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- Whether you’re looking for pain relief, relaxation, or a bit of both, you need the best heating pad for the job.
- The Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad heats up fast, has several features, and affordably priced.
Many people turn to heating pads for fast relief from aches and pains. Maybe you’re a bit sore after a long day at work or a tough session at the gym, or you simply need a reprieve from those persistent aches and pains. Heating pads are generally safe, affordable, and effective, and can provide relief within minutes. The best heating pads tend to have user-friendly controls, comfortable materials, and a wide range of temperature settings. However, several other factors can help you decide which heating pad is right for you.
A common concern is that you’ll fall asleep with the heating pad on, increasing your risk of burns or skin irritation. To combat this issue, most heating pads today automatically shut off. Many models on this list have a limit of 2 hours, although you can override this feature in at least one of the heating pads listed below. Most heating pads also have a variety of temperature settings. Generally speaking, you’ll find a wider range of temperatures (and settings) on pricier heating pads.
If you’re concerned about pain relief, you’ll want to look at heating pads that provide moist and dry heat therapy. According to PT Health, one of the main advantages of moist heat therapy is that the heat penetrates skin faster and easier, delivering fast relief right to the muscles. In fact, studies have shown that pain is reduced faster when using moist heat versus dry heat. In contrast, dry heat can provide a more consistent temperature for a longer stretch of time. Many heating pads come with a foam insert that can be moistened for fast and effective moist heat therapy.
Some heating pads qualify as eligible flex spending account (FSA) expenses, so if you have funds to use up, a heating pad is an option to consider.
Here are the best heating pads you can buy in 2019:
- Best heating pad overall: Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad
- Best value heating pad: Mighty Bliss Large Electric Heating Pad
- Best budget heating pad: Up & Up Heating Pad
- Best heating pad for neck and shoulders: Pure Enrichment PureRelief Neck and Shoulder Heating Pad
- Best heating pad for pain relief: UTK Far Infrared Natural Jade Heating Pad
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best heating pad overall
Why you’ll love it: The Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad heats up in just 30 seconds and comes with many user-friendly features for the price.
When you’re in pain or want to soothe aches right away, you don’t want to wait around for your heating pad to warm up. The Sunbeam XpressHeat Heating Pad heats up in just 30 seconds for fast relief from aches and pains. You can even watch the process on the heat meter, which grows brighter as the heat increases; this heating pad has 180 watts of power. You can also customize the heating pad to suit your individual needs with six personalized heat settings.
While this heating pad is a fine choice for relief from general aches and pains, it’s specifically recommended for using on sore and achy joints and muscles. Many owners agree that one of the nicest features of this heating pad is that it comes with an auto shut-off function after two hours. However, you can choose to disable the feature to keep the heating pad running for a longer stretch of time.
Size is another important factor, especially if you plan to use the heating pad for a specific purpose, such as soothing a sore and achy back or shoulders. Smaller heating pads may not have enough coverage for the spine or across the shoulders. You’ll find this heating pad in small, standard, and extra-large. Many users purchase the extra-large size, which measures 12 by 24 inches — large enough for full coverage along the back and across the shoulders. For comparison, the standard size is 12 by 15 inches and the small size measures 12 by 11 inches.
Its user-friendly features and easy care instructions are other perks of this Sunbeam heating pad. An LED controller makes it simple to set and maintain temperatures, and to keep track of the current temperature and time settings. You can also use the controller to switch between the various heat settings and to turn off the heating pad. The auto-off feature can be selected with the touch of a button.
When you need to clean the heating pad, just remove the fabric pad and stick it in the washing machine. You can use the heating pad for dry or moist heat therapy. If you choose moist heat, "just spritz the cover with water and there is a nice warm moist heating effect to get deeper into those sore tissues and spasms," explained a retired physical therapist.
Pros: Comes in several sizes, useful for dry or moist heat, auto shut-off feature
Cons: Some units have failed prematurely, cord can get in the way, highest heat settings could be stronger
The best value heating pad
Why you’ll love it: The Mighty Bliss Large Electric Heating Pad is a great value given its multiple heat settings, plush cover, and speedy relief from pain and sore muscles.
The Mighty Bliss Large Electric Heating Pad is just a few dollars less than our top pick, the Sunbeam XpressHeat heating pad. However, if you’re looking for overall value, the heating pad has a lot to offer for the price (the Sunbeam, however, heats up faster). For starters, it’s 12 by 24 inches, making it large enough to cover the spine and shoulders. The pad is specifically designed to relieve painful muscles and cramps. You can also use it to relieve pain after surgery. A lifetime replacement policy gives many users extra peace of mind.
The heating pad is designed to automatically shut off after two hours of use. However, one electrical engineer examined the heating pad more closely to determine just how safe it actually is. For starters, the engineer explained, the heating pad is "designed to shut down as soon as it detects too much electricity/ heat trapped or concentrated in one area (for example, when putting too much weight or pressure directly on it.) This might make the product appear defective but in reality, this would prevent a fire, unlike most heating pads which aren’t designed to detect this kind of issue!"
Another perk is that the pad has ETL certification, which essentially means "a universally recognized Electronic Testing company called Intertek put this pad through HELL …. and it held up perfectly!"
This heating pad can be used for dry and moist heat therapy. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, exercise-induced delayed onset muscle soreness responds more readily to moist heat, which penetrates deep tissue at a faster rate than dry heat. Several users also appreciate the plush covering. The soft layer is "absolutely wonderful, especially welcome when one has hurt a body part," one user commented. "You can wrap this around a shoulder, arm, foot, etc., and feel so pampered."
Pros: Auto shut-off, multiple heat settings, lifetime replacement policy
Cons: Only comes in one size, can’t override auto shut-off, easy to accidentally press the control button and change settings
The best budget heating pad
Why you’ll love it: If you’re looking for an affordable heating pad that covers all the basics, consider the Up & Up Heating Pad.
All the basics are covered with this heating pad. For starters, its measurements of 12 by 15 inches ensure the pad is large enough for use on the neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. The pad is especially suited for relieving everyday aches and pains, including those from arthritis. You won’t have to worry about accidentally leaving the heating pad on at night as it automatically shuts off after two hours.
One user commented that the heating pad is soft and flexible, making it "easy and comfortable to wrap around and shape to my shoulder, neck, and back."
This heating pad has 50 watts of power, which is about what you would expect given its affordable price tag. There are three distinct intensity settings, but a perk is its unique Ultra Heat technology, which keeps the heat even and consistent.
You can use the heating pad for dry and moist heat therapy. However, one user cautioned that the inner lining can actually reduce the heat output. "If you don’t want to use the ‘moist-heat’ option, then you need to make sure to take out the foam insert, otherwise it just acts as an insulator and then the pad doesn’t feel as warm," the user said. Many users agreed, saying the heating pad doesn’t produce enough heat unless the inner pad is removed.
Pros: Useful for moist and dry heat therapy, auto shut-off, three intensity settings
Cons: Inner pad should be removed for more heat, material is a bit stiff, not as powerful as some other heating pads
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