Choosing a massage chair is much easier said than done. That’s especially true if you’re a consumer choosing one for home use, rather than a business owner choosing one to install in your business. Massage chairs are not only relatively expensive pieces of furniture; they also need both energy and usually a lot of space to run properly. But if setup correctly and chosen right, they’re one of the most convenient ways one could possibly get a massage, requiring absolutely no action on the user’s part besides flipping an on/off switching and pressing a few buttons.
That’s why here, we’ve included everything you need to buy a perfect massage chair on your own. First, we’ll run through product reviews of the best massage chairs currently in the game today, with detailed pros and cons for each model. Afterward, we’ll cover a buying guide that will get you asking the right questions so that even on your own, making an informed buying choice will be easy and simple. Here below is a list of the top 10 massage chair reviews for you to find the perfect chair for your home or office.
- 1 Best Massage Chair Reviews [Updated List]
- 1.1 1. BestMassage Full Body Electric Shiatsu Massage Chair Recliner
- 1.2 2. Osaki OS-4000 Zero Gravity Heated Reclining Massage Chair
- 1.3 3. Ideal Massage Full Featured Shiatsu Chair with Built in Heat
- 1.4 4. RELAXONCHAIR MK-II Plus Full Body Zero Gravity Shiatsu Massage Chair
- 1.5 5. Top Performance Kahuna Superior Massage Chair
- 1.6 6. Real Relax Shiatsu Electric Zero Gravity Full Body Affordable FDA Approved Massage Chair
- 1.7 7. Inada HCP-S373 Flex 3s Massage Chair
- 1.8 8. Zero Gravity Full-Body Kahuna Massage Chair Recliner LM6800 with Yoga & Heating Therapy
- 1.9 9. Kahuna SM-9000 with Air Float 3D+ 6 Infrared Roller System
- 1.10 10. Real Relax 2019 Premium SL Track 3D Robotic Massage Recliner
- 2 Massage Chairs Comparison Chart
- 3 Massage Chair Buying Guide
- 3.1 Introduction to Massage Chairs
- 3.2 Massage Chair FAQ
- 3.3 Best Features to Look For in a Massage Chair
- 4 Conclusion
Best Massage Chair Reviews [Updated List]
- Full Body Electric Shiatsu
- Material: Leather
- Color: Black
- Dimensions: 55 x 42 x 35 in
- Weight: 300 lbs
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Osaki OS-4000
- Material: Synthetic leather
- Color: Cream
- Dimensions: 80 x 33 x 46 in
- Weight: 48.3 pounds
- Warranty: 3 Year warranty
- ideal massage Full Featured Shiatsu
- Material: N/A
- Color: Dark Brown
- Dimensions: N/A
- Weight: 200 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- RELAXONCHAIR [MK-II Plus]
- Material: Synthetic leather
- Color: Charcoal
- Dimensions: N/A
- Weight: 183 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
- Kahuna Massage Chair SM-7300
- Material: N/A
- Color: Black
- Dimensions: N/A
- Weight: 236 pounds
- Warranty: 2 Years Part & Labor Warranty
- Real Relax Shiatsu
- Material: N/A
- Color: Brown
- Dimensions: N/A
- Weight: 217 pounds
- Warranty: Manufacturers
1. BestMassage Full Body Electric Shiatsu Massage Chair Recliner
First on our list is a true luxury option. This chair is so hi-tech and fitted with so much cushioning that it looks a bit like something out of a science fiction movie. But all those cushions, buttons, panels and crevices are there for a reason: this is a full-sized comfort machine.
Of course, this model from BestMassage does come with a couple of minor drawbacks. It’s not exactly small or portable, so once you install it somewhere, you probably shouldn’t plan on moving it anywhere without a car, a lot of time, and some serious manpower. Also, because it’s so Shiatsu focused, this chair doesn’t quite hold up to the same standard that some of the other ones on this list do for alternative massage styles/methods.
As long as neither of those two points is a dealbreaker for you, then this is a very high-end option for the discerning Shiatsu fan.
- 3 levels of intensity control
- A 21-airbag air massage system
- Heat therapy for back and feet
- Built-in scanning system that will automatically fit the chair to your body for the best possible massage
- 7 different massage modes: kneading, tapping, stretching, Shiatsu, combination, air pressure, heat therapy
2. Osaki OS-4000 Zero Gravity Heated Reclining Massage Chair
This Osaki OS-4000 unit from Osaki comes at a rather premium price. It’s not cheap. That said, it could very well be one of the most high-end models on this list: with an auto-scan system for fitting the chair to your body, a staggering plethora of different modes and settings, as well as the opportunity to engage in lower back heat therapy, this chair is a perfect choice for someone who doesn’t mind spending for the best of the best.
This is another big chair, though; weighing in at 48.3 pounds, it won’t exactly be easy to move around, and it may not fit inside small living rooms or other closed-in spaces. But with a wireless controller, a full-sized remote, and body sensing even for the calf and foot area, the Osaki OS-4000 simply makes getting a massage easy. This would also be a good option for older customers who find they can’t always view smaller LCD screens or finicky buttons on some massage chair models; you’ll find the OS-4000 is easier to operate than you might expect.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that this chair isn’t the kind that focuses on a single type of massage style, like Shiatsu or Swedish. You’ll find both options on this chair, but if you’re a user who’s particularly obsessed with getting a single style of massage, you may want to look at some of the other models on this list for a more focused experience. This chair offers a general massage experience, great for users who want a wide variety of modes.
Find more models of Osaki Massage Chairs here.
Read More: Osaki OS-4000 Zero Gravity Massage Chair
- Automatic body-scan system will fit the chair to your body shape and size
- Manual massage modes including tapping, kneading, Shiatsu, Swedish, rolling, and combination massage modes
- Deluxe “Zero Gravity” system allows users to get completely horizontal while using the chair
- Comes with wireless mini controller
3. Ideal Massage Full Featured Shiatsu Chair with Built in Heat
This Shiatsu chair by Ideal Massage is a great option for any users who care about both short massage sessions and long, drawn-out relaxation. With the ability to choose from massages lasting anywhere from five to 30 minutes, this chair will satisfy users no matter the duration of the massage.
Also, even though it has four different massage functions (Shiatsu, spinal rolling, kneading, and vibrating), this is very much a Shiatsu-focused chair. So this would be a great option for those consumers who don’t care very much about Swedish massages, or who don’t necessarily need the most versatile chair but are looking for the best Shiatsu machine they can get.
In addition, this massage chair comes at a fairly mid-level price. It’s not the cheapest chair on the list, but it’s also not the most expensive chair here by far. This is essentially a chair for accessible Shiatsu at an affordable price. It will give you the most bang for your buck. It comes with just as many mode settings as many of its more expensive competitors, so you don’t need to worry about missing out on anything.
All in all, the combination of features and middle-of-the-road price make this chair a great option for average users. If you have a wide variety of different use cases, or if you’re not quite sure what you want, this would be a safe bet. You’ll likely get all the functionality you need, without having to shell out large amounts of cash for a premium chair that might be too over-the-top for your usage.
Read More: Ideal Massage Shiatsu Massage Chair
- Four different massage functions including Shiatsu and spinal rolling
- Shiatsu-focused product
- Zero gravity positioning technology for truly horizontal massages
- Two intensity levels for all airbag massages
- Built-in heat therapy system
4. RELAXONCHAIR MK-II Plus Full Body Zero Gravity Shiatsu Massage Chair
Designed to provide detailed massages that simulate a real therapist, the Mark II Plus will satisfy even the deepest longings for an in-person massage therapist. Plus, with a unique, L-style roller system that ensures massages go from the headrest all the way to the bottom of the seat, your entire body really will be stimulated, from head to toe.
This chair also doesn’t necessarily skimp on the features: it has a three-stage zero-gravity system; 3 heating pads in the lower back area; and dedicated arm, calf, and foot massagers to ensure no part of your body misses out.
Again, this is a great middle option, neither too expensive nor too cheap. It’ll satisfy anybody looking for a decent Shiatsu system, but the inclusion of multiple other modes (kneading, tapping and rolling) as well as two heating pads makes it another relatively versatile choice. If you’re looking for Swedish massage, however, you’ll have to look elsewhere; this option from RELAXONCHAIR, unfortunately, doesn’t offer such a mode. If that’s the case, spending a bit more money for a premium option with a dedicated Swedish massage mode is likely more than worth it.
Read More: RELAXONCHAIR MK-II Plus Massage Chair
- L-tracking massage system
- Heating therapy
- Zero gravity positioning system that works in three different stages
5. Top Performance Kahuna Superior Massage Chair
This model, also known as the SM-7300, comes in multiple colors, but the black one caught our eye as soon as we saw it. For whatever reason, this chair in black just looks like it means business. That makes it a perfect option for either business owners who are investing in massage chairs or for high-end buyers who want a premium option. You won’t just be getting a chair that does its job; you’ll be getting one that does everything you ask and looks good doing it.
With a total of nine programs, this is a very versatile chair in comparison to the competition. Again, that makes this chair a good option for businesses, where you can’t necessarily choose your audience. The plethora of modes will ensure you can get the style of massage you need to without missing out on anything. The five auto programs are Yoga Stretching, Fast Recovery, Pain Relief, Relaxation, and Athlete. In addition, there are four very specific programs — Office Person, Golfer, Senior Mode, and Dynamic Sport — which are made to target consumers in exactly those categories. So, if you fall into one of them, you should definitely consider this chair from Kahuna as one of your top choices.
All these positives are perhaps warranted, considering the Kahuna’s high price. Make no mistake, this is definitely an option on the upper end of the market. But if you have the money to spare, you won’t be disappointed. It accommodates heights up to six feet and five inches, as well as weights of up to 320 pounds.
Read More: SM-7300 Massage Chair
- Triple hip airbags
- Kneading, tapping, knocking, tapping &knocking and Shiatsu massages all available
- Uses six different rollers altogether to provide a full-body experience in a zero gravity position
- Acupressure points for arm massages
- Dedicated foot and calf massager
6. Real Relax Shiatsu Electric Zero Gravity Full Body Affordable FDA Approved Massage Chair
This chair from Real Relax keeps things simple. Rather than inundate the user with flashy modes, blinking lights and a large design, this chair flies under the radar and just does exactly what it should: gives quality massages.
Don’t let its lack of flash fool you, though; if you look under the hood, you’ll find 50 airbags and eight different massage rollers, which is actually more than some of the most premium chairs we’ve researched here.
In addition, this chair is a great option for budget-minded buyers. It comes at a significantly lower price than most of the chairs on this list but doesn’t skimp too much on materials or on quality. Of course, with such a dramatic price cut you are losing out on some functionality; this model isn’t quite as technologically advanced or awe-inspiring as other chairs on this list. But if all you want is a simple device that’ll give you the massages you’re craving and you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get it, this could be the chair for you.
Read More: Real Relax Shiatsu Electric Massage Chair
- Fifty airbags and eight different rollers
- Suits any budget
- Ergonomic armrest system
7. Inada HCP-S373 Flex 3s Massage Chair
This Inada HCP-S373 Flex 3s electronic massage chair on offer from Inada, we’ll admit, doesn’t exactly have the most charismatic name, with nothing but a mash of letters and numbers. Don’t let that stop you from checking it out, though; despite its generic name, the Inada is a great option for buyers on the high end of the spectrum. Indeed, it might just take the cake for the most luxurious chair here.
Make no mistake; this is one of the most expensive chairs on this list, coming in at almost four or five times the price of other options. This is a chair for those who are truly, truly, serious about getting the best massages out there.
Thankfully, that price is more than justified in regards to the HCP-S373’s features and design. This chair offers a full-body air massage, with a head-to-toe kneading system that will ensure every single part of your body is equally satisfied when you use it.
It also offers a heating system but steps up a typical massage system by offering specialized heaters at the extremities of the chair to warm fingers and toes. That means for users who have poor circulation, or who like heated massages but often find that their fingers and toes get too cold while their body gets too hot, this chair has an ideal heating method.
Finally, prospective buyers should definitely note that this chair has a specialized shoulder focus program. By using gentle air compression around your collarbone, this chair can help you straighten out your spine, improve your posture, and release unnecessary tension in your neck and shoulder area. That feature alone is a bonus for office workers and other buyers who might have office jobs or spend a lot of time reading, sitting down or working at a desk. Using the shoulder massage program after a long day at the office will set your neck, shoulders and back into realignment, even after the most trying workdays.
Here are more massage chairs by Inada Brand
Read More: Inada HCP-S373 Flex 3s Massage Chair
- Specialized shoulder massage function
- Full-body air massage chair with heating function
- Heating for extremities (fingers and toes) as well as your body itself
8. Zero Gravity Full-Body Kahuna Massage Chair Recliner LM6800 with Yoga & Heating Therapy
Another offering from Kahuna, the LM6800 is a great option for any Shiatsu enthusiasts. This chair offers full-body Shiatsu as well as a number of more innovative programs designed to appeal to users who may be seeking something slightly different: a yoga stretching program to increase circulation and relax your body in a slightly different way from what you normally get in a massage chair; a proprietary SH-Chiro program, which is designed specifically to target your back, increasing energy by relaxing the nerves that run the length of spine; as well as targeted Shiatsu programs for specific body parts (upper back, lower back, lower body, etc.).
This chair is also jam-packed with features. Four rollers run along an L-track frame massage structure, ensuring your entire body gets treated. That roller is system is supplemented and enhanced by an air cell massage system that covers very nearly the entire chair itself. In addition, the chair has an automatic body scan system that will fit itself to your body’s size and shape without any necessary setup or adjustment of the chair itself.
In addition, the LM6800’s three-stage, zero gravity system only requires an extra three inches of space to operate. This is still a relatively large, heavy chair, of course; it’s not necessarily very portable or easy to move, but it is easier than the competition to store because of its space-saving capacities.
Read More: Kahuna LM6800 Zero Gravity Massage Chair
- Three-stage, space-saving zero gravity system
- Extra foot padding
- A 4-roller, L-track massage system as well as air massage bags throughout the chair
- Automatic computer body scan technology
9. Kahuna SM-9000 with Air Float 3D+ 6 Infrared Roller System
Kahuna’s SM-9000 has the honor of topping this massage chair list in terms of both price and luxury. It’s incredibly expensive — if you’re simply looking for a general-purpose massage chair that gives basic treatment, this one will probably be slightly too expensive, heavy and complicated for your usage.
That said, for premium buyers who want the best of the best, this is the best option available. One only needs to take a quick look at the SM-9000’s feature set to realize that it’s that much more expensive for a reason. The advanced, proprietary Air Float 3D+ system moves six different rollers on an internal SL-track, which cover the user’s entire back. Moreover, the infrared rollers aren’t just capable of physical massages; they heat at the same time, improving circulation and increasing the efficacy of the massage itself. The heating sensation will simultaneously relax your muscle tissues as you get the massage.
This premium chair, which has shoulders and a seat 1–2 inches wider than normal chairs on the market, is also FDA-approved for the health-savvy consumers out there.
Finally, one last point of interest that needs to be mentioned: this is perhaps the most stylish chair on this list. It comes in all black leather and avoids the mildly industrial, everyday look that many standard massage chairs fall into. This chair from Kahuna is the best option for someone looking to add a massage chair that stands out aesthetically to their collection. With luxury fittings and an unforgettable design, neither you nor your guests or customers will be getting substandard service with the Kahuna SM-9000.
Read More: Kahuna SM-9000 Massage Chair
10. Real Relax 2019 Premium SL Track 3D Robotic Massage Recliner
Real Relax 2019 Premium SL Track 3D is another feature-heavy chair for those users who want to get as much bang for their buck as possible. With a 50-inch SL-track that runs the lengths of the chair, the 3D robot rollers will ensure an even massage from the top of your neck and shoulders all the way to your thighs and calves.
Furthermore, Real Relax 2019 Premium SL offering from Real Relax comes with a plethora of different modes and settings, with 12 different massage types and a footrest that extends automatically to match your leg length. (Note: this chair fits heights from 5.2 to 6.5 feet.) With 8 auto programs and sixteen manual programs, you can either get stress-free massages with the touch of a button or dial in one that suits exactly what you are looking for.
Zero wall space-saving technology means that you can put this chair with its back directly up against a wall; the forward sliding system will move the chair forward on its built-in track until it’s horizontal. A heating therapy system covers the chair’s torso from waist to hand rests, and the shoulder massage airbags can be manually adjusted up or down to fit even the broadest or narrowest set of shoulders.
Finally, it’s worth noting that this chair is a great choice for anybody who finds entertainment while getting a massage important. Some people like to close their eyes and zone out when they get massages, but others sometimes need to watch television, listen to music, or otherwise occupy their attention during the process. This chair, which comes with a built-in Android smartpad, as well as a Bluetooth speaker, is a great choice for entertainment seekers.
Also, while this isn’t technically a mode-specific chair like some of the Shiatsu-focused models on this list, it does have a Thai stretch mode, and the roller massage system for your feet provides a Thai-style scraping massage. For users who’ve been searching for Thai-influenced massage in a chair but haven’t yet found it, this should be one model of robotic massage chair that is at the very top of your list.
Read More: Real Relax SL-Track 3D Massage Chair
Massage Chairs Comparison Chart
|Full Body Electric Shiatsu||Leather||Black||300 lbs||55 x 42 x 35 in|
|Osaki OS-4000||Synthetic leather||Cream||48.3 pounds||80 x 33 x 46 in|
|ideal massage Full Featured Shiatsu||N/A||Dark Brown||200 pounds||N/A|
|RELAXONCHAIR [MK-II Plus]||Synthetic leather||Charcoal||183 pounds||N/A|
|Kahuna Massage Chair SM-7300||N/A||Black||236 pounds||N/A|
|Real Relax Shiatsu||N/A||Brown||217 pounds||N/A|
|INADA HCP-S373 (B)||N/A||Black||165.3 pounds||50.4 x 33.5 x 41.7 in|
Massage Chair Buying Guide
Now, we’ve finished covering the top models of consumer-focused massage chairs. But you may still have questions such as what are the benefits of a massage chair? How does a massage chair work? how much should you pay for a massage chair, and other important questions. What if you’ve found a chair that seems like a good fit, but it wasn’t on this list? Or what if there is a specific type of functionality that your next massage chair needs, but that we haven’t included here? Or maybe you’re simply the kind of person who enjoys doing research and buying products on your own, but you’re not quite sure how to do so when it comes to a chair.
That’s why even though we gave you a couple of great options above, we’re also providing this buying guide for users who don’t want to make use of any of them. For anybody who’s been wondering, “how exactly do I buy a massage chair and which features should I prioritize?”, this section of our best massage chair review article is for you.
The purpose of this buying guide is to help you make informed decisions when researching and choosing a massage chair, whether from the list above or on the strength of your own research. The sections that follow can be broken down like this: A basic introduction to massage chairs and how they work; the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself; and finally, the most valuable features to look for when shopping for one.
Introduction to Massage Chairs
What Are Massage Chairs?
Well, massage chairs are exactly what they sound like. They’re chairs designed to be used to get a nice relaxing massage. For the purpose of this guide, however, the words “massage chair” will actually refer to robotic massage chairs, i.e., chairs that, through the use of electricity, vibrators and other technologies, simulate the experience of having somebody give you a massage. These kinds of chairs are great for people who love massages but find themselves short on the time, money or effort it requires to go out and get a massage from a licensed practitioner.
It’s worth noting that, yes, “massage chairs,” i.e., chairs designed for you to sit in while someone else gives you a massage, also exist. They can be equally wonderful for enabling massages and relaxation, but we won’t be covering them in this guide, as we’re solely talking about self-massage devices: you press a button, flip a switch, select the mode that you want, and then the chair gives you a massage all on its own.
They first came to market in the mid-1900s, when a Japanese engineer named Nobuo Fujimoto invented the world’s first massage chair. By today’s standards, it was simple, almost primitive: it only had a single function and probably wasn’t exactly the most comfortable piece of furniture to sit on. But from that point on, massage chairs began to take over the world; they’re now common to see in hairdressers, cosmetic parlors, shopping malls, spas, and homes around the world.
There is now a wide variety of different massage chairs available to the average consumer. They could be as simple as a normal chair with a pad attached to it, or as complex as a recliner with several different kinds of functions and styles of massages built in, or a full-on shiatsu machine. That current level of diversity means that finding a chair to suit your needs is, if not easy, then at least doable no matter what your budget is.
How Do Massage Chairs Work?
Massage chairs are generally powered by electric motors that operate a series of vibrators, massage rollers, and airbags that imitate what it feels like to have a massage therapist put his or her hands on you. Some have only one kind of system (airbag vs. rollers) or another, but many high-end options will simply have both.
Some prioritize certain styles of massage, like Shiatsu, while others are simply grab-all machines without any particular label or allegiance. Many come with separate systems to administer heat therapy so that you can relax your muscles through heat or through a legitimate, physical massage. Many models on the market will let you do both at the same time, enhancing the feeling of a normal massage by additionally warming your muscles. Such an approach allows for a massage’s stretching, comfort-inducing capabilities to penetrate further into your muscle tissue.
You can think of massage chairs the same way you would an electric food processor or egg beater. In centuries past, people would have been limited to hand mixing or beating any food they were in the process of making. But nowadays, we have electronic devices that we can use for those tasks and for pretty much any food preparation task. Massage chairs do the same thing, but for hand massages.
Make no mistake; there are still very tangible benefits to getting a soothing massage over using an electric massage chair. Some people will find themselves craving the personal touch that a massage therapist can provide, no matter what. This guide isn’t meant to necessarily establish that massage chairs are the end-all, be-all answer. Rather, they’re a great alternative that can stand up to traditional hand massage methods such as using massage tools and accessories.
What Are the Main Health Benefits of a Massage Chair?
There is a myriad of health benefits to even the most basic, low-end massage chairs. Massage as a practice has been around for centuries and centuries because of its recognized physical and mental health benefits. Let’s start with the simple ones. First of all, massage chairs relieve muscle soreness as well as physical pain, which is exactly what many people use them for. They essentially work by encouraging two different responses in the body: relaxation and circulation.
In terms of relaxation, massages stimulate nerve endings and “reset” the soft tissue that makes up your muscles and joints. So, if they’ve been tensed up in an unnatural position for a while, a massage will get them back to normal, thereby relieving the pain you feel from that involuntary tension. Not only do massages relax the soft tissue, however; they also impact the nervous system itself, prompting nerves to let go of any muscles they’ve been holding in position.
Furthermore, a good massage also increases circulation, bringing more blood to the treated areas. More blood also means more oxygen and more nutrients being brought to said area. As your muscles or joints become better circulated, you may find that pain and swelling are reduced.
Say you’ve just had a particularly long day at work, and your back hurts from sitting in the same position for to long, or maybe you have an achy neck if you work in a field that requires manual labor. At the end of a long day, most people won’t make the choice to go out and get a massage; they’re tired, and just as soon would simply return home. Massage chairs let you get the best of both worlds; relaxation at home as well as soreness relief.
Are Massage Chairs Safe for Everyone?
Massage chairs are an amazing invention; how sad would it be if they were unsafe for some people to use? Thankfully, massage chairs are indeed safe for pretty much anyone who wants to use them.
Of course, there are still certain safety considerations you should take into account. It’s not a good idea to use a massage chair past its indicated weight limits under any circumstances. Doing so could very well put you in an unsafe place, no matter how badly you want that massage; it might take time, but finding a chair that works for you and your body type is important not just for your investment, but for your personal safety.
Massages can also sometimes lower blood pressure, so getting one may not be the best idea if you’re someone who already suffers from low blood pressure. In such cases, though, you don’t necessarily need to immediately lose all hope; you should probably just consult with a physician before going out and getting a massage or purchasing a massage chair that you may not be able to safely use.
The same goes for people who bruise easily or get frequent blood clots. It’s probably safe to use a massage chair on a regular but occasional basis, but using one too regularly could just lead to bruises and the like.
In addition, people who suffer from overarching, chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, should remember to consult with physicians before engaging in any kind of new therapy, including massages.
Can Pregnant Women use Massage Chairs?
This is one subset of users that deserves its own section. If you’re a pregnant woman and you’re concerned about the health questions that go along with using a massage chair, simply ask your physician or OB/GYN first.
That said, there are no established health risks for pregnant women who choose to use massage chairs. Generally speaking, even the most intense massage chairs don’t put out the kind of heat or vibration that would be able to harm a developing fetus.
Of course, you should continue to take all the precautions you normally would when pregnant; definitely, don’t lay face down on any massage chairs. But in normal usage, pregnant women should have nothing to fear from massage chairs, either for their own health or for their child’s.
Massage Chair FAQ
Before you even start looking through online listings or going to a store to view prospective massage chair models, you need to know what you’re looking for. If you don’t go into the buying process with a clear plan, it’ll be that much harder to choose between competing models, features and prices. Do you want a large chair or a relatively small one? Do you need powerful massages or is something smooth and relaxed more your speed? Here, we’ve collected the most important questions you should ask once you start thinking about massage chairs. Check out the best-rated TENS units here for even more massage options.
#1: What Need Am I Fulfilling?
If you’re buying a new massage chair, I think we can assume that you’re doing it for a reason. Maybe you’re a business owner who’s planning to turn a profit by installing new massage chairs at one of your existing sites. That’s just as valid a reason as a homeowner looking for a chair to ease everyday aches and pains or to relax in at the end of a long and trying workday.
That said, it’s important to remember how different those two use cases could be. The business owner needs a chair that’s durable enough for many, many people to use on a daily basis; it also needs to accommodate a wide variety of different body types and massage styles. On the other hand, the homeowner just needs a massage chair for themselves and possibly their family. It only needs to accommodate them, and the chair doesn’t need to be as versatile as the business owner’s model.
In this case, because the users’ needs are so wildly disparate, they’ll also need wildly disparate types of chairs. If you gave a homeowner a large, business-level massage chair with a massive bevy of different functions, it might not even fit in their front door. If you gave a business owner a chair designed for home use, it might break on them within a few months of hard use.
So, before you ask yourself anything else, you should ask yourself this: what need am I fulfilling with this chair? Are you running a business, or buying it for your own use? Will it just be used for comfort, or are you hoping to use massage therapy as a way to treat chronic pain? Is this chair primarily for you, or for someone in your family? Is there a specific massage type or function that it needs?
Once you can answer all of these questions, you’ll be in a better position to buy a chair than you were when you started. It is very worth the time and effort to do this self-examination in the first place, as without it you could be totally lost. If you just buy any old massage chair hoping it’ll satisfy some vague need you have in the back of your head, that’s a pretty good recipe for disaster.
#2: Who Will This Massage Chair’s Primary User Be?
We hinted at it in the last section, but the primary audience for any massage chair that you buy is also a very important consideration. This goes along with needs; if the person using your chair is either you or someone close to you (or if the great majority of people using it are similar, at least) then choosing the right features and chair type to prioritize will be easy. You’ll know exactly what body types the chair needs to fit as well as which types of massage are necessary.
On the other hand, if your chair needs to accommodate a very wide audience, all of whom have different needs, choosing a chair will be harder (but not impossible). You’ll simply have to prioritize models that are relatively versatile. This could happen if your chair is for the express purpose of business; you don’t always get to choose your customers or their specific needs.
#3: Does The Massage Chair Need to Be Portable?
Obviously, massage chairs aren’t the best category for users who need portability and massages they can take with them on the go. But some massage chair owners will still need to move their device every once in a while. If you’re planning a big move in the future or if you live in a temporary apartment that you’ll eventually move out of, this is an important consideration.
Technically, all massage chairs are somewhat portable if you have a car and someone strong enough to carry one, but choosing a huge, heavy chair has the potential to make your life a lot harder if you know you’ll need to move it in the months or years to come. If that’s the case, then maybe check out some of the lighter models listed above. They may not be as luxurious as you want, but it’s a compromise that could pay off if you plan on moving your chair around frequently.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you truly need portability, a massage pad may fit your needs better than a massage chair. With a massage pad, you can turn any chair in your house into a massage chair as long as it’s big enough to support the pad and as long as you have an outlet nearby. If you’re interested, you can check out the buying guide we wrote on massage pads [INSERT INTERNAL LINK FOR SEO] here. You might not exactly get the level of comfort or intensity that you can expect with a massage chair, but that’s to be expected; you’ll be prioritizing portability.
#4: How Much Does a Massage Chair Cost?
This question goes along with the one about portability, but they’re not quite the same. The fact is, many massage chairs are pretty huge. Not all, but many. It makes sense: in order to get a good massage, manufacturers need to add a lot of technology to the frame and padding of a normal chair.
The problem is, this could limit accessibility for certain types of users. If you’re looking to buy a massage chair for your home but you don’t have much space, it can be hard to find one that’ll fit, especially because it’ll need to be next to an outlet or a power strip. Most massage chairs are at least the size of a large recliner, if not even bigger.
#5: How Big Does the Chair Need to Be?
This is never a fun question, but it’s one of the most important ones you can ask yourself: which features are you willing to compromise on and let go, and which features do you absolutely need, no matter what kind of chair you end up with?
Despite whatever dreams you may have regarding your purchase of a new massage chair — that it’ll make your life indescribably better; that it’ll be so comfortable you’ll sleep in it for hours; that it’ll give you massages just like your mother used to do when you were young — whatever it is, there will a come a time when you’ll have to let go of some of your aspirations for the given chair and instead come back down to reality.
Maybe you have to compromise a bit on comfort and size in order to get a chair that’ll fit comfortably in your walk up apartment. Maybe you’ll go for the biggest chair you can possibly get, but you’ll just have to resign yourself to moving it less than once a year because of how large and back-breakingly heavy it is. Maybe you found a chair that isn’t in quite the color you wanted but has a Shiatsu setting that matches exactly what you were imagining in your head when you first set out to buy a massage chair.
#6: Do I Need to Prioritize Any Specific Style of Massage?
This isn’t true for all massage chairs, but many prioritize a certain style of massage. It may be Shiatsu, Swedish, heat therapy, or something even more esoteric, but massage-specific chairs will usually be marked as such in the description or especially in the title. So if you’re a fiend for Shiatsu style massages and you know that nothing less than the very best will satisfy you, then it’s a good idea to look for chairs that include the word “Shiatsu” in either their title or their product description.
On the other hand, what if you don’t know what you want? You might not care or be able to tell the difference between Swedish or any other type of massage, as long as it relaxes your muscles and gives you the health benefits you bought it for. In that case, it’s probably best to prioritize chairs that don’t market themselves as any one kind of massage; you may find that, in fact, you actually don’t like Shiatsu massages very much, even though that’s the only thing that the massage chair you just bought can do.
The same goes for total beginners to the world of massage chairs. If you don’t quite know what type of massage to look for, then it may be worth going out and getting a couple of different types to try out and see which is a good fit. Once you know, you can choose a chair according to which style or regional type of massage suits you the best. On the other hand, some people may have neither the time nor the inclination to do so. That’s okay, too. In that case, picking a general-use massage chair is the best bet; as long as it offers multiple methods of massage, it will give you some time to figure out exactly what style floats your boat.
Best Features to Look For in a Massage Chair
By now, you know what your needs are and essentially what you’re looking for in a chair; if there are any outstanding features that are totally essential to your new massage device, then you already have a good idea of exactly what they are. That said, there are still a couple defining factors that can make or break a good massage chair.
If you’re not sure where to start when prioritizing different features, or which features will map most correctly to your needs, then this section will help you. Here, we’ve simply highlighted a few of the most common and highly sought-after features that consumers look for in massage chairs. Make sure to check out the best neck and shoulder massager here if you are looking for more relaxing massage products.
Best Massage Chair Brand?
Most people don’t spend too much time thinking about branding when it comes to massage chairs; it’s not as though name-brand massage chairs are an entire industry unto themselves the same way clothing, shoes or sports equipment is. Despite that, the brand can still play an important role in finding and eventually owning a massage chair, so don’t make the mistake of ignoring it completely.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re a business owner and you already own two massage chairs that you use for clients on a regular basis, but you’re looking to add a third one to increase capacity. While at first glance it might seem like you can simply use any old chair, that could prove to be a mild annoyance down the road. If you use massage chairs from different brands, they could have wildly different functionality, and you might need to schedule around one chair only doing one type of massage and another doing something completely different. The chairs could just be aesthetically very out of sync, making your place of business now look a lot more ramshackle and hacked together than it would if the chairs had all looked very similar to each other.
Finally, you might just have brand loyalty! If you’ve used a massage chair before, there’s a decent possibility that you know a brand or manufacturer that seems to work for you nine times out of ten. Sticking with what you know is a great strategy if you think it’ll bring you the greatest satisfaction in the long run.
Should I get a Massage Chair with Heating Elements?
Heating is more common in most massage chairs than not, but it’s still important to make sure you know what you’re getting when you make a new purchase; some chairs only offer heating in the lower back area or are similarly restricted to a single part of your body, like your feet and lower legs. Others are completely focused on the massage experience and don’t offer a heat therapy mode at all. There are even some massage chairs that offer heating as a simultaneous function along with the massage!
In short, there are many options here and they tend to vary widely between manufacturers and even between individual models on offer by the same companies. Do you want a chair that gives you a heated massage, or is it not important at all to what you’ll be using this future massage chair for? Make sure you take such questions into consideration before splurging on a brand new chair.
Heating can also be a worthwhile feature to think about just in terms of a chair’s overall quality. If a chair doesn’t have any heat modes at all, then it’s likely pretty barebones; almost all high-end models on offer have at least a perfunctory heat option. If a manufacturer puts a heating mechanism in a chair, they’re committing to that chair’s set of features even despite increased cost and effort in terms of the production process.
Massage Chair Mechanism
This section is obviously one of the most important features to think about, period. Many massage chairs offer similar mechanisms or ones that might sound kind of close to each other when one is simply reading a product description, but trust us: there is quite a wide variance in terms of how a massage actually gets administered between makes and models of chairs.
For example, some chairs may say they have an “L-track” or an “SL-track” roller system. The letter is just a symbol for how the roller moves beneath the surface of the chair, going from your neck down to your thighs or calves. On the other hand, some chairs may not have rollers at all. Budget models often focus on the airbag method of administering a massage exclusively, so you might miss out on a bit of the tactile sensation you’d get from a combination roller/airbag system. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; some users may greatly prefer airbag-style massages over rollers or other mechanisms.
Almost all high-end massage chairs will feature both a roller system and an overall set of airbags. In such cases, prospective buyers really get the best of both worlds; the fit and comfort of an airbag system, along with increased pressure and a more pleasurable sensation from the rollers moving up and down the length of the chair.
In addition, many massage chair models are marketed as catering to one type of massage or the other. We covered this a bit earlier as well when discussing how to identify your needs and choose a chair that will fit them. Many massage mechanisms are based on Shiatsu, but there are other options out there. Just make sure you read and store information carefully in your head regarding any prospective massage chair’s functionality under the hood, beneath any of the leather and shiny, distracting screen and buttons. Ultimately, it will become one of the most important decisions you make.
Massage Chair Modes: Automatic and Manual
If you have a favorite function on massage chairs, then this is the section for you. It can be hard to discern between different modes, like kneading, tapping, knocking or Shiatsu, on massage chair models if you’ve never really spent some time in one before. Each mode feels different and comes with its own set of limitations, drawbacks and different massage sensations.
If you’re not sure which one is for you, then simply look for all of them! Many chairs, especially premium ones or ones that are directed at a general audience, will come with a plethora of modes to suit the widest number of end users possible. Chairs that only offer a single type of mode, like knocking or kneading, should likely be avoided until you know exactly what your preferences are in terms of automated massages. (Essentially, every chair on the list above offers at least three different modes of massage, so if you’re picking from one of our selections, there’s no need to worry.)
Another aspect of available modes/settings to consider is whether the given options are automatic or manual. Almost all chairs offer a wide range of both automatic and manual settings, but some will lean more heavily towards one type or another. If you’re a power user and you know exactly what you’re looking for, then manual modes are a great way to take control of your massages and dial them in until you get exactly what you want. If you’re just a casual user, though, automatic modes offer great convenience. You can get a wide variety of massages by just pressing a couple of buttons.
Massage Chairs with Zero Gravity Positioning
Zero gravity massage chairs are named as such because they support the weight of your entire body and recline to an almost entirely horizontal position. It sounds like a small detail, but having such zero gravity technology in your chair can lead to much more luxurious massages than you would otherwise get.
Think about it: generally, when getting a massage from someone, most people tend to lay down on their stomach or their back while the massage therapist goes to work — not stay seated in an upright position. It would be kind of counter intuitive, not to mention more uncomfortable, to do so. That’s why having zero gravity technology is actually a fairly necessary feature. Without it, you may find that your massage chair doesn’t quite do what you want it to.
The good news is, almost all massage chairs with zero gravity technology will be advertised as such in the product description or even in the product’s title itself, so finding one that fulfills that requirement won’t be particularly hard.
Furthermore, premium models may come with zero gravity technology that’s marked as space-saving; that means you’ll be able to store the chair in relatively tight spots, and as it stretches out it’ll minimize space so as not to bump into nearby furniture or walls. All in all, zero gravity technology is good for both consumers who want a luxurious massage experience and consumers who have less room to store a bulky massage chair.
Automatic Body Detection Technology
High-end massage chairs often come with a technology feature marketed as “body detecting, “automatic body fitting,” “autonomous body detection,” or something similar. Names for this kind of functionality often vary, so you’ll simply have to read the product description carefully if it’s something you’re interested in.
All this means is that the given chair will automatically be able to sense the dimensions of a user’s body as soon as they sit down in the chair. Of course, even these chairs have limitations; you still shouldn’t go over the specified height or weight limit, even if a chair says it can automatically detect how tall or heavy you are.
This feature is great for those who need to buy a massage chair for multiple users. Manually adjusting airbags, rollers, and cushions can become very troublesome if you have to do it on a regular basis. Furthermore, other chairs might not even be adjustable at all. If that’s the case, you’ll just have to hope that whoever’s sitting in the chair is well suited to its particular arrangement of massage mechanisms and cushions.
That said, any kind of auto-adjustment technology is generally reserved for the high-end chairs, and it also isn’t strictly necessary. So if you’re looking to cut costs on a massage chair, this is one feature that it’ll be relatively easy to skimp on.
Massage Chair Material
This section is more important than you might think. Many people, when looking for massage chairs, scan through product sections for functions, different types of massage, how many automatic modes a given chair might have, what flashy technologies are included, and so on and so forth. One of the most basic governing factors for how you or your clients interact with a massage chair is simply: what is the covering made of?
Most massage chairs, especially high-end ones, are made of leather for maximum comfort. That said, it’s certainly possible to find chairs made of cloth, synthetic leather, or other materials if you look hard enough. Furthermore, not all leather chairs are created equal; some will have an unbelievably soft covering that lets you sink into the cushions as soon as you sit down, while others will have thin leather that feels more like plastic or like some kind of synthetic material. In such cases, you may find the level of enjoyment you get from using your massage chair decreases with every passing day; that’s why using your best judgment at the beginning of the process when you choose a chair is important.
If you have the chance, trying it out beforehand is a great way to decide whether a chair’s material is right for you or not. We understand that many buyers will be working solely off of online photos and product descriptions, so it may not always be easy to do so. But if you either find yourself particularly worried about whether a certain chair’s material will hold up to time and use or if you’re just the kind of person who does most of their shopping in store rather than through the internet, checking out a massage store in your area could be a good move.
In fact, even if your massage store doesn’t specifically have the model you’ve been researching or thinking about, it might still have something else on offer from the same brand that you can use to gauge the quality of their offerings, or you might see something that you like even better than what you were considering. But if an in-person visit isn’t possible, simply read product descriptions and view photos as closely as you can to make sure you know what a chair is made out of.
Hopefully, this buying guide has helped you if not find the best massage chair for you from our list of massage chair reviews above. We know it’s not exactly an easy process, but if you do the legwork up front, it’ll pay off in the end. You’ll be able to sink deep into a comfortable, luxurious massage chair; you’ll be able to treat any muscle soreness or other painful, chronic conditions that massages may be able to assist you with; and most of all, you’ll be satisfied with your brand new purchase, knowing that you made the right decision.