An air compression leg massager is a device that applies pressure to your legs to help encourage blood and lymphatic circulation. They are used to treat all sorts of conditions where a symptom or a cause is fluid buildup or tension in the lower body.
By applying gentle pressure in the form of air pockets the air compression massager gradually relaxes muscles and encourages bloodflow. Different massagers have different intensity settings, allowing you to control the amount of pressure that is working on your blood flow.
By creating a sense of pressure the air compression leg massage device stimulates the release of endorphins, which help relieve pain. A bit like a standard massage, or acupuncture, or acupressure, air compression triggers the nerves in our bodies responsible for the sensation of pleasure, which can overwhelm pain.
By applying pressure to areas with a fluid build up the air compression massage device helps us to eliminate excess water and toxic buildup. It can be very difficult to clear water retention, whether you are pregnant, suffer edema, or are just not very active. An air compression leg massager will not only gently remove fluid build up, but can also help to prevent it.
Unlike an ordinary massage, an air compression massager is a gentle therapy. Manual massage devices, electric massage devices, or massage tools such as foam rollers can all be very intense and even painful for people with a medical condition. An air compression massage device will only squeeze lightly, not causing much if any pain.
Many massages rely on other people, as it can be difficult to relax and massage your own calf simultaneously. With an air compression leg massager you can enjoy all the best benefits of a leg massage without needing help. This can provide some much needed independence for people who would rather not rely on others.
Do I need an air compression leg massager?
Air compression leg massagers are ideal for people with low blood pressure, circulation problems, or mobility issues. If you have low blood pressure, high blood pressure, heart failure, or any other circulation problem, then your body may not be as efficient at removing blood from your calves and feet. Even if you are active, you might find that by the end of the day your calves and feet are swelling. An air compression massage device can help keep the blood flowing naturally.
If you have trouble moving, or are paralyzed, then the usual muscle movements which encourage your blood to flow and prevent fluid build up are not happening. This means that your calves can swell up, making them feel heavy and even painful. This can also affect how nutrients reach your feet, putting you at risk of dry feet, dead tissue, and sores. An air compression leg massage device can do the job of your muscles, keeping fluid build up out of your calves.
If you are pregnant not only will you be finding it harder to move, experiencing lethargy and not enjoying the weight on your feet, but the amount of blood in your body has increased to help feed the growing baby. An air compression massager could alleviate swollen, painful feet during pregnancy.
If you practice a lot of sport you are at increased risk of leg cramps. This is because broken down proteins from your muscles, and salts and other minerals, can build up around your muscles, causing soreness. An air compression leg massage device may help your body to relax and get rid of this build up.
If you work in an office job, even if you are not paralyzed or in any sense disabled, you might find you are moving too little to keep your calves and feet healthy. This is especially true if you are wearing high heels or another shoe that compresses your feet at certain points, or if your posture is poor. Using an air compression massager throughout the day may help you prevent swelling, pain, and numbness in your calves.
If you suffer from cramps or painful varicose veins, then the endorphins released when you use the air compression massager could help you feel more relaxed and comfortable. Any sort of pain in your calves could benefit, but cramps and varicose veins are the most responsive.
Even if you do not have a specific medical condition, you might benefit from air compression. Many of us do not do much walking or exercise, wear inappropriately tight clothes or poorly fitting shoes, and end up suffering pins and needles, swelling, dry and cracked feet, or aches and stiffness. A leg massage can definitely help with all these things.
Are there any people who would find it best to avoid an air compression leg massager?
Even though air compression leg massagers are a very gentle form of therapy, you may find that they are not right for you. There are not many reasons that an air compression leg massage device might be uncomfortable or dangerous, but the most common ones are:
- Arthritis, gout, and other swollen joints. Air compression massages can really help with swelling in most cases, but if your joints are very swollen and tender you might find that even light touch is painful. In some cases you can take an anti-inflammatory medicine and then use a leg or foot massage device when the swelling has reduced.
- Injury and surgery. If you have an open wound, stitches, a torn muscle, or a broken bone, you do not want to use a compression massager. Any massage over an injury can cause further damage, open stitches, or make a wound bleed.
- Osteoporosis and other brittle bone conditions. If your bones are very frail you do not want to use an air compression leg massage device. To avoid injury you need to make sure your massages are performed by hand, by a trained professional. No machine can be substituted in your case.
- Sensitivity. If you just find them very uncomfortable and not at all helpful, air compression massage devices might just not be for you. If you give it a go and find it very uncomfortable, then you might want to look into other massage solutions, such as foam rollers, compression stockings, or vibrating foot rests.
What types of air compression leg massagers are there?
All air compression leg massagers work by creating air pressure which increases and decreases, gently massaging your leg. However besides that, there are some variables.
- Single wrap, calf and foot, multiple wraps, or full leg. There are many different wrap options for a leg massager depending on your needs. Some only cover your calf, some have a multi-purpose wrap, some have many different wraps for different body parts.
- Plug-in or battery powered. Most air massage devices are plug-in only, however some come with a lithium battery which can provide up to two hours of power.
- Two to five chambers. Depending on where you need the pressure and how even you need it to be, you can choose a varying number of chambers. With fewer chambers the pressure is higher but less even. With more chambers there is less pressure but it is more even.
- Use once daily or reset and restart. Some massage devices need to be rested after their automatic 15 minute shut off, whereas there are others that you can turn back on right away.
- Velcro or zip. Velcro is much more adjustable, but may be awkward to put on. A zip can be easier for some people and harder for others, and will not adjust to fit your leg.
- Suitable for larger people or not. Many massage devices do not accommodate calves over 20”, so make sure to check that it will suit you.
- Sensitive skin issues. If you have sensitive skin you will want a massager with a very low pressure setting and a soft lining.
- Foot massaging inserts. Some massage devices with foot wraps include little noduled foot massagers, which you put inside the wrap to help increase circulation in your feet. If you need these, look out for models that include them.
What are the 10 best air compression leg massagers?
Which air compression leg massager is the best really depends on your personal needs! The best one for someone on a smaller income, with a different condition, might not be the best one for you. Here we'll rank the top 10 based on how useful they are for specific situations and conditions.
1: The Best All Round Air Compression Leg Massager.
This massage device focuses on your feet and calves, to improve circulation and relieve cramping and pain. We have chosen it as our best all round air compression leg massager because it does most things quite well, is not too difficult to use or too expensive, and is very comfortable.
Because it wraps in three different places it can be adjusted to fit many different sizes of person. The calf wrap does end at 20 inches and the foot at 17.5, so if you are a larger person it may not fit you comfortably or work as well. The velcro straps are very easy to use, no matter what your age or level of physical ability. It uses 2x2 air bags to massage both feet and calves. This provides even pressure across the lower leg, helping to prevent bruising or swelling anywhere, even in people with very sensitive skin.
With 2 modes and 3 different intensities you can enjoy different massages for different needs. The massage compressions begin at the foot and work their way up, encouraging blood and fluid out of the legs. The pressure is very strong. If you are looking for a light massage, even the lightest option is intense.
This massage device needs to be plugged in to work. However because of how the model works, it is designed for use at home or in the office, meaning power should be to hand. It has an automatic shut off after 15 minutes. This is a great safety feature, but might not be enough time for you if you are busy all day, or if you suffer serious cramps. You can reset it to go on again, but the controller can get a bit warm.
The price is very reasonable. Not the cheapest on the market, but one of the highest quality leg massage devices available that is not massively expensive. Besides, it has a 24 month warranty, so if it really doesn't work for you, or it doesn't last, you can send it back.
2: The Best Budget Air Compression Leg Massager.
As with all things in life, when it comes to buying a good massager you get what you pay for. That said, if you need a massage device but can't afford to pay hundreds, the cheapest one that is any good is this North American Healthcare model.
It comes with a foot and calf section and a thigh section, which are not the biggest. The foot fits 11.5”, the leg fits 15”, and the thigh fits 27”. If you are a bigger person and need a cheap massage device, the thigh compressor could always be used for your calves, but it is not ideal. Because it covers the whole leg, albeit in sections, it can really help with conditions where the aches or swelling are not restricted to your calves and feet.
The gentle pumping action is designed to simulate the movements that happen in our muscles when we exercise. This makes it especially good for people who are not very active, or who, on the contrary, are on their feet all day. If you spend a lot of time sitting or standing, this massage device can help relax your muscles and improve your blood flow.
Even though generally it gets good reviews from users, some people find this product is a bit weak, and others find it to be too strong. This could be down to personal preferences, or down to factory errors. If you think yours isn't working properly feel free to contact customer support about replacing it.
3: The Best Full Leg Air Compression Leg Massager.
Sometimes you need something which will massage your entire leg from foot to thigh. If you have limited mobility in your legs or suffer from cramping or pain all the way up, a calf massager may not completely relieve your symptoms. The PowerPress Air-Sequential is FDA approved for medical use. It is a Gradient compression massager approved for use on people with edema and circulatory problems.
It counts with four chambers which inflate and deflate in sequence to slowly massage from the foot up. The pressure can be adjusted from 20 to 100 mmHg, allowing for a massage of the precise intensity you need. Each chamber inflates and deflates over a 15 second period, allowing one complete round per minute. This massage device can be used for as long as you like, but has a 60 minute timer for a standard session.
The sizing it not made for larger people. The mid calf fits 18”, the knee fits 20”, and the thigh fits 24”. If you are plus sized it will not do. Also, it is very simple to use for people without much strength, but it is not easy to use if you have mobility issues. Wheelchair users may not have a problem as you can put it on a bit like pants, but people with arthritic or otherwise stiff joints may struggle to get into the wraps.
This leg massager is a bit on the pricey side, which may put you off. However the pump has a one year warranty and the wraps have a six month warranty, in case anything were to go wrong. It is very well built and should provide you with several years of medical-quality air compression massages.
4: The Best Professional Air Compression Leg Massager.
If money is no object and you simply want the highest quality product, then this air compression massager will meet your needs easily. It works for every condition which can be treated with an air compression massager, making it a great choice for someone with multiple conditions, or for a household with several users. It also includes foot pads to help stimulate circulation and fight pain in your feet.
The pressure varies from 20 to 240 mmHg, meaning it has a much better range than most other products on the market right now. If you require intense pressure, then this product will deliver. Be warned that it can only be used for up to 30 minutes. The massage device needs to be rested after that, otherwise it could overheat or even do you harm.
There is a range of sizes available, but the largest calf size is 19”. If you want anything bigger, you will need to buy a leg extension for your sleeve, which can increase the width and length slightly. There is also the option of buying other sleeves for massage elsewhere on your body. If you are using it to reduce fluid retention, relax muscles after exercise, or fight pain, you might want to consider a waist sleeve, centerbody sleeve, or arm sleeve. All of them are compatible with the main pump and have a six month warranty.
This product comes with a twelve month warranty on the pump and a six month warranty on the sleeve, providing peace of mind should you find it doesn't work for you, or if it arrives defective or a defect becomes apparent as you use it.
5: The Best Air Compression Leg Massager For Sports Recovery.
Air compression can be a very effective way of fighting cramps and lactic acid buildup when you have been practicing intense sport. Anyone who lifts weights, runs marathons, or who has started exercising after a while out of the gym will understand that uncomfortable feeling. Some people even suffer cramps so severe they wake up at night in pain, or pass out by day.
To fight this, regular air compression massages can be used after workouts and before bed, to help improve circulation, reduce tension, and move lactic acid. The Naipo is particularly good for all this, as its five distinct interior pockets provide even pressure across the calf and foot area. The pressure is not very intense, just enough to get everything going. Ideal if you are feeling sore, tense, and bruised! And the 15 minute automatic shut off lets you know when it has done its job.
This product is lightweight and easy to set up, meaning you can carry it with you to the gym, to work, or to a friend's house. You do not have to skip your post-workout massage ever. However it is not a soft and gentle fabric. Be warned that if you have injuries, sensitive skin prone to tears, or stitches, the wrap may not be comfortable for you.
That said, again it is not suitable for plus sized people. It only accommodates calves up to 18”, at which point it will not fit. And under 15” is is not very effective. This limited range may not be practical for some customers.
The price is very reasonable considering the quality of the product and although warranty information is not disclosed, they have a friendly customer service line to help you with any problems.
6: The Best Air Compression Leg Massager For Chronic Pain And Cramps.
Chronic pain and cramps can be a nightmare, and many of the products described above and below could be too intense or rough for someone who experiences a lot of pain and is very sensitive to pressure. The Soheryii provides very gentle pressure for calves and feet, thighs, and arms. Its inside lining is much softer and more comfortable than many other air compression massagers.
Although it has nine different intensities if you are sensitive it would be best to stick to the lightest two. You can also adjust the inflation and deflation times, so that it suits your own pain levels and cramps best and provides you with faster relief.
Unfortunately it does not accommodate for plus sized users. If your calf is greater than 18” around, it will probably not fit. The thigh wraps can be combined to go from 20” to 40”, but then you will just have the one. Because of the sizing limit and soft pressure it is also not ideal for people with edema. Even if your calf is small enough to fit, it will not massage much fluid out.
Some may find it difficult to assemble, so if you have limited hand strength or arthritic fingers you might need help putting it together. Once it is set up it is very easy to use, even if you are feeling weak or have limited joint mobility.
It is not the cheapest model on the market, but it is very effective for pain and cramps, and is well worth the money if other models have been too uncomfortable.
7: The Best Air Compression Leg Massager For Larger People.
If you are a plus sized person but cannot afford or cannot justify spending hundreds on the Doctor Life V3 Sequential Massager, or if that model was not big enough for you, then this is the choice for you. It is moderately priced, highly effective, and goes up to 25 inches at the calf, which is 6 inches larger than the Doctor Life model! All this makes it more effective for people with severe edema as well, as the amount of pressure and size of the wrap is more than accommodating.
The three separate air bags provide even and consistent pressure, moving the pressure from the foot up towards the knee, helping to keep circulation going and to reduce water retention. After a fifteen minute session it turns off automatically for safety reasons. You can restart it but please bear in mind that the electrical elements will get hot after prolonged use.
Like many similar massage devices, it comes with 3 pressure intensity levels and 2 different pulse modes to help provide relief from a wide range of complaints. So if you are a bigger person who suffers from any complaint, multiple conditions, or who wants to share an air compression leg massager with others who have different complaints, this is a great buy. Just remember that even though it is highly adjustable it will not be as effective on smaller people.
It comes with a 24 month warranty which covers any quality concerns on any part of the massager. This is a pretty good warranty compared to the competition.
8: The Best Air Compression Leg Massager For Fluid Buildup.
If you suffer from edema due to complications from a medical condition, then you know all too well how uncomfortably heavy and painfully swollen your feet can become. This compression massager is the best for dislodging fluid buildup in calves and in arms.
It has two massage modes and three pressure levels, allowing you to gradually build up, starting at lower intensity and increasing it as the fluid leaves your feet. Unlike some models, the three pressure levels on this massage device are very distinct, meaning that you will get the full benefits from each type of pressure.
The pure copper pump ensures a more even pumping motion, which is important for removing fluid build up comfortably and safely. It has an automatic shut off after 15 minutes, but if you want to use it three times in a row, one at each pressure level, it can be reset.
This massager only has one type of wrap, which is widely adjustable and can be used on your foot, calf, or arm. The best way to use it for edema is to start with the foot, then end with the calf, gently guiding fluid out of your leg. Because of how the wrap works you will find it very easy to put on, even if you have mobility problems. After using it for one session a day, every day, for a week, you will find the fluid retention in your calves and feet is much reduced.
This air compression massager is very reasonably priced, has a 60 day money back guarantee and a twelve month warranty. So if it isn't for you, you don't need to worry about returns.
9: The Best Air Compression Leg Massager For All Day Use.
Most of the best air compression leg massagers on the market can only be powered by a plug in an electrical socket. But if you need a massage device that will work all day, anywhere, you need the Amzdeal compression massager. When fully charged its integrated battery means that it will provide up to two hours ofmassage unplugged. This is perfect if you need to use it on public transport, during classes, or at an unknown house. This is also ideal if you never know when you might need it; for example, if you suffer cramps.
It is also a very quiet device. This can be helpful for people who want to be able to use their massage device discretely in public. As there is no wire and very little sound it should attract no attention unless someone can see your calves.
It features three pressure intensities and two separate modes. It provides a pressure build up once every ten to fifteen seconds. After fifteen minutes of continual use it will shut off, and it is advisable to let it cool down for five minutes before resetting it, as the battery can get warm.
The Amzdeal massager only includes one type of wrap, which works for arms and calves, but not for thighs or feet. It is also not suitable for larger people or for people with nerve damage, as it can get very tight and this could be uncomfortable or even painful. If your calf is much over 20”, you have peripheral neuropathy or sciatica, then I would advise choosing a gentler massage device.
It is reasonably priced and includes an eighteen month warranty. So if you find that it doesn't fit properly, it is defective, or it just doesn't help you, it should be pretty simple to return.
10: The Best Air Compression Leg Massager For Varicose Veins.
Varicose veins can be anything from a nuisance to a painful condition. Many of us develop them as we get older and it might feel as though you can do nothing about them once they are there. But a leg massager can help prevent varicose veins, as well as encourage pre-existing ones to shrink and draw into the body, providing relief.
Equipped with four airbags, a super soft lining, and an adjustable cuff length up to 28”, this massage device is very accommodating for people with pain, sensitive skin, or larger calves.
It also features a built in battery which can last up to two hours when fully charged. This is ideal for varicose veins as it means you can put on your massager and sit in bed or a chair with your feet elevated for your massage. This will help you manage your varicose veins much better than if you use it with your feet on the floor.
Featuring the standard three pressure levels and two modes, this massage device can be used at any level of intensity depending on the size of your leg or your own comfort levels. It has a fifteen minute automatic shut off, to allow the massage device and your leg a break. But if you want to you can reset it. It also has a button for quick deflation, in case you feel too uncomfortable or suffer from cramps and spasms.
This massager is reasonably priced, but warranty and returns are not guaranteed. You need to contact the seller about guarantees, returns, or what happens if you receive a defective model.
How do I pick the best air compression leg massager for me?
Sometimes choosing the perfect air compression leg massager is not as simple as scrolling our top ten and picking one out. Maybe you have fluid retention, but also muscle pains. Or maybe you are a larger person who needs a massage device for sports recovery. When it comes to picking the perfect leg massage device, you need to make sure it suits all your needs by the process of elimination.
- Cost. No matter how great it is, if you can't afford it there is no point considering it. Set a realistic price range when shopping.
- Size. Again, it might be the most wonderful massager, and affordable, but always check to make sure that it is the right size for you.
- Purpose. Some massage devices are designed for specific conditions, and some are really unsuitable for other conditions. Choose one that will work for you.
- Time. In the same vein, make sure that it can be used for the amount of time you want to use it for. See if it shuts off automatically, can be reset, etc, before buying.
- Warranty. Before buying always make sure to check the returns policy, guarantees, and warranty. Especially if you aren't sure what you need! You need to be able to return it if it doesn't work as described, or doesn't suit you.
- Comfort. You never know quite how comfortable you will find a massager until you get it. We are all different and your sensitivity, claustrophobia, size, or condition might affect how you experience it. If it doesn't work for you, send it back.
- Effectiveness. You might not notice results right away, but if after 14-30 days you are not experiencing any improvements then this is not the right massage device for you. Send it back and try another one.
Compression leg massagers are generally very, very safe to use. That said, you need to be careful nontheless, as, like anything, when used incorrectly or under some circumstances, a perfectly safe thing can become dangerous.
- Always pick a massage device that will fit you. If it is too tight or does not do up it can hurt you.
- Never inflate a massage device that is already skin-tight. This massage device is too small and could hurt you.
- Never restart a massage device if the instructions say to let it cool between uses.
- Never restart a massage device that is warm around the electrical parts.
- Do not get your massage device wet.
- Do not use a massage device with a heating device such as a tourmaline wrap, or with clothes that may add to the pressure or affect the grip. Good quality footwear matters, but try and use your massage device on bare skin.
- Do not use a massage device over a wound, broken bone, or stitches.
- Do not use a battery powered massage device when driving or operating heavy/dangerous equipment.
- Do not use a massage device if you have a heart murmur, neural damage, or high blood pressure, without first consulting with your doctor.
- Do not use a massage device as a replacement for prescribed medications or treatments.
- Do not put a massage device on anyone unconscious, or anyone under the age of 16.
- Do not leave vulnerable people using a massage device on their own; if you had to help them putting it on, you need to be there until it is finished and removed.
To experience the full benefits of a compression massager, try out the following tips and hints:
- Use it after a bath or shower. When your muscles are a bit relaxed from the heat is when you will get the most benefit from a massage device.
- Use it daily. A lot of the benefits are cumulative, which means that regular use will provide more benefits than intense use once in a while.
- Use it even if your condition is not acting up. Even if you are not in pain, experiencing cramps, or suffering water retention right now, using your massage device can help prevent these problems in the future.
- If your device does not have a foot massage option, consider using it alongside a vibration platform.
- Use it twice a day for the recommended amount of time. Using the product once a day may not be enough for everyone. If you use it in the morning or at lunch, try and use it again before bed.
- Use a pillow to elevate your feet when using it. Elevating your feet can help improve circulation, clear lactic acid and water, and alleviate numbness. You can use a normal pillow or purchase a leg raising pillow.
- Always start with a low pressure and increase it until you are comfortable. Depending on your sensitivity or amount of swelling, the higher settings might be too high. Always start with low pressure.
- Do not use it if you are going to exercise or stand for a long time after. All of your hard work could be undone. Instead, use it when sitting, or before bed.
- Stretch before using it. If you can stretch a little before making use of your massage device then you can get the blood pumping better and start relieving tension, making the massage more effective.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.