So, you’ve always loved getting a massage from a massage therapist, and now you’re thinking it might be cool to have a massage chair in your home.
You’d love to sit in a massage chair in your family room and watch a football game or a favorite movie. But you’re wondering, what is the best massage chair? How many types of massage chairs are there? You Google “massage chairs” and are inundated with seemingly hundreds of different brands and types of massage chairs.
It certainly can be confusing. And it can be so overwhelming that some people just give up altogether and end up dropping the idea of purchasing a massage chair.
The hope is this article will help you navigate through the different types of massage chairs and assist you in identifying the best massage chair for your particular situation. The “best massage chair” can be very different for different individuals.
Why Are You Interested in a Massage Chair?
The first step to take when considering purchasing a massage chair is to clarify exactly what you want to get from owning one so you can make an informed decision regarding which type of chair is best for your needs.
Some people are just looking for relaxation. Others are looking for muscle recovery, pain relief, a way to improve sleep, or improved athletic performance and sports recovery. Still, others are looking for ways to address specific medical conditions like high blood pressure.
People’s reasons for their interest in massage chairs vary widely, so it’s important to nail down the “why” in your particular case.
A massage chair can be a great gift to yourself or someone you care about. If you get the right chair, the results can be comparable to those from a top-notch massage therapist.
So, before starting the shopping process, take some time to sit down and get your reasons for wanting a massage chair down on paper. It can also help to prioritize those reasons. Doing so will make your shopping experience more efficient and less stressful.
Some possible questions to ask yourself:
- Do I want a massage chair that provides a full-body massage?
- What body parts do I want the massage chair to focus on?
- Do I want a massage chair with automatic programs?
- Would I prefer a massage chair with manual mode options, allowing for the setting of customized programs?
- What type of massage styles would I like in a massage chair (e.g., Swedish, Shiatsu, Percussion, etc.)?
- Would I enjoy features like heat therapy or a music player?
- Do I want a massage chair that’s easy to move around a room?
- Do I want a massage chair that fully reclines so my feet can be even or above my head?
- Would I like a massage chair with the latest technologies, e.g., body scan technology?
What’s Your Budget?
The next step is determining your budget for a massage chair. Budget is linked with your reasons for wanting a massage chair in the first place. Some benefits can be derived from lower-end chairs, but others will require getting a mid-range or higher-end chair.
Don’t feel that you have to purchase a chair at the very top of your budget limit. Every chair offers different features and functions. The key is to find one that fits your needs and wants, and that’s not always the most expensive chair.
That said, value is an important consideration when determining your budget. Getting a opens in a new windowquality massage chair that will meet your needs and last will be important when making this investment. A chair with a high-quality brand reputation will help you feel confident you’re getting good value for your money.
One way to evaluate quality is by looking at the warranty for a given massage chair. Longer warranties are evidence the company is confident its massage chair will work well for you for years to come.
How Many Types of Massage Chairs Are There?
It’s important to note that the term “massage chair” can refer to various products. It can mean a simple low-end recliner vibrating or a high-end therapeutic chair designed to address specific medical challenges.
Massage chairs can vary by the type of massages they provide, the number and types of rollers, track types, the number of features offered, etc. Higher-end, more technologically-advanced massage chairs have rollers that move in various directions to simulate – as close as possible – the human touch of a massage therapist.
One thing’s for sure, not all massage chairs are made equal. There are several ways to categorize the various massage chairs, but we’ll stick with fairly common categories: full body, recliner, zero gravity, ottoman, and heat therapy/air massage chairs.
Full Body Massage Chairs
A full-body massage chair is designed to relieve the entire body (some of the better brands even massage hands and arms). If you want a massage that is similar to a full body massage you might get from a massage therapist, a full body massage chair might be your best choice, depending on the quality of a given brand.
For the most part, full-body massage chairs will be on the mid-range to the high-end side of the price scale, although there are some lower-end full-body massage chairs, albeit of lesser quality. Due to their popularity, there are plenty of full-body massage chairs on the market. The features offered depend on the brand and model.
Recliner Massage Chairs
Reclining massage chairs operate pretty much like traditional recliners. They look the most natural in living room and family room settings. They are very popular and tend to be less expensive than full body chairs.
Remotes on recliner massage chairs typically allow users to customize the chair’s angle to maximize comfort and alleviate pressure on the spine or certain muscles. Some recliners offer a zero gravity option and/or options like heat therapy and Bluetooth audio.
Zero Gravity Massage Chairs
“Zero gravity” is probably the hottest term in the massage chair market today. Zero gravity technology was originally developed by NASA to help astronauts deal with the effects of space travel.
Because zero gravity massage chairs utilize the latest technologies, they are mostly high-end chairs. They are designed to distribute your weight evenly and take pressure off areas where pain originates, like the back and legs. These chairs are popular with consumers looking for ways to treat chronic pain.
In a zero gravity chair, the body reclines so that the legs are elevated above the heart slightly, and most of the body’s weight shifts and is held by a backrest. This position allows the back to decompress, relax more fully, and take pressure off pinched nerves.
Zero gravity enables inversion therapy (also called tractioning) on your spine because it allows for a posture that eases stress on your back and allows for a deeper massage. Inversion therapy has proved to be helpful for many folks with chronic back issues.
For many reasons, including those mentioned here, zero gravity chairs are thought by many in the field to be the most therapeutic massage chairs.
Ottoman Massage Chairs
These massage chairs look like traditional armchairs at first glance. They are one of the oldest style massage chairs and have a separate footstool, or ottoman, that also has rollers and/or airbags in them. As a general category, ottoman massage chairs are the most affordable but don’t have many features available in the other types.
Aesthetically, ottoman massage chairs fit nicely with the rest of your home or office furniture. However, unlike a standard chair, these chairs can provide a relaxing massage while watching television, reading, or meditating. They come with a wide variety of options to meet your specific needs.
Ottoman chairs are often the choice of taller people because, unlike some other styles of massage chairs, ottoman chairs typically can be stretched out to a relaxing position for tall people.
Heat Therapy/Air Massage Chairs
Heat therapy and air massage chairs are considered specialty massage chairs by many in the field.
Heat therapy can add to your comfort when sitting in the massage chair. Heat has long done wonders for sore, tense muscles. The rollers in the chair heat up and provide heat therapy and the massage. Heat therapy chairs can be found along the continuum from low-end to high-end massage chairs.
Air massage chairs are also designed to provide added comfort. Most massage chairs use electronic equipment to provide the massaging action. On the other hand, air massage chairs use numerous airbags to provide a full body – or close to it — massage that some recipients consider a “softer” massage than that provided by standard rollers. Airbags can be an add-on to some traditional roller massage chairs.
A Few Additional Massage Chair Features to Consider
We’ve touched on the primary features of massage chairs, but there are a variety of other features some consumers might be interested in.
Here are a few:
• Body Scan Technology – Body scan uses sensors to detect your height, body shape and the position of various body parts on the chair, e.g., your shoulders. This helps the rollers know where to increase pressure and where to let up. Basically, the concept of body scan technology is to customize a massage for your unique body shape.
Buyer beware, however. There are significant differences in what various brands call “body scan technology.” Mid-range and high-end chairs have body scan technology that is much more sophisticated than low-end body scan technology.
• Music Systems – Music systems, primarily utilizing Bluetooth, are a popular ancillary feature on massage chairs. They provide a surround-sound experience during your massage, which can enhance relaxation.
• Chromotherapy Lights – Chromotherapy, or color therapy, is a controversial alternative medicine treatment to produce relaxation and enhance healing. Nonetheless, it’s a feature that is increasingly being added to newer massage chair models.
Chromotherapy dates back to ancient Egypt, India, China, and some say as far back as the Mayan culture. However, scientifically-sound research is very limited regarding its actual effectiveness.
When added to massage chairs, light blue color is typically used via LEDs on the sides of the chair. Light blue supposedly has calming effects.
Conclusion: Top Five Reasons to Buy a Quality Massage Chair
Purchasing a quality massage chair can be a great investment, providing long-term enjoyment and health benefits. There are many reasons to seriously consider buying a massage chair. As mentioned above, the reasons people decide to invest in a massage chair are often unique to each individual.
That said, here are my top five reasons to buy a quality massage chair:
• Relaxation and Stress Relief –Stress results in tight muscles. Tight muscles increase anxiety. A good massage chair eases your tense muscles, which lowers stress levels and promotes relaxation and better sleep.
• Recovery From Exercise and Sports Activities – Muscles are often sore after a game or workout. Massage improves circulation and speeds up recovery time. It can also improve the range of motion in tight muscles by breaking down adhesions. A massage can also effectively treat some injuries, allowing a quicker return to exercise and sports activities.
• Pain Relief – Other than relaxation, pain relief is the next most common reason that people buy massage chairs. Reducing muscle tension eases a lot of pain. In addition, massages reduce cortisol in the body, a stress hormone produced when the body is in pain. Massages also increase circulation, which can ease the pain. Moreover, massages can produce serotonin, the body’s natural pain reliever.
• Convenience – Even if you could afford a massage from a massage therapist a couple of times a week, finding the time to get a massage when you want it and when it’s most convenient for your schedule can be quite challenging. If you have a massage chair in your home, you can get a nice massage anytime, including right before bed or first thing in the morning.
• Value – This might shock some of you who have glanced at the price tags of mid-range and high-end massage chairs. However, I definitely believe a quality massage chair is a high-value investment.
Hypothetically, let’s say you get a weekly massage from a local massage therapist. And let’s say it costs $70 a session. Over 52 weeks, that’s $3,640! Depending on the brand and model of the massage chair, with a budget in that neighborhood, you could buy a quality massage chair or at least come close. You would have the massage chair for many years to come.
Buying a good massage chair is definitely a significant investment, but you will receive many years of pleasure and health benefits. Considering the cost of regular appointments with a massage therapist, a good massage chair can save you a lot of money over the long term.