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Buying a massage chair for your home or office can get real confusing, real fast.
If you don’t believe me, just look at the number of products available on the market today. And you don’t want to be relying on sheer luck when it comes to spending thousands of dollars, right?
That’s the dilemma that I found myself in when I decided to buy a massage chair. Leading the hectic life of an interior designer left my back, neck, and legs aching more often than I would like. But finding the best massage chair to buy started to seem like looking for a needle in a haystack.
It was only after doing a lot of research online and talking to people that I was able to make the decision. So, I figured it was a good idea to use all of that research to compile a guide for you.
And now, I present to you this comprehensive guide that will give you all the answers related to buying a massage chair.
Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- Sturdy and durable construction
- 2 unique massage programs
- Heat therapy for legs and lumbar region
- Space-saving design
- Real zero-gravity seating
- Foot rollers hurt
- Installation is a bit difficult
- Easy assembly
- Zero Gravity function included
- Trendy, color-changing LED light strips
- Built-in Bluetooth speakers
- Six Auto Modes
- Intensity around the lower back area is a bit too much
- L-shaped design that fits any body shape
- Multi-roller back massage mechanism
- Fits people of any height snugly
- Air pressure massage for that extra level of relaxation
- All-black color combo makes things a little dull
- Auto Body Detection
- 50-inch SL double-track rollers
- Built-in Bluetooth speakers
- Offers optimal value for money
- Includes Zero Gravity and Yoga Stretching systems
- Rollers are a tad bit intense for short and skinny people
Everything You Need To Know About Massage Chairs
For the sake of brevity, I have divided this detailed guide into three sections:
- Generic Information About Massage Chairs
- Factors To Consider When Buying A Massage Chair
- FAQs About Massage Chairs
Sit back, relax, and let me take you through all the essential stuff.
Generic Information About Massage Chairs
Before I talk about anything else, it makes sense to discuss some of the basic information related to massage chairs. Irrespective of your specific needs and budget constraints, knowing these details would do a world of good to you. After all, the prerequisite for making a good buy is an informed buyer, right?
Types Of Massage Chairs
Massage chairs come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. They are also spread across a diverse price range and have a wide array of features. Let’s just say that if you were to search for “massage chairs” online, you would be overwhelmed by the number of products you find.
So, the first thing you want to know is the different types of massage chairs that are available out there. While doing my research, I observed that there wasn’t one specific basis for classification. Some people classify massage chairs based on the intended use, while others the features. You will also find some products designed specifically for saving space or for use by unusually big/tall users.
Although features can be added or modified across various models, I feel it’s the easiest way to classify massage chairs. So, let’s dive into the details.
The majority of products you can buy today come with full body massage capabilities. As the name suggests, these chairs will massage your entire body (almost). When it comes to the traditional models, you can expect those to massage your neck, spine, shoulders, calves, and feet. The newer models go a step further to massage your arms as well.
It should not come as a surprise that it is one of the most expensive types of massage chairs you will find out there. Also, it takes up significant space and is usually quite heavy.
Ottoman chairs are ideal for people who have not-so-lavish budgets. In fact, they are only a tad bit more expensive than your regular chair. And that’s not all; it takes up only a fraction of the space taken up by a full body massage chair.
Given the smaller size and lower price, you will only get so much out of it in terms of the actual massage experience, but that does not mean it is not worth buying. For people who do not want to spend a lot and are just looking for some relaxation, I recommend going for an Ottoman massage chair.
Although this is more of an additional feature than a different type of massage chair, it deserves special mention. I found heat therapy massage chairs to be the most effective for relieving muscle soreness.
The rollers heat up enough to ensure that you get a deep, long-lasting solution to pain and stress in your muscles. The best part of this type of massage chair is that it is available in a wide range of prices, making it affordable for all buyers.
Air massage chairs are quite different from their peers in terms of their functionality. Unlike other types that employ electronic equipment, they use several airbags to massage various parts of your body. The most common focus areas are your arms and feet, but you may find some models that can massage nearly your entire body.
The airbags deliver a relatively softer or more comfortable experience than the conventional rollers, and they can reach parts of your body which a roller cannot, so they are quite useful.
Ever wondered what it would be like to float in space with zero gravity? Let’s face it; most people are fascinated by it, and now some massage chairs offer a way to experience something quite similar. Although zero gravity was initially one of the several features in a massage chair, you will find products designed specifically for zero-gravity massage experiences.
It works by reclining on a particular angle that allows inversion therapy to be applied on your spine. If you think that it’s just one of those fancy features that you don’t need, let me tell you that it can help correct your posture and treat recurring back and joint aches. So, do not shy away from considering buying one of these chairs just because of their higher price tags.
I have covered the most common types of massage chairs, but there are some alternatives that I must tell you about, and the first among them is a massage cushion. If you want to buy something easily portable, you would not want to invest in a bulky chair. That’s where the lightweight and compact cushion comes into the picture.
But that’s not your only hope – some of the recent models released by top-notch brands incorporate space-saving designs.
My neighbor has recently moved into a tiny home which does not have enough space for a massage chair. She told me that she prefers using a handheld massage device to treat muscle soreness and pain. So, that’s another option you may consider.
Core Components Of A Massage Chair
Now that you know the various types of massage chairs you will find on the market, it is time to look at the core components. Again, irrespective of the specific product you choose to buy, it would have nearly all of these components.
If you happen to talk to anybody about a massage chair, that conversation will most likely include massage tracks. There are three different variants of it that you may find on the market:
- Fixed Frame
Fixed frame is a simple rectangular frame found mostly on the lower end models. Stationary massage heads are mounted on these frames. Since the heads do not move, you get a somewhat ordinary or subpar massage experience.
S-Track is the gold standard in the massage chair industry today. As the name suggests, it follows the natural curvature of your spine, which makes it considerably better than the fixed frame. So, you can rest assured that it will give you an exceptional massage experience.
The L-Track is the latest addition to this technology, and people sometimes refer to it as the Hybrid L/S-Track as well. It extends the S-Track to go beneath the seat, sort of in an L-shape. As a result, it adds massaging capabilities for your glutes and hamstrings.
Rollers of a chair work like the hands of a masseur – they are responsible for rendering the massage. If you are a perfectionist like me, you shouldn’t settle for anything inferior to the quad roller, which is the current benchmark.
Having said that, you will find quite a few models that come with tri-rollers or dual-rollers, because they are more reasonably priced. A handful of options out there have taken it up a notch, with as many as six rollers.
If you’re wondering why you should be concerned with the number of rollers, it’s because more rollers lead to a better massage experience. So, be sure to check the roller array of the chair you are considering to buy.
To reduce costs, some brands design products with massage balls in place of a roller array. I want you to know that it does not deteriorate the experience by a considerable degree, so you may opt for it if you have a strict budget constraint.
Roller Adjustment Technology
A massage chair is only as good as its rollers! Now that I have talked about the significance of the number of rollers, it is time to tell you how vital their adjustment mechanism is. You will find one of these three technologies:
- 3D Body Scanning
- Manual Adjustment
- Two-Pronged Approach
3D Body Scanning is, by far, the most common way to adjust the roller positions and change the massage field width. Before the massage commences, the chair’s onboard computer conducts a scan to locate your pressure points and adjusts the rollers accordingly.
3D scans seem to be all the rage recently, but if they fail, you may be left with a redundant chair. That’s where manual adjustment options come to the rescue. The remote has buttons that control the position of the rollers. I know it takes a tad bit longer to set it up, but it guarantees that the rollers are precisely where you need them.
The two-pronged approach gives you the best of both worlds by combining manual adjustment buttons with body scan technology.
Although it is quite rare, I found some low-budget models that come with no roller adjustment technology. It is more like picking a pair of shoes without checking its size. What are the odds that the default roller positions will align with your pressure points?
This one is a no-brainer! You can get two types of massage options in a massage chair – basic and advanced.
Basic options include kneading, rolling, tapping, knocking, and so on. Advanced options are massage techniques from different parts of the world, such as Thai, Shiatsu, and Swedish.
Apart from these options, nearly every massage chair will give you the option to choose the speed and intensity levels. That just gives you the flexibility to customize your massage experience and make the most of it.
Is A Massage Chair Better Than A Masseur/Masseuse?
I was interested to know the answer to this question after looking at some top-notch chairs that come with lots of features. Does it mean that massage chairs can soon replace all the masseurs and masseuses? As it turns out, that is unlikely!
Although massage chairs have come a long way in the last few years, they are yet to master some fundamental human aspects. A massage therapist can observe intricate details, such as your breathing pattern and facial expressions, to adjust the pressure and focus. But a chair can only do what it is programmed to do.
That inherent lack of assessing subtle feedback renders a massage chair a tad bit inflexible compared to a human being. To cut a long story short, nothing can beat the experience of getting a massage from a trained professional.
But don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you should not invest in a massage chair. It serves as an excellent means of relaxation from the comfort and convenience of your home. Is it capable of providing the best massage experience? No, but that does not mean you should not buy it.
Factors To Consider When Buying A Massage Chair
Now that I have talked about everything there is to know about massage chairs in general, let’s move on to the process of buying one. Imagine looking at some excellent options online – how do you pick the best of the lot?
I know it can get challenging to know for sure if the products you are considering are worth spending your hard-earned money. So, here is a list of the factors you need to consider before you key in your credit card details.
How much does a massage chair cost? I was a bit taken aback by the vast difference in prices across products. After talking to a couple of “self-proclaimed massage chair expert” friends of mine, I knew that massage chairs could be divided into three categories based on their prices:
- Budget products cost around $1,500 or less
- Mid-range chairs cost between $1,500 and $6,500
- Luxurious or high-end models cost more than $6,500
Irrespective of your budget, you would want your massage chair to have enough nifty features to justify its price. Of course, you cannot expect a budget model to come with high-end features, but it should at least have all the features of its competitors from rival brands.
As a rule of thumb, go through the reviews of existing customers to ensure that you do not end up spending more than you should on any product.
Once the price is addressed, the next factor you need to consider is design. I was in awe of certain massage chairs because of their futuristic look and feel. A well-designed massage chair is amongst the handful of products that I can place in any of my clients’ living rooms without having to worry.
But don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that a massage chair only needs to look good. It should be every bit as ergonomic as it is beautiful. You need to pay attention to specific elements, such as its material, size, shape, and weight.
For instance, I am a big fan of chairs that come with small rear wheels because it makes it so much easier to move them from one place to another.
If anything, a massage chair needs to be versatile. And by that, I mean there should be enough functions and massage types to choose from. Unless you are buying a budget model, the vast majority of products come with several options, including Shiatsu, Zero Gravity, and conventional massage techniques.
Furthermore, your massage chair should comfortably accommodate people of all sizes. I am quite petite, whereas my husband is over six feet tall. So, that is an indispensable feature for any massage chair I want to buy. Make sure that the headrest and foot compartment can be adjusted conveniently.
Perhaps one of the most significant factors to consider when buying a massage chair is its durability. Nobody wants to spend a considerable amount of money on a product that will not last long enough. So how can a massage chair be an exception to that aspect of consumer behavior?
I suggest paying close attention to the material and motor, for starters. Also, avoid buying products of brands that do not have significant goodwill in the market, and make sure that a decent warranty backs the chair you are looking to buy.
Although this is not a must-have, I recommend trying to find a massage chair that comes with some additional features. Not only will that help you derive optimal utility from it, but also give you the most bang for your buck. But what additional features am I talking about?
I found a couple of bulky chairs that come with a unique, space-saving design. The entire chair slides forward before reclining, thereby allowing you to keep it with only a 2-inch clearance. But that’s not all; I also found a model that features a Yoga Stretching mode, which can help with posture correction.
It is also quite common to find a massage chair with built-in speakers. For those of you who like listening to soothing music while getting a massage, this can be a bonus! If you can find a product that has some additional features like these, go for it!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This guide would be incomplete without an informative FAQ section. During my research, I kept track of the questions I was trying to answer, and these are the most important ones from that list.
How long does a massage chair last?
Low-end or budget-friendly chairs will likely not last for a considerable period. Mid-range products typically last for at least 2 to 3 years, and you can expect high-end or luxurious chairs to last as long as ten years or more.
What is the ideal duration for using a massage chair?
Nothing has been set in stone about the duration of a massage chair session, but the consensus among users is around 15 minutes. Ideally, it depends on your specific needs, so it may be more or less than 15 minutes.
Does a massage chair lead to health benefits?
Using a massage chair can lead to significant health benefits, which are not limited to the reduction of stress. You can expect a bunch of benefits from regular use. In fact, the newest innovation has enabled some chairs to help with posture correction too.
How do you operate a massage chair?
The majority of massage chairs available today come with a touchscreen panel. You may expect nine out of ten products to have a remote as well for added convenience. There are only some chairs that offer app control, enabling you to operate them using your smartphone.
Summing It Up
With that, I have reached the end of this detailed guide. If you want to know my top picks for massage chair brands, I recommend:
- Osaki and Titan for an intense massage experience
- Human Touch for a gentle massage experience
- Kahuna and Positive Posture for compact and adjustable products
- Synca and uKnead for stylish products
This isn’t an exhaustive list, so you may find products from other brands to be just as good or even better. But based on my research, these products will not disappoint.
You should also check out our reviews of other models:
- Best HoMedics Massager 2020
- Best Infinity Massage Chair 2020
- Best Osaki Massage Chairs 2020
- BestMassage Zero Gravity Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- Cozzia Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- Daiwa Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- eSmart Zero Gravity Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- Fuji Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- Galaxy EC-555 Longer S-Track Full Body Massage Chair Review
- Human Touch Chair Reviews 2020
- INADA Sogno Massage Chair Review
- Kahuna LM6800 Review 2020
- MB Series Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- Ogawa Active L Massage Chair Review 2020
- Ootori Massage Chair Recliner Reviews 2020
- Positive Posture Brio Massage Chair Review 2020
- Real Relax Massage Chair Favor 03 Review 2020
- Revitive Foot Massager Reviews 2020
- Sharper Image Foldable Massage Chair Review
- Shiatsu Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- Slabway Shiatsu Massage Chair Reviews 2020
- SNAILAX Memory Foam Massage Mat Review
- Spa Dynamix Vitala Massage Chair Review
- Synca Wellness CirC SL Track Heated Massage Chair Review
- Theragun G3PRO Review 2020
- Titan Apex AP Zero Gravity Massage Chair Review
- truMedic Massage Chair Review 2020
- Zero Gravity Massage Chair Reviews 2020