So, you’ve decided that it’s time to add a quality massage chair to your furniture collection. But when you begin your search for the perfect chair, you realize just how many factors there are to consider when buying a massage chair. If this is the case for you, don’t worry! We’ve put together this guide to the different types of massage chairs to help you choose just the right one for your home.
Types of Chairs
There are a few overarching categories that massage chairs can fall into based on their massage components. Depending on the model, chairs can include more than one of these components and can have either a recreational or therapeutic use.
Roller massage chairs use rollers that are built into the backs of the chairs to massage and manipulate the muscles. These rollers travel up and down and back and forth across the back; they act as hands and can perform a number of different massage techniques depending on the chair’s programming. Rollers are a part of almost all massage chair models.
Rather than massaging the back with rollers, water chairs massage the back using heated water jets located within the back of the chair. The jets are adjustable, so the pressure of the massage can be adjusted. Hydromassage chairs are less common than roller massage chairs.
Certain types of massage chairs include airbags that massage the body by inflating and deflating. These airbags massage the parts of the body that are hard to reach with a roller, including the neck, arms, thighs, calves, and shoulders.
Many low-budget massage chairs are based on vibration technology. This type of chair includes vibrators at different points in the back of the chair that can vibrate in different combinations or at different frequencies. These chairs are best for casual rather than therapeutic use.
If you decide that a roller massage chair is the way to go, you’ll want to know about the different roller tracks available. Below are the basic track types found in massage chairs.
Fixed frame massage heads are found mainly on low-end or older massage chairs. The massage heads are attached to a frame and are stationary, rubbing the back at the places that each head is fixed.
A straight track massage chair has a linear track, moving rollers up and down the back. Because the path of the rollers is not curved, this type of massage chair tends to lose contact with the user’s back at curves. Due to this, straight track chairs are usually used recreationally.
In an S-Track massage chair, the chair’s rollers move in an S shape up and down the back, conforming to the shape of the user’s back. Rollers on this type of track have 3-D massaging capabilities and massage the back from neck to tailbone. The S-Track is the most common track found in higher-quality massage chairs.
The L-Track is similar to the S-Track but extends the path of its rollers to the seat of the chair. In addition to massaging the entire back, an L-Track chair will massage the glutes and back of the thighs. Many therapeutic massage chairs use L-Tracks due to their ability to address issues in the back as well as the legs.
Roller Types and Features
Massage chairs offer a variety of features to choose from, including the function of the chair’s rollers and the massage programs offered. When choosing a massage chair, decide which features you most need or want and choose a chair model accordingly.
2-D rollers move two-dimensionally, horizontally, and vertically along the chair’s back. This type of roller is found in chairs with straight tracks.
Like 2-D rollers, 3-D rollers move both horizontally and vertically across the back. In addition, they add a third dimension of motion which enables them to apply more or less motion to the back. 3-D rollers are able to reach parts of the back that are more difficult for 2-D rollers to reach. For example, 3-D rollers are able to massage the shoulders and break up knots in places that 2-D rollers would not be able to access. Because the pressure used is customizable, 3-D roller massage chairs are great for both gentle and deep tissue massages.
In terms of their range of motion, 4-D rollers are the same as 3-D rollers. The added fourth dimension is the speed at which the rollers move. While the speed at which 2-D and 3-D rollers move is constant, 4-D rollers move at different speeds throughout the massage to mimic the movement of a masseuse's hands.
A stretch program is a nice feature that is included in some massage chairs, helping the user to stretch out and massage specific muscles. In a stretch program, the airbags in a certain part of the chair, often around the calves, will inflate to hold the user in place while the chair reclines or otherwise changes position. This results in the stretching of the user’s spine, which helps to relax the muscles in the back. While both S-Track and L-Track massage chairs typically include a stretch program, the experience is usually better in S-Track chairs due to the positioning of the rollers.
Airbags are commonly included in massage chairs around parts of the body that are not the back. These bags inflate and deflate around parts of the user’s body, compressing and encouraging blood flow to areas such as the arms, legs, and neck. Compression massage technology is useful for reducing swelling and helping the user to recover from injuries.
The Zero Gravity feature is perhaps the most intriguing of the features that any massage chairs have to offer. In Zero Gravity mode, the massage chair reclines to a nearly horizontal position, reducing pressure throughout the body and causing the user to feel a sense of weightlessness. The Zero Gravity setting was originally inspired by NASA and is reminiscent of the position that astronauts sit in as they are being launched into space. Because the position takes stress off the user’s body and elevates the feet above the heart, the Zero Gravity feature promotes blood flow to the entire body and relaxation of the muscles.
Did you know that virtual reality (VR) and massage technology can be combined? A VR massage allows for the ultimate escape from reality for the body and the mind. We recommend incorporating a VR headset and technology into your full body massage chair for a fully immersive experience. The headsets create a relaxing virtual environment during the massage, presenting the sounds and views of a soothing environment like a spa or a beach. These sights and sounds combined with the experience of a massage promote a higher level of relaxation for the user of the chair.
Now that you’ve learned about all the different types of massage chairs that are out there, you’ll be able to decide which type of chair is best for you and determine which features are your top priority. If you’re still not sure which chair to choose after reading this guide, let us know. Massage Chairs Express will help you find the perfect model and brand, and you’ll be relaxing in your new massage chair in no time.