You don’t have to go to a spa or salon to give your feet a relaxing treat. Using either a foot spa or a foot massager, you can comfortably do it at home. It’ll just be as relaxing.
But what’s the difference between a foot spa and a foot massager and which one should you get?
The answer depends on your needs.
Let’s first look at how each works.
A foot spa is a compact home machine that uses water to help relax your feet and reduce pain and soreness.
That’s actually the main difference between a foot spa and a foot massager: the former uses water while a massager doesn’t.
Foot spas work mainly through heated water. In cheaper models, you have to add warm water to the spa. But good foot spas (e.g. Beurer FB50) have a built-in heating mechanism that can either heat water or keep it warm.
But they don’t just rely on warm water. Depending on the price range, a foot spa can come with many other features and functions.
Two of the most common extra features are water jets and bubbles. The jets are designed to target specific parts of your feet while the bubbles soothe your feet and help you relax.
Another common feature is rollers. They can either be electric or manual, where you need to operate them with your feet. They knead your feet, helping increase blood circulation, boost muscle function and reduce swelling.
Some foot spas will also have vibration, magnetic or infrared massage. All these are aimed at warding off fatigue, soreness, pain and swelling in your feet, ankles and legs.
Other features you may find in foot spas include a timer, heat control settings and pedicure attachments.
Foot spas are highly beneficial for people with certain health conditions like arthritis, oedema and diabetes. They are also great if you spend most of your day on your feet.
Pros of Foot spas
- Great for treating pain, fatigue and soreness in your feet.
- Very relaxing; ideal for use after a long day and just before bed.
- Affordable. They are usually cheaper than foot massagers.
- Multiple functions.
- Safe for most people.
Cons of Foot spas
- They don’t provide intensive deep tissue massage. They may not be as effective as foot massagers at pain relief and reducing muscle tension. They are also not very helpful for those with nerve problems.
- They need water to work.
Foot massagers don’t use water. Instead, they use different massage methods to treat pain, fatigue, soreness, inflammation, bunions and swelling in the feet and legs.
Like foot spas, different foot massagers have different features and functions.
The most common are shiatsu foot massagers. They rely on an ancient Chinese reflexology technique known as shiatsu.
Rotating heads under a foot pad apply pressure on specific parts of the feet to reduce pain, ease muscle tension, boost blood circulation and improve general wellbeing. Some massagers have a setting to increase or reduce the massage intensity depending on your needs and level of comfort.
A lot of shiatsu foot massagers also have massage nodes that provide deep kneading. This is like a deep tissue massage.
Other features common in shiatsu massagers are heating and vibration (e.g. Beurer FM60).
Shiatsu foot massagers are great for treating plantar fasciitis, bunions, heel spurs and chronic pain.
Another type of foot massager is the EMS massager or Circulation booster. EMS stands for electrical muscle stimulation.
These massagers send harmless electric pulses into your muscles and nerves. This causes your muscles to contract and relax, as if you were doing a workout. Though the movements are tiny, they are enough to improve muscle strength and help with mobility.
EMS massagers can help reduce pain, improve muscle strength, boost blood circulation and treat nerve problems such as neuropathy.
Most EMS massagers include heat therapy and others have a vibration massage option. Many also come with extra EMS or TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) pads for application on the body.
Pros of Foot massagers
- Great for treating pain, fatigue and foot problems such as swelling and neuropathy.
- Easy to use.
- Multiple functions.
Cons of Foot massagers
- EMS foot massagers are not safe for people with certain health conditions as well as pregnant women.
- Usually more expensive than foot spas.
Which one should you buy?
Buy a foot spa if you simply want to relax your feet and reduce fatigue and soreness.
Buy a foot massager if you want to treat or manage serious foot problems like chronic pain, swelling, neuropathy, inflammation and muscle weakness.