Are Massage Chairs Worth The Money [Updated 2020]

Lets face it.  Massage chairs are expensive…

No, I’m not going to recommend you buy some cheap massage chair made in China with 0 customer service.  That’s ridiculous, you should get what you’re worth.

You work hard every day, you deserve to be just as relaxed.

You probably had a couple massage sessions and wondered if you could have it every day.  Then you snapped out of it as your bank account refused to let you even indulge in such day dream.

Well, let us entertain you with some simple math (please don’t have bad flashbacks to college algebra).

According to Thervo, the average cost of a massage is $50 – $90 per HOUR.

Let’s take the dollar value smack dab in the middle:  $70…

If you could ONE massage every WEEK, that would cost you $3640 a year.  Yeah, it adds up.

So when you buy a massage chair for $800, don’t expect too much.  Remember, a massage chair is at least expected to last 5 years. If we were to compare using the formula above, it would amount to $18,200.  So when we say buying a massage chair between $2000 and $3000 is reasonable, it’s because it is compared to what you would spend on a massage therapist.

Considering the alternatives, weighing in the health benefits, and understanding how massage chairs work, we’ve come to the conclusion that…

Yes, massage chairs are 100% worth it.

We know a thing or two about massage chairs. If you don’t want to read any further, we recommend the Kahuna SM 7300. It is our number one pick for the best massage chair for the money.

Are massage chairs worth the money
  • Made for bigger and taller people. Accommodates up to 6 feet 6 inches and 320 lbs.
  • Latest technology: zero gravity, hip air-cell massage, acupressure points, removable zipper leg extension for easy washing
  • Relieving and awesome automatic programs including the infamous yoga stretching

Things to Consider When Buying A Massage Chair

  1. Make sure you have the time to use it.  This sounds obvious but many people do not have much chance to use a massage chair for whatever reason:  traveling for a job, attending kids extracurricular activities, night school, etc…
  2. Do you have space for it?  Massage chairs take quite a bit of space.  Many newer modern ones have space saving technology, but even so it takes considerable amount of space.  Generally, massage chair take up 50 inches (Length) by 30 inches (width), so expect to allocate 125 sq feet of space.  If you live in a small condo in Chicago, a massage chair may not be the best investment.
  3. Can you maintain it?  Although massage chairs do not need much upkeep, there will come a time where you’ll need to make a call to a near-by technician for a faulty air bag valve.  Make sure you have time to be able to take care of it.
  4. Will you benefit from it?  This also sounds like an easy question to answer.  Those who regularly feel body aches will benefit the most.  Those who have physically demanding day jobs will find themselves most relieved.
  5. Do you enjoy deep tissue massage?  Our experience tells us that most massage chairs deliver a strong deep tissue massage.  If you are one of those sensitive people who cannot handle that, it may be better to purchase a handheld massager.

How Do Massage Chairs Work?

Massage chairs use roller mechanics, heat, air compression, and vibrations to provide a massage similar to ones licensed massage therapists provide.  

The technology in massage chairs has gone a long way to mimicking the motions of a human hand.  We would argue that some massage chairs do a better job than a single massage therapist because it’s able to massage different parts of the body simultaneously, where as one massage therapist would have only one area of focus.

The biggest problem that massage chairs potentially have is that the variability and pattern of the massage is too deterministic.  It doesn’t feel human when the massage is predictable. So, they usually have a lot of automatic programs and customization to address that issue.

What Are Some Health Benefits Associated With Massage Chair?

Believe it or not, there are studies that show that there are health benefits associated with getting a massage from a massage chair.

The University of Miami School of Medicine and Weber State Universities conducted studies on this exact matter.

Studies have shown:

  • Massage increases alertness
  • Massage increases cognitive abilities, specifically in math computations
  • Massage decreases depression
  • Reduces stress by almost 50% following a 10 minute session
  • Reduces average rate rate by 10%
  • Slightly reduces blood pressure

Some participants exact feedback:

“I loved the body stretch setting! It feels so amazing when the chair squeezes your calves and feet while pulling you back at the same time. I first tried the sport setting, but I thought it was really intense, so I switched it to the stretch setting and loved it. Too bad this chair always seems to be taken when I come in.”

Research Participant Weber State University

Are Massage Chairs Dangerous?

Generally speaking, massage chairs are safe.  There are certain certifications you may want to look for if you want to be absolutely sure they are safe.  There are UL and FDA certifications that some massage chairs brands hold for their chairs.

Contrary to popular belief, we do think using a massage chair while pregnant has benefits.  There are people who believe it can negatively affect pregnancy but there are no studies done to support that stance.

However, be aware of the strength of some massage chairs.  Brands like to err on the side of a stronger massage because it’s what customers want.  However, some people are sensitive and have found some foot massagers to be “bone crushing.”  Keep in mind it’s easier to dampen strength with a towel then to increase the strength.

Also, take caution when carrying and installing massage chairs.  It’s typically very heavy and that’s where the most danger is posed, during the installation process.  We recommend a white glove delivery any time it’s available.

Although not dangerous, we recommend using a massage chair for a maximum of 15 – 30 minutes a day.  No more than 7 times a week. The reason is mainly because overusing a massage chair might shorten the lifespan of the machine and you wouldn’t be gaining any health benefits for extended amount of use.

How to buy a massage chair that is worth it

Massage chairs have been around for around over a century.  However, the marketplace is always flooded with cheap chairs that lure customers with their low prices, only for customers to find them broken 6 months after purchase with virtually no customer service.

Here are some things to consider and look out for:

Brand

There’s no doubt that brand matters.  Building a reputation as a quality chair maker takes years of engineering and marketing.  We recommend brands that have their own website, a knowledgeable support staff, and a history of unbiased positive reviews.

When looking at the brands website, look at the amount of effort they put into their website.  Test the customer representative’s expertise by asking a particular question about a specific model chair.  Check if they have patents. Patents means the brand invests into creating advancing massage technology.

Kahuna and Luraco are good examples of quality brands.

Cost

We hate to say this cliche but “You get what you pay for” especially applies to massage chairs.

Our data analysis finds that the perfect sweet spot for price is between $2000 and $3000.  Anything less, you’ll find faulty features and weak customer support. Anything over you’ll find polished features that you can probably live without.  

Features

Massage chairs have ton of features.  The most important ones are:

  • Zero gravity
  • Strength of the massage
  • 4D rollers (being able to choose depth)
  • Heated rollers
  • Calve and foot rollers
  • A lot of adjustment controls (speed, width, strength)
  • 20 – 30 number of airbags
  • Noise reduction technology
  • Height and Weight limit

This list of features are things we found makes the most difference in a massage chair.  However, you don’t need to have all of them in order to find your ideal massage chair.

Leave a Comment