If you’re looking for the closest thing to your own personal masseuse then you’re probably going to end up searching for the perfect massage chair.
We understand that it’s a big investment, not just financially but also in terms of space within your home, which is why making the right decision is so important.
Luckily we’ve taken a look at the market and compiled the best of the best massage chairs at a range of different prices for you to consider.
Our 9 Best Massage Chair Reviews (for the Ultimate Relaxation)
Each massage chair offers its own unique mix of features and settings, which can be tricky to compare if you haven’t owned one before.
To help, we’ve highlighted the features of each chair and also included a handy buying guide later in this article so you can make the most informed decision.
Types of Massage Chairs
Here are the different types of massage chairs available so you can start to refine your search:
The most traditional type of massage chair is the recliner. Normally a lower cost option than a zero gravity chair, it is essentially a comfortable chair with massage features so fits well within the home.
Inspired by space travel, zero gravity recliners are designed to really take the pressure off your legs and back and evenly distribute your weight for relief from daily pain.
A full body massage chair takes care of the whole body, normally cradling the user to provide all over relief, typically a higher priced product as it claims to be the closest thing to a human massage.
If you want a more traditional look, you may opt for a matching ottoman. This is a chair with a separate footstool, both of which have massage rollers and / or airbags.
Chair / Seat Pad
If you don’t have the budget for a massage chair or don’t have the space available then you can essentially create your own with a seat pad. Seat pads can be attached on to your favorite chair or be used while sat up in bed.
Features of Massage Chairs
The different functions and features of massage chairs can feel a bit overwhelming, so here we’ve broken them down in to different categories so you can be sure you’re choosing what’s right for you:
Most chairs traditionally use an S-Shape Track System. If you think of the letter ’S’, this is the way the massage rollers will run up and down your back, following the curvature of your spine.
L-Shape chairs use a different technique, running up and down your back but also in to the seat beneath you as well, just imagine you’re sitting on the letter ‘L’.
It’s essentially an extension of the S-Shape, helping to not just cover your back but also get right in to your lower back and hamstrings.
Look for this feature, a Japanese massage technique, if you want to replicate the hands of a masseuse as closely as possible! Some shiatsu massage chairs include an optional direction mode so the nodes can change direction for a more realistic massage.
Percussion is a style of massage and users have described this technique as “thundering on your back”, so perfect if you want a deep tissue massage, perhaps not ideal if you’re looking for something a little less intense.
Kneading is a massage technique that involves applying pressure to the muscles, relieving tension by lifting and rolling the tissues. Massage chairs replicate this technique with nodes and airbags, perfect if you want to release muscle knots.
Compression massage uses air bags within the chair to recreate a tapping massage, putting pressure on different areas to provide relief from pain.
Stretching programs are when the chair gently expands, pulling your limbs to encourage a stretch in your spine. The technique can help to lubricate joints and muscles, as well as improve your flexibility.
Tapping is probably one of the oldest massage methods. It can be a gentle, but firm, technique that involves the use of the fingertips to release points of tension and improve circulation. Massage chairs offering this feature can be beneficial to those looking to treat smaller body areas.
Programs and Settings
Intensity / Speed Settings
If you have good days and bad days and want a massage that can flex with you then you want to look for a massager with a selection of intensity settings. Some devices only come with one setting so make sure you choose what is right for you.
Don’t assume that more intensity settings means more power. It generally means that the intensity increases in smaller increments than its competitors.
No. of Auto Programs
Each chair has a number of preset, automatic programs that have been specially tailored.
The number of these auto programs varies between chairs, so if you like lots of choice you might want to consider a chair that offers a full range of different programs.
Memory / Recall
If your pain is hard to reach and you get the intensity just right it can be frustrating to have to go through the various settings each time. Memory / recall functions remember the intensity, speed and style of massage you enjoy which can be helpful day to day.
Some units offer an additional vibration function which might be something you want to consider for that added extra relief.
Many different massagers include this option so it’s worth looking out for. Infrared heat is also a feature offered by some devices.
Auto Shut Down
Auto Shut Down can be great as it protects you and the unit from overheating, however if it takes you a while to get to the source of your pain, a short auto shut down could be frustrating.
Body Scan Technology
This technology within the chair means it will scan your body shape and then tailor your massage to the places you require.
If you like having full control over your massage rather than using presets than you might want to choose a chair that comes with a manual mode. Not all chairs have this so it is important to check.
Entertainment and Connectivity
All chairs come with some form of remote control, whether it’s built in to the chair or wireless. Some chairs now offer touch screen remotes, so think about how you’d like to operate the chair.
Obviously only for chair pads! Using your device in your car, between meetings for example, might be important to you, so look for a seat pad that ships with an in car charger.
Some chairs come with a USB port so you can charge your mobile device and use it while you’re receiving your massage.
If playing music is important to you then some models come with an mp3 player allowing you to load in your favorite songs.
Certain chairs come with built-in Bluetooth speakers, allowing you to connect up your mobile or tablet and create a more ambient experience.
Take a look at the size of the chair and how it may fit in to your living space as they can be large items. Space saving designs are available.
If you want a chair you can easily move from room to room then take a look at the weight of the chair as they can be cumbersome but there are some lightweight options available.
If you want to use your massage chair as an office chair then a swivel base could be handy, as essentially the chair rotates on a base.
Some chairs use space saving technology, created to help with smaller living spaces, requiring minimal space from the wall when reclined.
Some massage chairs, such as the Real Relax massage chair, have wheels. This gives you the ability to move the chair easily from room to room.
It’s worth taking a look at the warranty offered as they vary widely from one chair to another, for example does it just cover labor? Or parts too? For how many years?
If you’re looking for help with headaches or migraines then you might want to look for a chair that incorporates a head massager for relief from your pain.
Chairs may also come with a foot massager, either separately as an ottoman or as part of the chair. They can include air bags or rollers for a deep and intense foot massage.
Neck massage is also a function that can be included as part of the chair, so if you carry tension there it could be worth considering a model with a neck massager.
Air bags and rollers are functions that you’ll find in some chairs targeting the shoulders for pain relief.
Benefits of a Massage Chair
Conditions of the Joints and Muscles
Chiropractors and doctors often use massage chairs to help those coping with arthritis to help improve their flexibility.
Massage therapy can be an effective treatment for arthritis, however for certain forms of severe arthritis it can have a negative effect so it’s important to consult with your doctor.
Muscle knots are when the muscle tightens or contracts even when they’re not being used, massage helps to relax the muscle, in turn helping to loosen the knot.
Tension in the muscles can also be relieved, whether in your neck, shoulders or back.
Neck massagers mimic the hands of a masseuse stimulating the muscles and nerve endings. Research has shown that massage therapy is an effective treatment for chronic neck pain, and a chair massager is essentially simulating this technique.
Shoulder pain is one of the most common pain complaints reported in the US, and by stimulating the muscles with a massager it is believed that this provides relief.
Poor posture has been shown to cause neck and shoulder pain. Massage chairs can help with the associated pain and hopefully help to improve flexibility and overall posture.
Massage therapy has been recommended for sufferers of diabetes for over 100 years, as massage therapy at injection sites can help to improve insulin absorption.
Conditions of the Nervous System
There are many benefits to fibromyalgia patients from using massage therapy, including decreased stress hormones and increased serotonin levels.
Massage chairs are suggested as an effective treatment for those suffering from sciatica.
Massage chairs with ottomans in particular are ideal as sciatica sufferers can experience a lot of leg pain.
Blood Flow and Pressure
Hypertension, which leads to heart disease and stroke, causes the sufferer to have high blood pressure. Massage as a therapy is proven to help reduce a patient’s heart rate and stress levels.
Increase Blood Flow
Regular massage can help to increase blood flow within users, ideal for helping with a number of different conditions.
Mental Health Conditions
Massage therapy is recommended as a treatment option for those suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, helping them to relax and relieve tense muscles.
It’s no surprise that one of the major benefits of a massage chair is relaxation! If you’re struggling to unwind it could be a great investment.
A massage chair works to relax tense muscles, so those working in stressful environments or perhaps those that just need a little time out, may benefit hugely.
What is a massage chair?
A massage chair is essentially a chair that delivers a massage like a real masseuse. Just sit back and relax!
What does a massage chair do?
A massage chair works to loosen knots, relieve tension and provide relief from daily pain. They are widely used by sufferers of a number of different conditions.
How does a massage chair work?
A massage chair works on a track system, with rollers, nodes or air bags working up and down your spine to mimic the hands of a masseuse, working out knots, relieving muscle tension and helping to improve circulation.
Are massage chairs effective?
Massage as a therapy has been proven to be effective in the daily management of pain. Massage chairs essentially replicate the hands of a masseuse and have been shown to provide relief from daily pain.
How long can you use a massaging chair for?
The general consensus seems to recommend no longer than 15 minutes per session, however there is no official advice on this. Many massage chairs come with an auto shut down feature so you can easily monitor how long you’ve been in the chair and use it safely.
Can I use a massage chair while pregnant?
Advice is mixed on whether you can use a massage chair while you’re pregnant.
Many recommend it for dealing with the lower back pain of pregnancy, however many say to avoid using one during your first trimester and ensure you limit any sessions you do have.
Of course you must speak to your doctor before beginning any treatment.
Can I use a massage chair with a pacemaker?
Medtronic, one of the leading manufacturers of pacemakers, states there is “No Known Risk” associated with their implanted devices. It’s always best to check with your doctor before use, and the manufacturer advice specific to your device.
Can massage chairs hurt your back?
If used incorrectly a massage chair could damage or bruise your back, so you must always follow the guidelines and not exceed the advised amount of time.
Are massage chairs good for your health?
Massage chairs can deliver many positive benefits to your health, including stress reduction and daily management of pain.
How do I choose a massage chair?
Hopefully our massage chair reviews can help! Start by making a note of the features you would definitely like and a rough idea of your budget then go from there.
Don’t feel you have to go for a chair at the top of your budget as different chairs offer different functions, it’s just a case of finding the one that suits you most.
How much does a massage chair cost?
Massage chairs vary widely in cost with entry level models ranging between $200 – $700 and top of the range models anywhere up to around $20,000.
It’s important to think about how much you want to spend roughly before you begin your hunt then try and find the features you most need.
Chair massage pads that can be attached to a chair of your choice give you a more affordable option, roughly between $50 and $200.
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- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (2018). The Benefits of Massage for Hypertension [Online]. Available from: https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/01/24/benefits-massage-hypertension [Accessed 5 August 2020]. ↩
- Kecskes, A. A. (2018). Therapeutic Massage for Generalized Anxiety Disorder [Online]. Available from: https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/11/05/therapeutic-massage-generalized-anxiety-disorder [Accessed 5 August 2020]. ↩