Buyer’s Guide To Massage Chairs – How To Pick The Right One For You

When you’re ready to look for a massage chair, there’s a lot that you need to know in order to get the most bang for your buck. In this ULTIMATE GUIDE, we break down all the options and features in massage chairs that you need to know about.

First, if you’re not quite sold on getting your own massage chair, let’s look at the reasons why you should be.

Best Massage Chairs

Why You Need A Massage Chair

A massage isn’t just a luxury that only the rich can afford and need. Massage therapy is a necessity for most people, especially if you have a job that’s physically demanding.

Studies have shown that regular massages can significantly minimize a person’s risk of on the job injuries caused by muscle fatigue and strains. It can also help to reduce pressure on the spine and joints, helps to treat mild edema, and can even work to lower your blood pressure. 

We’ll cover more on the benefits of massages later in our buyer’s guide, but if your uncertainty as to whether or not you really need a massage chair is holding you back, think of it as another way to take care of your body. 

Massage Chair Buyer’s Guide 

Did you know massage therapy is a five billion dollar a year industry? For many, a weekly massage simply isn’t affordable and if you have a physically demanding job, then the odds are that even one massage a week isn’t enough. So, what’s the solution? The best massage chair. 

If you suffer from chronic pain, massage is a great pain management solution. A licensed massage therapist will use specific techniques to work with sore, strained muscles. The best massage chair will perform many of the same basic strokes that a pro uses, and it can be used any time of the day or night, in the comfort of your own home. 

If you’re suffering from a strained back or pulled muscles, immediate treatment can include taking an anti-inflammatory, avoiding physical activity for a couple of days, and applying ice and heat. Chronic pain can indicate an underlying health condition such as a cervical disc problem or arthritis. Treatment will often include regular massages to relieve pain and muscle spasms. 

Massage can help to relieve tension, relax the body, and soothe aching muscles. Some types of massage can even provide other kinds of health benefits such as boosting immune function, improving digestion, stimulating circulation, relieving headaches, and mood elevation. 

Why Get a Massage Chair?

Do you spend one to two hundred dollars on a massage each month? Is your work physically demanding? 

Massage chair technology has come a long way. These days, many chairs come equipped with a variety of massage options, feature beautiful designs that allow them to blend in with the rest of the décor in your home, and can really help to work out those tough stubborn knots that keep you up at night. 

So, if it’s simply not in your budget to spend hundreds of dollars every month on a massage, a massage chair can be an excellent solution, and one that will allow you to relax and enjoy an intense massage any time you want, and in the comfort of your own home. 

There are many health benefits that you can experience with regular massage chair use, but if you’re considering buying a chair, finding the right one can take a lot of research. There are hundreds of popular models to choose from, which can make finding the perfect model even more difficult. 

10 Best Massage Chairs On The Market Today

So, what features should you look for and what specs should you pay close attention to? 

Features Of A Massage Chair

Check The Warranty

Considering a massage chair gets used often, a chair covered by an extended warranty is a must. A chair’s warranty can be a key indicator of the chair’s quality. Usually the longer the warranty, the better the massage chair.

At a minimum, a chair should come with a five-year warranty. However, most manufacturers only cover their chairs for three years. When you’re looking at a chair’s warranty, always make sure you read the fine print. Typically, the chair’s frame is only covered for about five-years.

Massage Strength

If you plan on buying a new massage chair, one that can be used by the whole family, then you may want to consider the chair’s massage depth. Most models these days allow you to adjust the depth of the massage, so it’s not too strong for smaller or younger users.

Many pros recommend buying a massage chair that’s strong, and one that can be easily toned down with the use of an included remote control. It’s definitely a better option than settling for a chair that you can’t adjust. Most buyers look for chairs that offer deep tissue massages, so search for a chair that offers the best range of motion. 

Right Chair for the Job 

So, when you’re shopping for a massage chair look for one that offers a deeper range of motion. A massage chair’s range of motion is indicated by a 3D rating. 3D indicates in and out in addition with the standard left and right and up and down motions. Some companies claim their chairs feature 4D range of motion, but this is misleading and refers to time and speed which aren’t directional indicators of the motion of the massage rollers. 

A massage that offers a deep or strong 3D motion is similar to working out. The day after a 3D massage your muscles may feel sore, but once your body acclimates to this kind of massage, you won’t feel this type of lasting soreness.

However, it’s also important to note that a strong massage doesn’t automatically equal a good massage, especially if it feels mechanical. So, look for a chair that’s well-designed and equipped with smooth massage mechanics that are designed to mimic human touch.

While a chair that’s able to provide a deep relaxing massage is great, the best chair is a versatile one that can give you the best of both worlds. Basically, look for a model that’s highly adjustable. 

Space Needs

Some massage chairs are pretty massive. Not only do they weigh in at two or three hundred pounds, but they often have to be disassembled just to get them through a doorway. 

Additionally, they’re known to hog up floor space, so this is something you’ll want to take into consideration before you buy. You’ll also have to factor in the amount of space the chair needs in order to fully recline. 

Understand that there’s two different dimensions to the chair: the space it needs when it’s upright and the space it will need when you’re all stretched out in it.

Your Unique Fit

Not only do you have to worry about the size and sheer mass of your new chair, but you’ll also have to take into consideration whether or not a chair can accommodate your weight and height.

On average, most chairs can work for users up to two hundred and fifty pounds and up to six feet tall, while others will come equipped with an extendable footrest that can accommodate a taller user. Make sure you check out the max user weight and height before you hit that buy now button. 

Need A Foot Massage?

If you’ve ever had a foot massage then you know how rehabilitating and important they can be, especially if you spend most of your time on your feet at work. A good foot massage can have a major impact on how you feel and can also deliver impressive regenerative benefits. Because of this, we recommend a chair that will address the entire foot, not just the sides of the feet via pressure provided by airbags. A chair with foot rollers is the best choice. 

Does It Offer Multiple Techniques?

Believe it or not, some massage chairs can switch back and forth between actual massage techniques. Some of these include:

  • Swedish

One of the best-known types of massages in the West is the Swedish massage. A Swedish massage is perfect for people who don’t often get a massage and have a moderate pain threshold. This technique involves longer strokes from the rollers and helps to warm up the muscles in order to provide pain relief, improve circulation, and minimize joint discomfort. 

  • Deep Tissue 

This type of massage is a deeper version of the popular Swedish massage and it targets connective tissue and deeper muscles. It’s said to be very effective in areas that are chronically contracted and tense, such as the neck and upper back.

While for some, this massage chair technique might promote relaxation, some users will find this feature a little painful or uncomfortable. The massage rollers are designed to work out the deep knots that are hard to access. This technique will focus on muscle tension and chronic pain in order to provide lasting benefits. 

  • Reflexology

Many chairs employ the art of reflexology located in the chair’s footrest. Right, and left foot reflexology is used to relieve tension in the muscles while promoting relaxation. Reflexology involves a massage style that’s based on the idea of applying pressure to certain areas of the foot in order to improve well-being in the correlating portions of the body with the release of endorphins. Many top of the line massage chairs now offer this type of massage.

  • Jenetsu

This technique is found in the best massage chairs and it utilizes a type of kneading technique that consists of circular roller motions that are designed to mimic the pro massage therapy Jenetsu techniques in which the thumbs creates circulation motions as a way to loosen tight muscles. 

This type of massage chair option is perfect for people who are in need of a more localized massage. These types of quick circular motions will help to invigorate the muscles and can relieve stress. 

  • Shiatsu

Shiatsu massage is often considered the equivalent of acupressure. This technique employs pressure and stretching providing a full body restorative effect that helps to reduce depression, anxiety, muscle pain, and stress. 

  • Kneading 

This massage technique helps to relieve muscle soreness and tension by stretching and lifting the muscles. It also promotes deeper lymph and blood circulation. The kneading style helps to transport important nutrients to the spinal area and can even eliminate toxins from nerve tissue and muscles. A massage chair will utilize this technique in the back using small circular motions applied to each side of the spine. 

Other Methods To Apply Pressure For A Massage

  • Vibration 

Vibration has been used in massage for years and it’s an effective way to improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness. Many styles of massage chairs feature vibration plates within the chairs that can deliver varying levels of vibration. 

  • Air Compression 

Air compression is delivered to the extremities using the chair’s airbag system. This technique can help to improve blood circulation and relieves stiffness. This technique can also work to stimulate the lymphatic system and remove toxins. 

Air compression massage typically features a variety of intensity levels that the user can tweak and adjust using the manual mode controls.

  • Rolling 

A rolling massage will focus on muscles located near the spine by applying pressure via the roller system up and down the spine. This will help to loosen and warm up the muscles and can be the perfect choice after a workout. 

  • Stretch 

A good stretch can be the perfect way to get rid of knots in muscles and can help to loosen up tension in the body. Most models of massage chairs will utilize the airbag system in order to pin the user in the chair, so they can feel a stretch in certain muscles. This technique can help the body to prepare for a deeper massage or can relieve tension in stiff muscles. 

  • Squeeze

A squeeze massage can be a great way to reduce tension in the thigh and hip areas. Usually, the chair will inflate the airbag system in this section and squeeze different areas in order to help minimize joint pain and relieve stress. This type of massage can also be used with the chair’s back rollers in order to ensure the user reaps the most benefits from a treatment session.

Massage Chair Types 

When you’re searching through the long list of massage chairs available, it can become exhausting trying to compare certain features and specs or trying to figure out which type or style of chair can offer the kind of benefits you’re looking for. In order to get the most value and comfort out of a chair, you should ask yourself what you really value most.

If the price isn’t really a priority, then you’ll have plenty of options. But your choice should be based on why you need a massage chair. Is it to rub out sore muscles after a workout? Do you suffer from chronic back pain? Are you pregnant and struggling to deal with the ongoing pressure and strain that’s placed on your upper and lower back?

Learning about the different styles of massage chairs to choose from can further help you narrow down your choices for a chair that’s perfect for you and designed to meet your needs.  

  • Reclining Massage Chair 

This is probably the most common type of massage chair out there. These are the chairs you’ll often see at the furniture store or at the mall. These chairs are basically traditional recliners that come with some advanced massage features. However, it’s still a big step up from adding a massage pad to your regular recliner. Most models are made out of a nice leather, so it will blend in nicely with your other furniture.

  • Zero Gravity Massage Chair 

While these chairs have an odd design, they actually work to simulate the position that an astronaut is in when going into outer space. So, what are the benefits of a zero-gravity massage chair? These chairs are designed to relieve bone and joint pain by eliminating pressure.

This type of chair can also relieve inflammation and stress placed on the back, however, they often come with a higher price tag. But if you’re dealing with a lot of back pain, then the price is often worth it. 

  • Full Body Massage Chair 

Considered by many to be the ultimate massage chair, this is a style that often comes with all the bells and whistles you could want. By far, the full body massage chair is the most expensive, but it’s usually also the most customizable and often comes with foot massage rollers for a mind-blowing massage.

  • Vibrating Chairs 

These chairs plug into the wall and vibrate at different intensity levels. These chairs vibrate as opposed to actually massaging the muscles, however, some people find these chairs very soothing. 

  • Chairs with Heat 

These chairs are nice for muscle spasms and aches. They come equipped with heat options at a variety of intensities, in addition to a few basic massage modes. The heat is designed to go deep into the muscles, to relieve muscle soreness and muscle spasms. 

  • Shiatsu Massage Chairs 

These chairs come equipped with rollers designed to mimic the intensity of a Shiatsu massage. The rollers are able to travel deep into the muscles, rolling out knots and easing muscle tension and sorenss. These chairs are a little on the pricey side, but they’re worth it if you often deal with sore muscles and/or back pain. 

Massage Chairs and Pregnancy 

Massage Chairs and Pregnancy 

There are many massage chair manufacturers that warn against using a massage chair during pregnancy. Some of the reasons why some companies claim that massage chairs are not a good idea during pregnancy including the following:

Pressure points: If a massage chair’s rollers go over certain pressure points on the body, premature labor can be a possibility. 

Heat: Some models of massage chairs come with a heating pad or heat features. This type of intense heat can increase the woman’s body temperature, which can spike the baby’s heart rate. So, if you’re pregnant, do not use the heat feature on your massage chair. 

So, are massage chairs unsafe to use during pregnancy?

Other than the issue with the heat feature, most doctors actually do recommend massage chair use during pregnancy.

Here’s why:

Natural pain management: A massage chair can help reduce pain since the expectant mother is carrying several extra pounds on her front, which often causes severe back, shoulder, and neck pain. According to studies, a chair’s vibrating mode can also help to circulate blood in the upper body and can relieve, cramps and pain. 

Relaxation: Some pregnant women are worried that a massage chair can harm their unborn child. However, the vibration from the chair is mild, so there’s no way it can harm either the mother or the unborn child. In fact, the infant won’t even feel anything as mom is getting a massage. 

Massage Chair and Pregnancy Safety

Here are some things you should keep in mind if you’re pregnant and searching for a new massage chair:

  • Avoid using a massage chair during your first trimesters. During this time the body is transforming rapidly. The first trimester has the highest chance of a miscarriage. 
  • Limit the amount of time you spend in the chair. Never spend more than twenty minutes in the chair. 
  • Do not use the massage chair if you have: preeclampsia, a high-risk pregnancy, severe headaches, swelling, or a history of pre-term labor. 

Before you buy a massage chair, discuss it with your OBGYN in order to determine whether or not a massage chair is safe to use during pregnancy. In most cases it is and your doctor may even recommend using one if you suffer from chronic back pain, sciatica, and stress. 

Is a Massage Chair Good for You?

Massage chairs are now more affordable than ever before, but is a massage chair good for you, or is the buzz around the benefits of regular massage merely just hype? 

In the last decade, more and more people have also come to realize how just a single massage a week can make a huge difference in terms of how they feel, their energy level, and pain level. Statistics show that more than twenty-five percent of Americans receive a least one professional massage a year. You see, massages can do so much more than just relax you. A massage can also be used to heal certain types of injuries, they can provide relief from certain symptoms, and they can help to manage specific health conditions. 

Basically, regular massages can help you to improve your overall well-being in a number of ways. 

Massages are most commonly used to treat back pain. And they can be a great pain management option when prescription and over the counter medication just aren’t enough. Studies conducted in 2001 showed that a massage was more effective than spinal modification and acupuncture.

In the same study, researchers found that a daily massage reduced the need for pain medication by more than twenty-six percent. Additionally, more than one study has proven that migraines and tension headaches can also respond well to massage.

Benefits Of Massage Therapy

Let’s look at some of the medical conditions that can be helped by regular massage therapy:

  • Osteoarthritis

Massage has been proven effective in treating the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. Shiatsu massage is considered one of the most effective forms of massage for osteoarthritis treatment. 

  • Lactic Acid 

It’s a common belief among athletes and trainers that a massage helps to increase blood flow, which can result in the reduction of lactic acid build-up. Repeated relaxation and compression of the muscles will cause blood vessels to be filled and emptied, increasing the removal of lactic acid and other types of waste products. And the result? A daily massage can significantly reduce fatigue brought on by exercise and other types of physical exertion. 

  • Cancer Treatment 

In cancer patients, massage can reduce some of the symptoms of cancer and also promotes relaxation. It can also help to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Massage can also help to improve immune system function. 

  • Mental Health 

For people suffering from depression and anxiety, a daily massage can help to elevate mood and reduce anxiety. Studies have shown that massage works to lower levels of cortisol by more than half while boosting neurotransmitters that help to reduce symptoms associated with depression. 

massage chair muscle soreness
  • Stress

The average person is under an enormous amount of pressure, so ongoing stress is very common. Taking personal time to enjoy a massage in the best massage chair can help to naturally reduce stress. Did you know that stress can negatively affect tissue repair, slowing down the healing process? It can also have a major negative impact on blood pressure.

Regular massage is just one way to relax the body and reduce stress in order to lower the heart rate and prevent high blood pressure. 

  • Managing High Blood Pressure 

Massage therapy has been proven to reduce heart rate with intense massages such as deep tissue shiatsu, but it can also help to regulate blood pressure. Hypertension, which is high blood pressure, is very dangerous because it forces the heart to work much harder than it should in order to pump blood throughout the body. This can cause the arteries to harden and can eventually lead to heart failure. People with hypertension who receive more than one massage a week experience less hostility and aggravation and have lower levels of stress hormones, according to recent studies. 

People who are diagnosed with hypertension are encouraged to relax and maintain a low-stress lifestyle. What better way to relax and feel the stress melt away then by enjoying a daily massage? 

How to Use Your New Massage Chair 

Massage chairs have been on the market for years. During this time many people have realized that these chairs can be great tools to use to improve health, increase mobility, and reduce pain and stress. 

Many of these chairs are pretty pricey but they can offer several health benefits that can help to improve your general well-being. Because of this, it’s important to know how to correctly use one in order to get the most out of your new massage chair, and it’s just as important to know how to take care of it properly so your chair will last for years to come. 

  • Before you get started using your new chair, take the time to read the user’s manual. This will tell you how to adjust the chair’s settings, how to fine-tune a massage, and how to use all of the different features correctly. 
  • Once you’ve read the manual, you can get started setting up your new chair. 
  • Make sure the massage chair’s power switch is set to off before you plug it in. 
  • If you have to use an extension cord for your massage chair, never share the cord with another appliance or device. This also means you should not plug the chair into a power strip. 
  • Based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, make sure you give the chair plenty of clearance in the back. Regular massage chairs can require a foot of clearance, while space-saving designs may require under five inches of clearance. 
  • In terms of care, wipe down the chair using a damp cloth. Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners. 
  • Pay close attention to a chair’s warranty. If you notice any issues when it comes to using a particular massage program, or if some of the airbags or rollers start to malfunction, contact the manufacturer immediately. Some chairs will come with just a six to twelve-month warranty on parts and labor, so you’ll want to take care of any issues right away. 
  • If you notice your chair is running hot, power it down and unplug it. This can occur if you’re using a custom program and have been using the massage features for more than an hour. Overheating more commonly occurs with lower priced chairs but it can happen to high end ones as well. 

Final Thoughts

Buying a massage chair can be an exciting experience. Not only do you get to shop around and search for the perfect chair, but once it arrives, you’ll be able to enjoy a shiatsu massage, a neck and shoulder massage, or even a reflexology massage. It ultimately depends on the type of chair you choose. If you’ve ever had a professional massage, then you know how expensive they can be. These chairs allow you to enjoy a custom massage, right in your own home, anytime you want. 

We hope our buyer’s guide and our reviews of the best massage chairs has helped you to choose a model that will work for you, your massage needs, your home, and your budget.