For many people a massage chair will be one of the most unique and bold purchases that you will make, especially for a product that may be showcased in your home or office. Think of the first time that you you walked into someone’s home and saw the strange object that turned out, upon inquiry, to be a massage chair. It is a rare experience to see a massage chair and even more rare to own one. If you have ever sat in a massage chair, you probably immediately though to yourself “I NEED one of these”. However, the last thing you want to do is go out and make a purchase without doing your research first. Considering the fact that you found our blog, that means you are doing your research which is great! Our goal here is to help you select the best massage chair for YOUR needs.
Understanding The 2 Main Types of Massage Chairs
There are two main types of massage chairs. The first type is the ergonomic massage table or chair that a person sits, lays or kneels in while a massage practitioner works on them. These are adjustable chairs with a variety of pads and cushions that allow you to completely relax and allow the body to go limp while your masseuse does his or her magic. This type of massage chair falls into the category of medical or physiotherapy equipment and is likely to be sold in a shop specializing in medical equipment.
Of course, with this type of chair you will still need a massage therapist to gain any benefit, so owning one of your own is unlikely to bring much benefit to your life unless you have home visits by your therapists on a frequent basis, or perhaps if you are yourself a massage hobbyist. Even better: someone in your family is a massage enthusiast or in training to become a licensed practitioner.
On this blog, we won’t be talking much about these types of chairs. The chairs you are probably interested in are called “robotic chairs”.
The other type of massage chair is the so-called robotic massage chair that does not require anyone to perform the massage. These chairs look very different and generally have the appearance of a reclining sofa, although they range from simple recliners to modern looking devices that almost appear to envelop you with a variety of grooves and cushions into which your neck, arms or legs fit, as well as control panels and displays.
Many of these chairs are considered to be medical devices, but unlike the massage tables or chairs mentioned above, they are purchased from a variety of stores including luxury furniture stores or special stores dedicated to massage chairs. The obvious benefit of the robotic massage chair is that it has the potential to eliminate the cost of having a trained professional perform the massage. Of course you can also use the massage chair at your convenience and even use it while you are watching television or relaxing with others in your living room.
The First Decision: Medical Or Luxury?
The first major decision making criteria when shopping for a chair is whether you are looking to solve or alleviate a medical or health issue or whether you are making a luxury purchase to improve your standard of living. If you are looking for a chair for luxury and personal comfort, you’ll probably want to showcase it even encourage friends, family, visitors or clients to make use of it. If that’s the case, then the design is very important.
If you are using the chair primarily as a health device, you may not want to incorporate the chair into your everyday surroundings, or you may not even want others to see it or reveal too much about your health problems. You may be a private person who does not like to share medical devices or other types of equipment, in which case you will only have to consider your own needs and probably don’t need to worry too much about the look and design.
Make a List of Expectations and Needs
Before you start, you should make a list of expectations you have for the chair. Do you have experience with real massage techniques? Perhaps you have a preferred style of massage and you have areas of your body that require particular attention, even if you don’t have a medical condition. Do you have circulation problems? Sore or stiff neck or lower back? Massage chairs at a minimum generally will focus on the back and shoulders and from there the range of action expands to include the neck, lower back, legs, calves, feet, arms and even hands.
The basic type of action is vibration and heat, but this expands to include other styles of massage including kneading, shiatsu, clapping or tapping, and rolling or swaying. Many manufacturers have branded names for their specific technologies that you will need to familiarize yourself with including Zero Gravity, air massage, 3D massage and a ton of others. Chairs have varying degrees of reclining and can even perform stretching of the muscles! All of these options can overwhelm you if you do not start off by making a list of expectations and needs before you start trying chairs.
Test Out Some Massage Chairs
Still, you won’t know for certain what you like until you try some chairs, so the next thing is to get not only your brain, but your body exposed to what modern massage chairs can do. You will want to try the different models of chairs by more than one manufacturer if it is possible for you to access a retailer that has more than one line or brand. If you are purchasing the chair for more than one family member, try to bring them along so they can test the chairs out too.
Salesmen are knowledgeable but can also try to upsell you to include features that may not be on your list of expectations. For example some chairs include mp3 or iPod connections and features that may not even be related to massage, such as Chromotherapy lights. On the other hand you may find these beneficial. Some common brands of massage chair are Sanyo, Panasonic, Osaki, Infinity, Kahuna, HomCom, Outsunny, Franklin, Columbia, Dorel, Temptation, Sharpei, and many others so don’t stop at just one or two.
The best advice we can give when it comes to testing out chairs is that if you have a Brookstone near you, go there and test out their massage chairs!
Which Controls Do You Need?
The sophistication of the controls for your chair may be another factor. Basic chairs have basic controls for intensity and speed of vibration and heat and may not have much when it comes to automatic massage cycles. Modern controls are LCD screens with extensive settings allowing for a massage experience that would not be possible with simple manual controls or even a human massage therapist. The controller may come with pre-set programs that cycle through a variety of massage modes and body parts, or all at once.
These controls strive to be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be but if you are the kind of person that doesn’t exactly like technology and touch screens, there might be a bit of a learning curve. Rest assured that there will be a simple way to sit in the chair and get a massage with one or two clicks, but if you need specific types of massage you are going to have to get to know your machine.
The Lifespan of The Chair
In your list of expectations you should consider how long you would like to have this chair. If you are trying to treat a problem for a limited time and then stop using the chair then you can easily choose a less expensive chair with a shorter warranty. Less expensive chairs are made with lower quality components and coverings. They may also have manual rather than motorized reclining adjusters, so you should consider if you have the strength to manually adjust your chair. Although you may expect to need your chair for only a short time, you should consider the very real possibility that you will become attached to the freedom and benefits of having your own massage chair or adding accessories to it.
Once you have made your list of expectations and then tried out some chairs in real life, it is always good to step back out of the salesman’s clutches and go back to the internet and do more research. Now that you are a little more fluent in the terminology, the available and competing feature sets, and now that you have discovered any features that you can’t live without, what you read online is going to make a lot more sense to you. Not only that, but you might be able to find a wider variety of retailers online than you would find in your local area, and it is even possible to find second-hand chairs that perform just as well as brand new ones.
Material and Cleanliness
Depending on your needs, the physical appearance of your chair may not matter. However, unless you are hiding your chair out of sight, you will want to consider the material, color and style of the chair. The wrong look or color may be a deal breaker for you. The question of materials also relates to your expectations of longevity. The material must be able to withstand a lot of stretching and rubbing by the very definition of what a massage chair is, and only previous customers can accurately report on this.
Another question is how easily the chair can be cleaned. Unlike most couches and recliners, you aren’t going to just be able to discard or reupholster this piece of furniture. Another thing to consider is how loud the chair is. Trying chairs out in real life will give you an idea of whether or not using it will disrupt other people in your home or office.
Warranty, Service Options, and Return Policy
Consider the value of your chair and the warranty and service options that go with it. Lower-end chairs are well below $1000 and are not drastically more expensive than your average recliner, in this case there may not be much concern about long term service. Chairs with many modern features, however, will end up costing around $2000-$6000, and in this case you will want to make sure that you get a long term warranty as well as a service center where warranty work can be done.
As with any large purchase like furniture or appliances, you will want to know if there is delivery included and if not if you can manage the delivery yourself. Is there any special assembly that needs to be done and if so will that be included in the delivery and be done for you?
Of course you will have to look into the return policy. One factor that you may not have considered is that you may not enjoy the chair or that it will actually make your condition worse after a few days or weeks of use. Perhaps someone in your home or office will not be comfortable with it, perhaps one of your pets will hate it. Also be aware that as with all technology products, manufacturers will be adding more features year after year so try not to have buyer’s remorse and become unhappy with your chair when compared to the newest models.
If you have been a careful shopper and followed the suggestions in this article you will likely be very happy with your new massage chair so now it is time to enjoy it. Chairs have safety instructions that you must comply with. These usually include maximum amounts of time you can use the device at given intensities and other regulations to protect children or people with severe conditions or injuries. If you have a medical condition, continue to consult with your physician or licensed physical or massage therapist even after you have brought your device home.
How To Use This Site
Now that you understand how to select the best massage chair for YOUR needs, feel free to browse this site and view our product reviews. We test out and review different massage chairs on a weekly basis and always update this blog with our honest opinion. Our goal with this blog is to help you make the best possible purchasing decision, we don’t want any of our readers to have buyers remorse!
Is There a Specific Chair You Want us To Review?
If there is a specific chair you want us to review, feel free to use the contact button to send us an email. We would be more than happy to review the chairs and help you make a smart decision.