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Buyer's Guide


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Massage Chair Selection Guidelines

Here is your common sense guide to finding that perfect massage chair you always wish you had. That chair that is great for relaxing in after a hard day or for removing tension after a strenuous workout. But before you start your selection process, there is some basic information that you need to know. There is no question; a massage chair can be one of the most expensive consumer products in your home. The right chair will help you to relieve stress and back problems, while a poor quality chair will have you gritting your teeth, creating more stress with each break down.

Massage Chair Features and Benefits

All high priced massage chairs use the latest technology to study the finger movements of professional massage therapists and duplicate these motions.

Kneading (Shiatsu) Massage

The main advantage of the Kneading massage is that it both relaxes and invigorates the body. Kneading massage uses three complex movements.

  1. Pressure is applied gently to an accupoint
  2. The pressure is held allowing tension to transfer to the roller
  3. Tension is then released allowing the pressure to leave the system

Rolling Massage

Rolling massage helps to stretch the spine by elongating the muscles that support your back thus relieving pressure on the discs. Rollers massage up and down the spine stimulating spinal nerve roots and reducing muscular back pain. The greater the area covered and greater the size of the rollers, the more optimal the massage becomes for increasing overall blood circulation.

Tapping Massage

Tapping massage, simply stated, helps to improve your blood circulation. This increased blood flow has the benefit of reducing muscular stiffness and enhancing movement of oxygen and other vital nutrients through the course of the body. After exercise, this function helps wring muscles free of lactic acid, reducing the overall stiffness of the region being massaged. Some massage chair technologies allow as many as five hundred taps a minute! Sit back and let all the day's stiffness dissipate.

Six steps for finding the right Massage Chair!

Now that we have talked about basic Massage Chair features, it's time to follow these six steps to truly find the best massage chair that is right for you.

  1. Know Thyself - Know the nature of massage you need: Do you have a neck problem, back problem, or lower back problem? Do you need more concentrated massage or a combination of kneading, rolling, or tapping?
  2. Durability or temporary solution: If you need an urgent shiatsu massage, there are cheap rollers for the back. If your priorities call for durability and long-term use, you will want a chair that can last at least 5-10 years with daily use.
  3. Prioritize - Decide which styles and features mean the most to you. Rank those top features and styles and use those criteria to select the products within your price range.
  4. Visit a store and a retail showroom in your area. Some chairs are displayed in malls and if you have a chance, you should try them. Be patient in the purchasing process. As a general rule malls will charge more than online stores or dealers at trade shows. Tax and shipping are involved as is the Mall's store operating costs that have to be made up in your final price.
  5. Research, research, research - Contact manufacturers and dealers for additional information on sizes, specifications, and any other information. Study them closely, review videos if they are offered, talk to friends, and experts.
  6. Think about warranty. You may think you will not have a problem; and you probably won't if you buy a quality massage chair, but we have all heard those stories of "great deals". Remember the old saying, "you get what you pay for". It couldn't be truer in the massage chair industry. Before you purchase, make sure that the manufacturer of the chair is reputable and backs their products with a good warranty.

Selection Process

When it comes to selecting the massage chair, forget about more features, more rollers, more motors and special features that you do not need. The issues you should consider are comfort, durability, stability, massage technique, quality, and warranty. The most important thing in buying a massage chair is quality. You want a chair with the best shiatsu massage technique with good quality motors. Motors are as important to your massage chair as an engine is to your car.

Making Sense of Massage Chairs

Selecting your chairs based on your need is a great rule of thumb for choosing your chair. However, the chair is not an inexpensive purchase and you probably want it to last more than your average consumer electronic product. Here is a primer on selecting chairs by their components.


Your massage chair motor is the "engine" of your chair. Motors in the chair are important since they carry out the massage. If a massage chair motor breaks down, the chair becomes useless. You need to investigate the quality of the motors -- who made it, where was it manufactured and how long it can last. Companies usually outsource the motor. A few companies make their own motors. Other companies are well known motor makers that make other products with motors such as vacuum cleaners or fans. Motors manufactured in Japan are known for their quality and durability around the world. These motors also produce less noise than motors made in other countries. You might want to investigate the number of motors in the massage chair. When the chair has independent motors that concentrate on kneading, rolling, and tapping, you will receive a more effective and powerful massage. Furthermore, a chair with separate motors can allocate the workload necessary to produce a therapeutic massage. This produces less wear on each motor, allowing the motors to rest while the active motor provides you the specified shiatsu massage function. When a single motor provides all kneading, rolling, and tapping functions, it becomes more likely to burnout from overuse. The result is a shortened life span for a chair with a single motor over a chair with several motors. Also, having too many small low quality motors working against each other can shorten the mechanical lifespan of the massage chair. The general rule is if you can hear any massage motor running while you are getting a massage, it probably is a low quality motor.


There are chairs with 16, 12, 10 or 8 rollers. Is it really "the more the better?" This general rule does not accurately apply to rollers. The more rollers you have cause the size of each roller to get smaller. If a single motor of the chair is tasked with moving 16 rollers it cannot do so efficiently. It is the quality, size and type of material rollers are made of that determine the massage you will get. Some rollers allow themselves to curve along the body and form up to a 50-degree angle to fit the shoulders, back and other areas. Others do not allow for the curves of your body. Thus, a roller that has the flexibility to suit all body types allows for a better massage than a larger quantity of inflexible rollers.


The massage chair needs to adjust to an individual in order to optimize performance for the individual user. A critical factor in your massage chair is the height adjustment. People come in all shapes and sizes. Some chairs have height adjustment for the rollers range of movement. This allows your rollers to better cover the shoulder, neck and lower back region. The speed of your massage rollers is an important factor for shiatsu massage. A proper massage entails strong and fast massage movements. At other times your back craves relaxing, soft movements. Some chairs offer strength adjustments for varying intensity. If the chair's initial massage is too strong, we recommend you put more padding in between the roller and the back cover. That process is easy to do. Usually the company you purchase from has an extra back pad for sale and it often costs less than $30. The chair offering you a stronger massage is no problem since you can add padding. As times goes by most owners want to increase the intensity since the body gets accustomed to the current massage technique and intensity. This process is similar to increasing weight on workout equipment in a gym. The problem with a chair producing a softer massage is there is no way to increase the intensity. In other words, there is no means to increase intensity when your body needs a stronger massage.

Neck adjustment can be a critical factor in the enjoyment of your chair. Many people have neck problems. This is especially true for people working in the computer field who are in front of their terminal all day long. Some brands offer you a better neck massage than others.


There are chairs with speed control but no intensity control. Conversely, there are chairs with intensity control without speed control. Different features can include air massage or roller massage. Air massage involves squeezing the muscle and as a result is not as effective as the better roller massages. Roller massage provides you the best massage technique for shiatsu massage. Cheaper chairs have vibration, or disk rollers instead of large rollers that provide a more therapeutic shiatsu massage. Leather chair or non-leather chair is also an issue. Generally, leather chairs are expensive to produce and less enticing for long-term use for massage chairs due to special care for roller movement. If the user does not use leather care oils, the rollers can crack the leather from the repetitive stress. For this reason, leather chairs provide less of an advantage over synthetic leather. This situation is similar to outdoor gear for camping where cotton is not as functional as nylon or Gore-Tex. Cotton is great for home use but not for the intense conditions of the outdoors. Similarly, synthetic leather massage chairs last longer than leather massage chairs because of the exposure to the repetitive wear and tear of the rollers.

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