Foot massager purchasing advice: how to choose the right product

  • What You Need to Know
  • Electric foot massagers imitate various massage techniques with movable elements.
  • In addition to massage plates for the soles of the feet and devices for the entire foot, combinations with a foot bath are also available.
  • Some devices allow shiatsu or compression massages; they are powered by electric cable or battery.
  • In addition to the massage technique, the speed and pressure can often be varied.
  • The foot massagers must be cleaned regularly, which is correspondingly time-consuming depending on the design.

For whom is a foot massager suitable?

A massage relaxes the body, relieves pain and in some cases helps to make chronic conditions more bearable. The feet have a particularly large number of sensitive and important points for massage in a small area. Those who put a lot of strain on their feet in everyday life, for example by standing for long periods at work or by doing sport, particularly appreciate the relaxing effect of a foot massage. An electronic massager can provide soothing treatments using a variety of techniques. The even, pressure-filled movements of the massage elements loosen the muscles and promote blood circulation. Heavy feet thus experience relaxation and can be stimulated by many modes of the devices.

woman sits and rubs her aching feet
Tired feet after a long day? A foot massage can be very relaxing.

For whom is such a device rather unsuitable?

Foot complaints, for example as a result of a deformity, can also be alleviated by certain massages. In this case, however, you should ask your doctor in advance whether and which therapies are recommended. It is not advisable to use an electric foot massage if you have inflammations, open wounds or warts on your foot. If you suffer from varicose veins or thrombosis, you should also seek medical advice first. After fractures or operations on the foot, certain massages can help an injury or scar to heal better, but they should always be carried out by a physiotherapist or medical masseur.

What types of foot massagers are there?

The massagers work with elements that move at the touch of a button, usually balls or rollers that imitate kneading movements. Different types of devices can perform different massage techniques. They are powered either by a battery or by a power cable.

Massager with plate

foot massager with massage platform

With this device, the feet rest on a plate under which the massage balls are located. The surface is often covered with a finely woven fabric, such as so-called mesh, a synthetic material that is both breathable and skin-friendly. The massage elements are arranged in mirror symmetry and move synchronously. Often, different modes and speed levels can be set, and sometimes even a heat function is available. The devices are usually easy to operate and can be switched on or off even with the toes.

Igloo massager

foot massager in iglu form

With this form of foot massager, not only the sole of the foot is worked on with the massage plate, but the entire foot is enclosed as if in a narrow cavity. In this way, it can be massaged from all sides to the lower part of the calf. With this design, many different pressure strengths and massage techniques are possible, some models also offer a compression massage. The cover inside – mesh is also often used here – can be partially removed and thus cleaned more easily.

Massager with footbath

foot massager with spa function

In this variation, the feet stand in a kind of bowl that is filled with water. There are massage elements on the bottom. In addition to the massage – which takes place through vibrations, for example – the device can produce a bubble bath, which pleasantly stimulates the feet. Some models offer the option of heating up cool or cooled water. You can also add bath additives, such as oil baths for a skin-care effect and soothing fragrance.

Foot massager functions

Depending on the model and price range, massagers have different functions and setting options. There are often several massage modes to choose from. The rollers and balls that apply the techniques, kneading movements and pressure can rotate in different patterns. In some cases, the user can choose between several speed levels; the intensity of the massage treatment is also variable in some cases.

Most devices are either very easy to use with large buttons that can be reached and pressed comfortably with the toes, or they have a remote control to switch between modes and tempo levels. Some igloo-shaped foot massagers can generate additional heat through infrared light or offer the option of switching on an air current to cool down. A timer function ensures that the massage programme switches off automatically after a preset time.

The advantages of almost all foot massagers are their compact dimensions and low weight. This makes mobile use possible. Users can have their feet massaged in the office or take the device with them on holiday. Even use on the balcony or in the garden is possible without much effort, although you may need to have an extension cable or a spare battery ready.

foot water massager stands on floor

Work with different techniques

A well-known massage technique is acupressure, also called shiatsu massage. This involves stimulating certain points with finger pressure. The pressure on the acupressure points on the sole of the foot can also be produced by a foot massager with a massage plate. This form of massage has a relaxing effect on the whole body.

With an igloo massager, a compression massage is possible via air pressure, which acts on the entire foot. This stimulates the metabolism and accelerates the healing process for some injuries. A device that allows such a massage can usually also be used while lying down.

Observe the right size

The manufacturers usually specify the shoe size up to which the device is suitable. If your feet are larger than the specified maximum size, you should look for a suitable device. Otherwise, the massage elements may not massage the correct points or your feet may not fit in or on the device.

Tips for relaxation

In order to fully engage in the massage and achieve a perfect feeling of well-being, you should remove or block out disturbing elements in your environment. Switch off your mobile phone and TV, don’t let anything distract you and find a comfortable position – either sitting or standing, depending on the model and your own preference. Unagitated, atmospheric sounds and a calming scent, for example from an incense stick, can help you to relax better.

Make sure that the massager cannot slip. If the model allows, start with a low intensity and gradually increase it. Ideally, a massage session should last 15 to 20 minutes. However, listen to your body and its reactions: If you feel pain or discomfort, do not continue the massage.

Afterwards, sit or lie still for a while and let the massage fade away. As a supplementary care for the feet, you can also apply a stimulating peeling, a cooling gel or a soothing cream afterwards.

Usage tips and restrictions

Since the devices work electrically, you are always dependent on the battery life or a nearby power socket. For example, if you forget to charge the battery in time, you will be annoyed if the relaxing foot massage at the end of the day has to be postponed.

If the device operates too loudly, the user may find this annoying. Normally, a foot massager produces very little noise, at most equivalent to the volume of a soft conversation. You should pay attention to this criterion when buying, otherwise it may not be as relaxing as you would like.

Especially if you use the massager frequently, you should clean it regularly. The cover of an igloo model is usually detachable and easy to wash, often even suitable for the washing machine. The shelves can be treated with a damp cloth, soap and disinfectant. At best, you rinse out a unit with a water bath directly after use and thoroughly remove any residues of bath sets.

Alternatives to electronic massage

There are also foot massagers that are operated with muscle power alone. They are usually made of wood or plastic and consist of several rollers in a row in a frame. The rollers are provided with grooves, knobs or blunt spikes. The user places his feet on them and moves them back and forth as evenly as possible. The advantage is that you determine the pressure individually. However, special kneading techniques or a shiatsu massage are not possible this way.

Even the best foot massager cannot replace a professional masseur. A person can respond to your needs and reactions individually, feel tensions best and vary techniques. Therefore, a properly trained masseur is also best suited for medical massages. However, a frequently used professional foot massage in a studio can quickly run into money.

masseuse feet by one person

Price classification

The more functions or accessories your future massager should have, the more money you usually have to budget for the investment. The extensive igloo models with their different techniques that enclose the entire foot are in most cases the most expensive. Around 100 euros is the price of many of these models on the relevant online platforms, although a comparison can be worthwhile and the scale is almost open upwards, as with so many items.

The bubble baths, on the other hand, are comparatively cheap and some can even be had for less than 20 euros. Since the shell is usually not as elaborately crafted and the technology is less sophisticated than, for example, rotating massage elements, this price differential is understandable. Devices with massage plates, which are often priced at 60 to 80 euros, represent an average value.