Our feet are our biggest supporters. Literally — they house 26 bones, 36 joints, and other tendons, muscles, and ligaments that are responsible for balance and movement. Even if your job doesn’t require you to be on your feet all day, everyday movements like walking, running, and wearing the wrong shoes can put a strain on that area and lead to chronic pain.
“Foot pain can stem from a range of causes, such as overuse or injury,” says Matthew Perry, massage therapist and development manager at the Now Massage. “Most commonly, shoes that lack arch support can place pressure on the connective-tissue fascia, causing inflammation and plantar fasciitis, which commonly affects the foot and heel.” Regular massage and stretching can help relieve pain and potentially prevent these chronic conditions, Perry says, but in practice, that isn’t realistic for most of us. A foot massaging tool, on the other hand, is an easier way to loosen your muscles at home. We talked to experts — including a podiatrist, a physical therapist, and dancers — to find the very best foot massagers on the market right now.
Best overall | Best for foot and calf | Best rod | Best electric | Best less expensive electric | Best heated for back and foot | Best massage gun | Best portable massage gun
What we’re looking for
Electric versus manual: Our experts recommended both electric and manual massager options. As a rule, electric models have more bells and whistles, including features like pressure, speed, and heat. These also come in various shapes and sizes and can be more challenging to use or bulkier to store. Manual models, on the other hand, are easier to transport, usually cheaper, and altogether simpler. But they don’t have different settings or heat functionality.
Dr. Dale Brink, a podiatrist at Performance Foot and Ankle Center in South Holland, Illinois, likes manual massagers for general maintenance as well as loosening up the tissue but prefers electric devices for servers, hairstylists, cashiers, or other professionals that spend all day on their feet.
Heat: Heat is a major factor when choosing a foot massager, some of our experts say, because it relaxes muscles, increases blood flow, and alleviates pain. That said, heat isn’t a necessary function but could be helpful for those with poor circulation or chronic pain.
Price: Below, you’ll find foot massagers at a variety of price points. Some of the simpler options, like our best overall pick, are pretty affordable; however, other options with multiple pressure settings and heat function tend to be on the pricier side. Items priced under $50 are marked $, under $100 are noted as $$, and anything $200 and above is $$$.
Best overall foot massager
Manual | No heat function | $
Dr. Brink sometimes recommends his patients use a tennis ball to roll out their feet, which is also a common practice among dancers and active people. Kayleen Babel, a professional dancer, dance instructor, and host of the Curious Dancer podcast, says “balls don’t require power, so they’re super-easy to throw in my bag when I’m on the go.” Virginia Preston, a Barry’s New York City instructor, also recommends a ball to “target the tiny intrinsic and overworked muscles that stabilize the foot.”
This ball, in particular, comes recommended by Danelle Morgan, a professional dancer, Radio City Music Hall Rockette, and Pilates instructor, who says she prefers it for targeting the balls and arches of her feet. “My favorite part is that I can customize the pressure with my own body weight,” Morgan says. She dances in heels mostly but says this would work for anyone looking to expand their feet after wearing uncomfortable footwear.
Best foot and calf massager
Electric | Heat functionality | $$
This massager relieves tired feet and the ankles and calves. Marcela Correa, a licensed medical nail technician and owner of Medi Pedi in New York City, recommends this compressive wrap for those with varicose veins or who experience foot and leg swelling. “The glovelike fit helps improve blood flow from your toes to your knees,” Correa says. Plus it comes with two extenders, so it can fit many foot or calf sizes, while the variety of settings means this tool is further customizable to your needs. (It comes with three massage modes, three intensity levels, and two heat settings.) The removable inner lining makes washing a breeze.
Best foot massaging rod
Manual | No heat functionality | $
In his practice, Dr. Brink sometimes has patients roll their feet over a plastic water bottle to loosen the fascia; consider this roller a step up from that. Morgan relies on this tool pre- and post-dancing because of its portability as well as the firm ridges to relax cramped feet. Sandra Gail Frayna, a physical therapist and founder of Hudson Premier Physical Therapy & Sports, also loves this roller for “the uneven texture [that] helps relieve pressure and tension in sore muscles.”
While Morgan says this roller is popular in the dance community, Amazon reviewers seem to love it equally. One five-star review calls it “a godsend for those with plantar fasciitis,” and another points out that the rubber gaskets on the ends won’t leave scratches on the floor.
In a previous version of this story, we recommended the TheraFlow Foot Massage Roller, which works similarly. The nubs target sore spots without slipping, and the double-ended design allows you to work both feet simultaneously.
Best electric foot massager
Electric | Heat functionality | $$$
This massager is on the pricier side, but our experts say its versatility and custom settings make it worth the splurge. Another of Correa’s favorites, this gadget targets feet, ankles, and calves like the Fit King above. “It works wonders on cramps,” Correa says. “For those with tight muscles, like athletes or super-active people, the deep-kneading setting breaks up tension and helps loosen sore muscles.” Other features like the three massage modes, five pressure settings, and a heat-therapy button are why Correa recommends it for those with plantar fasciitis and heel spurs or painful growths around the heel bone.
When I tested this massager out, the deep-kneading setting released tension I didn’t know I had, and thanks to the rotational bar, which adjusts the angle of the device, I could focus the massage where I needed it most (ankles and calves). The machine looks hefty, but it is surprisingly easy to store: When finished, I simply folded down the adjustable bar and slid it into the closet. The real star, though, was the magnetic, wireless remote, which I snapped back onto the front of the machine when finished.
Best (less expensive) electric foot massager
Electric | No heat functionality | $$
If $200 seems too steep a price to pay for a massager, check out this under-$100 option instead, which comes with many of the same functions, such as three massage modes, three pressure settings, and an automatic shutoff after 20 minutes.
Unlike the Fit King and Miko machines above, this massager is meant solely for feet. Use the manual mode to concentrate on the ankles and toes, or switch to the automatic setting for consistent movement throughout. Correa says she loves the “rolling, kneading, and pushing functions for achy feet,” but her favorite part is how the beads “hit the right pressure points” to improve circulation. Correa also likes the model’s removable covers, which she says helps prevent cross contamination if the machine is being used by multiple people.
Best heated back-and-foot massager
Electric | Heat functionality | $$
Both Babel and Correa mentioned Snailax as their favorite massager brand, with Babel citing this simpler model by name when it comes to what she turns to when she needs to pull out “the big guns.” “The furry hood traps heat, which feels great on sore feet, and the plush sides are extra comfy to rest your heels on,” she says. While many other massagers have plastic siding, the fuzzy ones here act as insulators when using the heat function, so the warmth can penetrate more deeply to relax muscles and increase blood flow. The hooded top houses feet for a heated Shiatsu massage, but you can also unzip the top and place the bottom half against your back or shoulders for a quick rubdown. “The heat, in combination with the pressure, not only feels luxurious but also helps release tension,” Correa says.
Best massage gun
Electric | No heat functionality | $$$
Massage guns allow you to control the pressure applied to your sore spots, which is why Dr. Brink recommends them for deep-tissue massage or soreness post–strenuous activity. Frayna swears by this one in her practice. “The variety of settings and heads allows you to dig into muscles to break up tension,” she says. In an earlier version of this story, Dr. Kimberley Maugeri, a chiropractor and the founder of the fitness brand Skōp, also flagged the Hypervolt as her go-to device for the office and at home because its “different speeds are great for different parts of the body.” Drag queen Katya Zamolodchikova similarly appreciates the three pressure settings and five attachments “to accommodate the different shapes of the musculature.” And unlike many guns on the market, this one is fairly quiet.
Best portable massage gun
Electric | No heat functionality | $$$
A celebrity-and-pro-athlete following (including Chris Hemsworth, Ashley Graham, and Rob Gronkowski) has propelled Theragun into the stratosphere. Morgan and Dr. Brink are also fans, with the latter calling the Theragun his favorite massage gun (though he warns people not to use it on acute injuries). Strategist editor Maxine Builder investigated the full-size version, and after testing it herself and consulting medical professionals, she concluded that it does help mitigate muscle soreness — but at a cost. I own both the full-size tool and the mini, and the latter is by far my favorite because it’s easier to store, travel with, maneuver, and far, far cheaper.
Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton also agreed that the mini version is best in an earlier version of this story. She was surprised at how powerful it was for its weight, which she said was a little lighter than a MacBook Air. “It vigorously vibrates to loosen up muscles while the attachment ball thrusts up and down, massaging deep into those sore spots,” she said.
Some more foot massage tools we've written about
• Kayleen Babel, professional dancer, dance instructor, and host of the Curious Dancer podcast
• Dr. Dale Brink, podiatrist at Performance Foot and Ankle Center in South Holland, Illinois
• Marcela Correa, licensed medical nail technician and owner of Medi Pedi in New York City
• Sandra Gail Frayna, physical therapist and founder of Hudson Premier Physical Therapy & Sports
• Dr. Kimberley Maugeri, chiropractor and founder of the fitness brand Skōp
• Danelle Morgan, professional dancer, Radio City Music Hall Rockette, and Pilates instructor
• Matthew Perry, massage therapist and development manager at the Now Massage
• Virginia Preston, instructor at Barry’s in New York City
• Rio Viera-Newton, Strategist beauty writer
• Katya Zamolodchikova, drag queen
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