Massage chairs are commonly thought of as great ways to relax and experience a bit of luxury. While that’s true, massage chairs have a lot more to offer than to simply make you feel good. Science proves that massage has a wide range of health benefits, improving everything from stress levels and joint pain, to muscle health and even blood pressure! Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing health benefits of massage chairs!
What is a Massage Chair?
Massage chairs often resemble plush recliner chairs on the outside, but on the inside, it’s a much different story. Massage chairs are chairs that incorporate different forms of technology to replicate the experience of being treated by a professional massage therapist. Some chairs use rollers to apply pressure, others use water or air to get the job done.
The art of massage has existed for thousands of years, but massage chair technology has only developed in the last few decades. Today, there are many different massage chairs on the market, and they’re becoming more widely used in both home and medical spaces. Massage chairs have a range of different health benefits and are recommended by medical professionals to treat many things, ranging from chronic pain to depression.
Read on to learn about the health benefits of different types of massage chairs, and see some of the science that proves that a massage chair can work wonders on your health!
10 Research-Backed Health Benefits of Massage Chairs
Below, you’ll find many different health benefits of using a massage chair, all proven by research. Scientists and researchers have been studying massage chairs for many years in an attempt to demystify the ancient art. Here are ten of their most interesting findings!
1. Reduced Stress Levels
A clinical study revealed that, in patients with severe mental illness, massage chairs reduced feelings of stress by an average of 21%. This proves that even a brain under lots of pressure and in extreme conditions can be relieved by the simple use of a massage chair.
A clinical study revealed that, in patients with severe mental illness, massage chairs reduced feelings of stress by an average of 21%.
This proves that even a brain under lots of pressure and in extreme conditions can be relieved by the simple use of a massage chair.
Similarly, massage was able to relieve the stress that nurses in high-pressure cancer centers feel. When nurses were given access to a massage chair for 20 minutes during their shift, they reported a dramatic reduction in their feelings of stress and anxiety. The feelings they reported were backed up by measured data: their heart rate and blood pressure went down significantly after the massage.
How does this work? It’s simple: we carry stress in our bodies, particularly our muscles. Significant stress leads to significant muscle tension, increased heart rate, and feelings of anxiety. Massage chairs work against that negative current. They loosen the muscles, which is like a signal to the brain that everything is okay- even when you still have plenty of reason to be stressed. Using a massage chair is a great way to destress and re-center so that you feel good enough to fully tackle that stressful situation!
2. Improved Sleep
It’s widely known that getting bad sleep, or not enough sleep, is a major risk to your health. Lack of sleep can lead to heart disease, and it lowers your life expectancy considerably. Lack of good sleep is a problem for millions of people, harming many without them even knowing it. The problem is, due to the nature of people’s jobs, schedules, and lives, it’s very difficult to maintain a healthy sleeping routine.
Oftentimes, we’re stressed out at bedtime, which keeps us up later and leads to poor sleep even when we finally do get some shuteye.
Using a massage chair at bedtime, however, is surprisingly effective at preparing the body for restorative, life-changing sleep. A 2017 study found that a 30-minute massage before bedtime results in feeling less fatigue and experiencing higher libido. This is because the massage relaxes the muscles, preparing the body to fall asleep faster and achieve a deeper night of sleep. If you suffer from chronic poor sleep and wake up feeling just as tired as the night before, a massage chair may be able to help.
3. Alleviates Chronic Back Pain
In the United States alone, over 20 million people experience chronic back pain. Back pain, especially in the lower back, is a severely limiting health issue that keeps you from engaging in life as you normally would.
Using a massage chair to treat lower back pain is nearly as effective as seeing a professional massage therapist, at only 60% of the cost! If you experience sharp, debilitating pain in your lower back, consider using an electric massage chair to increase your quality of life!
4. Improved Mental Focus/Reduced Fatigue
It’s hard to imagine a person who doesn’t experience fatigue at least some of the time. Fatigue is known to decrease alertness and mental focus; using a massage chair to recharge is shown to reverse those effects. One study showed that people who use massage chairs can complete math exercises faster and more accurately than those who do not use them.
The reason behind this impressive benefit is the clarity that comes with relaxation. In that same study, researchers found that people using massage chairs were more relaxed than others. That relaxation allowed them to focus more clearly on their work and achieve better results.
Everyone knows what it feels like to lack focus because of tiredness and exhaustion. It’s a frustrating feeling; you feel less intelligent than you know you are and less productive than you know you should be. In turn, those negative feelings create an even higher sense of stress and frustration. Using a massage chair is a great way to break cycles of fatigue that decrease your mental awareness and productivity!
5. Can Reduce Symptoms of Depression
Massage has been shown to release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These are incredibly important chemicals in the battle against depression. While these chemicals are not the end-all solution to depression, they are powerful ways to boost your mood in a healthy manner.
A massage chair routine is a great way to ensure that your body and mind are in the good condition to handle the onset of depression symptoms. Additionally, studies have shown a relationship between lessened feelings of depression and chair massage.
Depression affects millions of people, and many go undiagnosed. Bouts of depression can impact all parts of your life, relationships, and work. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, or suspect that you may be suffering from it, adopting a massage chair routine could be a source of much-needed relief.
6. Lowers Blood Pressure
Having high blood pressure is one of the most subtly dangerous health conditions there is. While you may not notice the effects of high blood pressure in your day-to-day life, it puts you at an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and even aneurysms. Lowering your blood pressure could be a potentially life-saving health choice.
Receiving a regular massage from a massage chair is proven to lower blood pressure. Not only does this decrease your risk of major medical disasters, but it can also improve your daily quality of life. High blood pressure is intricately linked to stress levels and the feeling of tiredness, so lowering blood pressure can lead to feeling more awake and at peace.
How does a massage lower your blood pressure? It’s all thanks to the pressure that’s applied to muscles and nerves, which relieves tension in the body and allows blood to flow more freely.
A simple 15-minutes in a massage chair, a few times per week can do wonders for your blood pressure. No need for doctors, medication, or anything else- just a nice massage in the comfort of your home!
7. Improved Posture/Joint Health
In the world of sports medicine, great attention is paid to the way lifestyles and injuries change the way we stand, walk, and run. An old injury in your legs or back, though it may not hurt anymore, could be slowly changing your posture.
When this happens, pressure is put on joints in ways that they aren’t designed to handle and can lead to chronic aches, pains, and even new injuries. It isn’t just sports, however- sitting at a desk, an old car accident, or even a childhood broken bone can all misalign the body and cause joint damage through poor posture.
Massage chairs can turn that nasty process around by working out muscle knots and nerve kinks that subtly worsen posture. When your muscles and nerves are relaxed and free of tension, your body can maintain a more natural, healthy posture. In turn, that good posture can reduce aches and pains, and even cure heartburn and indigestion!
8. Improved Flexibility and Strength
It’s no secret that flexibility and muscular strength are significant determiners of overall health and quality of life. It’s also a widely known fact that massage is a phenomenal way to keep muscles loose, healthy, and pliable. However, getting a sports massage is a large expense that can be pretty hard to justify. You can receive all the same benefits by using a massage chair before or after a workout, run, or particularly taxing day at work.
Having your muscles compressed, stimulated, and massaged by the chair allows them to experience greater blood flow than they would without it. This can eliminate muscle soreness, allowing you to reach new heights of fitness that would take much longer to achieve without massage. In the same way, massage keeps your muscles loose and can even warm them up, helping you stay flexible.
9. Relief for Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
RLS affects an estimated thirty-three million people in the United States alone. It’s uncomfortable, sometimes painful, and causes poor sleep. Studies have shown that people who suffer from even severe RLS can experience great relief after just two massage sessions. What’s more, symptoms of RLS did not return until after the massage sessions in the study concluded.
RLS is caused by many things, ranging from caffeine use to lack of exercise, and even to things like prescription medication side effects and pregnancy. Odds are, you’ve experienced some symptoms of RLS at least once in your life; it leads to tossing, turning, and sleepless nights. Using a massage chair once daily, especially before bed, has an incredible ability to help you fall asleep without any restless sensation
Indirectly Improves other muscles
10. Increased Workplace Productivity
As many people are well aware, sitting at a desk all day for work is much more exhausting than you’d think. Sitting still can make you even more tired than you would feel if you’d been up and about all day. The stress and pressure of office work, combined with its sedentary nature, is very taxing on the body and the brain.
An air massage has been shown in studies to be an effective way to recharge and stay productive throughout the day. Taking a moment or two throughout the day to get a refreshing, stimulating air massage can help to curb fatigue and keep you going.
The reason that this works is because of something called the “autonomic nervous system”. This is a part of your nervous system that regulates things like heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion, among other things. When your body is stimulated by air massage, the autonomic nervous system does a sort of “reset” that helps you feel refreshed and awake!
Benefits of a Shiatsu Massage Chair
Shiatsu massage was developed in the far East in the same philosophy that produced acupuncture. Shiatsu involves applying finger pressure to very specific nerves on the body, knowing that those points can relieve pain across the body, even in unrelated areas. While much research on the direct benefits of shiatsu massage remains to be done, one study showed convincing evidence that shiatsu isn’t the shaky philosophy some people claim it to be.
In the study, three groups of people were each given a different type of back massage routine: one received shiatsu, another group received beat massage, and the final group received roll-stretch massage. Shiatsu massage was found to give all participants a feeling of pleasure that lasted long after the massage session ended.
More importantly, subjects reported that they felt relaxation in muscle groups that were seemingly unrelated to the massage. This means that the Shiatsu worked- targeting different pressure points was able to relieve pain and relax muscles throughout the body. In fact, the Shiatsu was the only method out of the three that had this effect on the participants.
Why does this matter to you? If you experience lots of muscle or nerve pain, and you aren’t sure why, Shiatsu might be the perfect type of massage for you. Since it is known to benefit more areas than just the directly stimulated part of the body, Shiatsu can likely help soothe the pain that results from nerve damage in ways that other massaging methods cannot. A shiatsu massage chair is perfect for those who don't like to be touched, or have pain points that a typical massage chair does not access.
Hydro Massage Chair Benefits
Hydro massage chairs are a very interesting technology. Rather than using a roller that presses into the body, hydro chairs use a pulsing water jet that applies pressure to muscle and joint groups. The user stays completely dry; they sit or lay on the massage chair and the water jets are underneath the chair cushion. Hydro massage has an advantage over mechanical massage because the water can be heated or cooled to provide a hot/cold massage experience.
Hydro massage has been proven to be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis by lowering pain levels and improving overall health. Hydro massage chairs are also a great option for post-workout recovery; the heat and pressure help to loosen muscles and prevent muscular fatigue after medium to intense exercise. Lastly, using a hydro massage chair with cold water can help to increase blood flow, a great way to feel more awake and healthy.
Massage Chairs: Benefits for Seniors
Seniors are in a unique position to benefit from using a massage chair. Growing older comes with plenty of challenges, and many of them are physical. Over time, seniors experience limited mobility, muscle and joint deterioration, and are increasingly at risk for injuries as a result of falls.
A massage chair can help slow down the aging process a bit and promote a healthy, comfortable lifestyle well into old age. Massage chairs provide many of the benefits of exercise- improved heart rate, blood pressure, and circulation- in a very low-impact way. This means that your bones and joints won’t have to be put at risk like they would with an exercise routine.
Massage has also been shown to boost the immune system. Using a massage chair can increase the white blood cell count in your body, raising your ability to fight off viruses. In today’s world, that benefit simply cannot be overstated.
Lastly, massage chairs, and massage in general, are widely known to boost emotional health as well. The release of tension in muscles and tendons corresponds with relaxed, satisfied emotional states. Many seniors struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation; massage chairs in the home can be a great way to combat these emotions!
How Often Should You Use a Massage Chair?
For all the myriad health benefits of massage chairs, it should be noted that they still need to be used properly. For the most part, this comes down to duration and frequency of use. Using a massage chair too often can be rough on your muscles. Since massage consists of applying pressure to muscles and nerves, overuse can result in soreness, bruises, and muscle damage. Clearly, you want to be careful about how often you use your massage chair.
So, exactly how much is too much, and how much is just enough? As far as massage duration is concerned, you shouldn’t be sitting in a massage chair for hours at a time. Rather, most chair massage sessions should last no more than 15 minutes. This is the perfect length of time to experience the full benefit of a massage chair.
You may be thinking: some professional massages last up to ninety minutes, so why only spend fifteen in a massage chair? The answer is simple: massage chairs target many muscles simultaneously; a massage therapist can only handle one muscle at a time. Because massage chairs are so efficient and cover your whole neck, back, and legs, they can give you a full massage in only one quarter of an hour.
Now, the focus shifts to frequency: how many times per week, or day, should you use a massage chair? Three to four times per week seems to be the ideal range. While you can use one five times per week, that is flirting with overuse, so it’s best to keep it to four. That way, you get to enjoy the full benefits of a massage chair without the risk of accidentally using it too much!
It’s best to think of this advice as a guideline rather than a hard-and-fast rule. When you purchase a massage chair for your home, make sure to read through the manufacturer’s instructions. It will provide you with direction that is specific to your model of massage chair. The instructions will also include recommendations for particular uses; for instance, you will use the chair a different way for back pain than you would to recover from sports workouts. So, while using a massage chair for 15 minutes, four times a week is best, always be sure to read about your model of chair and your needs!
Conclusion: Health Benefits of Massage Chairs
No matter your age or health status using a massage chair a few times per week has been proven to improve your quality of life. If you want to treat chronic pain, combat the effects of aging, or just feel more awake and productive, a massage chair can be a great asset to you. They are an unobtrusive, low-impact way to practice self-care and experience greater satisfaction.
Have any more questions about the health impacts of massage chairs? Feel free to leave them in the comment section below!