Tools Of The Trade: The HoMedics Therapist Select massage cushion

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Many employers have tried to do things to help relieve this - from footstools to ergonomically designed chairs, to expensive consultants and in-house masseurs.

But a novel solution comes from a US firm. HoMedics makes all sorts of electronic massaging devices, from battery-operated ones you hold in your hands, to a vibrating ottoman which brings relief to your bottom and legs. For the office, it is pushing its shiatsu massaging cushion.

This device looks like a seat covered in black leather, with a soft panel you can lift up for extra-deep massage. It straps on to the back of your chair and plugs into the mains. Though fairly bulky, it is easy to set up and use. It has three modes: upper back, lower back and full back.

In tests, it gave a pretty decent massage - often bordering on the deep tissue rather than the light touch of shiatsu. It tended to work best using either the lower back or upper back mode, and not the full massage. And don't lift up the panel, unless you are a masochist, as the massaging is strong enough without it.

The sensation induced by the machine is a little weird at first, and the motor makes a slight whirring noise, which might draw the attention of colleagues in an open-plan office, though maybe not as much attention as coming over all Meg Ryan and gasping: "Oooh, that's the spot" as the massager gets to work.

The pulsating pistons kneed your muscles, but go in a fairly linear direction up and down, so if you have a particular area that needs work, you will have to swivel to get your back into the right position. For this reason, it is not advisable to use the massager on an office chair that runs on castors.

Another downside is that if you use the device for too long, it can leave you a little sore and stiff. But this is less likely to be a problem in the office as you may find a queue of others wanting to use it.

The HoMedics massage cushion does pretty much what it says on the tin: relieves stress and makes you feel better if you use it properly.

Whether it can be used in a busy office, though, is open to doubt. It would almost certainly have to be placed on a dedicated chair, in which case staff would, perhaps, book 10-minute sessions.

This might be a bit too much of a distraction for some employers.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

PROS: relaxing, easy to use

CONS: hard to direct, bulky

COST: £129.99

CONTACT: www.homedics.co.uk

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