Massage Chair vs Massage Cushion

Massage Chair vs Massage Chair Pad | Which Is Better For You?

Buying a massage chair can be a major investment, considering many can cost hundreds of dollars. Because of this, many people often turn to massage chair pads as a more affordable alternative.

But what are the differences between the massage chair vs massage chair pad? We’ll go over the pros and cons for each home massage option, and delve a little deeper in terms of which style of massage device can offer the most bang for your buck.

Comparing The Massage Chair Pad With A Massage Chair

Massage Chair Pad Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Highly portable
  • Can be used in almost any chair
  • Affordable

Massage Chair Pad Cons:

  • Limited in the programs it contains
  • Can’t massage the lower body
  • Isn’t capable of delivering deep tissue massage
  • Can break down faster

Massage Chair Pros:

  • Provide a custom massage using body scan technology
  • Offers a total body massage
  • Allows the user to fully recline
  • Can provide deep tissue massages

Massage Chair Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Can take up a lot of floor space when reclined

But despite the massage chair’s drawbacks, it’s the only massage device that can meet the needs of a variety of users. It can also offer a more effective massage compared to the massage cushion, which does not include airbags or a track and roller system.

If you need some mild pain relief, then a massage cushion can be a great option, but if you want a massage device that can closely mimic the type of massage experience you enjoy at your massage therapy appointments then the massage chair is the best option.

Read on to learn more about what each type of massage device has to offer and which option will work the best based on your massage needs and your budget.

When You’re Short on Space

Many modern massage chairs feature that overstuffed look that makes it both visually appealing and incredibly comfortable. But if you live in an apartment or a smaller home, then adding a massage chair can make an already small room look and feel even smaller.

For this reason, many people turn to massage cushions since they’re small, portable, and can easily be stored away when not in use. This is the biggest advantage that the massage cushion has over its larger counterpart. While a massage chair can weigh anywhere from sixty to over two hundred pounds, a massage cushion weighs around ten to thirty pounds, so they’re definitely easier to move around.

Massage Devices

Both the massage chair and the massage cushion are designed to provide pain relief while removing tension from the muscles. But can both types of massage devices really deliver? Massage cushion technology has come a long way compared to the basic vibrating cushions you probably remember from ten years ago.

However, many massage enthusiasts are still hesitant to give the massage cushion a chance, especially people who suffer from chronic pain. But you may be pleasantly surprised to learn how versatile and powerful massage cushions are these days.

Massage Cushions Are More Versatile

When you set up a massage chair, it’s pretty much going to stay where you put it. Considering the massive size and weight, you can’t exactly take the massage chair from room to room. Whereas the massage cushion can easily fit on top of any chair. This means you can switch the massage cushion from chair to chair or even room to room, easily.  To use, all you have to do is place the cushion on top of a chair or sofa cushions, sit back and switch it on.

A More Affordable Option

A massage cushion is obviously much more affordable compared to a massage chair. You can get a decent massage cushion for around one to two hundred dollars. However, a massage chair will cost you at least five to six hundred dollars for a basic model.

If you want a massage chair that’s packed with features then you can expect to pay five hundred to a thousand dollars more. If you’re on a fixed income then a massage chair may not even be an option.


As we mentioned earlier, the massage cushion is highly portable. Considering many modern models don’t have to be plugged in during use, you can basically take the massage cushion with you, wherever you go. If you’re going on vacation, many massage cushions can easily fold down and fit nicely in your suitcase. Long car rides no longer have to be painful. For those weekend car trips, bring a massage cushion along and place it right over the driver’s seat for a comfortable, relaxing car ride.

What the Massage Cushion is Missing

Considering the massage cushion seems to offer a wide variety of benefits, including a more affordable price, a space-saving design, and portability that allows you to enjoy a massage any time, no matter where you go, then why would you choose a massage chair?

Unfortunately, even the best massage cushion can’t compete with a massage chair. A massage chair is designed with a powerful motor, and a track, and roller system. These chairs are also equipped with several massage programs and controls that allow you to enjoy a custom massage based on your height, weight, size, and musculature.

Basically, a massage chair can provide a more effective massage.  A massage cushion may come with two or three massage options, but they lack a roller system. This means you can forget about deep tissue massages.

Because of this, they aren’t recommended to people with chronic back pain.  Additionally, most massage cushions only provide upper and lower back massages, unlike massage chairs which can provide total body massages.


The massage chair can handle daily use and due to its sturdy design, it can handle wear and tear, easily. The massage cushion isn’t anywhere near as durable and most need to be replaced after one to two years. There’s also no way to secure a massage cushion to the chair it’s placed on, which can be a major issue for some users with disabilities.

The Ability to Kickback and Put Your Feet Up

The Ability to Kickback and Put Your Feet Up

Unlike a massage cushion, the massage chair allows you to relax in a fully reclined position, which helps to improve circulation while reducing stress that’s placed on nerves and joints. It also offers  a more relaxing position in general. Models such as the Osaki OS-Pro Ekon Zero Gravity Massage Chair feature the zero gravity position, which essentially takes pressure off the spine and can provide instant relief.

The More Effective Option

In the end, the massage chair is the clear winner here. If your main issue with massage chairs is their large bulky design, then a zero gravity chair can solve this problem. Most zero gravity chairs feature a space saving design. When these chairs are reclined, they don’t take up several extra feet of floor space.

Due to their innovative design, many of these chairs have very minimal clearance requirements such as six to twelve inches, while a traditional recliner can require three to four feet of clearance space.  If you’re looking for a massage device that can provide instant pain relief, one that you can really rely on instead of expensive massage therapy appointments every week, then the massage chair is the best option.

These chairs are loaded with the latest advances in massage tech. Features such as body scan will scan the user’s body and adjust the roller system in order to accommodate the user’s weight and height.  Aside from a custom massage, there are many massage programs to choose from that range from relaxing, to deep tissue massages, which is why these chairs are a must-have for people with chronic pain.

These chairs may not be portable like massage cushions are, but they can definitely provide a more effective massage, and that’s exactly what most consumers are looking for.

How to Afford a Massage Chair

Leading massage chairs are not exactly cheap. If you can’t afford to pay the total balance for a new massage chair, many retailers offer zero or low-interest financing.

This will allow you to slowly pay off the chair, based on the length of the promotion. In some cases you can find offers for twelve, eighteen or twenty-four-month payment plans. To learn more, click here to read my article on how to get a massage chair with no interest financing.

Related Questions

How Much Does Massage Chair Cost?

The price of a massage chair varies from model to model and brand to brand. You can get a decent massage chair for around five hundred dollars. However, this lower priced model will not come loaded with a variety of massage programs or techniques.

If you’re willing to spend around $1,500 hundred dollars then you can enjoy a chair that comes with several massage programs, body scan technology, an L track system, and a variety of other features that are designed to provide a more realistic massage. To learn more, click here to read the massage chair buyer’s guide.

On the top end of massage chairs, a state-of-the-art device will run about $7,000 – $10,000.

How Often Should You Use a Massage Chair?

If you have chronic back pain, you may benefit from using a massage chair on a daily basis. If you normally workout, then a massage right after a particularly challenging workout can help to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness, or minimize pain caused by muscle strain. Ultimately, how often you should use a massage chair will depend on why you purchased one.

These chairs aren’t just designed for chronic pain sufferers. They can offer the perfect way to unwind after work, or they can be used to relieve stress, promote sleep, or as a way to manage pain. In the beginning, you’ll want to limit how much time you spend in the chair until your muscles have acclimated to the roller system. This will help to prevent muscle tenderness.

Can Massage Chairs Bruise Your Back?

In most cases, no. However, if you bruise easily and you choose a deep tissue massage, then it is possible for the roller system to cause some minor bruising. Top of the line roller systems can provide a more intense massage because the rollers can protrude deep into the muscles. Massage chairs that come equipped with  controls that allow you to adjust the intensity of a massage will be the best option if you or another family member bruise easily.

Can I Get a Massage Two Days in a Row?

If you’re new to massage chair use, then I wouldn’t recommend using it two days in a row for the first month. Ideally, in the beginning you should only use the chair three to four times a week until your muscles have had an adequate amount of time to adjust to the chair’s roller system.

During the first month you should also lower the massage intensity level to further reduce the chances of the chair causing sore muscles. Overuse of a massage chair is fairly common for new chair owners and it can easily be prevented by limiting your time in the chair. Once your body is used to the chair it’s totally possible to enjoy a relaxing, daily massage.

Final Thoughts

Both the massage chair and massage cushion offer unique features, but only one of these devices offers the type of massage that can provide the type of results that a chronic pain sufferer is looking for. This is especially true for people in search of an alternative to expensive massage therapy sessions.

 In the battle of massage chair vs massage cushion, the massage cushion simply can’t compete. The massage chair comes loaded with a variety of massage programs, massage techniques, body scan technology, and allows the user to recline. The massage cushion’s best feature is its portability and its lower price.

However, if you’re looking for a massage device that can provide a massage that can help to treat a chronic condition or one that offers a more realistic massage, then the massage chair is the winner, hands down.