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Therapeutic Massage Chair Techniques and Modalities

Massage modalities are methods and styles used to achieve various goals. A focus on releasing muscle tension is one example. There are many styles and multiple bodywork modalities, most of which can be replicated as massage chair techniques.

In fact, the American Massage Therapy Association lists more than 65 types of massage and bodywork modalities, including: 

  • Acupressure
  • Aromatherapy
  • Deep tissue
  • Hot stone
  • Junetsu
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Myofascial release
  • Prenatal
  • Reflexology
  • Shiatsu
  • Sports massage
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Trigger point
  • Vibration 
  • And many others

When you receive a massage, your therapist typically will apply certain techniques to target specific types or areas of tension or pain.

The newest massage chair models can replicate many of the most sought-after therapeutic modalities. Diverse massage techniques in bodywork modalities will often require different training and strength levels, so a single massage therapist may not be capable of performing all of them. However, the best massage chairs are able to faithfully execute numerous massage chair modalities. But beware! Just because a massage chair has the technology to perform complex massage techniques does not mean it has been choreographed to do so. executing a particular massage chair technique to perfection is no problem for the most technologically advanced chairs.

Swedish, deep tissue, reflexology, acupressure, and shiatsu are among the most popular therapeutic massage modalities and massage chair techniques. Depending on your needs, they can deliver a soothing, relaxing experience or break up deep-seated tension and relieve even the toughest of your body’s muscle knots. These massage modalities are much loved and highly sought after, so many massage chairs include them as automatic sessions.

In addition, you can experience multiple massage chair modes at once. For example, your chair might be able to provide a foot massage while also working your neck. Ask your massage therapist to try that!

Common Massage Chair Techniques

When researching massage chairs, it is crucial to understand the different massage chair modalities and techniques. Some of the most common include:


A shiatsu massage chair (or a massage chair with a good shiatsu program) faithfully mimics a trained shiatsu massage therapist’s “finger pressure” massage technique. This technique targets shiatsu points (also known as acupressure points) with highly choreographed movements to offer pain relief and recovery in certain body areas to promote total relaxation and overall wellness.


Deep tissue massage chairs utilize several features to provide highly soothing, full-body comfort. Internal components with multiple air cells compress and decompress to relieve lower and upper back, shoulder, thigh, and calf tension. Specific choreography in the chair’s massage mechanism can simulate the movements of a massage therapist to boost circulation. 

Some massage chairs use a zero gravity position to induce profound relaxation that aids in pain relief and injury recovery.

Vibrating Massage

A simple vibrating massage chair delivers benefits without advanced features. Vibration is one of the most basic massage therapy modalities. It improves blood flow and promotes relaxation with simple, rhythmic motions. 

While more advanced features can enhance this massage technique, a vibrating massage chair on its own can provide plenty of comfort to multiple areas of the body.

Foot & Body

Foot massage is another type of bodywork modality  that provides tremendous relief. It is especially effective and enjoyable when combined with other types of massage movements. For example, many high-end massage chairs have features that target the feet, calf muscles, shoulders, arms, and neck. 

These capabilities are designed to relieve the unique stress felt in each body part. Heated leg rollers, for instance, can help leg muscle recovery, while a foot massage relieves soreness and tension in the feet.

massage therapy

Practical Applications for Each Massage Technique

Unsurprisingly, the different massage techniques have various applications. While anyone can benefit from each of these massage modalities, some types of massage movements have more pronounced benefits when used to treat particular needs.

Deep tissue massage chair programs, for instance, tend to be favored by athletes. This preference is because the deep, probing movements  promote muscle recovery. In addition, a deep tissue massage improves blood flow in the targeted area, which is particularly beneficial to muscles following a workout.

On the other hand, a Swedish massage chair session is an excellent option for anyone seeking immersive relaxation. The highly focused and choreographed movements of a Swedish massage chair program encourage muscular and mental relaxation. Those who deal with high levels of stress and tension in their lives can benefit from a Swedish massage chair program.

For other users, a vibrating or tapping massage chair session is perfect. Among the other benefits they provide, vibrating massage chair sessions improve blood flow. As a result, they can provide effective therapy for those struggling with poor circulation.

Vibration therapy also can improve bone density and muscle strength, making it a good option for people recovering from injury or struggling with bone health. Of course, it is important to remember that massage chairs are not substitutes for proper medical evaluation and treatment or physical therapy.

Try Several Massage Chairs To Find the Perfect Fit

The availability of many massage chairs, techniques, and modalities gives you a great deal to think about as you consider a purchase. However, it shouldn’t be (and doesn’t have to be) overwhelming. The Comfort Consultants at our Furniture For Life locations are experts in understanding user needs, explaining functionality, and matching people with chairs that will “check all their boxes”—most notably their desired massage experience.

The first thing you will notice when you visit one of our showrooms is that it is the perfect environment for relaxed, unhurried research. It isn’t a loud, chaotic tradeshow or other event where representatives are incentivized to hustle people through the purchase process. Our team members are happy to spend as much time with you as you like. 

They start by asking questions to understand your wants and needs in a massage chair. Do you have health or mobility issues you’re looking to address? How often will you use your chair? Where will it be positioned in your home? Have you used a massage chair before? If you’ve had massages in the past, what type of massage movements do you like? Your answers help them identify the massage chairs that are most likely to meet your needs and satisfy your wants.  

Next, they guide you through thorough “test drives” of the chairs on your shortlist. This isn’t a “get in, get out” type of scenario. They encourage you to take your time and truly experience each candidate. They explain the features and functions as you go, but really the focus is on how a chair makes you feel, because at the end of the day, the coolest “bells and whistles” don’t mean anything if the chair doesn’t deliver precisely the experience you want. 

Ultimately, your visit to a Furniture For Life showroom and time spent with a Comfort Consultant will be both enlightening and enjoyable. If you choose to make a purchase, the consultant will assist you. However, there is no pressure. If you prefer to sleep on what you’ve experienced and buy your perfect massage chair later, we are happy to assist you whenever you return.

Warranties, Service, and Support

You will be pleased to know that we stand proudly and confidently behind every offering in our curated collection of The World’s Best Massage Chairs®. You will see that in the robust warranties we provide, our attentive after-sale service, and, in general, the way we support our customers. 

We sell massage chairs but we’re purveyors of extraordinary experiences! And we strive to ensure that includes every interaction with Furniture For Life. Have a question about how to clean your new massage chair? Give us a call. Experience a rare mechanical issue? We won’t rest until it’s resolved. Looking to purchase a second chair for your office? We now know your preferences and can help you find the right chair for that location. 

So, come see us and let’s get you a massage chair that delivers the most productive and enjoyable sessions you’ve ever experienced!

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