It’s a straight fact that the average person’s lifestyle today does major damage to their back, and the rest of their bodies. Even the fittest, healthiest person you know probably still has aches and pains throughout the day: whether it’s from sitting hunched over the steering wheel or in an uncomfortable office chair, we don’t do ourselves any favors during the long workday! You can improve your posture, but there’s still stress to worry about. Stress tightens our muscles and gives us uncomfortable knots all over our body, especially in the back. No wonder a day at the spa is such a treat!

But we can’t always go to get a professional massage: not only is it expensive, it takes a big chunk out of your day. Unless you married a masseuse, you’re probably lucky to get a professional massage once or twice a year. Now, you could invest thousands of dollars in a massage chair, but that’s pretty heavy duty equipment, and it requires an equally heavy duty investment! For many people with back pain and stress, or people who just love the feel of a massage, the best option for their budget and lifestyle is a back massage chair pad, or similar device. These are usually a lot cheaper than massage chairs, are definitely cheaper than regular trips to the spa, and are conveniently portable so you can use them all day at the office or on long car drives!

But what’s the best massage chair pad or the best massage cushion? While you’ll definitely be spending less than you would to get a full body massage chair, you still want to make sure you get a quality product for your money. You’ll have to consider what it is you are specifically looking for: if you want an all-body experience or just need something for your lower back and shoulders, if you want a Shiatsu or other type of massage, if you want an added heat element, how much you can spend, how much you want to spend, and how long you want the product to last. Obviously, you’ll pay more for a massager that last longer, and you don’t want to just go with the cheapest option available, lest you are left with a poorly crafted device that doesn’t get the job done, or actually makes your back pain worse!

If you want a full-body experience, you’ll need to look at massage chair pads. If you just need a few parts of your body attended to, a smaller chair massagers will do you fine. You also want to consider how strong the motor needs to be. If you like a lighter massage, any model will probably do. If you like a really strong massage, you’ll need to look for models with multiple motors and strength settings. It can all be pretty overwhelming. Here are three of the best massage chair pads and massage cushions on the market today, and their pros and cons to help you pick the one that will work best for you.

Sharper Image MSI-CS775H #1 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Zyllion ZMA-13-BK #2 Yes No No Yes
Five Star FS8812 #3 No No Yes Yes


Zyllion ZMA-13-BK Shiatsu Massage Pillow with Heat

Zyllion-ZMA-13-BK-Shiatsu-Massage-Pillow-with-HeatThe Zyllion Shiatsu Massage pillow delivers a lot of punch in a small package: the ultra light and compact body is only six centimeters all around, making it ideal for anyone who travels often or who wants to save space in their closet. It will fit to almost any standard chair, including car seats, and its ergonomic design is outstanding for fitting the contours of your back and neck. The Zyllion is made of top-quality materials; the body is soft leather covered by nylon netting. Something that’s supposed to relax you should feel good when you touch it, and the Zyllion does! This attention to detail and extra effort to create a good product is part of what makes this model stand out.

The Zyllion Shiatsu Massage pillow includes four deep-kneading massage nodes meant to deliver a Shiatsu-style massage by rotating on your neck or back; you will feel the rollers switching direction every three minutes or so, giving you all-over comfort without overstressing one section of your body, and giving you peace of mind knowing all you have to do is sit back and relax. The motors are heavy-duty and you won’t need to worry about them straining under your weight; the Zyllion Shiatsu Massage pillow is built to last you for many years.

The Zyllion Shiatsu Massage pillow has a heating function that helps to promote blood circulation and to take stress off your muscles; it is a wonderful added comfort, however there is no heat adjustment options and some users might find the heat overwhelming. It will leave burns if it comes in direct contact with skin for a long time; you can literally see the heat coming off the pad as it glows red. One way to mitigate this and reduce the heat level is to put a pillowcase over the unit. Furthermore, the unit automatically shuts off after twenty minutes, reducing the risk of overheating. Most users say that the heat level is perfect for them and that they don’t find it too hot when using it through clothing, but customers with sensitive skin or who are sensitive to heat should consider this before purchasing the Zyllion. Another common complaint among users is that the power cord often comes disconnected from the pillow; this is generally due to user era, as the cord will lock into the unit when pushed and twisted in hard enough.

For anyone looking for a simple, no-frills product that delivers the results it promises, the Zyllion is one of the best back massagers for chairs. While larger, more advanced chair pads will have adjustable settings and various features this model lacks, the Zyllion has the advantage of being ultra-portable and easy to handle. While someone looking for different intensity or directional settings will want to seek out a full massage chair pad, the Zyllion Shiatsu Massage pillow is perfect for anyone looking for a simple and effective massage pillow that they can bring to and from the office, or on vacation.


Five Star FS8812 Massage Seat Cushion With Heat

Five Star FS8812 Massage Seat Cushion With HeatIf you want something a bit more heavy-duty and closer to a massage chair, consider the Five Star FS8812. This 10-motor massage cushion gives you more of a full-body experience. Anyone who wants total control over their massage experience will love this model: there are three massage speeds, four massage programs, and four body zones to mix-and-match for your ultimate experience. You will be able to choose whether you want attention on your thigh, lumbar, lower back, or shoulders/upper back, or any combination of the four. With ten motors, the Five Star FS8812 leads the pack in terms of sheer power.

This model also comes with an internal heating system which is activated by an on/off switch and includes built-in thermostat control, so you will always be comfortable using the heat feature on this unit. Because the heat is activated by a separate on/off switch than the motor, you can choose to use the massage function with or without the heat, and likewise you can use the heat function without also using the massage function!

Now, one thing about the Five Star FS8812 is that it is NOT a Shiatsu massager. The motors are vibration motors, not rollers; for some, this will be an automatic deal breaker. However, there are many benefits to having a good massage chair pad utilizing vibration. For one, you don’t need to worry about being poked in the back by shoddily installed rollers. It is more comfortable to sit on when it’s not in use, so you can keep it in one place without ever needing to take it off. Furthermore, for many, a constant Shiatsu massage can be a bit much; with vibrating motors, you can adjust the level to your comfort level and use it all day!

Customers with special medical needs may also find relief with the vibrating motors versus the more intense Shiatsu experience. One downside is that the model comes with a thirty minute automatic shut-off, which can be annoying for users who want to use it while driving long distances without having to re-activate it after thirty minutes. However, this is a fairly standard function that prevents the motor from overheating, catching fire, or causing injury; the trade-off between having to push a button every thirty minutes and possibly burning down the office is clear!

At 3.8 pounds, the Five Star FS8812 is light enough to transfer from your car to your office or home as needed; it comes with a car adapter and an AC adapter, definitely an added bonus when you consider the price! This model will fit you from your neck to your thighs, giving you a more all-over relaxation experience than the Zyllion Shiatsu Massage Pillow. The Five Star FS8812 stands miles above much of its competition for its range of control and ease of use: you can find your perfect cycle and setting and relax, which is the whole point of owning a massage cushion with heat!


The Sharper Image MSI-CS775H Air and Shiatsu Massage Cushion

Sharper-Image-MSI-CS775H-Air-and-Shiatsu-Massage-PadThe Sharper Image MSI Shiatsu Massage Cushion With Heat is one of the best massage chair pads on the market, providing effects close to an actual massage chair without the high price tag. Please note that this model is NOT recommended for diabetics, so if you have diabetes you can stop reading now.

The Sharper Image MSI is a Shiatsu-style massage, with two Shiatsu nodes that give a deep kneading massage. While it can’t boast quite the custom massage powers of the Five Star FS8812, you do have three massage programs to choose from: lower, upper, or full back.

One thing this model has that the Five Star doesn’t is an air massage for your sides and lumbar area. With three intensity settings for the air massage (low, medium, or high), you can choose your comfort level and enjoy the gentle compression of an air massage along with the Shiatsu massage. Your lumbar region supports most of your weight, so the extra attention you get from the air massage on the Sharper Image MSI is definitely a big plus. There is a heat option on this unit, and like the Five Star unit, it is independent of the massaging function.

This model is very easy to fit on almost any chair, though you should not use it on any style of wood chair, as the zipper can damage the wood. A great feature of the Sharper Image MSI is that is comes with a removable extra cushion, so you can regulate the intensity of your massage or the heat function by removing or adding the cushion to add padding between you and the rollers. Some users have found that the heat function is not warm enough for them; removing this cushion might help those who want to feel the heat more. Other users have complained that this unit is not suitable for very tall people; while that is a subjective complaint, it can be valid if you are someone whose height has traditionally made massage pads or chairs uncomfortable. Users of average height should not have problems with the alignment of the rollers or air cushions, but it is something to keep in mind if you are very tall. One final complaint is that the cord for the remote is rather short, and can make using the chair overly cumbersome. The chair has a 15 minute automatic shut off point, which is also somewhat less than industry standard. Most of the issues with this cushion are convenience related, rather than performance related, which is something to keep in mind when weighing the pro’s and con’s.

The Sharper Image MSI massage chair pad provides one of the firmest and most thorough Shiatsu massage experiences available today; it is well aligned to pick out the pressure points along your spine, and strong enough to actually knead out knots in your back muscles. With the exception of some convenience issues, and possibly very tall people, it’s a great model for anyone who desires a Shiatsu-style massage in the convenience of a portable massage cushion.