For most of us, a daily massage just isn’t affordable. In fact, a weekly massage is too expensive for many people. While the initial cost is high, many people purchase a massage chair as a way to enjoy a massage, anytime, in the comfort of their own home.
But how do massage chairs measure up when compared to a masseuse? Obviously, when you compare the massage chair vs human masseuse, the masseuse can offer a more custom massage. But thanks to the latest advancements in massage chair technology, many of the latest models of massage chairs are now offering a whole new level of realistic massage.
Many also offer custom programs and settings, allowing the user to choose the massage type, techniques, and duration of the massage. While a chair can’t quite compete in terms of using the same techniques as a masseuse, many of the best-selling massage chairs are considered the next best thing.
Massage chair vs human masseuse: There are many people that will prefer a massage from a masseuse. However, a massage from a masseuse is not always convenient. With a massage chair, you won’t have to worry about scheduling an appointment, making it to your appointment on time, and spending money once a week or more on a costly massage therapy session.
Massage chairs can’t exactly mimic the feel of human touch, but they do allow you to enjoy a massage any time of the day or night. This can be very important if you’re dealing with a chronic condition or you need a regular massage to help you manage your stress. In the end, personal preference will play a major role in terms of which massage option is the best for you.
Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of massage chairs and expensive massage therapy appointments, what techniques the masseuse commonly uses during a massage, and the type of modern technology found in massage chairs that has been a total gamechanger.
The Best Alternative to Massage Therapy
The goal of every type of massage chair is to provide a realistic massage that can mimic many of the same movements and techniques that a massage therapist can. Modern massage chairs offer a variety of massage programs to choose from, some come with body scan technology, and others offer heat therapy.
4D chairs will allow you to adjust the speed of the roller systems, for a more custom feel. Intensity level on both 3D and 4D chairs allow you to choose a gentle or deep tissue massage. You’ll also have the ability to control the length of a massage.
As you can see, massage chairs come equipped with a variety of controls that allow you to customize your experience. But aside from the fact that many newer massage chairs come loaded with features that are highly adjustable, they still can’t compete with the techniques used by the massage therapist.
Swedish Massage Techniques
Many masseuses specialize in Swedish massage. In fact, aside from Shiatsu, it’s the most common type of massage technique that professionals use because it’s said to be the most effective.
A standard Swedish massage utilizes certain moves that are designed to release knots in muscles, promote relaxation, and get the blood flowing.
- The first step of a Swedish massage is called effleurage. This is basically the warming up phase. A masseuse will use oils to warm up the muscles and help the client to relax.
- Swedish massages often include a type of tapping motion that stimulates the muscles and promotes improved circulation.
- Cross-fiber friction helps to break up adhesions in tissue.
- Vibration is often used on areas with a high level of tension or on stubborn knotted muscles.
Where the Massage Chair Falls Short
Most models of massage chairs offer a vibrating function. Vibration is often used by a masseuse in order to release knotted muscles or to treat tension. But some models of massage chairs tend to focus too much on this technique, failing to offer a variety of techniques that the massage therapist uses to treat sore, tense muscles.
This includes kneading and tapping motions that are designed to mimic the real deal. The roller systems consist of small balls that are shaped to mimic the feel of human fingers. A chair’s rollers can’t compete with the feel of human touch, but a deep tissue massage via a massage chair can provide the same results.
Typically, only higher priced massage chairs will provide a variety of massage techniques, while lower priced chairs may only include a couple. Higher priced chairs can also provide a whole body massage that can treat the lower back, glutes, thighs, and calves, while cheap massage chairs will primarily focus on the upper and lower back. But even the most adjustable massage chair cannot provide the same type of customized massage that a masseuse can offer.
A Custom Massage Based On Your Needs
When a masseuse meets with a new client for a consultation, they create a custom massage based on their training. This will include gathering a client’s medical history, discussing the client’s reason for the visit, and a physical exam of sorts.
During a consultation, a masseuse will determine how much pressure to use based on user preference. The will also consider the following:
- How they can best address chronic pain without causing increased discomfort
- Which muscle groups need the most focus
- How long to work on each muscle group
- A masseuse also has a deep understanding of trigger points, connective tissues, muscle attachments, physiology, and the nervous system. They use this knowledge to create a massage that can provide the best results for each of their clients.
An automated massage program doesn’t provide a case by case assessment before a massage begins. However, there are massage chairs that come with the body scan feature. This feature scans the body of each user, in order to readjust the chair’s roller system based on the user’s height and weight.
A Massage When You Need it the Most
But the massage chair offers users something a massage therapist cannot-ultimate convenience. With a massage chair, you won’t have to worry about scheduling an appointment, missing an appointment, or paying the high price of a massage therapy session.
Because a massage is expensive, not everyone can afford to see a massage therapist as often as they need to. The initial cost of a high-end massage chair is pretty steep, however, if you’re suffering from a chronic condition or prefer a daily massage, then a massage chair can save you plenty of cash.
A Private Massage
Not only is traveling to and from a massage therapy appointment inconvenient and expensive but for some, it can feel incredibly invasive. If you don’t like being touched, then you may have never even had a professional massage.
People that are uncomfortable with being naked in front of strangers will have a difficult time relaxing during a massage. In fact, this type of increase in tension can negate the benefits of a massage therapy session. A massage chair provides you with a private, convenient way to enjoy a massage, in the comfort of your home, whenever you need one.
What’s the Best Option for You?
Both a massage chair and a massage from a trained masseuse come with their own pros and cons. In the end, it’s more a matter of personal preference, convenience, and how comfortable or uncomfortable you are with being touched.
Of course, your budget will also be a major factor. However, if you have chronic pain or you’re under a lot of stress, the massage chair allows you to enjoy a massage whenever you need one the most, whether it’s during the middle of the day or the middle of the night.
Modern massage chairs also offer a more realistic massage compared to massage chairs of the past. However, most people can agree that a massage chair can’t compete with a massage by a masseuse. Massage chairs may come with several features that are highly adjustable, but they’re not able to provide the type of custom massage that a masseuse can.
How Often Should You Get a Massage?
If you love a good massage simply because they can help you to relax, then a massage a couple of times a month is recommended. A massage this often will not only help you relax and reduce tension in the muscles it can also help to prevent injuries by keeping the muscles more pliable and treating even minor tension immediately before it has a chance to get worse.
If you have a chronic condition such as back pain, neck pain, or you suffer from migraines, then you may need a massage more frequently. I recommend starting off with two massages a week for one to two months. You can gradually increase the time between a massage session as your symptoms start to lessen.
Massages aren’t not recommended as the sole treatment for chronic conditions, but they can help in terms of pain management and stress relief. If you’re an athlete or you work out often, then a massage can be necessary in order to improve flexibility and maintain muscle health. Very active people should have a massage two to three times a week.
If you have a high-stress job, a massage every one to two weeks can help you easily manage your stress levels and promote relaxation and improved sleep.
What Massage Chair Offers the Most Realistic Massage?
The Kahuna 7300 Superior Massage Chair is a feature packed model that offers a top of the line roller system, ten massage programs to choose from, and 3D scan technology. This feature scans the body of each user in order to adjust the roller system based on the user’s weight and height.
It comes with some great other features including a variety of massage technique options, so you can create a massage based on personal preference. Of course, this chair cannot mimic the feel of human hands and fingers, but it comes close.
Is a Massage Chair Better than a Massage Cushion?
People tend to choose a massage cushion over a massage chair simply based on price. Of course, the cushion’s portable, lightweight design can also play a factor. But cushions are primarily used by people who have some tension in the muscles.
They aren’t recommended for chronic conditions or after workout relief. Basically, they can’t compare to the type of realistic massages that a massage chair can offer. They also lack in massage variety, offering only two or three massage technique options and no built-in massage programs.
Because they don’t come with track and roller systems most of these cushions will simply vibrate at different levels. If you’re in need of a massage that can treat chronic pain or a massage that can work out knots in your back, then go with a massage chair. To learn more, click here to read my article on Massage Chair vs Massage Cushion: the Difference Explained.
Should a Back Massage Hurt?
If you have sore, tense muscles, or knotted muscles, then a back massage can hurt. Generally speaking, a back massage doesn’t have to hurt in order to be effective. However, it can be painful if the muscles are knotted. If you’re looking for a massage chair that offers gentler massages then you’ll want to avoid chairs that specialize in deep tissue massages such as Shiatsu.
If you want a closer look at the leading massage chairs on the market and the different types of massage programs they offer, click here to read my massage chair buyer’s guide.
Massage chair vs human masseuse: massage chairs have come a long way in terms of technology, adjustability, massage programs, and the types of massage techniques they use. However, even chairs with a top of the line roller system cannot compare to human touch.
But the massage chair also offers what a masseuse can’t and that’s the ability to enjoy a massage whenever you want. So, if you’re tired of rushing to your weekly massage therapy appointment, a massage chair can be the perfect alternative.