||Buyers Guide for Massage Chairs
||Buyers Guide for Massage Chairs
Shopping for a massage chair is a serious investment for your health, and it is important to make the right choice for your body and your pocket book.
We at Massager Machines and More believe in intelligent consumers who will appreciate our efforts to assist you in making a well-informed decision.
The primary question is: Will you use the massage chair primarily as a recliner lounge chair?
If so, it is important that you are comfortable sitting in it for long periods.
Purchasing your chair on-line it is difficult to feel the comfort level, however, there are several features to consider.
Leather, synthetic leather or vinyl are the primary choices that most massage chairs offer.
Leather is usually a special order item and the cost is usually an additional $200-300.00.
Leather is the hardest to maintain and with the more aggressive "shiatsu deep massage" type of chairs, they wear out very easily.
Synthetic leather will hold up better against wear and tear cased by the moving massage components.
Vinyl has a cheaper look and feel relative to the cost of the material; however, it holds up well and is easy to maintain.
b) Power vs. Manual?
Power assisted components are a luxury feature.
The top-of-the-line massage chairs offer "one-touch" button controls to recline the back and leg rest at the same time.
The automated controls allow minute adjustments to either the back or foot rest.
Some massage chairs offer separate electrical controls for the back and foot rest.
The massage functions are generally controlled by a wired or wireless remote.
Most manual back and foot rest controls are pneumatically controlled by a release lever much like those found on office task chairs, for the middle priced chairs.
The footrest is placed up or down with a hand lever or ratchet on the lower priced chairs, however, this feature is an option on the higher priced chairs.
c) Recline Position?
Partial or full recline positions can be subjective to the manufacturers interpretation.
Most manufacturers will note the degree of recline in their technical specification.
Generally, "full recline" is considered to be more than 170 degrees, and "partial" is any degree less, i.e.: 155 degrees.
d) Seat Width/Depth?
The seat width on most massage chairs average 20"-22" and the depth, varies from 17"-22."
For smaller or larger body frames, this can be important.
The seat depth will also change the leg length and may compromise leg rest features like air bladders or rollers.
For example, a person with a short stature or legs may only use the leg rest features in the upright position if the depth of the chair is too deep.
e) Shiatsu vs Vibration or Air Massage ?
Shiatsu deep tissue massage chairs are very aggressive and may not be for everyone.
Some chairs will lift you 6" out of the chair and may be too painful if your muscles are too tight or you have a physical condition that makes you sensitive to this type of massage.
A pad is often supplied to soften the massage.
Vibration or Air massages are softer, and more relaxing, but do not move blood and toxins through the body as well.
There are two basic types of massage chairs, the older vibration type, and shiatsu (deep tissue) massage chairs.
There are different levels of massage intensity (speed) and a large number of features for the back or the footrest.
Vibration is a softer, relaxing massage and some chairs offer heat, and some chairs offer stretching (rolling).
Shiatsu or deep tissue massage chairs generally offer stretching, kneading, and tapping.
Kneading simulates the thumb and fingers kneading your muscles like you would knead dough.
Tapping (percussion), is used by massage therapists to break up tight muscles.
You can find any combination of any of these features in a shiatsu-type massage chair.
The better chairs have four rollers and the others have two rollers on the massage mechanism.
Here are some other features to consider:
Some models have the ability to adjust the massage unit width to accommodate wider bodies.
Usually, this adjustment is limited to 2"-4".
The chair may also have the ability to adjust the massage unit to a specific location or section of the back.
Intensity or speed of the massage is another option on some models.
Some models offer a combination of two massage functions such as combining tapping and kneading.
The more sophisticated models will also have a forward or reverse directional control for the kneading function.
b) Track Length
The massage mechanism is mounted to a track that moves up and down the back and will determine the length of travel.
The average length is 24" and will massage the body from the neck to the lower back.
Tracks that are longer (up to 32") will travel from the top of the neck to the tailbone for a much more effective massage.
c) Vibration or Air
As mentioned previously, a vibration or air massage is a soft, relaxing massage that stimulates the surface muscles and tissue.
Air massage can move blood and toxins more aggressively by squeezing the calves, thighs and feet with air bladders that are filled by a pump and valves that release the air in a preset rhythm.
Air bladders may also be found in the back area.
While some massage chairs offer only vibration, others have vibration as a bonus feature.
The more sophisticated models have multiple levels of intensity or speed.
Heat opens the skin pores and relaxes the muscles and is a healthy way to move blood and toxins.
Sometimes combined with vibration or air, heat is not available in many models as it is considered a bonus feature.
There is several types of leg rest massage features: vibration, heat, rolling, kneading and air massage.
Some models offer a combination of these features in different designs of leg rests, and some do not offer any features.
One other chair design is the zero-gravity recliner that elevates the legs to be higher than the heart using gravity to move the blood and toxins through the legs.
There are two schools of thought in regards to motors.
One is that the more motors to control individual functions are better because it prolongs the life of each motor and thus the chair.
The other is that, less is better if the motor(s) are stronger, because there are fewer components to go wrong.
New technology allows for more sophistication with digital controls and PC (printed circuit) boards.
If an electrical problem should arise, it is usually a problem with a board, not the motor.
*Always use a surge protector to prevent electrical and board damage.
Remote controller may be wired or wireless.
Most are wired and wireless remotes are usually at an extra cost.
Some offer a LCD screen to visually let you know where and how the massage is working.
LCD remotes often use symbols or pictures to accomplish this.
Shiatsu-type chairs with better durability are those that use a thick screw rod as a track for the massage unit that rolls, kneads and taps.
Other track designs include those that use a steel telescoping channel in either a box or tube configuration.
Some are contoured to the body and usually are steel rods with teeth on one side that the massage unit travels on.
Vibration chairs do not use a track.
Automatic programs usually have a preset time or can be set for a specific length of time (5, 10, 20, 30 minutes), and run a programmed schedule of functions.
The program will usually start with stretching (rolling), then kneading, tapping and repeat this program for the time selected.
The larger massage chairs can be very heavy, the average weight being about 150 pounds.
Be sure that the chair has casters to move the chair easily.
Frame strength is usually determined by the maximum weight limitation for the chair, i.e.: 264 lbs User Weight Limit.
Varies by model and the number of features used.
The average consumption usage is between 130 watts and 160 watts.
Will it fit in the room of choice?
Check the "Reclined" position dimensions for width and depth (length).
Massage chairs vary in price from under $1000 to over $4000.
Models that are about $1000 have very limited massage functions and may have weaker frames, fabric and usually a very limited warranty.
The more expensive chairs usually have advanced features and more of them, as well as a longer life and value.
The basic rule is, "You pay for what you get."
There are excellent values in all price ranges and often the value is determined by the companies history and technical support.
Shipping and Warranty Policies
The cost to ship a massage chair averages about $200.00.
If the dealer offers Free Shipping, this is a very good discount.
However, the return policy normally does not include free shipping when returning the product, even if the problem is covered under the warranty.
Some dealers will offer a "White Glove" or "Premier" delivery service at an extra charge of about $200.00.
This is very convenient because the delivery service will assemble and test the chair for you.
The delivery service will also dispose of the packing material for you.
Warranty policies vary in coverage and length of coverage and are always limited.
The better warranties offer up to five (5) years for parts and one (1) year for labor.
The average warranty for shiatsu-type massage chairs is three (3) years.
Some companies offer extended Labor coverage for as little as $100 per year, and as much as $300 per year.
In-house service is limited and not offered by most companies, which means you must ship the chair to them at your cost.
- Source: Massager Machines & More