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10 Best Heating Pads to Soothe Sore Muscles

Whether you’re dealing with workout-related muscle strains or monthly cramps, these heating pads deliver fast relief.

heating pads
Staff, Courtesy of Sunbeam

Whether you’re attempting to relieve cramped muscles, soothe a sore back, or treat a tender neck, a heating pad is an essential piece of your first aid collection. Most heating pads have a straightforward design that makes them easy to use, and after plugging them in or microwaving them for a few minutes, you’ll have a warm, flexible pad that you can wrap around whatever body part needs attention. This heat therapy promotes circulation and delivers fast pain relief to aching muscles and joints. Heating pads are also useful for simply warming up cold hands or feet on frigid evenings, or even making a comfortable bed for your small pets.

While choosing a heating pad may seem easy enough, you will want to consider size, temperature range, and additional features like hot stones or moist heat. With all of these variables, it can be difficult to figure out which heating pad will best suit your needs. That's why we've gathered some of our favorites to help you choose.

10 Best Heating Pads to Soothe Sore Muscles

    What to Consider

    When choosing a heating pad, first think about what you plan on using it for. If it’s for a specific body part that regularly causes you pain or discomfort, it's best to look for a pad that is designed for that specific area. If a stiff neck is your primary concern, for example, consider the Sunbeam Neck & Shoulder model, a pad that fits snugly around your shoulders and connects at the front to hold it in place. If you just want a basic model that can be used on a variety of body parts and areas, you should be fine with a basic square or rectangular option.

    You should also think about how much control you want over the temperature of the pad. While most basic pads have three heat settings—low, medium, and high—others allege more customization, and allow you to choose between up to 10 temperature settings. For microwaveable versions, you can adjust the temperature of your pad by simply putting it in for longer or shorter periods of time.

    How We Selected

    I've been using heating pads for years for physical therapy on sore muscles. I'm still using a Sunbeam model that was purchased years ago that has been performing without issue ever since, and is the main reason why I featured multiple Sunbeam models on this list. Below, you'll find a variety of heating pad types, from electric ones with customizable temperature settings to microwaveable versions with adorable designs, at a wide range of prices.

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    Best Low-Cost Option
    Intelex Warmies Microwavable French Lavender Scented Plush Turtle
    Now 40% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 12 x 0.5 x 15 inches
    • Weight: 0.15 pounds
    • Heat Range: 110-160 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Timers: None

    Just because you have a limited budget doesn’t mean you can’t experience the relief that comes from a great heating pad.

    This low-cost option delivers most of the features you would find on pricier models, including three heat settings and a machine-washable pad cover. The control also uses an oversized slider to select its heat modes, which would be convenient for those with arthritis or other ailments that affect the joints.

    The main drawback to this pad is its small size, which at 12 by 15 inches is best suited for smaller areas of the body, but likely won't provide full-back relief.

    Best Weighted Pad
    Electric Heating Pad
    Now 16% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 24 x 12 x 0.5 inches
    • Weight: 2.98 pounds
    • Heat Range: Nine heat settings; temperatures unspecified
    • Timers: 0.5 to 9 hours

    This 2.98-pound pad combines the pressure and comfort of a weighted blanket with the warm, soothing effects of a heating pad. Filled with tiny glass beads, the extra weight of this pad also helps keep it in place, unlike lightweight models that have a tendency to slip or slide off easily.

    The controller's backlit LED screen makes it easy to use at night without turning on the lights, and thanks to its removable, machine-washable flannel cover, is just as easy to clean as a non-weighted pad. It also features 11 timer settings and a handy countdown display.

    Best for Period Cramps
    Warmies Microwavable French Lavender Scented Plush Turtle
    Now 22% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 11 x 3.5 x 7 inches
    • Weight: 1.75 pounds
    • Heat Range: N/A
    • Timers: N/A

    Not only will this adorable turtle lift your spirits, but he can also help relax your aching muscles and distract from painful cramping. This heating pad is filled with all natural grain and lavender, which gives it a comfortably toasty feel and a relaxing, spa-like smell. The plush body is comforting and easy to snuggle up with—and it's smaller than most pads, making it travel-friendly.

    Best for Neck and Shoulders
    Heating Pad for Neck & Shoulder Pain Relief
    Now 14% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 8.1 x 4 x 10.7 inches
    • Weight: 2.65 pounds
    • Heat Range: 4 heat settings; temperatures unspecified
    • Timers: 2 hours

    While rectangular pads are great for use all over your body, the unique contoured design of this Sunbeam model makes it a great choice for those who only want to focus on their neck and shoulder area. Its collar is tall enough to cover the back of the neck, and a magnetic clasp on the front holds the pad securely in place.

    The four heat settings are easy to select using the controller, which also features a handy auto-shutoff feature. The extra soft micro mink material makes this pad especially comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

    For Hot Stone Massage Fans
    Far Infrared Natural Jade and Tourmaline Heating Pad
    Now 15% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 15.75 x 23.43 x 0.39 inches
    • Weight: 4.5 pounds
    • Heat Range: 103-159 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Timers: 4 hours

    If you're a hot stone massage devotee (or just like the idea of getting one), you will love this jade and tourmaline heating pad. The addition of these stones both gives the pad some additional weight and acupressure functionality, as well as helping it stay warmer for longer.

    It works great for any part of the body, has a temperature range of 103 to 159 degrees Fahrenheit, and has an auto-shutoff feature that will turn it off after four hours.

    Best Large Pad
    XXXXL King Size Heating Pad
    Now 11% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 11.14 x 9.53 x 2.95 inches
    • Weight: 1.87 pounds
    • Max Heat: 176 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Timers: 120 minutes

    If you’re looking for a reliable pad that’s large enough to cover your legs or back, this model could be a great choice. It comes in four color options and is quite affordable at only $36. It has six heat settings, heats up in a matter of seconds, and automatically shuts off after 120 minutes, which can keep you from overheating if you fall asleep while using it.

    Best for Lower Back Pain
    Upgraded Heating Pad for Back Pain Relief
    Now 19% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 23.6 x 15 x 0.4 inches
    • Weight: 1.37 pounds
    • Heat Range: 9 heat settings; temperatures unspecified
    • Timers: 0.5, 2, 4, 6, 8 hours

    This Comfytemp pad is designed specifically to target your lower back, and an adjustable strap holds it securely in place, whether you’re laying down, sitting up, or sleeping. This strap is suitable for waist sizes from 32 to 51 inches, and the pad itself is covered in a soft, comfortable flannel. When you’re ready to clean it, simply detach the power plug and toss it in the washing machine.

    Best for Full Back Relief
    Large Heating Pad for Back
    Now 26% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 3.27 x 2.36 x 0.02 inches
    • Weight: 2.78 pounds
    • Heat Range: 100-150 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Timers: 30, 60, 90 minutes

    Trying to keep a heating pad in place without having to constantly readjust it can be difficult—and frustrating. Fortunately, this one is wearable, and both hangs over the shoulders and ties around the waist for a secure fit. It is heated throughout the back and shoulders, and while not heated in the neck, it can still keep you warm on chilly nights.

    There are six heat settings and three timer settings that will turn it off after 30, 60, or 90 minutes.

    Best for Kids
    Avocado Microwavable Heating Pad

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 12.36 x 9.57 x 5.87 inches
    • Weight: 1 pound
    • Heat Range: N/A
    • Timers: N/A

    This plush character could be perfect for kids who would benefit from the soothing effects of a heating pad, or even adults who just want something to cuddle. It isn’t powered by electricity—you just microwave it to heat it up—so it won’t hold its warmth as long as the other options on our list, but this does make it much more portable.

    Its round shape also makes it easy to use as a pillow, making it particularly effective for treating neck cramps. This pad can also double as a cooling pad: Just pop it in the freezer for a few hours and you've got icy-cold relief waiting for you.

    Best for Pets
    Pet Heating Pad
    Now 22% off

    Key Specs

    • Dimensions: 18 Runners World 2022 Calendar
    • Weight: 1.26 pounds
    • Heat Range: 80-130 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Timers: 1-12 hours

    Whether you have an old arthritic pet—or just one that likes to be cozy—furry friends of all shapes and sizes will love this heating pad made just for them. It comes in sizes small to extra large, and is padded, waterproof, and has a temperature range of 80 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The cover is also removable and machine-washable for easy cleaning.

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