What is a Massage Chair? Best Types, Brands, Benefits and More

By Maurice

A massage can do wonders for the body. It can relieve the pain and tension in the back, help you to sit up straighter with better posture, and can reduce stress.

Getting into a massage therapist can help, but often it takes time to get an appointment and the costs can add up quickly. A good solution to this is to use a massage chair.

But what is a massage chair?

A massage chair is a specialized chair that comes with vibrations, air bags, and rollers that can work different parts of the neck and back to help relieve some of the tension and pain that builds up there. When used on a regular basis, a massage chair can relieve tension, reduce blood pressure, and help each person relax. 

In this in-depth massage chair buying guide, we cover the benefits of massage chairs, who invented this chair, and how it works before we dive into some of the best types of massage chairs that are available for you to use.

What is a Massage Chair?

Best Full Body Massage Chair

A massage chair is simply a chair that has rollers, air bags, or vibrations present to help relieve tension in the back and shoulders. It can be used after you do a workout or any time your back needs some relief from all of the tension that you are feeling. While a massage therapist can provide some of these services, a massage chair can be brought into your home, allowing you to get a good massage and some relief any time of the day or night without an appointment.

There are a number of benefits of having a massage chair including:

Because of all these reasons, there are many people who decide that investing in a massage chair is a great decision, especially if they were looking to have some new furniture installed in their home anyway. Depending on the type of massage chair you choose to go with, and how much room you have, the cost may not be any worse than purchasing a nice recliner to put in your bedroom or living room.

The biggest drawback of using a massage chair is the cost. There are a lot of great options, but some of the best options can cost a lot of money. This can prevent many people from choosing to get a massage chair at all. When compared to the price of visiting a massage therapist all the time, the massage chair is going to be less expensive. The upfront costs are difficult to work with for some, but considering you can get a great massage any time you want, this is a good investment.

Another drawback of using a massage chair is the amount of space it can take up. There are some excellent options that are smaller and will not take up much more space than a desk chair. But some of the best chairs in this category will be as large, if not larger, than a high-quality recliner. These take up some space and if you are already limited on where you can place things in your home, you may not be able to add a massage chair to the mix.

Always consider the sizing of the massage chair and measure out the space where you would like to place it. This helps you know for sure if a massage chair can fit in there and will avoid disappointment later on.

Who Invented the Massage Chair?

The massage is a great technological advance that can be found in history of people all around the world. There are ancient references to these that are found in Rome, China, India and Greece. But when did massage chairs come into play?

The first mechanical massage chair that looks similar to what we find today was produced during the 1950s. over time, it was developed and changed around to become more like the really sophisticated chairs that we see today. In the beginning it was just a crank wheel system that was able to move the rollers around, but today it is a machine that you can preprogram and make work for your needs.

It was during 1954 that Nobuo Fujimoto created the first massage chair in Japan. At this time, he worked in public baths and was interested in finding a new and efficient way to relax some of his clients. The first design was from waste that was collected, including various pieces of wood, bicycle chains, and baseballs. It wasn’t long before the idea of this chair took off and it started to be used in public baths and holiday resorts.

Types of Massage Chairs

When choosing a massage chair, there are a few different things to consider to help you make the right decision. You can choose your massage chair based on the style of the massage, the type of roller that is used, and so much more. Some of the options available for massage chairs include:

Roller Massage

This is one of the most important component of the massage chair. These are basically the hands of your chair, doing the different massage techniques that you would like. As they massage, the rollers can manipulate the tissues of your muscles. You will be able to feel the roller go up and down the spine as it does all of the work and you can often change up the amount of pressure and toughness that is given from the rollers in the chair.


There are several different types of rollers as we will see soon.

2D Rollers

2D rollers means that you will get rollers that go in 2 dimensions. This basically means that they will go vertically and horizontally. This is a basic option and found in some of the least expensive options for massage chairs out there. However, it will not give as good of a massage as you can find with some of the other options.

3D Rollers

This one adds in another level to the rollers that you get to work with, mainly with depth. This helps to get deeper into the tissues of the muscles and you can have control over the intensity of the massage. For people who want a gentle massage and deep tissue massage all in one, 3D chairs are a great option.

4D Rollers

You can also choose the 4D rollers. They include all of the movement that you can get with the 3D, while also adding in the rhythm. With these rollers, you can vary the speed to get some of the dynamics that you may get with a therapist during a massage. Rather than having the rollers go at the same speed, you can get a lot of variety on the muscles that you need.

Air Massage

There are some massage chairs that will use a technique known as air massage, which is when airbags will inflate and then deflate to help squeeze the body. These are often only found on chairs that offer full body massages because they will treat some of the areas on the body that the rollers struggle to reach. They can do some more advanced techniques like stretches, swings, and twists.

Vibration Massage

You can also choose a chair that uses vibration massage to help stimulate a specific area of the body you choose to increase circulation there. These are more recreational and can provide some relief, though they will not always be a good replacement for regular massage therapy if you need.


If you just want a little bit of neck and shoulder relief or even back relief, then the vibration can be a good option. 

Once you try out the rollers and the air massage option though, you will often notice that the vibration is not as good and may leave you disappointed. It does not require as much technology either which is why chairs that use vibration rather than one of the other options on our list will often cost a lot less than other massage chairs.

Straight Track

This massage track will be pretty linear, going from top to bottom. Since it is a straight one, the common issue is that they can lose contact and pressure in your lower back and neck since they curve. This makes them more affordable, but you will not get as good of a massage as with other options.

S-Track

The S-Track option will provide some more relief than what you see with the straight track. They try to mimic the curvature of the back to help you get along the spine and feel good. There are different lengths available with it so you need to pick the one that goes for your height.

L-Track

This is an extended type of track that is meant to pick up at the tailbone where the S-Track will end and go a little bit lower. This helps to provide some relief to the hamstrings, piriformis, and glutes.

Typical Cost of Massage Chairs

The amount that you will pay for a massage chair will depend on the features that you get with the massage chair, as well as where you buy it. It also depends if you get an extension that goes onto one of your regular chairs or you get a full massage chair, with the latter being much more expensive than the former.

For a regular massage chair, the least expensive models can be purchased for under $1000, but you will usually spend at least $1000 to get all of the relief, with some of the more expensive options costing closer to $15,000. For some of the options on our list thought, including some of the attachments that can turn your regular chair into a massage chair, you can get them for a much more affordable price, with options averaging around $250, although some are even less expensive.

When considering the cost, keep in mind that there are ways to get insurance to pay for your massage chair (yes!)

The Best Brands for Massage Chairs

If you are looking for a good massage chair, it is important to know which brands will help you get results and help you relax when you are done. There are some excellent brands of massage chairs that you can use including:

US-Based Massage Chair Brands

Luraco iRobotics 7 PLUS Medical Massage Chair (Chocolate Brown)

The first type of massage chairs we will look at are the United States brands. Some of these brands will source a few of their parts from other countries, but they will usually be made in the United States. The best massage chair brands to consider that are made in the United States includes:

  • Luraco: This is a premium brand and will provide you with some of the best quality you can find in design and materials within the chair. The engineering is unmet by any other company and all of the engineering and critical components are sourced in the United States, with some minor parts from Taiwan. This brand is targeted more for therapeutic users overall.
  • Human Touch: If the Luraco brand does not have everything that you want, you can consider working with a brand known as Human Touch. These chairs are high-quality with a great warranty and parts that will last a long time. The thing that really stands out with these massage chairs though is their striking design. You will definitely notice these chairs when you see them. They are also competitively-priced (including their excellent iJoy model).
  • Daiwa: Another premium brand to consider is the US Jaclean, which is often advertised under the Daiwa brand. The design and the engineering are handled in Japan and the United states, though a lot of the assembly will happen in China. These are the best option in massage chairs to go with when you need it for therapeutic reasons, though it can be an efficient option for other types of massages as well.
  • Infinity: It does not take a long time looking up massage chairs to notice the name of Infinity. This is a great type of chair that provides you with all of the comfort and relaxation that you need. They provide many great L-track chairs (including their their excellent Presidential model) to give you a full body massage without all of the hassle. This is one of the best United States based companies for massage chairs and it is worth every penny.
  • Omega: If you need a value brand that is made in the United States, then Omega is a great option to go with. This brand is working to make some changes and seems to be mimicking some of the work that Human Touch does, meaning that they emphasize more on aesthetics rather than some of the other parts. You can easily see this in some of the designs available through Omega. However, because this is still a value brand, you will notice that the quality is a little lower, though not too much.

There are other options out there for great United States based massage chairs that you can work with. Many of them will provide you with all of the comfort that you need, though some may not provide the same value or the same quality as you can get from the choices above. Take a look at some of these top brands and consider using them the next time you are looking for a massage chair.

Japanese Massage Chairs

Inada DREAMWAVE Made in Japan Upgraded 3D Patented Shiatsu Point Detection Full Body Massage Chair

There are also a lot of high-quality and amazing massage chairs that you can choose that come to us from Japan. In fact, these are often some of the most popular massage chairs around because of their high-quality and affordability all wrapped into one. Some of the best massage chairs that you can get include:

  • Inada: This company is responsible for the popular Dreamwave brand, which is considered one of the best massage chairs through the world. These can often be pricey, but they are some of the best around when you compare the design, the durability, and the great customer support.
  • Panasonic: The Panasonic brand is known for a lot of different technology, making it a name you have probably used in the past. Because of this, you may consider trying out one of their massage chairs. Even after relocating from Japan to China, the quality has not decreased and this is still a great brand to trust.
  • Osaki: These are good chairs, but may not provide the same kind of exceptional chairs as some of the others. These are meant to be more of a value chair to help you still get the good massage and relaxation that you need, though some of the design quality and features may be lacking compared to other options (check out our reviews of the OS-3D Pro Cyber and OS 4000).

Despite being designed and manufactured in Japan, these are still popular names for massage chairs and can provide you with something comfortable and relaxing no matter why you choose to get a massage chair in the first place. If you are looking for high-quality and affordable pricing, then check out the Japanese based massage chairs above.

Other Options

Merax Massage Recliner PU Leather Lounge with Heat and Massage Vibrating Sofa Chair (Brown)

There are other massage chairs that are designed in countries outside of the two that we listed above. They can provide something unique to the massage chair that you may not be able to find in some of the other options we listed above. Some brands that you should consider when doing research on a massage chair includes:

  • Kahuna: This is one of the top-selling manufacturers of massage chairs on Amazon, and their products meet FDA standards (which is not the case for all massage chair manufacturers). All of Kahuna's massage chairs also use 3D and 4D roller technology, and they also make excellent zero gravity massage chairs. 
  • BodyFriend: This is a newer choice to the market. However, the chairs are beautiful, sleek, and have all of the features that you need to really feel relaxed. After taking a look at this chair, you will quickly notice why they are advertised as the “massage chair for Hipsters. It is a fun massage chair that can work on the whole body and will relieve all of the tension that you feel.
  • Merax: Merax is a name you may have heard about before if you ever purchased DVD and CD covers from China. This is what they first got started with in the market, but they also offer a single model of massage chair. Many believe that this is the company testing the waters and that they will decide to make more in the future. This massage chair has a shocking amount of quality considering the company that makes it and gives an amazing massage experience that you will want to try out.

These three brands are not as widely-known as some of the others, but they receive rave reviews from those who have given them a try. They are comfortable, affordable, and may surprise you with how comfortable you feel when it is all said and done. If you have tried some of the other brands and are not impressed, or there is some other reason that you do not want to go with a better known brand, then these are the two to consider.


A final brand to consider is Cozzia, which is a US-based subsidiary of Chinese company Xiamen Comfort Science. Cozzia is known for allowing customers to customize their massage chair, so if that's what you need, make sure to check out Cozzia's models.


And if you're a little short on money but want to go the cheapest route, consider a massage chair pad, which is a pad that goes on top of your own chair. 

Conclusion

Choosing a massage chair is a great way to help you relieve the tension that may form in your neck, shoulders and back. Many people choose to go to a massage therapist to get some of the relief that they need. And while this is effective, all those appointments can get expensive. A high-quality massage chair will help you reduce the tension in the back and can limit stress while making you feel good.

Knowing which massage chair to choose and which brands are the best can help you get the right one. While it may cost a little bit more upfront to get a message chair, they are worth it. With your own personal massage at home, without having to go in and pay a specialist to do the work, you can always feel your very best.

There are so many great massage chairs out there for you to choose from. Some will add some special features to help you get more out of them, including added heat, extra back support and more. If you are looking for a new massage chair, make sure to check out our list above to see what will work the best for you!


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