The 12 Best Heating Pads of 2021

Relieve sore muscles and aches without medication

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Our Top Picks
Wrap it around your shoulders, your arms, your knees, and anywhere else that needs a little love.
Big enough to use on most parts of your body including larger, harder-to-reach spots, like your back.
Wraps around your back and fastens in the front, giving you a heating pad experience that’s both comfortable and convenient.
With two heating modes, three massage modes, and two vibration modes, you can use it to alleviate your cramps in multiple ways.
Best for Neck and Shoulders:
AlierGo Heating Pad at Amazon
The heating pad is designed to wrap around your shoulders like a shawl and it comes with a high collar.
The rectangular heating pad is made up of two thick pieces of flannel to form a pocket you can slide your feet into.
Water-resistant and machine-washable, you shouldn’t have to worry about sweat, spills, or wear and tear ruining your investment.
Similar to a wraparound knee brace, it comes with two massage motors you can activate to warm or massage your legs.
Boasts wraparound designs, so you can flexibly wrap it around your wrists, ankles, arms, or legs.
HotHands’ heating pads are small, disposable heating pads designed to warm your hands, toes, and body.

If you're dealing with muscle stiffness, soreness, or cramps, a heating pad may be able to help. Designed to heat up when activated, they can take the form of small pillows, large blankets, wearable wraps, and more. By placing a heating pad on your body, you can warm your muscles which may provide relief from pain and soreness.

“Stiff muscles, overworked muscles, and fatigued muscles typically benefit from local heat application,” says Dr. Rahul Shah, M.D., board-certified orthopedic spine and neck surgeon. “If one has any discomfort in the back, local heat can be a reasonable choice for initial management of discomfort, tightness, pain, soreness, pins and needles, and more.” 

Dr. Natasha Trentacosta, M.D., sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, explains that when muscles spasm and tighten, blood vessels close. "Heat—whether from heating pad, a hot shower, or hot springs—dilates the blood vessels in the area being warmed," she says. She also adds that with increased blood flow, oxygen and nutrients move into the heated area, effectively stretching and loosening tight muscles. “Think about heating up mozzarella sticks in the oven. They are much more pliable when warmed up.”

Available in many shapes, sizes, and styles, it can be difficult to find the right heating pads. Consider where you want to apply the pad and look for an option that's the right size and shape. Dr. Trentacosta explains that safety should also be a consideration, saying to look for safety-friendly features like automatic shutoff and a range of heat settings. Lastly, she recommends placing a cover or layer of fabric between the heating pad and your skin to help prevent burns.

Here are the best heating pads on the market.

Best Overall: Mighty Bliss Electric Heating Pad

Mighty Bliss Heating Pad
Pros
  • Large surface area

  • Flexible design

  • Machine-washable

  • Heats up fast

Cons
  • May bunch inside cover

  • Some quality control issues

At 12 x 24 inches, Mighty Bliss’s Large Electric Heating Pad is big enough to comfortably heat larger parts of your body like your back or legs. However, it's not so big that it poses issues in terms of storage or use. Additionally, it's made with plush microfiber making it soft, cozy, and machine-washable for easy care.

Like many heating pads, Mighty Bliss’s Large Electric Heating Pad features three quick-warming heat settings—low, medium, and high. It also boasts an automatic shutoff timer, which will power down the heating pad after a couple of hours of use.

Heat Settings: Three | Auto-Shutoff: After two hours | Cordless: No

Best Budget: Sunbeam Heating Pad

Sunbeam Heating Pad
Pros
  • Soft polyester cover

  • Machine-washable cover

  • Long cord for ample movement

Cons
  • May bunch inside cover

  • May lack durability

If you're looking for a good deal, Sunbeam's Heating Pad is a good choice that doesn't sacrifice quality for affordability. Highly rated and easy to use, the pad, which is 12 x 24 inches, can heat muscles on larger parts of your body with ease. Thanks to a soft polyester cover, it's also crafted with comfort in mind.

In addition to the polyester cover, Sunbeam's product features a vinyl pad that is ultra-simple to clean. Simply remove the machine-washable cover and throw it in your laundry when your heating pad needs a refresh. It also comes with a small remote that you can use to toggle between three heat settings.

Best for Back: SUNBEAM Heating Pad Back Wrap

Pros
  • Convenient, wearable design

  • Easy to secure in place

  • Long cord for ample movement

  • Machine-washable

Cons
  • One-size-fits-all

  • May not get very hot

It isn't always easy to use a heating pad on your back, but Sunbeam's Heating Pad Back Wrap makes it possible. With a design that wraps around your body and fastens in the front, it gives you a convenient heating pad experience that allows you to move around when wearing it. 

The wearable pad is crafted from a plush, soft, and cozy polyester fabric called micro-mink. And since it comes equipped with an adjustable waist strap, you can customize its fit until it’s exactly as snug as you want it to be. Connected to a small remote, you can toggle between four heat settings. You can also remove the connected cord at any time to wash the pad.

Heat Settings: Four | Auto-Shutoff: After two hours | Cordless: No

Best for Cramps: Comfier Heating Pad Wrap Belt

Pros
  • Convenient, wearable design

  • Plush, soft velvet

  • Multiple, heating, massage, and vibration modes

Cons
  • One-size-fits-all

  • Some quality control issues

If you don’t feel like holding a bulky heating pad over your abdomen, Comfier's Heading Pad Wrap Belt can help. With a design that wraps around your abdomen like a belt, it gives you the freedom to flexibly move around while enjoying some much-needed heat therapy.

It's crafted with velvet to ensure softness, and it boasts two heating modes, three massage modes, and two vibration modes—taking alleviation to a new level. Even better: According to Comfier, it can easily wrap around your waist, your back, or your thighs.

Heat Settings: Two | Auto-Shutoff: After 30 minutes | Cordless: No

Best for Neck and Shoulders: AlierGo Heating Pad

Pros
  • Convenient, wearable design

  • Crafted from cozy fleece

  • Machine-washable

Cons
  • Heavy

  • May not get very hot

If you're looking to give your neck and shoulders some love, AlierGo's Heating Pad is a good choice. Designed with a shawl-like construction, it wraps around your shoulders and features a high collar that will reach your neck.

The heating pad is crafted from plush flannel, and it boasts three heat settings that allow for individualized heat therapy. Like many other pads, this one comes attached to a cord—meaning you can't venture far away from it. However, the cord is removable and the outside of the pad can be taken off and thrown in the washing machine when it needs a refresh.

Heat Settings: Three | Auto-Shutoff: After two hours | Cordless: No

Best for Feet: Gintao Electric Heated Foot Pad

Pros
  • Doubles as a foot warmer and classic heating pad

  • Large surface area

  • Machine-washable

Cons
  • Potential remote issues

  • May not get very hot

Gintao’s Electric Heated Foot Warmer looks a little like a pillowcase, but it’s actually a heating pad designed to warm your feet. The rectangular pad is made with two thick pieces of flannel, which separate to form a pocket you can slide your feet into. The material also ensures comfort.

This heating pad can also serve as a classic heating pad. Since the pocket lies flat when your feet aren't inside, you can drape it over your body as well. The pad comes equipped with three heat settings, a two-hour automatic shutoff timer, and it's also machine washable.

Heat Settings: Three | Auto-Shutoff: After two hours | Cordless: No

Best Full-Body: Sunbeam Water-Resistant Heated Mattress Pad

Waterproof Heated Mattress Pad - Sunbeam®
Pros
  • Heating and mattress pad in one

  • Ten heat settings

  • Comes with a preheat option

  • Water-resistant

Cons
  • Cord is short

  • May make buzzing sound

When an extra-large heating pad still isn't big enough, you'll want to reach for Sunbeam's Heated Mattress Pad. A heating pad and mattress pad in one, the cotton composition is water-resistant and machine-washable—meaning you won't have to worry about sweat, spills, or wear and tear.

Similar to other heating pad options, you can use a remote to toggle between heat settings. With that said, this option boasts ten heat settings instead of just two or three—allowing for a more personalized muscle-soothing session. And while it has an automatic shutoff function, the heated mattress pad doesn't kick in until it's been on for ten hours, so it's advisable to take more caution when using it.

Heat Settings: Ten | Auto-Shutoff: After ten hours (adjustable) | Cordless: No

Best for Knees: Comfier Heated Knee Brace

Pros
  • Wraparound design

  • Easy to secure in place

  • Multiple heating and vibration modes

Cons
  • Bulky

  • Some quality control issues

  • May not last very long

Knees are tough to treat with a classic rectangular heating pad. Luckily, Comfier's Heated Knee Brace is designed to wrap around the entire knee for 360-degree warmth. The pad looks like a traditional knee brace, but it comes with two massage motors, five vibration modes, and two heat settings.

It's crafted with velvety-soft material for ultimate comfort and thanks to multiple adjustable straps, you can get a snug, comfortable fit every time. Worth noting: Comfier sells its knee braces in connected pairs. So when you buy one Heated Knee Brace, you’ll actually receive a set of two which come connected by a thin cord.

Heat Settings: Two | Auto-Shutoff: After 30 minutes | Cordless: No

Best for Arms and Legs: Sunbeam Flexfit Heating Pad Wrap

Pros
  • Wearable design

  • Long cord for ample movement

  • Plush polyester material

Cons
  • Small and narrow

  • Cord is heavy and bulky

It can be tough to keep a heating pad on your arms or legs unless you're willing to sit perfectly still. Sunbeam's Flexfit Heating Pad Wrap allows you to move around when using it thanks to a wraparound design that can be used on your wrists, ankles, arms, or legs.

The heating pad comes attached to a small remote, which you can use to toggle between three heat settings. Choose whether you want low, medium, or high heat, and relax as the heating pad goes to work. You can turn it off any time you like, or you can set it on a timer that will automatically shut off after a couple of hours of warmth.

Heat Settings: Three | Auto-Shutoff: After two hours | Cordless: No

Most Portable: HotHands Variety Pack

Pros
  • Disposable

  • Completely cordless

  • Long-lasting

  • Portable

Cons
  • Very small

  • Not reusable

Heating pads aren't always portable, due to a connected cord. And while microwavable heating pads are cordless, they don't stay warm for long periods of time. If you need a travel-friendly heating pad to take on the go, you can use HotHands' Variety Pack.

These mini heating pads are small, disposable pads designed to warm your hands, toes, and body. With five pairs of hand warmers, five pairs of body warmers, and three pairs of toe warmers, the HotHands Variety Pack is crafted to provide warmth for up to ten hours at a time. Since they're air-activated, all you have to do is open the packs, shake them, and within 15 to 30 minutes, they'll reach peak warmness. And if the heat begins to dissipate, give it another shake to warm it back up.

Heat Settings: One | Auto-Shutoff: None | Cordless: Yes

Best Infrared: UTK Far Infrared Natural Jade Heating Pad

Pros
  • Infrared ray heat

  • 56 temperature settings

  • 1-degree heat increments

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Some quality control issues

If you're looking for an infrared heating pad instead of an electric option, UTK's Far Infrared Heating Pad should be a good pick. It's similar to an electric heating pad in that it plugs into a wall and uses electricity to warm up, but unlike electric types, it will only give off infrared rays.

This eight-layer pad is topped with jade and tourmaline stones to add weight to the pad, and it features quality PU material that's wear-resistant and easy to clean. Attached to a corded remote control, you can adjust the temperature up and down from 103 to 159 degrees—a range that is more expansive than most electric heating pads.

Heat Settings: 56 | Auto-Shutoff: After four hours | Cordless: No

Best Microwaveable: Carex Bed Buddy Heat Pad

Pros
  • Microwave- and freezer-friendly

  • Completely cordless

  • Portable (only 1 pound)

Cons
  • Small

  • May not be as easy to fasten

  • Will burn if overcooked

If you have your sights set on a cordless heating pad, you might be best off with a microwaveable one like Carex’s Bed Buddy Heat Pad. Crafted from a durable woven material, it’s filled with grains, herbs, and flowers. To heat the pad, simply pop it in your microwave for 30 to 90 seconds and take it out for incredibly warm and cozy heat therapy. You can also pop the pad in your freezer for a little cold therapy as well.

Since the heating pad gets its heat from the microwave (rather than from an electric outlet), it’s completely cordless, meaning you can move around freely while using it. At 1 x 4.25 x 23 inches, it's smaller than others, but since it has to be warmed in a microwave, the compact size is necessary. Luckily, this also makes it great for on-the-go heat.

Heat Settings: Two (cold or hot) | Auto-Shutoff: None | Cordless: Yes

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a versatile heating pad, Mighty Bliss’s Large Electric Heating Pad (view at Amazon) is bound to deliver. At 12 x 24 inches, the heating pad is big enough to accommodate many different parts of your body comfortably. The heating pad also boasts three different heat settings, giving you control over the temperature without overwhelming you with options. The automatic shutoff element is an optimal safety feature and it turns off after a couple of hours.

What to Look For in a Heating Pad

Size and Style

Heating pads come in a range of styles, shapes, and sizes. So when shopping, you’ll want to consider how you plan to use your heating pad. Do you want to use it on a larger body part, like your back or abdomen? Then look for a heating pad that’s large enough to cover that area. Do you want to use it on a smaller, more flexible body part, like your knee, wrist, or elbow? Then you may want a smaller wearable option, like a wrap or brace.


Heat Settings

If you want to be able to control how hot your heating pad is, look for an option that offers a range of heat settings. Some heating pads offer only one heat setting, and others offer as many as 50. Dr. Trentacosta recommends starting at the lowest setting and adjusting the heat up as needed.


Automatic Shutoff

According to Dr. Trentacosta, heating pads can cause burns when left on for too long. That’s why she recommends finding a heating pad with an automatic shutoff feature or a preset timer feature. Heating pads with an automatic shutoff feature automatically turn off after a certain period of time (typically, after a few hours). On the other hand, heating pads with a preset timer feature allow you to control how long they stay warm before automatically shutting off.


Corded vs. Cordless

Most electric heating pads come attached to a cord, which you have to plug into the wall to turn the heating pad on. Naturally, this limits how mobile you can be while using your heating pad. If you want a heating pad that’s fully portable, consider finding one with a cordless design. If corded is your only option, keep an eye out for a heating pad with a long cord that will allow you to move around comfortably.

Mechanism of Action

There are a few different ways that heating pads get hot. Some warm using electricity, others warm using a chemical reaction, and others are microwave-friendly. Each of these options comes with its own pros and cons. Electric options are rarely transport-friendly, and chemical-reaction-triggered heating pads tend to be pretty small. So weigh the upsides against the downsides, and opt for the mechanism of action that best suits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use a heating pad while pregnant?

    According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you can safely use a heating pad while pregnant. However, there are some steps you should take to prevent burns and minimize your risk of harm. “Heating pads should be set at the lowest possible temperature setting,” ACOG says. “Wrap your heating pad or warm water bottle in a towel to help prevent burns.” The organization also recommends limiting the amount of time you use a heating pad (or other forms of heat therapy).

  • How to make a homemade heating pad

    If you’re in need of a heating pad and don’t currently have one on hand, you may be able to DIY a heating pad using items in your house. Try filling a tube sock with rice (avoid instant rice). Then, tie the tube sock shut and place it in your microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful removing the sock from the microwave, as it may be incredibly hot. But once you can comfortably touch it, wrap it in a towel (or some other piece of cloth), and use it as a heating pad.

  • Do heating pads help with cramps?

    As Dr. Trentacosta explained earlier, when your muscles get sore, your blood vessels may constrict—and the same thing happens when you experience menstrual cramps. Since heating pads work to dilate those blood vessels and increase blood flow, using a heating pad may be an effective way to relieve menstrual cramps.

  • How to use a heating pad

    To use a heating pad safely, Dr. Trentacosta recommends turning your heating pad to its lowest setting and gradually increasing the heat as needed. Be sure to wrap the heating pad in a cover, a towel, or some piece of fabric.

    According to Dr. Trentacosta, applying the pad directly to your skin may increase your risk of burns. Consider using your heating pad for only 10 to 30 minutes at a time which should be long enough to safely get relief, according to Dr. Trentacosta. Also, be sure to read the directions for your specific heating pad.

  • Can you sleep with a heating pad on?

    You should not sleep with a heating pad on. “Definitely avoid sleeping with heating pads,” Dr. Trentacosta says. “There is no need to fall asleep with heat—or ice, for that matter—on one’s skin, as either of those substances can cause severe and disfiguring burns.”

  • How long to use heating pad

    According to Dr. Trentacosta, there’s no hard-and-fast rule about how long to use a heating pad. “If on for too short a time, the muscle or joint may not have an opportunity to warm up and experience the aforementioned benefits,” she says.

    “Leaving a heating pad on too long can result in injury from burns, and potentially can create a scenario of extreme inflammation in the body.” She recommends using a heating pad for about 10 to 30 minutes at a time. This should be long enough for the heating pad to work its magic, but not so long that you’re at risk of serious harm.

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. For this shopping guide, she started by speaking to two experts to learn what features might make a heating pad safer, more comfortable, and more effective. One of these experts mentioned that an automatic shut-off feature was a must from a safety perspective. So Lindsey exclusively featured heating pads that automatically shut off after a given period of time. (She also specifically highlighted that period of time, so you know exactly what you are getting.)

To further narrow down her selection, Lindsey favored heating pads that offered multiple heat settings. She also prioritized options that were genuinely well-reviewed by those who’d tried them. She also included a range of corded and cordless options. And when it came to corded heating pads, she favored options with longer cords. (Cords may constrict your movement. But the longer they are, the more room you have to move around.)

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3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Petrofsky. Moist heat or dry heat for delayed onset muscle sorenessJ Clin Med Res. Published online 2013.

  2. Saccomanni B. Low back pain associated with pregnancy: a review of literature. Eur Orthop Traumatol. 2011;1(5):169-174.

  3. Jo J, Lee SH. Heat therapy for primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis of its effects on pain relief and quality of life. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):16252.