The benefits of massage have been well known for thousands of years, with the word itself thought to be more than 4000 years old. Those benefits used to be available to only a select few at a high price, as the practice became the speciality of health spas and luxury holiday resorts. But in more recent years, massage has hit the mainstream in a big way.

And those benefits are many, as anyone who’s enjoyed a good massage will already know. Many people think of massage as an easy way to relax, unwind and de-stress, and those gains are very real. But if you’re the sort of person who has jumped into the fitness revolution which has been growing exponentially (spurred on by smart fitness wearables, home exercise gear and video-based training and health regimes), you’ll find even more to love about a good massage – whether it be for a full-body wind-down after exercise, or targeted massaging of muscles and connective tissue after an intense workout or sports session.

Are there health benefits?
Massage can improve circulation and energy while lowering heart rate and blood pressure, depending on the type and location of the massage. There is some evidence that it can help with everything from anxiety and insomnia to headaches and lower back pain. All you need is, of course, someone to actually give you that massage – which isn’t exactly always on-hand when you’re back at home after a 20km run, or having been pummelled on the field while playing a friendly game of footy.

That’s where the range of personal massagers comes in. We’ve all experienced that tell-tale pain that can show up after a lengthy bike ride, run or swim, and while it’s sending you the message that your exercise has done the thing it’s meant to do, those sore and tense muscles can take a while to stop hurting – which can lead to painful cramps, and an unstoppable desire to lie down on the couch for several hours.

So, what’s the best choice of personal massager for you? Well, that’s going to come down to what you’re looking to achieve with it. Do you want a device that lets you hone in on the key pain points and give them the sort of deep massage that you couldn’t possibly do by hand? Or are you looking for something more general, like a way to enjoy a soothing back and neck massage, or some TLC for tired feet?

Deep massage for fast relief
One of the most popular, current choices for massaging devices is the percussive massager. These devices are portable, rechargeable and handheld, and do exactly what you’d expect from the name on the tin. They repeatedly send effective (but controlled) bursts of pressure to wherever the device is applied. This is perfect for calming down angry muscles after serious exertion, with results often noticeable within seconds rather than minutes.

And because you’ve got complete control over where you massage and for how long, they can be brilliantly effective at getting deep into muscle tissue and relieving tension, tightness and pain.

A leading brand in percussive massagers is Theragun, which makes a wide range of devices which are considered among the best in the field – and their popularity speaks for itself. Their Theragun Prime model, all soft curves and a we-mean-business jet-black finish, is a great pick if you’re looking to get into the benefits of percussive massage. It boasts a two-hour battery life and comes with four different attachments to suit a wide range of massage needs. It’s also Bluetooth-equipped – not something you’d expect from a device like this, but extremely handy regardless, thanks to integration with a dedicated app that gives you fine-grained control of the gun, from force metering to battery life.

Hyperice also offers Bluetooth-enabled percussives, with their Hypervolt Plus skewed toward the top end of the category – including an on-device display to let you know how much pressure you’re applying in real time. They also make affordable and ultra-portable guns that are perfect for chucking in your holiday hand luggage. And if you’re looking for some serious bang for your buck, Homedics offer a couple of stylish, capable guns that come in at an incredibly low price. They do lack some of the power and the connected features of the more expensive guns, but they still do the job with aplomb.

Sit back and relax
If you just want that relaxing experience of a more general, multi-muscle massage, you’ll want to head for some of the clever new products designed for the purpose – like Beurer’s Shiatsu Massage seat cover. Attach it to a desk chair, lean back, and get a neck and back massage complete with heating if needed. Beurer even makes a massaging cushion for the all-body experience.

Targeted massage when you need it
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a focused Shiatsu experience for your neck and upper back, Beurer’s 3D back and neck massager – also with heating – lets you carry your own masseuse with you.

Probably one of the handiest devices to add to any of the above products is the massage ball. Available in a range of finishes, simply roll the ball over anywhere that needs some relief – and they’re tiny enough to carry with you everywhere.

Technology has brought these truly powerful and versatile massage tools into the personal space, which is brilliant for anyone who’s all about fitness and well-being – but not too fond of the pain that comes with it!