Massage chairs are upholstered armchairs that massage your head, neck, shoulders, hands, arms, and back, relieving muscle tension and relaxing the entire body. The recliners, vibrations, and roller mechanisms present in the chairs allow the user to rest and relax the body within a few minutes.
Research says that in the wake of the pandemic, health consciousness has risen among the population, fueling the growth of the massage chair market. The pandemic led to the closing of many spas and massage therapy parlors, causing massage chair sales to increase. Furthermore, social distancing laws encouraged massagers to have zero contact in a private setting.
So, this might interest you in getting your hands on one and relaxing at home. Now, if you are a rookie to massage chairs, the options available in the market might overwhelm you since there are several different types of massage chairs based on mechanisms, massage types, and features.
For this reason, I discuss all types of massage chairs currently available on the market with their benefits in this article. My research and review of all the factors will help you make an informed choice about quality massage chair.
Recommended Reading: Advantages And Disadvantages of Massage Chair Explained
List of Different Types Of Massage Chairs
Assuming you have a basic understanding of massage chairs, let us start discussing the types of massage chairs right away.
I will discuss massage chairs based on four classifications -each covering different aspects of the massage chair.
- General Categorization
- Use based Classification
- Roller Mechanism Classification
- Track Design Classification
By the end of the article, I hope you can make an informed decision based on your needs and preferences.
I will break each one down individually, stating the benefits of some chairs.
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Massage Chairs: General Classification
The following are the general types of massage chairs available in the market.
Full-Body Massage Chairs
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If you want to use your massage chair for an exceptional and comprehensive head-to-toe massage treatment, go for a -Full-body massage chair. An excellent full-body massage chair from a renowned manufacturer will offer everything you need to unwind and recuperate from your day.
Furthermore, this chair helps relieve stress, improve circulation, eliminate back pain, improve sleep, enhance recovery, and provide total well-being through therapeutic full-body therapy.
It includes mechanical rollers, distinctive motorized gears, airbag compression systems, and vibrating devices.
- Suitable for all ages
- Relives joint and muscle pain
- Targets the neck, shoulders, back, calves, legs, and feet
- Observes massage choreography closely
Heated Massage Chairs
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A massage chair is excellent, but a heated massage chair is even better! In addition to being a feature in many models, heated massage chairs are worth considering.
With heat therapy, one can experience deep relaxation and a sense of renewal and tranquility that lasts for a long time. Features like infrared heat, heated mechanical massage rollers, and ceramic arm, hand, and foot heaters are available in the chairs of the leading massage chair companies.
A heated massage chair can provide infrared heat to the low back, seat, knee, calf, foot, hands, and fingers based on brand and type. A heated massage chair that provides full-body heat therapy is available in a luxury massage chair. Several luxury massage chairs combine chair heat with additional soothing components such as zero-gravity reclining.
- Promotes flexibility, releases fatigue, and recovers minor injuries.
- Activates skin’s sensory receptors
- Relaxes the body by providing warmth through the cold winters
- Improves blood circulation
Reclining Massage Chairs
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An excellent way to wind down after a busy day is to recline in this reclining type of massage chair. The best feature of a reclining massage chair is that you can adjust your position with your remote control.
This adjustment and automatic reclination of the chairs are available in various models, offering extreme comfort. While some models can recline to 160°, some come with a separate leg rest reclination to around 80°, releasing the pressure from your spine.
A reclining massage chair offers infrared heat treatment, various massages like Shiatsu massage, and even Bluetooth audio immersion. These next-generation reclining massage chairs have more functions and enhancements than you can imagine.
- Improves blood circulation
- Enhances injury recovery
- Promotes good sleep
- Eases pressure from the spine
Zero-Gravity Massage Chairs
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Imagine you are lying in a pool or hot tub. You will feel weightlessness the same way while sitting in a zero-gravity massage chair. The name gives it all. The alternative for the term zero-gravity is 0-gravity or anti-gravity.
In a Zero-gravity massage chair, the backrest can perform a deep recline position which places your spine almost parallel to the floor. Additionally, it can reach your legs (and feet) even at or above the heart, because of which you enjoy the circulatory benefits of the zero-gravity posture. Furthermore, the angle the backrest and the seat create in such chairs is 115 degrees.
Did you know?
The chair manufacturers were inspired by NASA’s zero-gravity positions, meaning how astronauts sit before taking off. NASA’s experiments into body posture began during the 1980s with Skylab. A massage chair with Zero Gravity settings replicates body posture and joint angles in low-Earth orbit.
- Body weight distributes uniformly, relieving the spine
- Legs-above-heart posture lessens the pressure on your heart
- Improves the condition of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, varicose veins, and edema
Inversion Massage Chairs
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Unlike a zero-gravity chair, an inversion massage chair reclines even further (180 degrees). Your spine elongates in an inversion massage chair, placing your head below a horizontal level and your feet over your heart, the perfect condition for a decompression stretch.
With the inversion massage chair, your body is upside down, reversing the effects of gravity on the body and decompressing the spine, providing relief from back pain.
An inversion massage chair mimics the original inversion machines. Several chiropractors and physical therapists use inversion to treat patients, and many clients experience satisfaction with this practice. Best massage chairs are now incorporating this feature into their designs so that users can experience even greater spinal decompression.
- Normalizes blood pressure
- Enhances productivity and alertness
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Reduces the severity of the pain
Massage Chairs: Use-Based Classification
In addition to the general types of chairs, there are also types based on the user. Some of them are:
Professional Massage Chairs
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Professional massage chair, commonly known as portable massage chair, is for a massage therapist, meaning they use these chairs during their business. Local businesses often hire private, licensed practitioners to provide massages as an advantage for their employees using these kinds of chairs.
The chair design is retro and entirely functional, with the masseuse having easy access to the client’s neck, back, and shoulders during the massage session. As a result, they tend to be almost strictly functional, with padded headrests for the client as the only creature comfort.
- Improves blood circulation
- Easy to fold and carry
- Soft seat cushioning with adjustable arms and seat
Consumerist Massage Chairs
Speaking of consumerist chairs, they are of two categories:
- therapeutic and
In a therapeutic massage chair, the features aim to reduce chronic pain, whereas hobbyist chairs include convenience features mainly for the users’ interests, preferences, and tastes.
A therapeutic chair, for example, contains elements such as inversion therapy, body stretching, deep massage, and heat.
On the other hand, a hobbyist chair will include features like memory slots (for your favorite settings), MP3 support, and LED lighting.
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The hobbyist massage chair is a generic chair, which relieves muscle tension, lowers stress levels, and provides a comfortable experience. On the contrary, therapeutic chair design target particular problematic areas.
- Offers relaxing and comfortable massages
- Available based on users’ preferences
- Includes advanced features
Ottoman Massage Chairs
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An Ottoman massage chair is for you if you are tall and face problems sitting in a massage chair due to its height and weight restriction. The chair design is essentially a low wooden couch upholstered with cushions that is useful for individuals to stretch and lay their legs when sitting in an armchair.
Ottomans have become an essential component of a contemporary massage chair since they allow taller persons to accommodate their legs, making the massage chair more pleasant and comfortable for them. The ottoman of a massage chair has several functions, like providing relaxation and leg extension during the massage session.
Unfortunately, despite having an ottoman, some massage chairs do not give much comfort since the ottoman cannot extend for anyone taller than 6’2″.
- Suitable for taller people (not more than 6’2″) and short people
- Available in different types -Convertible, Extendable, and Rectractable Ottoman
- Massager and has a conventional footrest
- Comfortable and offers excellent massages
Fun Fact: Ottoman, an essential piece of furniture, came from the Ottoman empire’s period.
Stealth Massage Chairs
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Unlike any other chair, stealth massage chairs are exclusively for people for whom aesthetics is significant. And hence, they want to buy a quality massage chair, which will only sometimes stand out in the room where the chair is.
However, almost all massage chair comes with leg massage ports, which for some might be unaesthetic. For those people, there are limited choices, such as the stealth massage chairs in which there is a hideaway ottoman feature. With this feature, you can fold the leg massage ports into the ottoman, making it disappear.
- The chair looks like a typical living room piece
- Hideaway ottoman feature
- Available in stylish and striking designs
Massage Chairs: Roller Mechanism Classification
The massage chair classification is according to their massage rollers mechanism, massage style, and track design. The essential part of a massage chair is -the roller mechanism. The best way to understand the roller mechanism is that they act as hands of your massage chair, offering massages like Shiatsu or Kneading.
Due to this mechanism, there is muscle manipulation, providing relief and relaxation to your body. Furthermore, we have three massage chairs based on the roller mechanism -2D, 3D, and 4D. The ‘D’ represents dimension and indicates where and how the massage rollers move.
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A 2D massage chair is the most basic type, providing benefits and being inexpensive. The massage rollers in a 2D massage chair are meant to move along the XY axis, meaning up & down, and sideways. However, with the advancement in massage chairs, 2D chairs are not quite prevalent.
A 3D massage chair is an extension of 2D since they come with an added third dimension. The added dimension enhances the rollers’ movement and provides deep tissue massage. Hence, they can reach and penetrate your deep tissue by moving in and out. So, 3D massage chairs can move up & down, sideways, and in & out.
An extension of 3D, 4D is the latest advancement in massage chairs. It also acts as an added dimension to the 3D chairs, allowing you to control the speed of your rollers, and you will be able to increase or decrease the intensity of your massage.
It allows you to customize your massage according to your preferences. So, 4D massage chair rollers offer up & down, sideways, in & out movement, and speed control.
Massage Chairs: Track Design Classification
With so many options available, it is overwhelming to fixate on one massage chair. Therefore, these classifications can help you know the massage chairs better and what they can offer.
When it comes to chair track design, it is essential to find out what kind of track your massage chair follows since it can make a lot of difference. There are three basic track designs –straight, S-track, and L-track.
A fixed frame or a straight massage track design moves from top to bottom linearly. Due to the linear movement, the rollers occasionally disengage from the back. You can find the straight track only in 2D or recreational massage chairs.
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Unlike the straight track, an S-track roller can reach the curves and deep tissues without disengagement. The S-track provision is available in advanced massage chairs, like 3D and 4D.
The S-Track usually extends from the neck to the tailbone, depending on its length, which is between 24 and 32 inches. In other words, the massage chair rollers follow the spine curve as they roll up and down.
L-tracks take over where S-tracks leave off (the tailbone) and travel into the chair seat. The L-Track enables the rollers to treat the glutes, piriformis, and hamstrings by extending their reach by 15 inches or more.
By providing additional cover and several benefits to those who suffer from sciatica, L-Tracks have continued to grow in popularity.
Related Read: How To Get Insurance To Pay For A Massage Chair?
Clearly, massage chairs come in various types and are categorized in various ways. New technologies and advancements are always emerging in the massage chair market.
To understand the different types of massage chairs, you need to understand their main components. Once you’ve decided on the massage, You just need to find the massage chair with the exact combination of style, track type, roller type, coverage, price, and additional features you want
But at their core, all the massage chairs aim to provide a relaxing, refreshing massage experience right in the comfort of your home.