HoMedics Shiatsu Massage Pillow

Good for Sore Muscles

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My Review

I have fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, myofascial pain syndrome and several other chronic-pain conditions, so massage is a necessity for me. I've used a lot of different home massage products over the years, with mixed results.

This little pillow massager is one of my favorites. It gives a good, firm, Shiatsu massage without taking up a lot of space. It's easy to adjust so it hits exactly where I need it to, and when I'm not using it I can tuck it under an end table and it's out of the way.

The cost is another plus. It's one of the least expensive quality massage products I've used, at half or even a quarter the price of some. Mine cost about the same as a single trip to the massage therapist. While it's not a replacement for massage therapy, it does help me stretch out the time between appointments by working out the worst of my muscle knots.

However, if you're looking for something that will loosen up your entire back, this may not be the right product for you. You may be happier with one of the larger seat-cushion-style massagers with heads that move up and down your back.

For pain from sore muscles, I think this is a great product. If, however, you have allodynia from fibromyalgia, you may want to proceed with caution. Allodynia is an abnormal pain type and is what causes things like elastic waistbands or bra straps to feel like they're burning your skin. Research shows that massage in areas with allodynia can actually make the pain worse, possibly by hyper-stimulating the sensitive nerves.

(You can learn more about allodynia here: Seven Types of Fibromyalgia Pain.)

I definitely recommend sticking to the manufacturer's recommended use time. The device shuts off automatically at that point, and I've made the mistake of just turning it right back on. What results is that the massager gets really hot, even if you don't have the heat setting turned on.

Also, it can over-massage the muscle, which can make it really tender for a couple of days afterward. You're better off giving both the massager and your muscles a break. However, I've had good results with waiting about ten minutes and then using it again -- on a different muscle. The pillow seems to be cooled down enough by then to not overheat.

I've had this massager for nearly four months and I use it more days than not. This is the fifth HoMedics massage product I've bought, as well. I've been happy with the massage from all of them, and the only problems I've run into are from overuse, which is clearly my fault and not the manufacturer's!

In my opinion, this is a great product for people with chronic muscle pain, as long as it's used appropriately.

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Description

  • Beige throw-pillow-sized massager.
  • Control buttons are on a tab on the side of the pillow.
  • Four massage nodes.
  • Nodes light up when heat is turned on.
  • Features auto shut-off after the recommended use time.
  • A similar version is available that also offers a vibration feature.

    Pros

    • Massages deep into sore muscles and helps them relax.
    • Allows you to target exactly the spots that hurt.
    • Small and easily portable (though it does need to be plugged in.)
    • Offers a heat setting to further relax muscles.
    • Soft fabric is nice against the skin. (However, if massage is too strong for you, another layer of fabric may help.)
    • Much less expensive than large seat-cushion models.
    • Doesn't take up a lot of space.
    • Best when you have a couple of sore spots, not for whole-back massage.

    Cons

    • Over-use leaves muscles tender. (Follow manufacturer guidelines for how long to use.)
    • Gets hot even when heat isn't on.
    • Massage heads are a little too wide for some areas, such as the neck, and are not adjustable.
    • Because controls are along the side of the pillow, they can be hard to reach while in use.

    The Bottom Line

    I really like this little massager. It does a good job on my muscle knots and is really easy to move from sore spot to sore spot. It's small enough to tuck behind the couch or under an end table, so you can keep it handy without it being visible.

    Source

    Nijs J, Van Houdenhove B. Manual therapy. 2009 Feb;14(1):3-12. From acute musculoskeletal pain to chronic widespread pain and fibromyalgia: application of pain neurophysiology in manual therapy practice.

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