Different Types of Massage Chairs and Their Benefits


    Just the idea of getting a massage after a long and tiring day sparks joy in anyone who works hard. But since, not all of us have the time, energy, or even money to go to a massage parlor every time we are tired and we need our muscles relaxed. But if we own a massage chair at home, we might look forward to it all day.

    Massage chairs are comfortable and cozy chairs that replicate multiple massage techniques, and you can actually get a perfect massage in the comfort of your home. They used to cost a fortune, but this is no longer the case nowadays. Manufacturers have found a way to make functional, affordable massage chairs so that everyone can get a nice massage at home.

    What are Massage Chairs?

    A woman is relaxing on her massage chair in the living room while napping

    The term “massage chair” refers to an overwhelming variety of products, from vibrating recliners to roller massagers to medical devices that diagnose tension and prescribe treatment. These are highly specialized types of seating designed to provide the benefits of visiting a massage therapist while taking the therapist out of the equation.

    However, the very best massage chairs still can’t compete with the accuracy and care that a skilled massage therapist can provide, but they do offer many compelling advantages.

    Benefits of Massage Chairs

    The first benefit is its sheer convenience, allowing anyone to enjoy a massage from the comfort of home, anytime, day or night. Here are the other benefits of massage chairs:  

    • You can watch your favorite movie while enjoying a massage. This makes it an ultimate self-care tool at home. When you’re at a massage parlor, you can’t do it because your face will be buried in a massage table’s hole.
    • You can get a massage for as long as you want without paying any extra to the spa.
    • You can save money on trips to massage parlors and the service. Regular massages mean everyday luxuries for some, but if you buy a massage chair, it’s a one-time payout.
    • You can control the heat level and strength level of the massage
    • You can get whatever type of massage you want
    • You can target specific muscle groups, tackle lower back pain, and stretch your muscles without the help of another person.
    • It’s a great massage option for those who don’t like other people, especially strangers, touching them.

    Types of Massage Chairs According to Massage Styles

    Some massage chairs operate differently. Understanding the differences and benefits of each can help you choose the right massage chair for your needs.

    Roller Massage Chair

    Traditionally, massage chairs operate using rollers. The mechanism within a chair delivers the massage. Over time, massage chairs’ quality and range of motion have improved. The range of movement is indicated by whether the rollers are 2D, 3D, or 4D. A roller massage is considered an effective method of therapeutic massage, benefiting many aspects of pain and injury.

    The current industry standard is quad rollers, though you will find value-priced chairs using three or two rollers. Sometimes, you can find one with a six-roller array.

    • 2D rollers – 2D is the most basic style. 2D massage chairs have rollers that operate horizontally and vertically. Given their simplicity and limited motion, 2D chairs have become less common.
    • 3D rollers – 3D rollers move in three ways. Besides going up and down or right and left, it includes the additional depth dimension. Depth refers to the ability of rollers to extend from the track and penetrate deeper into your muscle tissues. 3D roller massagers let you control the intensity of your massage, making them appropriate for deep tissue and gentle massage enthusiasts.
    • 4D rollers – 4D motion is the latest advancement in massage roller technology. They have an advantage over 3D technology because it has an even greater range of motion. It includes all the dimensional movements of 3D plus a fourth one called rhythm. With 4D, rollers vary their speed to replicate the dynamic speeds a massage therapist might use. Rather than moving at the same speed throughout the whole massage, 4D rollers sometimes speed up or slow down to provide a more life-like sensation.

    Air Massage Chair

    Another common massage type is air massage, performed by airbags that inflate and deflate to grip and squeeze the muscles directly. These types of massage are usually found in full-body massage chairs as they are used to treat the areas that rollers can’t reach, like hands and outer shoulders. Airbags are also used to perform advanced massage techniques like swings, twists, and stretches.

    Vibration Massage Chair

    Lastly, a vibration massage chair uses high-frequency vibration plates to stimulate an area and increase blood circulation. Massage chairs that offer vibration are often recreational and are not intended to serve as replacements for massage therapy. While it’s not as common, it’s often seen in massage chairs designed for short use, like the coin-operated massage chair.

    Types of Massage Chairs Based on Features and Functionality

    Massage chairs have different features and functionality, and get to know them here:

    1. Massage Chair Pads

    Want the most affordable option? Opting for a massage chair pad is the way to go. These are technically not chairs but pads that can be placed on your chair or couch. They can provide quite a decent massage in the comfort of your home without breaking the bank. However, some massage chair pads are known to break easily but don’t worry; there are some excellent models out there.

    2. Standard Massage Chairs

    When you are searching for products online, don’t fall for the looks because there is a big difference between a “back massage chair” and a “massage chair.” If budget is a big concern for you, then we recommend that you stay away from standard massage chairs and go for a more affordable pad-type piece of equipment. Standard massage chairs are a big investment. You can buy middle-ground chairs that may not get every inch of your body but still work great in hitting the sore areas.

    3. Full-Featured Massage Chairs

    As the name suggests, this type of massage chair has slots for arms, legs, hands, and the rest of the body. A high-quality, full-featured massage chair can provide users with 1200 square inches of massaging goodness, which means you can get a massage from head to toe without leaving your home. However, these bad boys are costly.

    4. Shiatsu Massage Chairs

    This chair got its name from the traditional Japanese Shiatsu massage technique. “Shiatsu” translates to “finger pressure.” In a shiatsu massage, a masseur uses his hands, elbows, thumbs, knees, and feet to apply pressure to pressure points of the body. According to the Japanese, shiatsu massage can heal the spirit, body, and even emotional issues.

    In most cases, massage-chair marketers use this popular term to sell their products quickly. However, real shiatsu massage chairs are also available in the market, incorporating a system that mimics a shiatsu technique with rollers. Full-featured shiatsu massage chairs can target major pressure points of the body, helping you bring the actual shiatsu experience.

    5. Reclining Massage Chairs

    Just like a regular big plush recliner, most quality massage chairs have a reclining feature. This mimics laying down on a massage table at a professional massage salon but in the comfort of your home.

    6. Zero Gravity Massage Chairs

    If you have been searching for the best massage chair for some time, then you may have come up with the term “Zero Gravity” a few times. This technology was invented by NASA. This is just a position that elevates the legs slightly above the heart. Zero Gravity massage chairs can simultaneously increase the relaxation of the back and neck, eliminate pressure on the spine, increase lung function, and boost your body’s circulation because of the horizontal position.

    7. Inversion Massage Chairs

    While this is technically a massage chair feature, it’s rare to find that it deserves its own classification. Only a handful of massage chairs on the market today offer inversion therapy. These types of chairs recline past 180 degrees to gently pull and stretch the spine.

    Inversion or traction therapy is unavailable on affordable models, but if you have the budget. There are a few massage chairs out there that offer this kind of therapy.

    Types of Massage Chair Tracks

    When it comes to massage chairs, tracks refer to the railing on which massage rollers are placed. When massage chairs were relatively new in the market, the track was straight up and down, but now there are several types.

    1. I-track

    Also called the straight track or fixed frame, this type is linear from top to bottom. Since they are straight, a common issue with them is that they lose contact and pressure in the curved areas like the neck and lower back. Today, they are only found on very affordable or recreational massage chairs.

    2. S-track

    S-track chairs have a steel frame bent in an S-shape to follow the natural curve of the body’s spine. S-tracks usually extend from the neck to the tailbone, depending on the length, allowing for greater freedom of movement. These are the kinds of tracks typically seen in the market today.

    3. L-track

    L-tracks are the extended tracks that pick up, whereas S-Tracks end at the tailbone and continue into the seat of the chair. These tracks extend the range of the rollers by 15 inches or more, allowing them to treat the glutes, hamstrings, and piriformis. However, it can’t operate in a range of positions – the user has to be sitting upright while using it.

    Since it was introduced, L-tracks have continuously grown in popularity for their additional coverage and the benefits they offer for those with sciatic nerve pain.

    4. Hybrid SL-Track

    This is the most recent innovation, which is a step up from its counterparts. It features a long SL-shaped curved rail that offers full coverage and an extensive massage across the spinal area. The track continues past the small of the back and curves under the seat to allow the rollers to massage the glutes and the backs of the thighs. These massage chairs also come with leg massage ports that extend the experience down to the calves and sometimes even until the feet. This type of massage chair can offer something close to a full-body massage.

    Features to Consider

    Beautiful young woman relaxing on the massage chair in airport or in the mall

    When buying a massage chair, here are some factors and features you should take a deeper look into before deciding on the unit to get.

    Massage Power

    This is the factor that will determine how much you are going to enjoy the massage. Deciding which massage chair is better than the other is very subjective as some people like their massage soft, while others like it rough. So, you must read a few customer reviews first to see if the chair provides a soft or rough massage.

    To increase your chances of finding a model capable of giving you precisely the type of massage experience you want, look for a massage chair that features an adjustable intensity. The more intensity levels in the chair, the better it is for you and your family. This is because more members of your household can enjoy massage according to their preferences.

    Heat Massage

    Heated massage chairs don’t just relax your muscles but also comfort your body. Massage chairs that have heated pads or infrared rollers produce heat against your back. The generated heat will relax your muscles and promote better blood circulation.

    About a quarter of the massage chairs on the market today offer heat, mostly in the lumbar area. But you can also find a few chairs that offer heated leg massage ports, whole back heat, seat heat, and so on.

    Massage Rollers

    High-end massage chairs use rollers to provide a comfortable experience. These rollers are specially designed to mimic the movement of the human hand. They slide upwards, downwards, toward the left and the right of your back, producing a soothing massage. The rollers in action are very relaxing and stimulate your back’s blood circulation.

    Vibration Massage

    High-end massage chairs are designed to work your full body, while lower-end models will only reach as far as your lower back. These models mostly use a vibration seat to work your legs and buttocks muscles.

    Deep Tissue Massage

    Chronic muscle aches can benefit from deep tissue massage. If you prefer to get a massager that also offers a deep tissue massage, you’ll see it listed one of two ways: either labeled as a “deep tissue massage” or will be listed as 3D/4D technology.

    Size and Design

    This feature matters a lot if you have less space in your home or room. A reclining chair is big and needs some extra space to fully extend, so you can’t just place them in a corner or against a wall. Most massage chairs are not aesthetically pleasing. Even when these chairs have a cool design, they will stand out compared to the rest of your furniture in the living room.

    Placing your massage chair right next to your regular sofa will create a stark contrast that might not appeal to you or your guests. The best thing you can do is place your massage chair in your bedroom, office, or workout room.

    Durability and Customer Service

    Before buying a massage chair, you want to see how durable the product is. This is where the customer review section comes in handy in the buying process. You can look for two things in the reviews section: durability and customer service. Does the chair last for a long time? How well does it hold up after repeated use and hours of sitting?

    A massage chair with a long warranty is a good choice because you can repair or return it in case any part goes sideways. The most important parts of the massage chair that have to hold up the longest are:

    • Bottom cushion
    • Airbags
    • Leg rest
    • Neck rest
    • Rollers and balls
    • Electronics

    The combination of excellent customer service and warranty makes sure that you get repairs and maintenance done in a timely fashion.

    Massage Intensity

    Massage intensity is another important feature that will determine your experience with the chair. If you want to try different types of massages, opt for a chair that has various massage intensity levels. Advanced chairs let you increase or decrease the intensity.


    There are massage chairs that offer enhancing features to elevate the massage experience. There are some that come with music systems that consist of an MP3 port or Bluetooth connectivity and built-in speakers. Once you connect the music system to a compatible device, the chair plays the music, giving you a surround sound during your massage.

    Other features include chromotherapy (LED running lights built into the chair to help you relax), air ionization (blows cool and ionized air to the face), and heat therapy.


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