A massage chair is an investment in your overall health, and comes with numerous benefits, including:
- Relieving muscle tension
- Helping to decrease depression and anxiety
- Soothing chronic pain and joint issues
- Assisting in lowering high blood pressure
- Increasing relaxation
If you have any specific underlying medical conditions, always consult with a physician before using your massage chair to prevent injury or harm.
What to Look For
Massage Functions: Low-end massage chairs usually offer simple vibration and rolling massage, while high-end massage chairs offer a wide variety of features, including:
- Zero Gravity and Inversion Therapy
Massage Programs: Most massage chairs users have the option of an auto or pre-programmed massage. The pre-programmed massages contain a thoughtfully choreographed program that varies in massage techniques, intensities and chair movements. More advanced massage chairs usually have body-mapping technology, which tests the reactions of various areas of your body and customizes a massage accordingly.
Massage Positions: In addition to varying massage styles, all massage chairs feature different massage areas beyond just your back. A premium massage chair usually offers leg and foot massage, and sometimes, arm and wrist massages. Advanced massage chairs can also feature a thumb-like massage head to mimic the therapeutic benefits of a trip to a massage therapist.
Massage Rollers: Premium massage chair has rollers on a long track along the back and short tracks in the footrests. The extent to which the rollers travel down your back is determined by the type of track in the massage chair, while the intensity and movement are determined by the technology. One feature you should consider is the range of the rollers as some massage chairs offer customizations on height as well as the width of the rollers.
There are three main categories of roller tracks: S-, L- and J-Track.
- S-Track Massage Chair: The S-roller tracks follow the curve of the spine, moving up and down from the neck through the lumbar region. Reaching all areas of tension and realigning your body, the S-roller track ends at the lumbar region to allow the chair to pivot into a reclined position to create stretching opportunities.
- L-Track Massage Chairs: L-track rollers extend from the neck further down the body, also reaching the glutes or hamstrings, giving you a spa-quality massage.
- J-Track Massage Chairs: The J-track, or flex track, combines the range of the L-track with the stretching capabilities of the S-track. The neck-to-glute coverage combines superior stretching capabilities and maximum massage coverage.
Massage Airbags: Massage airbags offer powerful relief from tension and stiffness by delivering pressurized air to small pouches located in the back, legs or sides of your massage chair. When the airbags inflate, they compress your muscles, which helps stimulate blood flow. Simultaneous airbag and rolling massage create the most advanced full body massage available in a chair.
Heated Massage: Most premium massage chairs come with the option of a heated region, which can include back, lumbar and feet By offering heat, your massage becomes significantly more effective by adding more relaxation to your muscles and improving circulation.
Recline Function: Most high-end massage chairs feature a variety of recline options, some of which include Zero Gravity. Named after the weightlessness that astronauts feel in space, this massage chair function places your body in a gravity neutral position, which lowers your heart rate, reduces tension and boosts healthy circulation.
Some reclining options might include a single-touch feature, giving you ultimate control. Studies have shown that adding a degree of recline to your massage not only provides a deeper massage experience, but it also significantly boosts the benefits.
Massage Power: Most people will agree that the strength of your massage is one of the most important aspects of any massage chair. This strength is dependent on the number of motors within the chair. Over time, your body will become accustomed to your massage chair, so more available strength options will make your chair more beneficial in the long run. Many massage chairs offer removable padding, which allow another level of customization in the strength of your massage.
There are three main types of massage roller intensity:
- 2D Massage: Rollers operate on X and Y axes and can move up, down, left or right.
- 3D Massage: Rollers operate on X, Y and Z (diagonal) axis.
- 4D Massage: The comprehensive range of 3D massage technology is enhanced with variable roller intensity, which offers a deeper reach.
Chair Upholstery: Genuine leather is often the fabric of choice for massage chair furnishings, but you’ll notice that a lot of high-end and technologically advanced chairs are synthetic. This is due to the amount of movement and heat that your massage chair will generate on a daily basis. Synthetic fabrics are usually engineered to withstand wear and tear, ensuring the longevity of your massage chair in the long run.
Massage Chair Terminology You Should Know
Before we get started, we should let you know that there will be a few massage chair-specific terms our list. Here’s a quick reference to help you find the features you need.
- 3D Massage: You can adjust the intensity of the massage chair rollers for a more personalized massage.
- 4D Massage: 4D offers a deeper reach than 3D, and can be especially beneficial for people with back and shoulder issues.
- Airbags: Typically located in areas that don’t have rollers, airbags provide a compression massage
- Air Ionizer: Located in the headrest, this technology clears the air of dust, dander and other irritants.
- Body Scanning: The massage rollers will be able to hit your unique pressure points by adjusting and tailoring the rollers to your body.
- Bluetooth: Connect to the speakers in the chair to enjoy music or guided meditation.
- Chromotherapy: This light therapy technique helps balance physical, mental, spiritual and emotional energy.
- L Track: The rollers in an L Track travel from the neck down to the glutes. Sometimes they may even extend down to your hamstrings.
- Memory Settings: You’ll have the ability to save a certain number of custom massages.
- Reflexology: Applies pressure to the soles and tops of the feet to benefit your entire body.
- S Track: An S Track massage chair follows the curve of your body and spine from the neck to the lower back.
- Space Saving: You can set up your massage chair against a wall and when it’s powered on, it will move forward.
- Voice Control: Control your massage by telling your chair which program option you want. Some of the best massage chairs also have Alexa capabilities.
- Zero Gravity: This technique extends your knees and elevates them above your heart, creating a sense of weightlessness that also helps the spine decompress.