What is the best handheld deep tissue massager?

The best “brand” is the tool that does the best job for your needs. I wouldn’t spend a lot of money on a handheld massage device; there are some everyday tools that serve perfectly.

What you need depends on what you are trying to do:

  1. Increase Blood Flow.

    1. Use a heating pad of any kind. I prefer moist¬†electric heating pads because they remain at a constant temperature for longer and don’t over- or under-heat.

    2. Use Swedish massage techniques of centripetal friction. Slide with the hand or other tool (like the Knobble, pictured below) toward the heart. This flushes older blood out, and increases the supply of more freshly oxygenated blood.

The Knobble

  1. Decrease Tension in Tissues.

    1. Use Swedish massage techniques of kneading. That is, rub or grip the tissue with the fingers or other tool (such as the knobble) to loosen constricted connective tissue or tissue bound into an adhesion. However, DO NOT try to “rub out” knots with deep pressure.¬†This can result in bad bruises, or even permanent damage.

  1. Promote Relaxation.

    1. Use percussion (tapping lightly with the fingertips) or shake the arms loosely.

    2. Use heating pads (see 1.1 above).

  1. Increase Range of Motion:

    1. Do gentle, static (single-position, held) stretches.

    2. Do gentle, circular motions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers.

If any of these actions cause excessive pain, burning, tingling or numbness, discontinue immediately and consult a physician.