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Do Massage Chairs Work?

Do Massage Chairs Work?

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Are you intrigued by the benefits a massage chair may deliver? Are you also skeptical about the claims and promises made by the myriad massage chair sellers you find online? Take heart. You are not alone. 

Massage chairs aside, there have been countless devices—thousands, millions, tens of millions—sold through the years that claim to offer a surefire way to soothe tight and sore muscles. Since most of these products disappeared as quickly as they appeared, it’s a good thing for you to ask the most basic of all massage chair questions: “Do massage chairs really work?” 

You’ll be pleased to learn that they do! In this article, we cite research supporting this claim and share direct quotes and testimonials from some of our customers. Let’s get started.

Do Massage Chairs Help Reduce Muscle Tension, Pain, and Stress? 

It is widely known and accepted that properly manipulating sore muscles helps relax them and reduce pain. You only have to have someone—even a friend or family member with no massage training—work a tight muscle to become a believer in massage therapy. Your body isn’t lying to you: There’s convincing research showing that massage chair therapy does work.  

One such study of clinical outcomes was published by the National Library of Medicine, which is part of the world-famous National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland. According to its authors, the “study was [conducted] to compare clinical outcomes such as pain control, satisfaction, and quality of life modification, as well as the cost-effectiveness of massage chair therapy with those of in-hospital physiotherapy.” They further explain that participants received up to six treatment sessions within three weeks. 

The massage chair therapy protocol was as follows: “Total massage time was 20 min, including 3 min of constant stretching, 5 min of vibration mode and stroke mode, and 40-degree heating of the treatment region. This protocol is called the “back strengthen mode” and is one of the machine’s most commonly used programs.” The outpatient physiotherapy program (provided by accredited physiotherapists), which is commonly used for back pain, involved “5 min of ultrasound massage, 5 min of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), 5 min of interferential current therapy, and 5 min of hot pack application.” 

The results indicated that while pain control was better with in-clinic physiotherapy, “the massage chair is a promising treatment for pain control and quality of life modification.”

The study results align well with our position on massage chairs and in-person physiotherapy therapy: We would never state (nor should any other massage chair provider) that a single massage chair session is more effective than a session with a trained and experienced massage therapist. However, unless you have a highly skilled massage therapist living with you and always ready to provide bodywork at a moment’s notice, massage chairs offer significant advantages. 

Two of the biggest benefits are, 1) the 24/7/365 availability of a massage chair, and 2) the cost-effectiveness of having a chair in your home. The study mentioned above states it this way: “Massage chair therapy was more cost-effective than physiotherapy, at only 60.17% of the physiotherapy cost.” And that conclusion was reached using the cost to rent a massage chair. Cost-effectiveness would likely be even greater if the cost of owning a chair were used. What’s more, the study was conducted in South Korea, where the fee for a physiotherapy session was calculated at $27.80. In the U.S., that cost would likely be much higher, leading to even more impressive results.   

So, to answer the question about massage chairs and muscle tension/pain, yes, chairs provide readily available and affordable relief. In the words of the study cited above, “In our study, the massage chair was cost-effective and adequately controlled pain.” 

Are Massage Chairs Good for You?

As described above, massage chairs help with various physical problems. But that fact only partially answers the question, “Are massage chairs good for you?” There is more to well-being than simply having limber muscles and being free of aches and pains. 

Much of the experience people describe as “feeling good” takes place in the mind. Can massage chair sessions help in that area? Here again, there is clinical evidence that they can. One study notes that fact right in its title, as published on ResearchGate: Massage Therapy Reduces Anxiety and Enhances EEG Pattern of Alertness and Math Computations. 

Specifically, the comparison of a “massage group” with a “control group” (no massage) revealed that “anxiety levels were lower following the massage but not the control sessions.” That result alone is compelling. Who wouldn’t like easy access to an activity that lowers their anxiety level? By any standard, reducing feelings of emotional stress and discomfort is an important part of feeling good. 

The report also says that “the massage group showed increased speed and accuracy on math computations while the control group did not change.” That is another crucial point in favor of massage chairs. Imagine the difference between going to an important morning meeting feeling sharp and alert rather than the opposite.

So, are massage chairs good for you in a more general sense? Yes, they are. 

Are Massage Chairs Worth It? 

Even though studies show massage chairs can effectively address specific physical and mental/emotional ailments, assessing the value of having one in your home remains especially personal. Advanced massage chairs have a significant price tag. Determining if massage chairs are “worth it” for you and your family means comparing the cost to the improvements in your health and sense of well-being. 

Frankly, if you don’t view your wellness as a high priority, your answer to this question could be, “No, they aren’t worth it.” But if you didn’t prioritize your physical and emotional well-being, you probably wouldn’t be researching massage chairs or reading this article! 

Through the years, we have found that the majority of our customers would answer the question with an enthusiastic “Yes!” For example, individual K.P. states: 

“I have been having my massages at home daily [for several months] thanks to the Brio+ Massage Chair! It’s comfortable and has 5 intensity levels to suit your needs. It offers many programs like full-body, relaxation, etc. I like the relaxation program the most. It really helps me to relax after a stressful workday. I like to have a massage before going to bed because it helps me fall asleep faster. The heated function is a plus, especially with winter coming!”

And G.D. is equally effusive in his praise, exclaiming:

“Bought this for my wife, who has a repetitive motion job that causes a lot of aching muscles and stiff joints. She can’t get enough of it. She uses it for 3 cycles every evening and completes it feeling totally refreshed. My wife used to need to go to the chiropractor every 4-5 weeks, but since we got this chair, she hasn’t gone back to him. This was definitely a great investment.”

Everyone has unique needs, so even glowing reviews should only be one factor to consider in purchasing a massage chair. More critical than product details or the opinions of chair owners are your perceptions during and after a massage session. 

Do Massage Chairs Really Work? How To Answer That Question for Yourself.

Both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that massage chairs can improve physical health and create an enhanced sense of well-being with regular use. But will a massage chair work for you? The only way to answer that question is to visit a Furniture For Life showroom and experience The World’s Best Massage Chairs® for yourself.

A Comfort Consultant will ask about your massage chair wants and needs and then guide you through “test drives” of all the models that meet your requirements. It is a no-pressure process focused exclusively on helping you understand your options. They will also emphasize our commitment to (and well-deserved reputation for) exceptional after-sales service. At Furniture For Life, we find that chair owners typically become customers for life.

If you decide to purchase a massage chair at the end of your demonstration sessions, we are happy to help with that. However, we are just as pleased to have you “sleep on” what you learned and return when you are ready to move forward. 

Either way, we’re eager to help guide you through your massage chair shopping journey. 

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