In this comprehensive guide, we’re unpacking the top-notch devices designed specifically to ease neck and shoulder discomfort.
Are you in need of a powerful device to massage your neck and shoulders? High or low amplitude? What else matters?
We will answer these questions below. We also provide clear comparisons, vital insights, and share some insider tips on how to choose the best massage gun for neck and shoulder relief.
So, let’s not keep your neck and shoulders waiting!
Using Massage Guns On Neck – Key Things To Know
Why to Trust this Article
We are massage gun users with a lot of experience handling and testing different devices.
While we give recommendations on what massage guns can help you manage neck and shoulder pain, we are not doctors or medical experts ourselves. We have, however, medical experts on board, who check our articles for accuracy.
This post has been medically reviewed by Dr. Alex Stone who is a licensed physiotherapist.
You might want to know that this post comes hot on the heels of our last blog, where Dr. Alex answered the question: Can you use a massage gun on your neck?
Below are the essential insights from what the expert said in that article, just because they are extremely important and you should be aware of them:
- Never massage the front part of your neck. You could damage important arteries and cause heart failure or stroke.
- The focus should be on the back of the neck and shoulders. Focus on the upper trapezius muscles, just above the shoulders.
- Shoulder and neck pain are related because they share some of the same muscles. When you strain your neck, you are also straining your shoulders.
- Use soft massage gun attachments to massage the neck and do it delicately. Using only those initial speed gears and nothing too aggressive.
- We also described a step-by-step action of how to massage your neck and shoulders.
We recommend reading that article first if you want to learn how to properly and safely massage your neck and shoulders. You can then return to this one to find the best devices to use for the massage.
Best Massage Guns for Neck and Shoulder Pain – Our Picks Explained
Ekrin 365 – Our Top Pick
Based on our extensive testing, we’ve found the Ekrin 365 to be possibly the most versatile massage gun on the market today.
It has all the features we’ve found necessary for a day-to-day massage. It’s perfect for your neck and shoulder, as we’ve personally experienced, and it has enough power to tackle even the large muscle groups.
Whenever we have to talk about Ekrin devices, we always want to mention that they are made to specifically address the concerns of many users out there.
For instance, we were impressed to find that this device only weighs 1.7 pounds. That’s a milestone that many full-sized massage guns we’ve tested are yet to achieve.
Instead of the normal (boring) T-shape design, they chose to go with a slanted handle. All Ekrin devices have a slanted handle. But this one has a twist or two to go with it.
We’ve noticed that the handle is longer and thinner. The length is beneficial for easily reaching your back, a feature we’ve appreciated in our trials, and the thinness is perfect for those with small hands (we voted it the best massage gun for women for this reason).
It’s not just the handle; the power and performance aspects are great too. It has a 12mm amplitude and a stall force of up to 40lbs. That places it in the medium range category – within our recommended specs.
It will not be too punchy or too vibrational. You can also rely on it when you need to massage your whole body. For neck and shoulder massage, you can glide it over, and it will do the job. The lowest speed is 2000RPM.
We found it to be a quiet device – it only revs up to 62dB at top speed. It comes with 4 attachments, including a soft ball attachment that we’ve found useful for neck massages. There’s also a cone attachment that we’ve effectively used for shoulder knots.
The pressure sensor comes in handy when you want to massage a friend. The battery lasts for 4-5 hours – you will have enough battery juice to last you a week. You also get to charge it via USB – very convenient.
Ekrin Athletics backs all their devices with a lifetime warranty, a fact we’ve personally confirmed. They also have a superb customer support team – we’ve tested this ourselves, even going incognito to ensure an unbiased experience.
You will need $179.99 to buy it or use our MGA20 coupon to get a 20% discount, which makes it only $143.99 – great deal. Buy it directly at ekrinathletics.com.
Learn More Read our in-depth, hands-on Ekrin 365 review.
Lyric Massager – Great for Neck Pain
In our opinion, the Lyric massager stands out as the quintessential neck massage gun. If you’re seeking a device specifically designed to massage your neck and aren’t concerned about the conventional massage gun, this is the massager we’d recommend from our trials.
If you are a massage gun fan or have been following most of our massage gun reviews, the specs on this gun will sound outrageous. But let us tell you why we picked it for this category.
Firstly, we’ve found it to be a rather compact massage gun during our testing – it looks almost like a mini massage gun, but the long handle might disqualify it from that category. It boasts a stylish and sleek design. In our hands, it’s light and gives off a very vibrational sensation.
Yet, it could be perhaps the best massage gun for neck and shoulder. Not because of the (somewhat outrageous) specs, but because the manufacturer added a twist to it, something we’ve appreciated in our hands-on experience.
- First, it’s not a very aggressive massage gun, which would be perfect for neck and shoulder pain.
- Second, the manufacturer says it mimics our body’s natural rhythms.
To quote Lyric’s own words:
“Rhythm Therapy™ for Muscle Pain Relief & Relaxation; combines touch and movement with vibroacoustic frequencies to stimulate the nervous system.”
Note While we don’t have any information on “Rhythm Therapy”, or if it is superior to traditional vibration or percussion massage therapy, we can assume that it is similar in nature to the type of stimulation from most other low-amplitude + high-frequency massage gun options.
Another feature we’ve found useful in our testing is its Wi-Fi-enabled capability with pre-programmed modes for massaging different body parts. There’s a tiny screen on the back of the handle that displays the guided modes, a feature we’ve found particularly handy.
The softest attachment is the cone head. You can also use it for shoulder knots.
We’ve also chosen to include it here because it features a handle extension – the first one we’ve encountered in our testing. We’ve found that reaching your back is not a problem with this device.
The only problem we have with this massage gun (you guessed it), the specs may not be good enough to massage other areas of the body – especially large muscle group areas. It cannot possibly provide a deep tissue massage. Ekrin 365 will be the better choice in that case (buy it here).
We’ve also confirmed that it comes with a 1-year warranty, and offers a choice of five colors, providing a level of customization we appreciate.
Lyric is available on Amazon and will cost you slightly more than our top pick. It’s a very interesting proposition if you want a soothing and relaxing massage.
Opove M3 Pro – More Affordable Option
We may have called the specs on Lyric “outrageous” (though for lack of a better word), but we’ve found nothing outrageous about Opove M3 Pro’s specs in our testing. This is a stellar device and the complete opposite of what the Lyric massager is.
We’ve found it to be even more percussive than our top recommendation – Ekrin 365. That’s because it has a 12.3mm amplitude. It revs up to 2600rpm, a speed we’ve found sufficient to work on shoulder knots.
It has a mid-40s stall force which is good for a percussive massage. You can use it on your neck and shoulder. However, don’t press it too hard against your neck, as instructed in this how-to post. Just glide it over the area. We recommend this device here for people who may want a percussive massage for the rest of their body.
In our hands-on experience, it’s a much bigger device compared to Ekrin 365. Despite its size, it’s not bulky and weighs 2.5 pounds. While it doesn’t feature a tilted handle, we’ve found that Opove made sure the device is easy to hold and operate by placing lots of good quality rubber on the handle.
It’s a very quiet massage gun, revving at just over 60dB at top speeds.
There are 6 attachments included; there is a cushioned ball you can use for your neck and shoulders. You will also find a standard ball attachment and the bullet attachment for trigger points.
It has a good battery that lasted a just under 3 weeks with a single charge in our month-long test (normal massage sessions). Unlike the Ekrin 365, it doesn’t have a USB charger. We’ve confirmed that it comes with a 1-year warranty.
It usually costs $199, but there is currently an offer that lets you buy it at $119 – great value for an affordable neck & shoulder massage gun.
Learn More Check out our Opove M3 Pro 2 Review for further information and hi-res photos.
Which Theragun for Neck and Shoulder Pain?
It’s right to say that the percussive therapy massage industry owes a lot to Theragun. After all, they started the whole thing.
Theragun devices – especially the full-sized ones: Prime, Elite and Pro – have the longest amplitude on the market (16mm). They are good massagers for deep tissue therapy.
But can they really be effective for neck and shoulder pain? Yes, they will be effective. But the thing is, you don’t need the top shelf Theragun Pro, or even Theragun Elite, if your main intention is to use a Theragun on neck or shoulder.
In our opinion, the two cheapest Theragun models will do just fine:
n our experience, the Theragun Mini doesn’t have a high stall force – only about 15-20lbs.
As we’ve mentioned, if you’re primarily looking for something to use on your neck and shoulder, we’ve found that this is probably enough.
It does, however, have a 12mm amplitude – that’s the highest in the mini devices category.
We’ve found the Theragun Mini to be a compact and very light massage gun during our testing. The new version (2.0) weighs only 1.1 pounds!
The new model now comes with three attachments. If you own a bigger Theragun, the attachments will fit the Mini.
Theragun Prime, as we’ve found in our testing, is a full-sized massage gun. It’s considered the entry-level Theragun, and based on our hands-on experience, we believe it would be effective for a neck and shoulder massage.
Prime is smaller than both Elite and Pro. It has a 16mm amplitude and up to 30lbs. of stall force; good enough for the rest of the body.
One of the standout features we’ve noticed about Theragun Prime, compared to Theragun Mini, is the D-shape ergonomics. In our testing, we’ve also found that you get 4 attachments with Prime, compared to just one with the Theragun Mini.
Aren’t Theraguns Too Aggressive For Neck/Shoulder Treatment?
Yes, Theragun may be too aggressive for the neck because of the high amplitude. If you have sensitive skin or if your neck is too painful, Theraguns may be too intensive for you.
However, you can still use them with controlled pressure. Just gliding a Theragun over the back of the neck will do the trick. You can also use the special attachments that will be tender on your skin.
Which Theragun Attachment Is Best For Neck And Shoulder?
Theragun patented their Supersoft attachment. It is the one awesome attachment you can use to massage your neck and shoulder areas. However, it only comes with Theragun Pro (the most expensive Theragun).
You’ll have to purchase it separately ($20 at www.therabody.com) if you have Theragun mini, Prime or Elite.
If you have Theragun Prime, you can use the dampener, it’s the closest one to the Supersoft attachment. However, we’d say Ekrin’s super-soft is softer.
Are Theraguns Worth It in 2023?
In our experience, Theraguns are impressive devices, but they’re also on the pricier side and, to be honest, no longer unique (with the exception of their patented triangular design, that is). Just to compare, the entry-level Theragun Prime is two times more expensive than the Opove M3 Pro – and in our testing, the Opove outperformed the Prime.
Another issue we’ve noticed in our testing is that Theragun still hasn’t addressed the noise issue in the Prime model – specifically, the rattling noise at the head of the massage.
They all have a 1-year warranty apart from Theragun Pro, which is too expensive.
Theragun mini is a decent proposition for our case, but it’s poorly equipped. You are better off going with Ekrin Bantam if you want a mini massage gun. The Bantam is lighter, smaller, and more powerful. It also has a soft ball attachment like Ekrin 365 (read our Ekrin Bantam review here).
In our testing, the Lyric Massager has emerged as a reasonable alternative to the Theragun Mini, despite its radically different concept. However, since it is priced similarly to the Mini, many customers may opt for the latter device due to the more reputed brand.
Which Hypervolt for Neck and Shoulder?
Hyperice Hypervolt is another big name in the industry, going toe-to-toe with Theragun. They recently unveiled their new line of products.
We’ll take a look at each of their products and see if any of them is good enough to alleviate neck and shoulder pain:
- Hypervolt 2
We’d say it’s probably the best Hypervolt for neck and shoulder massage. It’s not as strong as Ekrin 365 but will do the job as a neck and shoulder massager. It has a 12mm amplitude and about 20lbs. of stall force. It cost $199 and you can buy it at hyperice.com
- Hypervolt 2 Pro
It has slightly better amplitude than Opove M3 Pro (14mm). That makes it feel more “punchy” on skin. It has about 35lbs. of stall force – good enough for deep tissue massage, but behind the Opove.
However, compared to Opove M3 Pro, this device is very expensive. At $329, you could get 2x Opove M3 Pro (!) and still keep some change (there’s an offer on the Opove here).
Interested? You can get it on the official Hyperice website at hyperice.com.
- Hypervolt Go 2
It’s the mini Hypervolt massage gun. It has enough power to treat the neck and shoulders. It has a 10mm amplitude, which falls within the “sweet spot.”
However, it’s probably the weakest massage gun we’ve ever used. It will not be the perfect choice if you are looking for something versatile to massage the whole body. It stalls very easily. Even the smallest amount of pressure will stall it.
If you like it, buy it from Hyperice here
Now, Which Hypervolt Attachment for Neck and Shoulder?
Hypervolt uses hard material to make attachments for their massage guns. However, there’s an exception with the cushioned heads included with Hypervolt 2 and Hypervolt 2 Pro – they might be best for neck massage.
You also get the standard ball and bullet attachments that you can also use for your shoulders and trigger points, respectively. You will also have the fork attachment to use along the spine.
Are Hypervolts Worth It?
However, for $199 and $329, respectively, they’re a little overpriced. Just to compare, Ekrin 365 and Opove M3 Pro cost almost half the price of these but, in our opinion, are better thought out and well equipped.
We won’t even try to mention Hypervolt Go in the same breath as any of our recommended devices. The Ekrin Bantam and Lyric massager are way better and cost less.
All Hypervolt models come with just a 1-year warranty. That is a bummer considering you can get a lifetime warranty from Ekrin.
How to Choose a Massage Gun for Stiff Neck and Shoulder Knots
The area around the neck and shoulder does not harbor large muscle groups. That would mean that you would have to get a massage gun with high amplitude, enough stall force, and a reasonable percussion range.
However, since the neck and shoulders do not have large muscles (for most people anyway, bodybuilders may disagree), the power in a massage gun isn’t the primary consideration. That, in some way, is good news because a lot of devices can work here.
But massage guns aren’t toys, they are expensive gadgets to own. Our advice is that you should spend that money on something that will cover most bases – a device that can work effectively on most muscle groups (and for all types of bodies).
Massage gun brands approach this differently. Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you look for a massage gun for neck and shoulder pain…
Also referred to as stroke length, it is how far the massage gun head moves back and forth during the percussions. In some cases, it dictates whether you can get a percussive therapy massage or vibrational therapy.
There are two main approaches here:
- High amplitude devices: we found that these devices derive their intensity from their harder punches. With their high stroke length (usually 14-16mm), they hit harder than devices with lower amplitudes, a sensation we could distinctly feel. However, they rev slower than their lower amplitude counterparts, something we noticed during our testing. Theraguns or the Hypervolt 2 Pro are good examples of such devices that we’ve personally tried.
- Low amplitude devices: These get their intensity from the many percussions per minute. They have a medium to low amplitude (usually 10-13mm). We say a device has a low amplitude when its stroke length is 10mm or below (Lyric or Ekrin Bantam). A medium amplitude device has 10-13mm (The larger Ekrin devices, Hypervolt 1 and Hypervolt 2).
How does the amplitude play a part in choosing the right device for your neck and shoulders? Well, in some cases, it doesn’t really matter what kind of amplitude you choose to go with. It all comes down to preference and how you feel during a massage.
The main thing to note here is the kind of massage therapy you are getting. High amplitude devices will give you a percussive massage, while the low amplitude devices will feel more vibrational.
If you’re new to massage guns and would appreciate some guidance, we’d recommend the medium amplitude devices based on our personal experience. We’ve found these devices to be in what we like to call the “sweet spot.” They don’t hit too hard, but they’re not too vibrational either, a balance we’ve appreciated during our trials. From our hands-on testing, we highly recommend Ekrin devices; they struck us as perfectly balanced.
However, if you’re a fan of Theraguns and their high amplitude devices, we’ve tested a more affordable alternative; the Opove M3 Pro. It won’t break the bank, and in our experience, it offers pretty much the same features as the Theragun or Hypervolt 2 Pro.
Stall force means the amount of resistance a device can offer when pushed against the body. This becomes particularly noticeable when you’re seeking a deep tissue massage – a sensation we’ve often experienced with medium amplitude guns.
How much stall force does a device need to have to massage your neck effectively?
We’d say it doesn’t matter per se. You probably won’t need to push the device hard against your neck and shoulder. For most people, the neck and shoulder area does not have a lot of muscle mass.
This implies that even a device with 15-20lbs. of stall force, based on our trials, will be sufficient to do the job. We’ve tested plenty of guns out there that offer at least that much stall force.
But, you will not only be looking for a device that can massage your neck and that’s it. You want something that can work on the rest of your body too – a versatile device.
Another thing, if you are an athlete or a gym rat, you will need a device to use after a workout. That’s when stall force will really matter.
Based on our testing and personal experience, we believe you should opt for a device that can deliver a little more than 15-20lbs. of stall force. To be more specific, we’d recommend a device with at least 30lbs. of stall force, based on our hands-on evaluations.
In our opinion, you don’t need too much stall force either. For instance, you don’t need a Theragun Pro or Achedaway Pro (both 60lbs.) to massage your neck. A device with 30-40lbs. of stall force will be good enough in this case.
The devices we’ve selected for our post, based on our personal experience and testing, have similar stall force. In our opinion, these devices also offer great value for your money, having tested their performance and durability ourselves.
Percussions and Speeds
There are a few points to note for percussions and speeds when you want the best massage gun for neck and shoulder pain.
- In our testing, we’ve found that high amplitude devices typically have a percussion range of 2300-2700RPM. This is a range we’ve personally experienced and measured during our product trials.
- Low and medium amplitude devices have a percussion range of 1800-3200RPM. However, there are a few that can do way more. For instance, Lyric revs up to 4600RPM – it’s very vibrational. When you see a device that revs way above 3400RPM, it often means the manufacturer overstated the number, or the device has a stroke length less than 10mm (in this case, Lyric). Most brands would rather make a device that revs up to 3200RPM or make it a high amplitude gun. Anything else is usually overstated.
- When it comes to speed setup, most devices we’ve tested have 3-6 speeds. Based on our personal experience, we prefer a setup of 4-5 speed gears. We’ve found that we can manage with 7 or 8, but not more. In our testing, we’ve encountered devices with a setup of 20-30 speeds, which, in our opinion, is more than anyone could realistically use.
In our post about using using massage guns for neck and shoulder pain, we explained that it’s best to start with lower speed gears and massage as gently as possible. We’ve found that when massaging a painful area or sensitive skin, there’s no need to crank up the intensity.
And one more important note: some devices we’ve tested, like the Theragun and Lyric, come with pre-programmed modes for massaging different body parts and guided routines to assist you. We’ve found these features to be especially useful during our trials, and we believe they offer significant value that you should take into account.
Other Criteria to Take Into Account
Here are some other aspects you may want to keep in mind when selecting a device for your neck and shoulders.
The neck is too close to your ears, and most people would prefer something that isn’t deafening. Most devices these days don’t have a noise problem. However, we found some of them quieter than others – we gave those priority here.
You will need a device that you can comfortably hold as you massage your upper back and the neck.
Some brands are innovative with their devices. We picked those over those that stay with the traditional T-shape.
We included Lyric for this reason. It has an attachable handle extension that makes it super easy to reach your back.
From our hands-on experience, we think it’s crucial to have a device that you can easily maneuver. We’ve noticed that a lighter device is significantly easier to handle than a heavy one.
We recommend devices that weigh less than 2.5 pounds. In our experience, it’s even better when they don’t exceed 2 pounds.
In our hands-on trials, we’ve found that 4-5 attachments are typically enough to work on the entire body. Ultimately, what you end up using will be based on your personal preference.
However, you will need a soft attachment for the neck and shoulders. Most brands will include a cushioned head.
Theragun has the Supersoft attachment (which you need to buy separately). You can also use the standard ball, the flat, or the bullet attachment for muscle knots in your shoulders.
Battery Capacity and Time On Battery
In our opinion, battery life isn’t much of an issue these days, as most devices we’ve tested can last 1-2 weeks before needing a recharge. We’ve also noted that having a bigger battery only adds to the device’s weight.
We’ve observed that cheaper brands often don’t offer any warranty at all. On the other hand, brands like Ekrin, which massagers we’ve personally tested and love, offer a lifetime warranty for all their devices.
Overall Value For The Money
We encourage you to consider what you’re getting with the device you’re choosing, based on our extensive product testing. We’ve found that some devices cost way too much, even when they don’t offer anything special in our hands-on experience.
Based on the comprehensive information and personal experiences we’ve shared, we believe you’re now equipped to make an informed decision on which is the best massage gun for neck and shoulder pain.
Remember, as we’ve found in our testing, massage guns can be highly effective in dealing with neck and shoulder pain. You don’t necessarily need a super-powerful or even an expensive device to manage the pain in those areas.
We believe you should go for something versatile – you will not only need to massage your neck and shoulders but the rest of your body as well. Ekrin 365 is, in our opinion, the most versatile from the pack, but all our recommendations are unique and appropriate for neck and shoulder massage.
Theraguns and Hypervolts are giants in the industry with excellent devices, as we’ve found in our testing. However, they are also on the pricier side. If you’re seeking value for your money, our recommendations might serve you better.
Feel free to ask us more questions here or just comment below.
And lastly, here are the top 4 questions you’ve asked, and our answers, which summarize the topic and once again highlight the most important takeaways.
Can using a massage gun on the neck be harmful?
No, if used correctly, it can help alleviate muscle tension and pain. Avoid the front of the neck, and focus on the back and sides. Use rather soft attachments and gentle speed settings (especially at the beginning).
Which area of the neck should not be massaged?
Do not massage the front of your neck. Focus on the back and shoulders, particularly the upper trapezius muscles. Be gentle and use light pressure with softer attachment heads.
Which attachment is best for neck massage with a massage gun?
There is no one answer, as the optimal attachment varies by preference. Many prefer softer attachments or fork attachments for difficult spots. Experiment with various attachments to find the best fit for you.
Can a Theragun be safely used on the neck?
Of course it can be safe, if used properly. Apply controlled pressure, gently glide the Theragun over the back of the neck, and consider using soft attachments for a gentler experience.
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Post Update History
Here's a quick rundown of all the tweaks and edits we've made to this article to keep it accurate and up-to-date!
Current version last updated on:
November 18, 2023 Major content update, revisited for enhanced user experience and reading clarity. Added video review of the Ekrin 365 and made several linking corrections. (Author: Greg)
September 18, 2023 Minor editorial changes for some blocks, links and texts for better user experience. (Author: Greg)
July 21, 2023 New introduction added; minor editorial changes in other sections. (Author: Luke)
April 16, 2023 A FAQ section has been added, addressing the use of massage guns on the neck. (Author: Luke)
April 6, 2022 Medically reviewed by Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS.
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