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Best Massage Chair: Reviews and Buying Guide 2021

Best Massage Chair: Reviews and (And Buying Guide) For 2021

If you’re looking for the closest thing to your own personal masseuse (and you’ve exhausted every massage tool!) then you’re 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.

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 the top 10 massage chairs and also included a handy buying guide later in this article so you can make the most informed decision.

DISCREET
NOUHAUS
NOUHAUS
Massage Chair with Ottoman
Blends in with your home, while still delivering a powerful massage.
AFFORDABLE
REAL RELAX
REAL RELAX
Zero Gravity Massage Chair
All the best features of a massage chair, including zero gravity, for a great price.
FUTURISTIC
OSAKI
OSAKI
OS-4D Escape Massage Chair
Every feature you could need, including chromotherapy lighting to soothe your mind.
Did you know?

The massage chair was first introduced to the market in the late 1980s![1]

Our 10 Best Massage Chair Reviews (for the Ultimate Relaxation)

After taking a look at the market, we’ve compiled the best of the best massage chairs at a range of different prices for you to consider:

1. Real Relax Massage Chair

A massage chair that ticks all the boxes!

Top of our list has to be the Real Relax massage chair — why?

Because it’s a reasonably priced chair that doesn’t compromise on any of the features.

Press a single button to enjoy zero gravity, then allow 50 airbags to get to work on your whole body.

There are eight massage rollers in the chair and six auto modes to experiment with. Alternatively, you can customize your massage by setting the rollers to the speed and strength that suits you best.

Heat therapy adds to the relaxation and a simple-to-use remote control means you can play around with all the options as you unwind.

It also has arm clips to help support and treat your arms during your massage.

Practically you can easily move it from room to room, thanks to the handy built-in wheels.

If you’re looking to invest in your first massage chair, then fans of the product felt this was a good start as it every setting you could want and offers great value for money.

Some did find their massage a little intense, but those looking for pain relief at the end of a busy day highly recommended the product.

They especially appreciated how you could turn the massage settings off and simply enjoy the heat and vibration functions when required.

Plus you get Bluetooth, a feature only seen on pricier models such as the iRest SL Track Massage Chair, so you can connect your mobile then lay back and enjoy your favorite tracks.

Looking for something a little more futuristic?

You need to take a look at Real Relax’s latest model, which is pricier but includes every feature you could possibly need in a massage chair…

2. Relaxonchair MK-II Plus

It’s time to truly decompress!

Relaxonchair are known for creating high-quality massage chairs and the MK-II Plus is no exception.

Like other chairs, it has massage nodes that move on an L-Track, allowing you to really focus on your lower back.

However unlike other models in its price bracket it also offers a great range of other features.

You can choose from three zero gravity settings, allowing you to not just recline but also lay flat to take the pressure off your whole body.

Airbags are used to deliver a full body massage, which is perfectly tailored to your height thanks to the body scanning feature that measures the length of your spine.

Choose the MK-II Plus’ spinal decompression program and receive a full body stretch, plus heating pads in the lumbar area make it ideal for someone looking for a massage chair for back pain.

When users of the chair could tear themselves away to write a review, they raved about the intense massage and how they loved the large and easy-to-operate control unit.

Many people reported their family fighting over the chair, as it can easily adapt to people of different sizes.

If you’re looking for a way to treat neck pain this isn’t the chair for you, as the nodes and airbags don’t reach the neck.

Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager would be the better option as it delivers a kneading massage to your neck.

3. Electric Full Body Shiatsu Massage Chair

A treat for the whole body (especially the feet!)

Many massage chairs focus on delivering heat to your lower back, this Electric Full Body Shiatsu Massage Chair gives you a heat treatment on the soles of your feet too.

Taking inspiration from Chinese heat therapy, it is thought to help improve your circulation.

With a range of different settings to choose from you really can tailor your massage, selecting from various styles including kneading, tapping and of course shiatsu.

Containing 21 airbags positioned around your hips and waistline, it helps to support your lower back.

Similarly to the Relaxonchair, it has built in sensors to detect the length of your spine so it knows exactly where to deliver the most satisfying massage.

This chair is not real leather, and does have a ‘cheaper’ look compared to other chairs. However people were still impressed with the quality and finish.

For a lower cost, under $1000, it offers a vast range of features which has made it a hit with shoppers.

In fact, one user claimed it was the greatest possible investment for both health and comfort.

4. Osaki OS-4D Escape Massage Chair

A spa-like massage experience in your own home

You’ll leave all your worries (and your back pain) behind when you sink in to the Osaki OS-4D Escape.

The hood soothes your mind with chromotherapy lighting, designed to take relaxation to the next level.

This chair has so much to offer:

Such as 4D massage rollers that follow an ergonomic S-Track, mapping the curvature of your back with precision. Ideal if you’re looking for a way to treat your back pain.

Choose from two zero gravity settings, and enjoy a weightless feeling that your body will thank you for.

Specially positioned airbags can deliver a satisfying shoulder and arm massage, with the extendable footrest working on your feet.

Muscles in your lumbar and calves will start to loosen when you turn on the powerful heating settings.

Yet one of the best features of this chair has to be the aromatherapy option, that uses the healing power of essential oils to further your relaxation.

Place an aromatherapy capsule in the chair and it will circulate the wonderful scents around the room.

One drawback compared to other massage chairs is that it couldn’t be used as a normal, everyday chair. You also need to allow a serious amount of space as it’s one of the biggest chairs we’ve reviewed.

Plus, with all these incredible features, you’ll of course pay more:

However with Affirm financing options, you can spread the cost of this top-of-the-line massage chair over 12, 24 or 36 months.

Prequalify now and see if you’re eligible — checking eligibility won’t impact your credit.

5. iRest SL Track Massage Chair Recliner

An intense massage tailored to your body

If you’re a small or slim person then you may have felt swamped by massage chairs you’ve tried in the past.

Typically they’re made as large as possible to accommodate all body sizes.

Slip into the iRest SL Track Massage Chair and you can adjust the width, so no matter what your body shape you can get your massage just right.

Similarly to the Relaxonchair MK-II Plus, it will detect your height, shoulder width and weight, to deliver a targeted massage just where you need it.

With calf rests that extend up to 20cm, its suitable for people of all sizes. Though it is worth noting that some taller shoppers did feel they would benefit from the chair being a little big longer.

One of the best features of the iRest, that you won’t find on many other massage chairs, is the SL track system.

Manufacturers typically opt for an S or L-Track massage system, which refers to the way the massage nodes move up and down your back (in either an S or an L shape essentially).

However amazingly you get the option of both directions on this model, giving your back the best coverage it could ask for!

You still get plenty of other features too, like six massage modes including a full body airbag massage and lower back heat function.

Like the Real Relax’s latest model, you also get built-in wireless Bluetooth speakers to help you create an even more relaxing environment.

6. Human Touch WholeBody 7.1 Massage Chair

The perfect mix of style and substance

If a big and bulky massage chair isn’t exactly what you had in mind, then you might prefer the styling of the Human Touch WholeBody 7.1.

Unlike its competitors, it offers a much more streamlined design without comprising on features.

Sink into the chair and use the BodyMap PRO feature to select the area you want to treat.

Then choose from 5 programs, including a Sleep function, designed to help you get a better night’s rest.

Warm air massage technology provides a soothing touch for the lower back pain, with a simple to use remote giving you control over all the features.

If you’re looking for a massage chair to help boost your circulation, then the Human Touch WholeBody 7.1 has just the setting.

Powered with Figure-Eight Cirqlation technology, it massages your calves in an upward, wave-like motion to help improve your circulation.

Practically it comes in three different colors so you can select the one that fits seamlessly into your home.

The WholeBody 7.1 also reclines and swivels, so it serves as a comfortable chair even when you’re not using a massage program.

7. Infinity Riage CS, Compact Shiatsu Massage Chair

Little space, lots of features!

Enjoy a full suite of massage styles for a great price with the Infinity Riage CS.

Tapping, rolling, Japanese shiatsu, you’ll be able to give your whole body the relaxation it deserves.

Take full control over your treatment, or opt for an automatic program then just sit back and enjoy.

Four massage rollers are positioned on an L-track to deliver a focused, satisfying massage.

Despite all these great features it’s one seriously compact chair at 23” wide and 38” deep.

It’s a space-saving massage chair ideal for smaller homes, as it requires just 2 inches of clearance from the wall.

That’s one inch less than even the super compact Kahuna Superior below!

Weighing just 87lbs it’s lightweight too, so it can easily be moved from room to room.

Owners of the Infinity Riage CS love the size, appreciating how it fits in their home without feeling like its taking over the room.

Intensity was also frequently mentioned, with many enjoying the way the powerful massage can often make you wince (in a good way!).

8. Kahuna Superior Massage Chair

A tall and wider massage chair designed to fit every body

Combine a satisfying massage with the healing powers of acupressure when you take a seat in the Kahuna Superior Massage Chair.

Kahuna’s chair offers just about every element you could possibly need!

You can experience the stress relieving benefits of the zero gravity position and take advantage of a number of different programs and massage techniques including yoga stretching, to help loosen your muscles.

Acupressure points for your arms help you enter a deeper state of relaxation, plus your feet will feel refreshed after a wrap around squeeze massage.

Incorporating seriously good space-saving technology:

It needs only 3 inches from the wall when in zero gravity position, due to the way the chair slides forward as it reclines.

Comparable massage chairs can need more than 10 inches of extra space when fully reclined, so it’s ideal if you want the features without the chair taking over your home!

Kahuna’s superior chair really is an investment, and thought to fit everyone more comfortably as it’s taller and wider than many of the competitors.

Purchasers enjoyed the intensity of the six back massage rollers in the chair, when combined with the airbags and foot rollers. “Golfer” setting appeared to be a particular favorite.

The remote for the chair was also thought to be a valuable feature. People did feel a little frustrated that it didn’t remember your settings after each use, but found it easy to operate and locate the options you love.

9. Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager with Heat

Turn any chair into a massage chair

If you don’t have the budget or space to accommodate a massage chair then consider the next best thing!

The Snailax Shiatsu chair pad can be fixed on to your office chair while you’re working from home or a comfortable chair in your bedroom to relax before bed.

Snailax’s Shiatsu pad delivers an intense neck massage through four nodes that penetrate deep into your tissue to help unwind tight muscles. They can also be adjusted to suit the height of the user.

Snailax’s Shiatsu pad delivers an intense neck massage through four nodes that penetrate deep in to your tissue to help unwind tight muscles. They can also be adjusted to suit the height of the user.

When it comes to your back, choose the soft rolling setting or experience the pleasure of massage nodes traveling up and down your spine, using the ‘Spot’ feature to target your pain.

If you’re concerned about the massage being too hard, then this chair pad also has an intensity control flap so you can limit the pressure of the treatment.

Users loved how compact the pad was, meaning they could carry it with them to use in the office.

‘Spot’ feature was also mentioned repeatedly as people felt they could effectively get to the source of their pain.

Let’s talk about the neck:

Soothing heat and massage nodes work on your neck for extra comfort, making the pad the perfect gift for someone who is feeling stressed out

Many chairs don’t offer features for the neck, so this is a great benefit of the Snailax chair pad.

One limitation is the fact the pad is only suitable for people between 63 and 70.9 inches tall. So not the right choice if you’re over 6ft.

For taller users, the Full Body Electric Shiatsu Massage Chair would give you a more satisfying massage.

10. Oways Rocking Massage Chair and Recliner

A massage chair that looks good, and feels even better

The black ‘lazyboy’ style massage chair isn’t for everyone, and might not fit in with the styling of your home.

Oways massage chair offers a more simplistic and contemporary look.

Built on a wooden rocking frame, it contains massage nodes and vibrating motors that combined work to relieve tension in your back, neck and shoulders.

Users of the chair confirmed that the built-in function buttons are discreet and easy to operate, with an adjustable footrest adding to the comfort.

Those struggling with neck pain will love the neck massage pillow that can be adjusted to help you hit the spot.

Reclining the chair significantly is not an option, so if you want to lie back and relax then a more traditional chair, like the Real Relax, might suit you more.

In fact, you will have to compromise on a number of features to benefit from this more simplistic design.

You don’t get zero gravity functions or a host of different massage styles for example.

However it is much more affordable than traditional chairs, while still delivering a relaxing massage.

Types of Massage Chairs

Here are the different types of massage chairs available so you can start to narrow down your search:

Recliner

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.

Zero Gravity

Inspired by space travel, zero gravity recliners are designed to take the pressure off your legs and back and evenly distribute your weight for relief from daily pain.

Full Body

A full body massage chair takes care of the whole body, normally cradling the user to provide all over relief.

It’s typically a higher priced product as it claims to be the closest thing to a human massage.

Ottoman

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 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.

We’ve written a review of the best chair pads on the market, that you can read here.

Features of Massage Chairs

The different functions and features of massage chairs can be overwhelming.

We’ve broken them down into different categories so you can be sure you’re choosing the ones that are right for you:

Shape

S Shape

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

L-Shape chairs use a different technique, running up and down your back but also into 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 into your lower back and hamstrings.

SL Shape

Some massage chairs, like the iRest SL Track Massage Chair Recliner, offer both an S and an L-track system.

This means you get the benefits of both systems as described above. Generally these chairs are more expensive.

Massage Types

Shiatsu

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

Users have described this technique as “thundering on your back”, perfect if you want a deep tissue massage.

Percussion massage also offers a host of different health benefits, including improving your sleep, helping to manage pain and speeding up your recovery from injury.

Kneading

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

Compression massage uses air bags within the chair to recreate a tapping massage, putting pressure on different areas to provide relief from pain.

Stretching

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

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 one 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.

Vibration

Some units offer an additional vibration function which might be something you want to consider for that added extra relief.

Heat

Heat can offer comforting relief from pain as it heats the skin which stimulates the sensors and blocks the pain signals being sent to the brain.[2]

Many different massagers include this option so it’s worth exploring. 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

Higher priced chairs offer their own body scan technology that uses sensors to check your height and size, so it can tailor your massage more effectively.

Manual Mode

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

Remote Control

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.

Car Charger

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.

USB Port

Increasingly the latest chairs come with a USB port so you can charge your mobile device and use it while receiving your massage.

Bluetooth Speakers

Certain chairs come with built-in Bluetooth speakers, allowing you to connect up your mobile or tablet and create a more ambient experience.

Logistics

Size

Take a look at the size of the chair and how it may fit into your living space as they can be large items. Space-saving designs are available.

Weight

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.

Swivel Base

A swivel base can be useful if you plan to use your massage chair as an office chair — essentially the chair rotates on a base.

Space Saving

Some chairs use space-saving technology, created to help with smaller living spaces, requiring minimal space from the wall when reclined.

Wheels

Some massage chairs, such as the Real Relax massage chair, have built-in wheels. This gives you the ability to move the chair easily from room to room.

Warranty

It’s worth taking a look at the warranty offered as they vary widely from chair to chair, for example does it just cover labor? Or parts too? And for how many years?

Coverage

Head Massager

If you’re looking for help with headaches or migraines then you might want to look for a chair that incorporates a head or scalp massager for relief from your pain.

Foot Massager

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 Massager

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.

Shoulder 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

Arthritis

Chiropractors and doctors often use massage chairs to help those coping with arthritis to improve their flexibility.[3]

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.

Back Pain

Massage chairs are essentially created to help to deal with back pain. They are shown to have many benefits, including improving flexibility and decreasing muscle tension.

Knots

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.[4]

Muscle Tension

Tension in the muscles can also be relieved, whether in your neck, shoulders or back.

Neck Pain

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

Shoulder pain is one of the most common pain complaints reported in the US.

By stimulating the muscles with a massager it is believed that this provides relief.[5]

Posture

Poor posture has been shown to cause neck and shoulder pain.[6]

Massage chairs can help with the associated pain, improving your flexibility and your overall posture.

Hormonal Conditions

Diabetes

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.

Did you know?

Over 10% of the population of the USA suffer from diabetes.[7]

Conditions of the Nervous System

Fibromyalgia

There are many benefits to fibromyalgia patients from using massage therapy, including decreased stress hormones and increased serotonin levels.

Sciatica

Massage chairs are suggested as an effective therapy for those suffering from sciatica.

Those with ottomans in particular are ideal as sciatica sufferers can experience a lot of leg pain.

Blood Flow and Pressure

Hypertension

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[8].

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

Reduce Anxiety

Massage therapy is recommended as a treatment option for those suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, helping them to relax and relieve tense muscles.[9].

Relaxation

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.

Stress Reduction

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.

FAQs

What is a massage chair?

What does a massage chair do?

How does a massage chair work?

Are massage chairs effective?

How long can you use a massaging chair for?

Can I use a massage chair while pregnant?

Can I use a massage chair with a pacemaker?

Can massage chairs hurt your back?

Are massage chairs good for your health?

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References

  1. Schubbe, P. (2003). Benefits of a Massage Chair [Online]. Spine-Health. Available from: https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/massage-therapy/benefits-a-massage-chair [Accessed 12 Sept 2021].
  2. Physio Works (2021). Heat Packs [Online]. Available from: https://physioworks.com.au/faq/heat-packs-why-does-heat-feel-so-good/ [Accessed 12 September 2021].
  3. Petrovic, E. (2011). Massage Chairs Provide Relief Of Low Back Pain And Arthritis [Online]. Steady Health. Available from: https://ic.steadyhealth.com/massage-chairs-provide-relief-of-low-back-pain-and-arthritis [Accessed 12 September 2021].
  4. Cronkleton, E. (2019). How to Treat and Prevent Muscle Knots [Online]. Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/muscle-knots [Accessed 12 September 2021].
  5. CDC (2008). Percentage of Adults Reporting Joint Pain or Stiffness, National Health Interview Survey, United States, [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5717a9.htm [Accessed 12 September 2021].
  6. The Good Body (2021). 14 Benefits of Good Posture: Sit Up and Take Note! [Online]. Available from: https://www.thegoodbody.com/benefits-of-good-posture/ [Accessed 12 September 2021].
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2020). National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020 [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/statistics/national-diabetes-statistics-report.pdf [Accessed 12 September 2021].
  8. 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 12 September 2021].
  9. Kecskes, A. A. (2018). Therapeutic Massage for Generalized Anxiety Disorder [Online]. Pacific College of Health and Science. Available from: https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2014/11/05/therapeutic-massage-generalized-anxiety-disorder [Accessed 12 September 2021].