Ankle massager to ease pain

Ankle massagers can refresh your feet after a long day standing. They can also play an important role in recovery after a sports injury.

We have done the testing and comparison of the most popular models on the market and have even included a few cold therapy and TENS units that help alleviate ankle pain just like a massager would.


Ankle Massagers Reviewed

RENPHO Foot and Ankle Massager

Anyone who's looking for a foot and ankle massager that offers a fully hands-free experience should consider this unit from RENPHO. In addition to its ergonomic design, it features a control panel that can be operated at the touch of a toe.

The RENPHO is a pillow-style massager outfitted with two compartments that fully envelop each foot. The various functions include a rolling stick, a rotation ball, a heating element, and a Shiatsu option for a well-rounded experience. The heat function can be operated independently, so it's possible for users to warm their feet up without engaging in a full massage.

There are 3 kneading massage modes and 3 intensities to choose from, so the sensation can remain fresh every time the machine is in use. A washable cloth is also included in the purchase, making it easy to keep the unit clean.

This massager can accommodate foot sizes up to a men's 12 (using the US sizing scale). The company offers a 12-month guarantee on the purchase, and their customer service department is always happy to address any questions or concerns.

Note that this is a massage and heating unit, not a foot bath. Customers who want a spa-style foot massager will need to expand their search.


Features

  • Timer with Automatic Shut-Off Function
  • 3 Massage Modes
  • 3 Intensity Levels

Pros

  • Hands-free operation
  • Heating function operates independently
  • Impressive customer service department
  • A great option for treating plantar fasciitis

Cons

  • Air compression can't be used without the kneading function
  • Takes a while to heat up

Ankle Cold Compression Therapy Wrap

This device isn't a massager per se, but it's designed to treat many of the same issues that massage therapy would. Because it's a cold compression wrap, it's the ideal choice for injuries or conditions that cause painful swelling.

The material is heat-resistant, so it's able to remain cold for long periods of time even when exposed to body heat. Unlike regular ice packs, which start to "melt" almost immediately, this one can provide long-lasting relief from sprains, swelling, or everyday aches.

This is more than just an ice pack, however. The compression feature allows users to inflate the cuff so that the gel pack can target problem areas with ease. The cuff can be inflated using a user-friendly ball pump, which is included with the purchase.

Users can wear the gel pack on either the right or left foot, and it fits most foot sizes for both men and women. Anyone who's prone to frequent sprains, plantar fasciitis, ligament pulls, or run-of-the-mill foot soreness should appreciate the customized relief that this unit offers.


Features

  • Ball Pump
  • Temperature-Resistant Material
  • Velcro Closure

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Combines compression therapy with a cold pack for hands-free therapy
  • Company is happy to replace missing or damaged parts
  • Stays cold for long periods of time

Cons

  • Doesn't hold the compression for very long
  • Limited utility—only suitable for treating certain conditions
  • Might be too bulky for smaller foot sizes

Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot & Ankle Massager

Like the RENPHO massager, this one allows users to plant their feet directly inside. However, the Cloud Massage Shiatsu Foot & Ankle Massager features an open design, so it can be used on the calves as well as the feet and ankles. It also comes with a convenient adjustable base that can double as a carry handle when the unit isn't in use.

The massager utilizes the Shiatsu technique to soothe aching muscles at the end of the day—or whenever massage therapy is in order. Users can choose from 3 intensity levels, but Cloud Massage recommends starting out with the lowest setting and moving upward from there if necessary.

Once the massager is in position, it can be set to deliver a rolling massage, compression, heat therapy, or a swaying motion. There's also a "quiet mode," which offers the most calming and unobtrusive experience of all.

Because the Cloud Massage unit can be positioned to work on the calves and feet as well as the ankles, this is one of the most versatile units on our list. Whether the goal is to increase blood circulation, promote muscle recovery, offer pain relief, or to reduce inflammation, this massager should get the job done.

Note that the customer service department takes a hands-on approach, often contacting customers personally to ask about their experience. If the product arrives with any defects or shipping issues, they're usually quick to offer a replacement.


Features

  • Adjustable base
  • 5 Comfort Settings (including quiet mode)
  • 3 Intensity Levels

Pros

  • Powerful without being painful
  • Effective heat function
  • Can be used on calves as well as ankles
  • Adjustable base makes it easy to carry
  • Friendly and responsive customer service department

Cons

  • High price point
  • Doesn't work as well on the tops and sides of the feet

Best Choice Therapeutic Ankle Massager

The Best Choice Therapeutic Ankle Massager has an interesting design that combines strong pressure with an open-air concept. It resembles the massage chairs found in airports and shopping malls—but for the feet and ankles only.

The unit allows users to choose between automatic, custom, and manual massage modes, so the experience can be hands-free or hands-on as desired. An LCD screen makes it easy to see which mode is currently in use, and the remote control is both compact and user-friendly.

While some of the ankle massagers on our list target those joints specifically, this one offers a complete foot massage. The toes, arches, and soles receive just as much attention as the upper foot region. Available massage techniques include pulsing, kneading, and rolling.

This device offers a built-in handle and a low-profile structure that makes it as portable as it is useful. It's small enough to be stored in the lower portion of a closet, and the gently rounded surfaces are easy to clean. Best of all, the massager is set at a reasonable price point, considering all that it offers.


Features

  • LCD Screen
  • Automatic, Custom, and Manual Modes
  • 3 Massage Functions

Pros

  • Clever, comfortable design
  • Easy to store and transport
  • Includes a removable, washable sleeve
  • User-friendly remote control
  • Delivers strong pressure to the sole and arch regions

Cons

  • Some "dud" models have been reported
  • Pressure may be too strong for some users

Naipo Foot, Calf & Ankle Massager

This massager from Naipo resembles a pair of high boots, held together as a single entity. Users who want a solid calf massage in addition to ankle support might want to give this one a closer look.

The Naipo is operated by 2 touch-control panels, one of which can be operated only when the unit is in its "folded" position. In this case, only the foot portion is activated. The second panel is reserved for when the massager is unfolded, which results in a full-on calf and foot massage.

Both functions offer both kneading and rolling massage therapy, with air compression delivered to the targeted areas.

Three intensity levels make it easier to find the correct level of pressure. Vibration therapy is also available in the heel region. There's a heating function as well, which comes in handy on long winter nights.

The color-coded intensity scale is one of our favorite aspects of the Naipo massager. Blue offers the least amount of pressure, while purple represents the next level up. People who want the most intense massage available should choose the pink option. If no preference is selected, the unit defaults to the purple, or "medium" setting.

Naipo allows consumers to return the massager within 30 days of the original purchase, no questions asked. The company also offers a 2-year guarantee with this product. If the product stops working at any point within this window, they'll repair or replace the defective parts.


Features

  • Color-Coded Intensity Scale
  • 2 Touch-Control Panels
  • Automatic Shut-Off Function

Pros

  • Versatile unit, can be used on feet only or the entire lower leg
  • Effective heat function
  • Color coding makes it easy to choose the correct intensity
  • Responsive customer service department
  • Offers relief from neuropathy

Cons

  • On the pricey side
  • Not the best option for people with overly sensitive feet and calves

Electric Ankle Massager

This is a wearable massage device that has more in common with the Ankle Cold Compression Therapy Wrap than with most of the other units listed here. It consists of an X-shaped band that can be wrapped around the foot like a bandage. Though it targets the soles and arches as well as the ankles, it's not the best choice for anyone who's looking for a comprehensive foot and ankle massage.

Because the device is very flexible, it can be transported and worn just about anywhere. It can fit easily into a gym bag or briefcase, which is a huge plus. This design also makes the massager suitable for all foot sizes. Users should take care not to wrap the device too tightly, however, or it might restrict blood circulation.

The Electric Ankle Massager can be worn standing up, so it might be a good option for anyone who's on their feet all day.

Even sedentary users can appreciate the wire-free operation and low-profile nature of the device. The control panel also offers a choice between "pulse" or "steady" pressure, which helps to keep things interesting.

We have a couple of problems with this massager. First of all, the control panel is located on the upper ankle, which can make it awkward to adjust the settings while wearing the device. Second, the material doesn't offer the most comfortable fit. It also leaves the toes free. While this might be appealing to anyone who's prone to claustrophobia, it makes the experience far less immersive.


Features

  • Breathable Mesh Fabric
  • 2 Massage Modes
  • Heating Function

Pros

  • Reasonably priced
  • Helps reduce swelling
  • Battery holds its charge for long periods of time
  • Effective at treating arthritis pain

Cons

  • Can be awkward to operate
  • Fabric is uncomfortable against bare skin
  • Unit is often shipped with parts missing

EMS Foot Massager & TENS Stimulator

This saucer-shaped unit has a space-age appearance that's sure to make it a conversation piece from the very beginning. The EMS Foot Massager & TENS Stimulator offers a more intense and comprehensive massage than most, despite its open-concept design. Anyone who prefers to keep their feet uncovered during their massage treatment should appreciate what this one has to offer.

When we switched on this device, the first thing we noticed was how quiet it is. Because there's no vibration or kneading, it delivers its therapy in near-silence. In fact, if it weren't for the unmistakable pulsing sensations, we would have wondered whether it was functioning properly.

As the name suggests, the massager uses Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to provide therapy and relaxation to stiff muscles and joints. It combines 25 pulse modes to boost circulation and soothe tired, aching feet. Even less tech-savvy users will be able to feel the quality as soon as this unit is switched on.

The massager actually comes with two treatment systems. The foot stimulator promotes relaxation in that specific region, while the full-body stimulator is equipped with electrode gel pads that can deliver relief to the entire body, including the back and shoulders.

It's important to restrict sessions to 30-minute intervals, but the device is safe to use daily. Note that while it's also safe for people who are taking medications, it shouldn't be used by anyone who is pregnant or suffering from deep vein thrombosis. We would recommend checking with a doctor before using the EMS Foot Massager & TENS Stimulator.

Lastly, note that while the company offers a standard 1-year warranty, they're often willing to back up this guarantee for an additional 2 years. Check with the retailer to find out where the current offer stands.


Features

  • 25 Massage Settings
  • 99 Intensity Levels
  • 4 Electrode Gel Pads

Pros

  • Eye-catching design
  • Includes electrode gel pads for use on other parts of the body
  • Effective at treating RLS and leg cramps
  • 99 intensity levels make it easy to calibrate the experience

Cons

  • Doesn't enclose the whole foot, which may be off-putting for some users
  • Not suitable for pregnant women
  • Somewhat complicated to set up

Painful Conditions Ankle Massagers May Help 

Why buy an ankle massager in the first place? Here are a few of the ailments that can be alleviated by the frequent use of a massage therapy device:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Arthritis
  • Neuropathy
  • Sprains
  • Heel pain
  • Bunions
  • Achilles tendonitis

What Features to Look for in an Ankle Massager? 

Style

There are two basic types of ankle massager: The kind that you have to operate manually, or the kind that lets you sit back and relax while it does all the work. While both have their strong points, we think the electronic ones offer more variety.

Even within this framework, ankle massagers come in various shapes and sizes. If you want a comprehensive massage, choose one that envelops your entire foot. If that leaves you feeling claustrophobic, then it's best to select one that offers a more concentrated approach to massage therapy.

Modes

The best ankle massagers will offer a choice between kneading, pulsing, tapping, or a combination of all these and more. If the device has a Shiatsu option, it means that the massage nodes attempt to simulate the kneading motion of real human hands.

Intensity Levels

A woman is using ankle massager

It's best if the ankle massager allows you to select an intensity level that fits within your comfort zone. The more levels there are available, the easier it will be to customize the massage.

Heat Function

This feature helps to soothe tired, aching muscles, but it has redemptive powers as well. Studies have shown that heat therapy can also increase blood flow, which promotes healing and improves overall health.

Hydrotherapy

If the product comes billed as a "foot spa," it includes a hydrotherapy function that envelops the feet and ankles in water. When the device is turned on, it vibrates to create a whirlpool effect, which provides a gentle form of massage therapy.


FAQ 

Are foot massagers safe to use? 

For the most part, ankle and foot massagers are perfectly safe. However, individuals with sensitive skin should be careful not to use these devices for longer than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Diabetics, pregnant women, or anyone suffering from any type of nerve condition should consult with their doctor before beginning any form of massage therapy.

Does vibration help ankle pain? 

Because vibration boosts blood flow and improves flexibility, it may ease certain kinds of ankle pain. However, it depends on the root cause of the discomfort. If you suspect that your ankle pain is due to a stress fracture, for example, a vibrating massage could do more harm than good.

How often should you use an ankle massager? 

Manually operated massagers can be used multiple times a day as long as there's no discomfort. If the massager operates electronically, it's best not to use it more than three times a day. Remember that sessions should never exceed 30 minutes in length. If the unit has an automatic shut-off feature, use it to make sure the sessions aren't running too long.

Grant Moore
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