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Article at a glance
- 1 What is a Foot Massager?
- 2 Benefits of Foot Massages
- 2.1 How to Find the Right Foot Massager
- 2.2 List of the Top 7 Foot Massagers
- 2.3 #1 Marnur Shiatsu Foot Massager
- 2.4 #2 TheraFlow Dual Foot Massage Roller
- 2.5 #3 Belmint Shiatsu Foot Massager
- 2.6 #4 TheraFlow Foot Massage Roller
- 2.7 #5 Belmint Kneading Shiatsu Foot Massager
- 2.8 #6 Miko Shiatsu Foot Massager
- 2.9 #7 Reflex-4 Foot and Calf Massager
What is a Foot Massager?
Defining a foot massager at a basic level is easy – it is any device which massages your feet.
Yet this simple definition broadly refers to a range of products.
The market for these devices is incredibly varied today, and different products with the name of “foot massager” may, at first glance, look so different that they are completely unrelated.
The visual appearance of foot massagers ranges from the primitive, such as a pumice stone glued onto a plastic handle, to the fabulously futuristic, such as those silver elliptical spheres, reminiscent of small spaceships, sold on online stores with all manner of buttons, knobs, and LED lights.
The most simple of these devices are composed of just a group of rollers that apply pressure to the bottom of the foot in different areas.
This is little different from manual massage on the feet except with the great benefit of not having to pay exorbitant rates for it from professional masseuses or cajole family members into doing it for you.
There are relatively cheap, typically being sold for under 20 dollars even in the most extreme cases, although you can find them online for as little as 5 and even less if you happen to catch them being sold in bulk at a swap meet.
The high-tech devices operate on electrical power, sometimes in the form of an electrical plug but with battery power as well. This increased power comes with a serious increase in features as well.
These machines are capable of shooting air beams at your foot from different angles or moving streams of water in massage formation.
Using them is something of an event, as you often have to place your feet inside of the machine in order to receive its benefits, although the companies producing these machines tout this as a benefit, since you can read or watch television while you are enjoying your session.
Benefits of Foot Massages
Most foot massagers will base the claims to their effectiveness on some form of alternative medicine.
Some are certified to provide relief which conforms to the therapeutic philosophies of reflexology, acupressure, or shiatsu.
In fact, the practice of attaching these buzz words to listings online is so widespread among the top brands that it would seem to be commercial suicide to go without them for the new manufacturers of these products.
While reflexology is the preferred method in countries of American influence and Shiatsu is popular in Japan, they have the same core philosophy.
They believe that there are certain points on the body (in the case of reflexology, on the foot) which, when pressured, have a certain effect on other parts of the body.
You will readily find a whole colored map of the foot if you search for any information of reflexology online.
Shiatsu can be seen as a more general treatment, positing that there are a collection of pressure points throughout the body which have different effects when pressed with fingers.
Of course, only a seasoned practitioner of the art will know how to manipulate these points and bring the patient into a blissful state of health.
While “shiatsu” has nominally been around for centuries in Japan, the concept of reflexology was presented in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century.
Regardless, both of these are derived from ancient practices and assumptions similar to acupuncture.
These alternative treatments have been more-or-less debunked by modern science, which uses techniques such as control groups to test whether a treatment really works or it’s just a jumble of fancy words and moderately convincing placebo.
There is no scientific evidence that any of these work as intended.
Yet that doesn’t mean that foot massaging has no effect.
No matter what you call the underlying methods of foot massage, there is scientific evidence to show that it has a good effect on those who undertake them.
Foot massages have been shown to decrease stress and feelings of panic in cancer patients when administered by nurses.
In fact, it has been shown to improve psychological distress in patients with diverse conditions, such as those who had undergone heart surgeries and those in critical care.
While the exact mechanisms by which it works have not been expressly identified by research, it is believed that any type of massage is good for the reduction of stress as well as general physical health in the area so rubbed.
Such contact with the body is known to increase circulation, stimulate the area, and soothe (or block) pain.
If you have a tendency to feel over-anxious or stressed, then a foot massage may help you calm down; if your feet suffer from diabetes or overuse in standing professions, it might be just the thing to keep your podiatric health in optimal condition at the end of the day.
How to Find the Right Foot Massager
It is a popular misconception among many consumers, and one which health-related corporations are too eager to exploit, that the more features and technologically-complex qualities a product has, the more advanced and thus effective it is.
Most of the time, it would appear, simple solutions are all that are needed.
In the field of foot massagers, though, there is no easy rule to follow when choosing a foot massager.
In reality, the one which works best depends on your specific situation.
It is true that for many people a simple carved piece of wood with wheels may work best.
Others, though, suffering from dry feet and partial to hot baths, may prefer a water or steam-based solution.
Yet others whose feet are not sufficiently stimulated by the rolling foot massagers may opt for an air-based device.
All of these solutions can be effective depending on the personal preferences of the user.
That being said, there are a few aspects of foot massagers you should take into consideration when making your selection.
First of all, you want to be motivated to use these frequently, so they should not be difficult to set up.
The best foot massagers will be light and easy to transport.
Even electric foot massagers should not weigh more than a weight you consider comfortable to carry unless you are one of the few people who plans to keep it in the same place all the time.
Transport convenience isn’t the only type of convenience that is important.
Electric foot massagers require a source of energy, and they should be able to draw it in a way that is convenient for you.
There are many such items with a long-lasting battery or with a power cord, which will not cause you to incur frequent costs or the inconvenience of changing batteries.
Some manual solutions also have their own annoyances.
It is generally preferable to get a manual foot massager which can be used easily.
Namely, it is better if the device can be operated by the foot alone.
Hand-powered technology, such as the pumice stone attached to a plastic handle, may be convenient for hitting the right spot, but it can also be tiresome to operate on yourself.
A foot massager you can just place your feet on and roll is a better option for most.
Other features are also helpful.
For example, if the machine comes with a timer or can change angles, it might make it easier for you to use it.
However, these are not requisite to having a decent massage.
The third most important aspect in choosing the right foot massager is actually the price.
Many companies will claim to trigger certain pressure points, or, in fact, every pressure point on the foot, for fantastical results.
At the end of the day, a foot massage serves best as a method of reducing stress and promoting foot health and healing.
It is not, at least according to current science, a pathway into curing all of your bodily ailments by magic pressure points.
Yet companies will make many promises in order to get you to pay more.
Pick something with the basic features you need which is reasonably priced.
List of the Top 7 Foot Massagers
After countless hours of research, let’s discuss the top 7 foot massagers currently available in the market:
It is of the electrical variety and uses hot air as well as mechanical rollers inside to soothe the feet (although you don’t necessarily have to use the heat option).
All you have to do is stick your feet inside and press the start button in order to enjoy your 15-minute massage.
While it’s effective, it only has three different intensities, so it’s somewhat basic.
Pros of the Marnur Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- It’s relatively light and small for a mechanical foot massager, so it’s no problem dragging it around the living room or putting it under bigger furniture.
- You can use the heat option in order to give you an even more intense massage or in case your feet tend to get cold easily.
- It needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet, but it turns off automatically after 15 minutes, so you don’t need to worry about it overheating.
Cons of the Marnur Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- It’s very simple. Some people say its “modes” don’t have any noticeable difference.
- Some people may find the heat to be a little intense and there’s no way to lower it, so if your feet are sensitive to heat, it might not be the product for you.
This makes it more complex than similar products of its class but of course, less complex than electro-mechanical solutions.
Unlike the Marnur, this product works without any electrical power at all because it’s all foot-powered.
On the one hand, you will lose the fancy heating and automatic rolling capabilities of the electrical foot massagers, but on the other hand it is far more convenient to use.
All you have to do is roll your foot back and forth on it.
Pros of the TheraFlow Dual Foot Massage Roller:
- It’s very small and light, really just some pieces of carved wood in a shape which allows it to give effective foot massages, so you can take it anywhere.
- Being that it is completely foot-powered, you don’t have to rely on a machine to choose a setting and can apply as much pressure as you want. This is especially helpful for people with sensitive feet.
- It’s a good middle ground between very simple single-roller solutions and expensive electrical appliances with regards to cost.
Cons of the Marnur Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- Since you have to use your foot to move it, some people may find the reduced convenience distasteful.
It is an electrical appliance with the capacity to deliver heat while the surface under the sole moves gears and bumps mechanically to provide you with a thorough massage.
The differences are quite minor – mainly that it now has 5 different intensity settings instead of 3.
It also has a different shape for the mechanical massager, so some people may prefer this over the TheraFlow – it’s just a matter of taste.
Pros of the Belmint Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- It has a heat function, which will further relax your feet while they are being massaged.
- Instead of 3 levels of intensity like the TheraFlow, it has 5, which arguably gives you more control over your sessions.
Cons of the Belmint Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- You will have to decide whether the two additional levels are worth the extra costs and weight (it is more expensive and slightly heavier than the TheraFlow).
This product is a single roller which you can move up and down your foot.
While relatively simple and small compared to the other solutions, it is also the cheapest, so you may want to try this if cost is a major concern for you.
As for flexibility,
it gives you as much flexibility as a hand massager without the inconvenience of having to reach down.
Pros of the TheraFlow Massage Roller:
- It is the lightest and cheapest of the options presented in this list.
- It gives you a high level of flexibility with how and where to use it without much reduced therapeutic capabilities.
Cons of the TheraFlow Massage Roller:
- This won’t warm your toes because it creates no heat like electrical options.
- It’s not as convenient as the machines which move rollers along the sole of your foot by themselves.
This one looks akin to a bathroom scale in that you just place your feet atop it and it warms and massages your soles.
Some may be worried by the design, but fear not – you can still down while letting it massage you.
While it’s much cheaper than the more complex machines, many of its features, such as the timer and power levels, are cut.
Even so, most people will find these superfluous.
Pros of the Belmint Kneading Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- It has similar heating functions to the model that engulfs the whole foot, but it’s half the price.
- It’s lighter and flatter, so it can fit in more spaces than the whole-foot machine.
- While most of the other electrical models are made principally for sitting, you can stand on this one.
Cons of the Belmint Kneading Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- Obviously, most of the heat benefits are for the soles of your feet. You would get a more even warming with a machine that fits around the foot.
- It doesn’t have the auto-shut off, so you probably shouldn’t fall asleep with it on.
It heats, it massages, and it has five different pressure settings so you can adjust it to fit your level of sensitivity.
This one also comes with a remote control, although seeing as the device is very close to your body already, it’s not the most useful of features for most users.
Pros of the Miko Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- It has five power settings, so you can adjust it to fit your profile.
- It has a remote control in case you need it.
Cons of the Miko Shiatsu Foot Massager:
- You can’t stand while using it, although you probably wouldn’t want to do it.
- It’s slightly heavier than the other items on this list, but it’s still light enough to lug around anywhere.
This device also works on the calves.
Scientific evidence suggests that massaging the calf can also have a positive effect on some conditions, such as heel pain.
While there is a Reflex-4 model with heat, this particular model does not have any heating capabilities.
Even without them, it is the most expensive and heaviest of the items described here.
Pros of the Reflex-4 Foot and Calf Massager:
- You can get a calf massage as well as a foot massage. While foot massages are more important for most people, a calf massage couldn’t hurt either.
Cons of the Reflex-4 Foot and Calf Massager:
- It’s the most expensive and heaviest of the options we describe here.
- The basic model does not have heating.