Buying a Massage Chair? Ask yourself these questions first.

Many questions inevitably arise if you wonder how to choose the best massage chair for yourself. What does a massage chair cost? Why do I want one? What brands should I consider? What features should I look for? Where will it live in my home? Where can I find massage chairs for sale? It can be confusing—even overwhelming! What’s the best strategy for choosing the best-buy massage chair for you?

A massage chair is a significant investment in your health and your budget. Just as you would test drive a new vehicle before purchasing, you will want to sit in various massage chairs. You should see which one feels right for you, size-wise and feature-wise. What chair will fit in your home and your budget? 

Getting answers requires some time and patience. We’re here to help. We’ve researched and investigated and can get you on the right path.

How to Choose a Massage Chair: Start at Home

You’ll find massage chairs for sale online and in brick-and-mortar retailers in many locations. Begin your process in the comfort of your home. Many online resources (including this one!) can help narrow your search and target your results without asking for a sale.

In addition to searching for features you know you want and learning about others or comparing brands you’ve heard of from friends or online resources, you can locate showrooms in your area. Find out which ones carry the brands you’re interested in and how their prices compare. Look for special sales events. Learn about their delivery services and warranty options beyond what the manufacturer offers. All these steps, taken without leaving home, will make you a more savvy massage chair customer.

Price: The First Determiner

After completing your initial research, you will have the knowledge for the decision to make. Your budget will affect all your other options. With massage chair prices varying from a low of $400-$500 to over $10K. There’s no right or wrong here: if you can’t afford the upper end, those chairs are not for you. Whatever price point fits your budget, that’s the right place for you. Simple.

That said, not every dollar is created equal. Once you decide what you can afford (and remember to include tax, shipping, and/or delivery in that figure), you can begin to explore your choices.

As with most everything, massage chair prices can vary depending on where you look. So be sure to check retailers in your area and the familiar names online. You may see a sales event that brings the desired brand into your budget. Of course, you want the best buy in a massage chair.

On the Trail of Your Chair

Once you’ve decided on a price point you can afford and gathered enough information to feel confident about what to look for and questions to ask, you can begin to familiarize yourself with brands and models that match your budget. You can search “massage chairs for sale” in your area to try out a chair that fits your needs. If you’re lucky, there may be one or more nearby. You’ll find massage chairs for sale in many places and on many platforms. 

If you’re not so lucky, the following avenues to pursue are trade shows and in-store demos at large retailers near you like Costco. These may not stock items ongoingly but feature products for monthly specials with a representative on hand to answer some of your questions.

A word of caution: The chairs you find may not be the same ones you’ve researched. They may be advertised as having many or even all the same features at “a low-low price.” If you have a select group of your favorite massage chair brands in mind, it’s in your best interest to avoid a sales pitch aimed at a quick sale. Again, a quality massage chair is a significant purchase, and you owe it to yourself—to your health—to make a reasoned decision.

Lastly, don’t forget your phone. Talking with an expert in person or at an online resource is the best way to address your questions about how to choose a massage chair that’s the best purchase for you.

Try Out a Massage Chair at Home

To be sure you’re getting the right therapeutic product for your needs, it’s best to try out as many of those feature options, brands, and models, as possible. The in-store approach is the least complicated but may not be available in your area. It is possible, however, to find massage chairs for sale online.

Many retailers offer a guaranteed 30- or 90-day in-home trial. With this arrangement, you get to try out a massage chair as you would and will use it: in your own home, in the specific place in your home, and at the times of day that are right for you. Then, if you aren’t satisfied, you can return the chair for a refund or exchange it for a different chair. In most cases, the retailer will send a truck to pick up your massage chair.

Naturally, some restrictions apply. The chair must be in new condition with no scratches, scuffs, or other damage. Be sure you retain the original box, packing materials, instruction manuals, and any accessories included in the original purchase.

Also, check with your dealer about restocking and credit card fees. Some retailers waive these fees. But it’s best to be sure. If you opt for “white glove” delivery, those charges may not be refundable because that is an additional service.

When doing your research, remember that the terms of any trial purchase and the fees attached may influence your decision about what, where, and when to buy. Of course, be sure to check and double-check the dimensions of your massage chair to make sure that it will fit through any doorway between the delivery truck and the room where it will live. Stairs may also present an obstacle, especially if there are turns. Your massage chair may weigh hundreds of pounds, and no matter the capability of the crew doing the delivery, if the chair won’t fit, no amount of strength or persuasion will suffice.

Common Massage Chair Features

As you choose the right massage chair, keeping in mind the purpose you want your chair to serve and ensuring you’re happy with your purchase, you should familiarize yourself with features commonly offered. Be sure to dive deeper based on your budget and specific needs. Below is a summary of the significant components.

  • Rollers: Massage chairs offer three options for rollers, each designed to provide different depths of massage. You’ll see 2D, 3D, and even 4D rollers advertised. The 2D is best for a user who isn’t looking for an exceptionally deep massage. The 3D, found in most massage chairs on the market today, goes deeper, penetrating into the muscles for a more intense massage. 4D rollers can turn and hit different angles that the 3D rollers can’t and offer the greatest level of penetration.
  • Tracks: There are two massage track types- S-Track and L-Track. All chairs have a curved S-shape track. The L-shape extends to massage the back of the hamstrings, the glutes, and the piriformis muscles. But the L-shape does not flatten as well as the S-shape to prove a good stretch. Some newer massage chairs are starting to combine these tracks—called a J-track—to create a more successful full-body massage experience.
  • Zero-Gravity: Almost all massage chairs offer a recline feature. But not all of them can recline to a true zero-gravity position, achieved when your legs are raised to a level above your heart. The zero-gravity position helps your spine and joints decompress and alleviate some of the stress on your joints caused by gravity.
  • Foot and Calf Massage: While you may prioritize back massage, many users also favor foot and calf massage. This option is a good choice for the medium to the more expensive massage chairs if you’re on your feet for much of the day.
  • Airbags: Unlike rollers, airbags inflate around the targeted area, like your arm or hand, and compress it by squeezing down and then releasing it. The intensity varies depending on how much the airbag is inflated, which can be set on the handset controller. Combined with rollers, the customized airbag inflation creates a more complete and relaxing experience.
  • Body Scan Technology: For a personalized massage for your specific body size and shape, body scans provide the most accuracy and precision. They work by utilizing state-of-the-art technology to register each user’s size, shape, and curves to customize the massage.
  • Heat, Blue-Tooth Functionality, and Adjustable Intensity: These are some additional features for you to explore based on your budget and your needs.

If the Chair Fits

Many retailers and brands promote features as their primary marketing focus. You’ll likely see bullet lists of features (yes, like the one above) attached to any chair you find and wherever you find massage chairs for sale.

Consider this: you wouldn’t buy an automobile purely based on its features. While features are important and may contribute to your final decision, they aren’t the way to determine how to choose a massage chair. The test drive is a vital aspect of any new vehicle purchase. How does it feel?

Neuroscientists will tell you that you don’t think only with your brain. Your heart and your “gut” are also aspects of your intelligence. Features appeal to your intellect. You may or may not understand how an airbag differs from a roller or an S-track differs from an L-track or J-Track roller. If you do, good for you. The real determiner, however, is how any feature feels to you and other household members. And the choice you make should be visceral, physical, psychological, not simply intellectual.

For one thing, features don’t exist in a vacuum. Ideally, they work together in synergy to create an overall effect. You can’t tell if any orchestra will sound good because it has string and woodwind sections and two tympani! What matters is how those sections, those instruments play together. You can’t tell if a recipe will taste good simply because you like a few ingredients. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding—in the way those ingredients taste together. We call this a chair’s choreography.

Go ahead and learn what features are available at your price point and which seem to suit your needs. But don’t assume the features are how to choose a massage chair. They’re not. A benefit of in-store demos and in-home trials is that you get the whole chair experience. The experience is the key to understanding how a combination of features works for you on a visceral level.

 Are Massage Chairs Good For Your Health?

It may seem late to ask this question. And maybe you think you know. Perhaps it’s the backdrop to your reading this article in the first place. 

What’s the answer? Is a massage chair a tool offering health benefits that support or rival what a medical practitioner can provide? Or is it just a large piece of furniture—a piece of contemporary sculpture?

There is a great deal of information and research to explore here. You can expect positive answers if you search for information on retailers’ sites. Instead, look for consumer guides like this one that do not include a marketing pitch. URLs ending in “.edu” might be less biased, as well.

But in brief, consider why we sit down in any chair. Often, it is to rest, relax, and unwind, if only for a few minutes. But sitting alone isn’t the answer. Those who spend long periods sitting as a part of their workday have a higher risk of developing blood clots. A good massage chair helps relax your muscles and stimulates blood flow to areas of your body lacking oxygen and nutrients, helping to prevent blood clots. That’s a good start.

Life is stressful under the best of circumstances, and for many people, recent times have been particularly difficult. If not addressed, stress can move from acute—the result of immediate events and thoughts—to chronic. Untended, chronic stress makes your body produce higher cortisol levels, which can lead to digestive issues, muscle tension, and headaches. Chronic stress is even linked to a higher risk of anxiety, depression, and heart disease. 

Massage chairs have decreased cortisol levels by up to 50 percent. Reduced cortisol levels support and improve the body’s immune system and response to injury, accelerating the body’s response to inflammation and the healing process in general. 

Studies have revealed many other benefits of massage and massage chairs. If you are experiencing muscle spasms, the heated surface of a massage chair in that area will reduce spasm frequency. As it gently stretches your muscles, a massage chair can also help to increase flexibility. Increased flexibility helps improve your range of motion and prevent injuries. 

In addition, massage chairs have been shown to improve sleep quality. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining your health and well-being. 

A Massage Chair or a Massage Technician?

A trained professional massage therapist can do wonders. Not only is “hands-on” treatment a pleasure and a relief, but the opportunity to communicate with a human being in real time about the treatment is enormous. 

Yes, a massage therapist can address your issues. But a good practitioner can be hard to find and difficult to schedule. Professional massage, especially a part of an ongoing healthcare program, can be expensive, in some areas running from $5000 to $8000 per year.

The first advantage a quality massage chair offers over a professional massage technician is convenience. If your chair is in your home, there are no arrangements to be made or appointments to schedule. There is no commute. Your massage chair is ready when you are, 24/7.

The commute also adds to the expense. When comparing services to purchases, you should add the price of gas or public transportation to your cost calculations. Your time itself is valuable as well. What does a trip to the massage therapist cost you in terms of your own work?

Finally, a massage chair, once purchased, is a finite expense determined by your budget. With ongoing professional massage services, your costs are more open-ended and, in the end, prohibitive. Then where are you? 

Are All Massage Chairs the Same?

Given the range of price points, you would assume that an expensive massage chair is different—and inherently better—than a lower-priced model. To some true extent. Price is not determined without some basis. It is related to many factors, including the source and quality of the components. But many massage chairs with different names are created in the same factories. The only difference is the brand labels. You pay for the name. 

But all massage chairs are NOT the same. Different designers, the choreography derived from different features, ease of function, therapies targeted for specific body areas or health issues, body scanning, optional add-ons like Bluetooth connectivity, and of course, the quality of parts and manufacture all make a fundamental, experiential difference between any two chairs. And those differences determine how to choose a massage chair that’s right for you.

Massage chair brands recognized as leaders include OHCO, Panasonic, Positive Posture, KAI and D. Core. Be sure to include them in your research. What sets them apart from some other brands is not only the quality of the choreography—backed by research and the work of world-renowned designers—but also the warranties that back their products. A longer warranty indicates a manufacturer’s confidence in a product. It’s something to consider. Many retailers offer their own warranties, which are additional indicators of confidence.

Your Massage Chair and You

Not all chairs are the same, yes. Furthermore, you yourself are unique: an individual unlike anyone else. The things that make you who you are may call for a different rationale, purchase process, and choice. Different individuals with different backgrounds set different priorities and approach purchasing differently. Current or former athletes may need features and choreography that someone who sits for hours a day does not require. 

Someone recuperating from an illness or medical procedure may need to make a more immediate decision and purchase than others without those medical issues, and that individual may need a specific chair. With the onset of a disease or disability, an elderly person may need assistance and speed in choosing a massage chair that is best for them.

No one, including anyone in your household, is exactly like you. Your height and weight, obviously, but also your age, fitness, medical history, and other intangibles make you like no other person looking for a good massage chair. What is good for your partner, your sister, or your friend may not work for you. When choosing a massage chair, keep your specific needs in mind, as well as the flexibility that a particular chair has to accommodate other users.

Questions, Questions, and Answers!

We hope you now feel better informed and prepared—that we’ve addressed some of your concerns and questions. But no matter where you are in your process of choosing a massage chair, don’t hesitate to reach out for answers and advice. There are many choices to make, and finding solutions on your own is not always easy. We’re happy to leverage our experience and expertise on your behalf. Please contact us and let us help. 

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