Buying a massage chair can be like trying to learn a new language. Whether you visit your local store or decide to shop online you’ll likely be faced with the same basic problem:
What do all these different features mean and what really counts?
In today’s article therefore we’re going to look at a range of features seen in massage chairs of all budgets in order to help you make a more informed decision about exactly which features are going to be the most important for you. By the end of this article you should not only have a better idea as to what each of these features means, but also which ones are going to be most important to you when shopping for a massage chair.
All massage chairs come with some kind of preset massage programs. These allow you to simply sit down in your chair, press a button and begin your massage; no messing about, no wasting time and no spending hours figuring out how to use your massage chair.
Broadly speaking the larger the number of presets, the easier you will find it to locate a program that suits your needs. Furthermore if your requirements change (for example you fancy an invigorating massage rather than a relaxing one this evening) then having a range of programs can make it easy to meet your requirements.
That said, don’t underestimate the “manual” options available on higher-end massage chairs. These allow more advanced users to “custom-build” their own massage program, targeting specific body parts with specific massage actions in order to tailor-make the perfect massage for your needs.
Many people are surprised to learn that many massage chairs offer a range of different types of massage. From relaxing to invigorating, from shiatsu to full-body, there are a range of different massage programs on offer. These can often be combined with the preset programs to create an almost infinite list of possible massage combinations.
Rather like the number of preset programs, therefore, selecting a massage chair with a greater number of massage types (six to eight is common in more advanced chairs, while lower-end models may only offer one or two) can be beneficial. This allows you further control over the type of massage you receive and ensures that your unique needs are met.
Some rather more advanced massage chairs offer a “body scanning” feature. Quite simply these massage chairs have the capacity to customize their programs to suit your unique body shape. They may, for example, take note of your spine shape, ensuring that your entire back receives the benefit of your massage, while some lower-end chairs may be rather less successful at targeting the lower back for example.
While anyone can benefit from body scanning technology, this is particularly beneficial for people whose body type does not fit the “average”. So, as an example, massage chair shoppers that are particularly short or tall may benefit from just such a feature.
As the name suggests, “rollers” act rather like a human hand, firmly rolling up the body and massaging the main muscle groups. Rollers may be found in most massage chairs – irrespective of price.
There are two aspects particularly worthy of consideration. Firstly, a limited number of massage chairs offer dual-rollers, providing the sensation of two hands gently running over your body and releasing tension. This can make for a far more enjoyable and realistic massage experience.
Secondly worthy of note is the “stroke length”. Particularly tall people can sometimes find that lower-end massage chairs provide a very short stroke – which makes for a less beneficial massage experience. More advanced massage chairs typically offer a much longer massage stroke, ensuring even those particularly tall people are able to benefit from a full-body massage.
Only seen in mid- to high-end massage chairs, air bags gently fill with air and then deflate, over and over, giving a relaxing, pain-relieving kneading sensation. In conjunction with the standard rollers these air bags help to create the most accurate and beneficial massage experience possible in a massage chair.
If you’re serious about purchasing the best massage chair you can afford, therefore, try to find a chair that includes air bags. If you’re trying to decide between two different massage chairs, try looking at the number of airbags each one offers. As a general rule of thumb more airbags equals a more enjoyable and realistic massage experience.
Heated Chair Pads
To help ease away pain and tension in your body some massage chairs offer gentle background warmth, especially in the more sensitive lower-back region. One or two massage chairs also include warming pads in the neck and shoulder area.
If one of your primary motivators for buying a massage chair is to relax the muscles and relieve discomfort then choosing a massage chair with built-in heat pads can be a very good idea indeed.
Angle of Recline
All but the most basic massage chairs will recline to a degree. However how much they recline, and how this is controlled, can have a significant impact on your massage experience.
Firstly, consider the leg rest. Some lower-end massage chairs will recline by a small amount, yet have no leg rest. As a result, some users can find reclining their back, with their feet still on the floor far less comfortable than a massage chair where the legs are also raised when the chair is reclined.
Broadly speaking the greater the angle of recline on a massage chair, the better. This is because a large angle of recline helps to remove pressure from the spine and other joints, making for greater comfort and a more beneficial massage.
The “ultimate” figure here is the so-called “zero gravity” position, achieved at around a 170′ angle of recline. This is considered the optimum position for relieving pressure, as used by astronauts heading into space.
Full Body Massage
Even the most basic chair will be capable of massaging the back, but for the full-on massage experience many consumers opt for a “full body” massage chair. As the name suggests these are designed to target muscle groups throughout the body – not just the back. As example, mid- to high-end models typically include a massaging leg rest to ease tension and discomfort away from the legs, and some models will even massage the arms too.
Hopefully by now you feel that you have a better understanding of the key features seen in massage chairs and feel better-equipped to select the ideal massage chair for your needs. Use these features as a basis for choosing a massage chair and you can feel confident you will be selecting a model that suits your needs well.