These Genius Leg Massagers Can Soothe Sore, Achy Muscles — & Yes, You Knead One

by Katie Evans

You already know that massages are one of the best ways to soothe sore, achy muscles, but when the tension is concentrated in your lower body, one of the best leg massagers can provide targeted pain relief. These devices come in two key styles — wearable and handheld — each with different massaging techniques, so as you shop, consider your budget but how hands-on (or off) you want to be.

Wearable Compression Leg Massagers

If your goal is to sit back, relax, and let your massager do the work for you, consider a wearable style that wraps around your legs like a boot. Using compression-style massage, they have built-in airbags that inflate and deflate to apply pressure to your muscles (a technique that can help improve circulation and swelling). Models that extend to the thigh or come with a heating element will give you the most coverage and versatility, but you'll pay more. Either way, they'll need to be plugged in, so note that you'll have to be able to set up near an outlet.

Handheld Leg Massagers

Handheld massagers can give you more freedom, not only from outlets but in the areas you focus on. A percussion-style massager is customizable and the closest thing you'll get to a massage therapist. Using rapid taps that mimic kneading hands, these rechargeable devices can pinpoint one spot at a time — like a tight quad muscle — but your session will only last as long as your battery life (about two hours). To gauge intensity, look at the device's revolutions per minute (RPMs) — anything that can go higher than 2,000 RPM will deliver enough pressure to really work out knots. A low-budget leg massager with mini foam rollers won't be as deep-tissue, but it can offer a nice myofascial release.

Now that you know what to look for, you'll find a list of the best leg massagers on Amazon up ahead.

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A Fan-Favorite Compression Massager For Achy Feet & Calves
  • Massage type: Compression
  • Target areas: Calves, feet

With over 6,000 positive Amazon reviews, this air compression massager is a hit among users who consistently reach for it to help relieve muscle fatigue as well as boost circulation. Designed in a wraparound style that fastens with Velcro, each boot can fit up to a 28.5-inch calf circumference (when the included size extenders are attached). Once you select from three intensity levels using the attached remote, the machine will do the work for you (though note there is an automatic shut off after 20 minutes). Just make sure your lounging spot is near an outlet since you'll need to plug it in using its 8.2-foot-long power cord.

Promising review: "I've been working at a job that requires constant standing or walking for years, so my calves are always sore and hurting. After I bought this item, I would start using it after I got home from work. It is very comfortable and it feels like a real massage. Using this sets me in a relaxed mood, and afterwards, it is a lot easier for me to fall asleep. I would definitely recommend this!"

A Heated Compression Massager That Also Treats Your Thighs
  • Massage type: Compression
  • Target areas: Thighs, calves, feet

Another excellent air compression massager, this one not only wraps around each foot and leg (up to a 19.7-inch calf circumference), but it also gives you optional coverage on your thighs (up to a 33.5-inch thigh circumference), both of which secure with Velcro. Use the attached remote to select from three pressure levels and six compression "programs," which include everything from full-length leg massaging to feet only. To make it even more customizable, you can even choose to detach the thigh wrap and use it independently by placing it around your arms or your calves for more of a targeted approach.

To further help relax and sooth your muscles, there is a heat function (with low or high settings), but do note that it's only enabled on the main boot portion. It comes with a 5.9-foot power cord and has a 20-minute auto-shut off.

Promising review: "Wonderful massager! Easy to unpack and put together. I love using these after leg workout or running. The pressure is very strong, gives a good massage. It takes care of the entire leg from the foot to the calf to the thighs and you could feel the pressure raising and lowering as it squeezes your lymphatic fluid up toward your upper torso."

A Wand-Style Percussion Device For A Targeted Deep-Tissue Massage
  • Massage type: Percussive
  • Target areas: You pick

This Mighty Bliss handheld massager is beloved by Amazon fans — it boasts more than 7,800 five-star ratings — because it can give you a high-intensity massage in a portable and lightweight package. The rechargeable tool has a battery life up to 120 minutes on a full charge (cord included), and thanks to its longer, nonslip handle you'll get way more use out of it beyond just on your legs (several users point out how well it worked on "stressed out shoulders"). The RPMs range between 1,500 and 3,700, and all you need to do to increase the intensity is simply turn a dial. Plus, it comes with six interchangeable heads and a storage pouch.

Promising review: "I have very tight calf muscles which contributed to very painful plantar fasciitis. I discovered that it helps if I massage my calves while watching TV, but then my hands got sore from that [...] I ordered this to see if it would help loosen my calves, and I am happy with how it's working."

An Affordable Manual Massaging Tool With Four Foam Rollers
  • Massage type: Manual
  • Target areas: You pick

A manual massager like this one is a great option for anyone who wants something that's not only easy to operate but also easy on the wallet. Without being tied to an outlet (or reliant on battery life), you'll have freedom to use the contraption wherever is most convenient and there are no settings to worry about. Simply grab onto the ergonomic handles, expand them, insert your leg (or any other area needing relief, like your arm, shoulder, or neck), and roll up and down. It has four foam rollers with a textured surface that's designed to target deeper pressure points. While the manufacturer doesn't indicate how far it can expand, several reviewers have confirmed that it will widen to 10 inches comfortably. Choose from black or gray, or, for something easy to spot, go with turquoise (pictured), purple, or pink.

Promising review: "I'm a licensed massage therapist, and I highly recommend. I really love this product for self care. Brings my legs and arms and even neck back to life."

Also Nice: A Versatile Foot Massager That Reviewers Call 'Worth Every Penny'
  • Massage type: Shiatsu, compression
  • Target areas: Calves, feet

For something that really knead your feet and lower legs, this Cloud Massage machine come at a higher price tag, but it's a hit with Amazon shoppers who have given it more than 4,000 five-star ratings. Once you adjust the stand to your liking — it can be propped up or laid flat for focusing on feet, calves, or lower leg depending on how you're sitting — use the buttons on the front to select from three massage modes (air compression, shiatsu-style rolling, and swaying), three intensity levels, or even add heat. The open-ended design means any size foot will fit, and you There's an auto-shut off of 15 minutes, and according to a reviewer, the powder cord is about 6.6-feet long.

Promising review: "I have to admit this is so amazing. At first the deep tissue massage was intense. Even at the lightest setting. I forced my self to do it, because I knew it would help. I can’t express enough how much I love using this. It is part of my daily routine. I am happy to say that I am almost pain free, and have been able to start running again!"