Chronic pain sufferers turn to massage chairs for relief at the end of the day, when there’s a flare in pain, or simply to just relax. But can massage chairs hurt you if you’re dealing with a serious back injury? Most modern models of massage chairs are much more than the simple vibrating roller systems found in massage chairs of the past. Modern massage chairs are designed to relax sore, tense muscles. However, if you’re new to massage chair use, or if you’re experiencing more pain than usual, then a massage chair can cause some temporary discomfort and may leave you feeling more sore than usual.
Can massage chairs hurt you? Yes, massage chair use can cause some mild to moderate pain in the beginning. This is usually due to the fact that many muscle groups in your body are not used to being manipulated. This can result in some mild soreness and discomfort immediately following a massage. Mild pain and tenderness can also occur if your back has several knots and the massage chair has helped to release the tension in these muscles. You can easily prevent any pain and discomfort from massage chair use by beginning with short massage sessions a few times a week. During this time you should also turn the chair’s massage intensity to low. Over a period of several days or weeks, you can gradually increase how often you use the chair, the length of the massage session, and the amount of pressure the roller system or airbags use during the massage.
As you can see, massage chair use can cause mild discomfort in the beginning, if the chair is not used correctly. Continue reading to find out exactly why massage chair use can be potentially painful and what you can do to avoid any pain and discomfort during and following a massage.
If you’ve been struggling with sleeping at night, have ongoing back problems, or you have trouble dealing with stress and anxiety, then you’re probably interested in learning how massage chairs can be a great option if you have:
- Back issues
- Chronic pain
- Difficulty managing stress
- Trouble sleeping at night
It’s true that regular massages can help to treat these issues, and with the right chair, you can enjoy a massage any time of the day or night.
But overuse of a massage chair can cause a whole new set of problems, such as:
- Muscle tenderness
But if you know how to use your new chair correctly, how to adjust the amount of pressure that’s used during a session and how to carefully time your massage sessions in order to prevent this type of discomfort, it’s totally possible to enjoy a safe, pain-free massage, when you need it the most.
But before I dive into how to prevent muscle soreness and the right way to use your new massage chair, first I’ll go over how the body reacts to a massage and how you can expect to feel immediately after a session.
How Your Body Responds to Massage
The right massage chair can be one of the best things that ever happened to you. You’ll have twenty-four-hour access to a chair that can provide instant relief in a matter of minutes. But why does our body respond the way it does to massage chair use?
When the body is massaged, the manipulation and pressure can cause small tears in the muscles and connective tissues. This also happens when we lift heavier objects or when we workout. If a certain muscle group is not used to manipulation, or a higher level of pressure, then these tissues can become irritated or inflamed. This is how a massage chair can potentially cause pain.
However, the pain is mild at best and will usually only last a few hours. If the pain is intense and lasts for more than a few hours, you may need to seek medical attention. This type of pain can be due to a pinched nerve or a new level of pain caused by a herniated disc that has been irritated by massage chair use.
The type of muscle soreness a massage chair can cause is pretty typical and will often happen after the first few times you use the chair. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a preexisting injury or you have several knotted muscles. This type of pain is specifically due to tissue inflammation and is a totally normal response to muscle manipulation. This level of inflammation is simply the body’s natural response and it tends to trigger soreness and muscle stiffness as the body works to repair itself. This same type of pain will occur when you get a professional massage. Once your body has completely adjusted to the massage chair, you will not typically feel any type of soreness, unless you’ve recently had an injury or a tough workout that’s caused muscle strain.
When your chair first arrives, I recommend slowly acclimating yourself to the different massages available. Most chairs, like the Infinity Altera Massage Chair offer a wide range of massage types and pressure levels. Start off with a short massage session at the lowest setting and increase the pressure or intensity level over time.
Some massage chair owners have reported experiencing mild bruising after a session. This is very rare, however, if you normally bruise easily, then this is totally possible, especially if your chair has a Shiatsu setting. The possibility of bruising can also depend on the user’s age and if they’re taking certain types of medications that will make them more prone to bruising.
Is a Massage Chair Right for Me?
After learning about muscle soreness or the possibility that a massage can cause bruising in certain people, you may be wondering if a massage chair is right for you. This will ultimately depend on how you use your chair. When you’re shopping for a new model, learn more about the different styles of massages the chair offers, the roller system, and whether or not the chair offers a variety of pressure or intensity levels to choose from. To learn more about massage chairs, how they work and the features they have to offer, click here to read my buyer’s guide.
How to Safely Use Your New Massage Chair
On average, a massage chair will provide a massage that’s twenty to thirty minutes in length, however, highly adjustable models will allow you to choose the length of the massage, in addition to the pressure level used. In the beginning shoot for the shortest setting until your body adjusts to the chair and the different types of massages it has to offer. Whatever you do, avoid falling asleep in your massage chair during a session. If the chair is new, then this can lead to severe soreness.
Keep in mind, when you use a massage chair, if you’re normally not very active, then a massage is essentially waking up muscles you haven’t used for a long time. There is no real danger when it comes to massage chair use. However, if you’re currently dealing with a preexisting condition, such as a herniated disc, you should speak with your physician prior to use.
Herniated Discs and Massage Chair Use
In some cases, the use of a massage chair is not recommended for people suffering from a herniated disc. But, more often than not, a massage chair can be very beneficial when it comes to treating the symptoms associated with a slipped disc. Often, the body can deal with a herniated disc on its own, within one to two months. During this time, a massage can be a great alternative to traditional treatment. It can also help to prevent the use of addictive pain medication.
A massage chair can help to minimize symptoms by reducing the amount of tension in the muscles located around the spine. By relieving this type of tension in the muscles, the pressure around the herniated disc is reduced. The result is a reduction in disc compression. Regular use of a massage chair can even help to prevent disc degeneration in the future. But in the short-term, these chairs can provide immediate relief from pain and numbness. Keep in mind that a massage chair cannot provide total pain relief, especially after just one session. Typically, it will take several sessions before you begin to notice a major difference in your pain level, but with consistent use, a massage chair can actually be a great way to manage herniated disc symptoms.
Again, it’s important that you speak with your doctor before you buy a massage chair to help with pain management. Your doctor should be able to determine whether or not use will aggravate your condition. If your doctor gives you the okay, make sure you discuss how frequently you should use the chair, in addition to the length of the massages and the type of massages that will be the most beneficial.
How Can I Prevent Muscle Soreness from Massage Chair Use?
The fact that massage chairs are designed to provide relief from tense sore muscles, yet they can cause the same issue, is definitely ironic. However, it is possible to prevent sore muscles if you’re new to massage chair use. To do, you’ll want to gradually increase the length and intensity of the massage sessions. This should take place over a period of several days or weeks, depending on how frequently you use the chair. If you want to use your chair more than a few times a week, begin with three short ten-minute massage sessions a week and increase the time by five to ten minutes every few days. You’ll be able to enjoy a long, intense massage every other day in your new massage chair in no time, and without the fear of tense sore muscles immediately after.
Can Massage Chair Cause Injury?
A massage chair can cause muscle soreness, but it cannot cause a serious injury. If you have preexisting back issues, such as a herniated disc, I recommend speaking with your physician before you purchase a chair. In most cases, massage chair use will cause slight muscle tenderness following a session. By gradually increasing massage chair use in the beginning, you can easily avoid this.
Is it Bad to Sit in a Massage Chair for a Long Time?
It can be, especially if you’re new to massage chair use. Doing so can cause sore, tense muscles, which can last for a few days. If your body is used to a massage chair, you should still never use your chair for more than an hour, in order to avoid causing irritation and inflammation to certain muscle groups. If you have chronic back pain, closely monitoring your massage sessions is important in order to aggravate your condition. To learn more, click here to read my article on are massage chairs good for you?
Are Shiatsu Massage Chairs Good For You?
Yes. A Shiatsu massage chair will use a special roller system to mimic the classic techniques used in a traditional Shiatsu massage. This type of massage involves manipulating the body at specific points using gentle kneading and tapping in order to reduce pain. These massages can feel very intense, especially if you have several knots in your back. Because of this, shorter sessions are recommended in the beginning, until your body has adjusted to the chair.
So, can a massage chair hurt you? They can. But often, the pain is simply a matter of sore or tense muscles. If you have several knots in your back and the massage chair has helped to release these knots, then the area will be tender for a few hours after treatment. Discomfort can also occur because the massage chair is working muscles that are not used to manipulation. You can easily avoid any form of pain and discomfort by limiting your massage chair use in the beginning and gradually increasing the frequency and intensity of the massages over time.