How Many Types Of Massage Chairs Are There?

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one massage chair two massage chair red massage chair blue massage chair

1 Massage Chair, 2 Massage Chair, Red Massage Chair, Blue Massage Chair. How many massage chairs are there?

When you begin to explore the world of therapeutic massage, there are so many types of massage chairs offering powerful methods of relaxation to learn. Therapeutic massage chairs fall into a few categories based on their features. In addition, various combinations of components work together to promote a realistic massage experience, and it’s good to know about all the types of massage chairs as you start shopping. 

We’re here to help educate you on the different types of massage chairs and the various benefits that come with each. For example, there are variations in the roller style, how the rollers move, and how the heat is deployed. Some luxury models also employ specialized airbags and unique choreography to apply targeted pressure to specific body areas. The distinctions between each of these components produce very different massage chairs, each with multiple massage therapy features. 

The Evolution of the Massage Chair

Massage therapy dates back thousands of years. We have evidence to support the idea that earlier people believed more significant states of harmony could keep us safe from real and imagined harm. Electric massage chairs only began to appear in the 1950s. Early versions were crude and simple but must have worked well enough that engineers continued innovating.

A man named Nobuo Fujimoto designed the original massage chair out of scrapped materials in 1954. It had two rollers that would massage the sides of your spine in a vertical motion. By 1975, he had incorporated the ability to turn it on with a single switch, and the design involved more rollers. It also allowed users to adjust from kneading to tapping by hitting a single button. As a result, it was far more cushioned and looked much more comfortable. 

In 1986, a man named David Palmer created the first massage chair for professional massage therapists. This invention allowed for more variety in the in-person massage experience. They were also portable, making in-home massage therapy more popular. Because this chair could be brought to anyone’s residence. As people became more aware of the benefits of massage therapy, an opportunity was born to make them more widely available.

In 2003, many massage chairs looked like your average recliner but with leg holders. These would often have rollers that would massage your legs as the rollers worked on your back.

As we enter 2023, we are already living in the future with extraordinary massage manipulation techniques, and high-tech innovated models that encompass even more traditional therapeutic massage modalities. 

If you’d like a little help discovering which of the many types of massage chairs is the best massage chair for you, try out this convenient quiz to meet your match. Then, find the best chair for your needs with the right massage chair features you’ll love. Please reach out with any questions! 

Massage Chairs and Roller Tracks

When we refer to “tracks,” we’re talking about the mechanical pathways the rollers travel on. When we talk about “rollers,” we mean the physical balls inside the massaging chair. Different types of massage chairs have their design for the rollers. The kind of track your massage chair has will determine how deep the massage will be. For example, lower-end massage chairs use straight paths. They are regular 2D tracks and only move up, down, left, and right. Essentially, they remain on one plane as they move back and forth.

Another kind of track is called the S-track. If you imagine a side-view of a person, the spine’s shape resembles an “S” shape. An S-track is built to hug this curve so the rollers can push into your back as it massages. An S-track model will cover the area from your tailbone to your neck, usually up to 32 inches. S-tracks provide a deeper, more intense massage than a 2D track. 

Next, we have the L-track. These massage chairs are extended versions of the S-track, and their built-in rollers reach lower into the legs. The track goes into the glutes, the piriformis, and the hamstrings. People appreciate the L-track’s ability to provide a much deeper massage experience, with the additional benefit of being useful for sciatic nerve pain. 

2D, 3D, 4D Rollers–What’s in the Best Massage Chairs?

As far as the best massage chair rollers go, these massage rollers add the feature of choreographed pressure with unique timing. This innovative feature allows the massage to follow patterns similar to an authentic human massage therapist. 

The 3rd dimension of rollers also moves in and out to massage the user, just moving back and forth. Additionally, 3D rollers allow for more control over the intensity of a massage, bringing the experience one step closer to being lifelike. In some cases, sensitive users crave a less intense and shallow massage, and 3D rollers allow for that customization.

4D massage chair functions allow the speed to change seamlessly throughout the massage. Ultimately, they make for a much more realistic massage and are present in the best massage chairs. 

When you sit on a chair, the masseuse will not have a robotic ability to maintain the same pressure throughout your entire body. 4D rollers allow for a more consistent pressure level, bringing you deeper into a state of full-body relaxation. 

The highest-end massage chairs will have 4D rollers, and they will be able to pinpoint your problem areas with easy-to-navigate controls. There may even have additional massage chair functions, such as full-body scanning to understand your specific body size and shape. 

In other massage chairs, inversion therapy is also possible, which can gently pull your spine, allowing for more space between the vertebrae. This spine-relieving feature can further allow nutrients to flow into these areas, creating higher levels of resilience in the body.

Therapeutic vs. Hobbyist Massage Chairs

When high-tech massage chair features began rolling out, two different avenues started taking shape. Many buyers needed real solutions to chronic pain, stress, and poor circulation. Older adults needed better ways of reducing muscle tension that didn’t wholly tire them out. 

On the other hand, some people might invest in a massage chair to enjoy the benefits of massage therapy in the comfort of their homes. The difference between a hobbyist and a therapeutic massage chair is when it becomes an in-home massage chair. 

Hobbyist massage chairs are known for their fun features, such as the release of aromatherapy at certain times, MP3 and BlueTooth support, and LED lights that enhance the overall visual experience of the chair. These massage chair features are not intended directly to improve health. But instead, their purpose is to make the experience more intriguing and memorable on an aesthetic level. 

However, many therapeutic massage chairs are more ergonomically designed and have aesthetic features. These features are not as prioritized. These supplemental features found in hobbyist chairs might be missing from therapeutic massage chairs. For instance, heated rollers, compression airbags, and intelligent choreography settings are often absent in hobbyist chairs, which are all made to provide therapeutic benefits to the body. 

Hobbyist massage chairs also lack advanced settings targeting specific body areas, like the arms, legs, and feet. Instead, these chairs’ “massage” feature usually consists of simple vibrations.

Hobbyist chairs relieve lower levels of pressure and offer a generally comforting and pleasant experience while offering therapeutic benefits. They ease your pain and likely have neat additional features, such as built-in meditation music. 

On the other hand, a therapeutic model will be geared towards addressing your specific problem areas or needs, making them the best massage chairs for other buyers. 

Therapeutic chairs have intentionally designed massage chair features that bring users to states of higher health with the latest technology. Many of them have presets specifically designed to mimic the hands of a shiatsu masseuse. 

Knowing what type of massage chair you want from these two goes a long way toward making an informed choice. 

Zero-Gravity Massage Chairs

These types of massage chairs are also commonly referred to as “anti-gravity” chairs, inspired by the zero gravity position coined by NASA. When you recline with your legs above your heart level, your weight is evenly distributed throughout your body. It is intended to minimize the effects of gravity on your back. It is known to alleviate neck and back pain, and it can be good for digestion. In addition, sleeping in this position often creates optimal blood circulation as your body goes through natural healing states. 

Zero-gravity chairs will allow you to recline as the footrest lifts. You are placed into a completely neutral gravity position. Removing the gravity strain off your body as tension is eased out of your muscles with massage or heat. The chair will shift back, and the massage will take place in this reclined position. Blood can flow out of your heart more quickly when it doesn’t have to combat gravity, promoting better blood flow, reduced stress, and increased relaxation.

A zero gravity chair is an excellent option for someone with spinal injuries or pains. The ease of blood flow invites states of deep rest. As we see with most massaging chairs, zero-gravity aids a great night’s sleep – these models are also powerful for achieving optimal spinal health.

High-Tech Massage Chairs: The Features

There are a variety of massage chair features that hi-tech massage chairs often have, and these features are what create the most variation between different models. Each massage chair will have a specific roller track and specially chosen features, which are not all the same. 

It all depends on the design. For example, some will have 4D rollers with zero-gravity technology, while others will have 3D rollers with many more specialized airbags. Luckily, you will no doubt be able to find a massage chair that exactly meets your needs and preferences.

You may like to explore different massage chair functions; especially if you live with many people, you can use body scanners built into your chair. In some chairs, the rollers can sense unique aspects of your body type, and they seek to massage unique pressure points throughout the experience. It will aim to open up the energy flow in your body in addition to your blood vessels. This innovation makes your massage far more personalized, bringing effects similar to acupuncture sessions. 

Another significant component could be a built-in air ionizer. The ionizers are located in the headrests and do an excellent job of keeping the air clear, enhancing the beneficial aspects of your time in the massage chair. Most of them have memory banks, which allow you to save your message settings if you find them very powerful. 

On a genuinely futuristic note, voice control has been incorporated into newer types of massage chairs. This new innovative functionality (while not perfected yet) allows administering vocal commands with Alexa capability. However, this can be difficult for older individuals or if you do not find voice control helpful. In addition, users state that it is difficult to reach out and grab the remote, or if the buttons are too confusing, vocal commands can make a chair more accessible. 

No matter what your choice, at Furniture For Life, we strive to bring you the right solutions for you. Contact our massage chair specialists if you have any questions.


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