around with the buttons until you find the settings you want. The remote may also be attached directly to the massager by a wire rather than the regular handheld sort, so consider which you’d prefer. You won’t have to worry about losing or misplacing wired models, but they’re also more limited in terms of mobility.
Our Picks for the Best Leg Massagers
Pros: This leg massager gives you lots of options in one convenient, easy-to-use package. Using the controller, you can adjust between low and high heat, three massage modes, and three intensities for a personalized experience. As you choose from the various massage settings, the air compression bags respond to simulate the feel of a regular massage. And picking the proper settings shouldn’t be an issue, thanks to the clearly labeled remote control. Since this leg massager is one large sleeve, it’s incredibly easy to slide on and off, with adjustable Velcro straps to fit it properly to your legs. Two extenders also come included if you need some extra coverage, and the device is open at the toes to better accommodate different-sized feet.
Cons: Unfortunately, this leg massager doesn’t cover the entire leg. It only extends from the feet to around the knee, so you won’t be able to massage your thighs or other parts of the upper leg.
Bottom Line: Applying heat to a sore muscle relaxes and prepares the tissue for a deep massage, and it just feels good. Easy to put on and operate, this leg massager is the perfect option for warming, soothing, and massaging your leg muscles from the knee downward.
Pros: If you want more coverage from your leg massager, this full-length model is a great option. It comes with wraps for your thighs, calves, and feet, and since the thigh wraps are separate pieces, you can move them around. You also have the option to massage the entire leg at once or start out just massaging your feet and work your way up your legs. The open toes allow for just about any feet to fit into them, and the multiple adjustable Velcro straps ensure they’ll fit most legs as well. There are six modes and four intensity levels to choose from for a more personalized massage experience. And since the thigh wraps aren’t connected to the calf and foot wraps, this massager is very easy to stand up and bend your knees in.
Cons: As is often the case with full-leg massagers, this model is on the expensive side. It also doesn’t have a heated option, and since it’s made up of two wraps rather than one large sleeve, your knees won’t be covered at any point. This makes the massager easier to walk in but also doesn’t allow you to massage and soothe your knees.
Bottom Line: You can feel the deep relief of a pressure point massage with this full-length leg massager. Whether you want just a thigh massage, just a calf massage, or your entire leg at once, this model has you covered literally and figuratively.
Pros: If you’re looking for a leg massager that targets your calves specifically, this is the model for you. The air compression function involves four large airbags located inside the massager, two in each wrap. When activated, they inflate and deflate intermittently to simulate the action of hands-on massage. Simply use the controller and select between two massage modes and three pressure intensities. Beyond its superior air compression properties, this leg massager has adjustable Velcro straps to better fit different body types and an automatic shutoff feature that switches it off after 20 minutes of use to save power; this feature is especially useful for seniors or anyone who is worried about falling asleep while using this massager. Though it was designed specifically as a pair of calf wraps, this massager can be adjusted to fit around your feet or even your upper arms if you so desire.
Cons: This is a calf-specific massager with no other wraps that connect to or come with it, so you can only target one part of the leg at a time. It also won’t fit around your thighs. The two modes offer less versatility and customization than many similar products, and there isn’t a heating function option either.
Bottom Line: This air compression calf massager was specifically made to treat swollen legs and fatigue, reduce stress, and increase relaxation. If poor circulation or swelling in your calves or feet is a common problem for you, this calf-specific leg massager can be a game-changer.
Pros: A high-end, fully connected leg massager that will cover you from thigh to toe. This includes the knee since this is a sleeve-like massager that offers complete coverage rather than a wrap-style model, but the material at the knee is flexible enough to move with you. It’s open at the toes as well. Using the handheld controller, select between four modes and three massage intensities. It not only simulates the stroking and kneading of a regular massage thanks to the air compression feature but also offers a heating option, including one that specifically targets the knee. You also have the option to massage only one or two areas at the same time. The large and wide wrap comes with four extensions to accommodate different leg sizes and should fit anyone between 5’1″ and 6’2″ in height. A travel bag also comes included with your purchase, and there are two alternate design options to choose from as well.
Cons: A premium product will almost always come with a premium price tag, and this leg massager is no exception. And while there is a heating feature that can target the knees specifically, you may find it less effective than the heat that flows through the thighs and calves.
Bottom Line: This sleeve-like, one-size-fits-most leg massager gives you optimal control of your leg massage. It offers extensive and targeted coverage, is easy to slide on and off, and isn’t restrictive to your range of motion, even with the full leg coverage.
Pros: If you prefer a less confining, open-air leg massager, this model is an excellent alternative to a sleeve or wrap. All you have to do is adjust the 360-degree tilt for the best fit for you and use either the handheld wireless remote control or the touch screen to select between four massage programs and three intensities. There’s also a heating function, and you can slide your feet or your calves into this device, depending on which area you want to target. Since this massager is battery-operated, you aren’t limited to using it only within range of an electrical outlet. You can enjoy a foot or calf massage pretty much anywhere in your home. The sleeves are also removable and washable to ensure this massager remains hygienic.
Cons: The touch screen is located on the massager itself rather than the remote, so if you end up tilting the device away from you, you won’t be able to see it. It can target only the feet or calves at once rather than both together, and it won’t fit your thighs at all. It’s also on the pricey side.
Bottom Line: All you have to do is find a comfortable place to sit, set this massager on the floor, slip your calves or feet inside, lean back, and close your eyes. You’ll be able to enjoy an open-air, Shiatsu, kneading, or rolling-style massage anytime, anywhere.
As with any type of massage, a good leg massage can have significant benefits. Rather than booking a massage at your local spa every week, consider buying one of these leg massagers so that you can soothe your sore leg muscles in the privacy of your own home whenever you want or need to.