Had a long day at work and want to treat yourself to a nice massage? But oh wait, you don’t have a massage chair! You want to get one but don’t know what you want.
You came to the right place. Here, I’ll discuss my choices for the top 8 massage chairs available in the market right now.
Factors in a good massage chair:
- Style that supports your budget
- Multiple styles of massages(percussion,kneading,rolling,etc.)
- Less noise level
- Fits ideal height for massage zones
- Flexible control ability(Spot function, speed toggle, strength toggle, heat)
- Comfortable material
Comprehensive Review of The Top Massage Chairs
I’ll sift through the mechanics and features of the massage chairs, the brand behind it, and what customers are saying so you can make a better decision on your purchase of a new massage chair.
Kahuna is a well known brand in the massage chair business. This zero gravity chair has fully-fledged features including SL-track system that allows full range of massage from the head to the butt and massage techniques ranging from kneading, tapping, Shiatsu, and knocking.
- Seats taller (up to 6 feet 5 inches) and wider people
- SL-track system — complete head to butt massage range
- A lot of options (isolated, speed, width)
- Massage motors are a little noisy
- Remote interface is limiting; cannot save custom settings
- Very strong; may need to dampen strength
It’s Taller and Wider
One of the biggest complaints from consumers were the height and frame of massage chairs on the market. More specifically, the massage nodes were not perfectly in contact with the lower back or the neck region because they were either too tall or too short.
I am 5’6”, but the neck massager at its lowest level hits me at the top of my neck and goes up the base of my skulls. Not relaxing at all. I hate to return it, but it just doesn’t fit my body. – Consumer review of competitor’s massage chair
In response, Kahuna delivered the SM-7300. The standard width for a massage chair is 22 inches. They expanded that by 2 inches for a total of 24 inches for this model. The chair seats the tallest height capacity at 6 feet 5 inches. They increased the leg size by 100% from 6 inches as an industry standard to 12 inches.
Now, let’s address the concern you might have: does this mean the chair doesn’t accommodate shorter people?
Not at all. Kahuna commented on this issue themselves:
We can recommend our customers weight and height in range of measures are 5′ to 6’5”, up to 350lbs.
It features the latest technology
The SL-track is the track on which the rollers move inside the chair. The ‘L’ track simply allows the roller to go beyond the lower back to the buttocks area. Consumers love this as this makes for a fuller massage.
The chair features zero gravity technology which mean it will distribute the weight of the person equally across the chair. It relieves stress from the lower half of your body and makes you feel weightless as a result.
The remote allows the users to set the speed, width, and intensity. It comes equipped with 9 auto programs which are:
- Yoga stretching
- Fast Recovery
- Pain Relief
- Office Person
- Senior Mode
- Dynamic Sport
These programs helps you focus on the aching muscle groups and believe me you’ll develop a preference!
Remote control could be better and the massage strength might need dampening
The remote control doesn’t allow manual control of the rollers. This means you can’t sit on the chair and start massaging that knot directly. Instead, you have to select a massage type, wait for the rollers to come to that exact spot and hold it.
It also does not save custom settings. If the foot roller is too strong for you, you’ll have to make adjustment on every use.
Another inconvenience is the strength of the massage. In the lowest setting it is very strong. However, this can be dampened by a towel.
Now the Zyllion ZMA14 is a cushion pad, not a full massage chair. Zyllion specializes in sleek, modern massage products.
Zyllion’s customer service is top-notch. I asked them to deliver more detailed and realistic photos of the product. Here’s the response I got:
Also keep in mind that Zyllion products are FDA approved. They go out of their way to deliver the safest, highest quality to customers.
- Adjustable back and neck massage nodes
- Sleek Design
- Deep Shiatsu Massage
- Not for shorter people
- Shiatsu balls hurt on contact
Zyllion ZMA14 has the control functionality down pat. In total there are 8 massage nodes, four in the headrest region and 4 in the back region.
- Shiatsu Massage (Circular rotation)
- Rolling Massage(Up and down motion)
- Neck massage adjustments (helps accommodate for different height)
- Seat Vibration
- Stop on location
At a weight of 15.8 lbs, it is one of the lightest massage chair options on the market. If you’re not looking to assemble a 300 lbs beast of a massage chair, then this definitely the option for you.
The thin profile makes this chair much more portable so whether you’re on the go or need to store it for safe keeping it’s a convenient chair all around.
Deep Shiatsu Massage
The plastic backing of the cushion helps make the chair rigid, which in turns means the massage digs deep into your back and neck, cranking out those knots.
The 8 massage balls work together in conjunction to simulate real kneading Shiatsu massage.
Difficult for shorter customers
This massage cushion is built for taller customers. Here are the measurements of the chair in inches:
If you are shorter than 5’6”, you may have to place a pillow or two on the base for your neck to be placed perfectly on the upper 4 massage nodes.
The massage nodes protrude quite a bit in order to deliver that deep tissue massage. In order to mitigate strength, you can always place a towel to dampen it.
iDeal massage chair provided by a company called Forever Rest.
Immediately upon calling them I was connected to a gentlemen who was enthusiastic about providing me with the perfect massage chair:
Oh? What’s your height? Do you have lower back issue? Do you like zero gravity features?
Plus one for customer service.
Also, this chair comes with a 3 year warranty on the body, frame, and electronic parts.
This chair comes fully equipped with the latest technologies and functionality you would expect in a massage chair. And of course Shiatsu style massage rollers.
- Easy Assembly
- Zero Gravity
- S-track system
- Uncomfortable fit for some
- Weak Massage – No foot roller
The ease of assembly is a feature of a massage chair that is often overlooked. Understandably so. I mean you would expect a high-end massage chair to have IKEA-esque instruction manuals, right?
Many massage chairs on the market lack clear instruction on how to set up the massage chair. Often times this can lead to malfunction and misuse.
Fortunately for customers, the iDeal massage chair is reported to have an easy assembly. Screws for the remote holder and some for the shoulder bags, and plugging in few air hoses then off you go.
The chair is easily compartmentalized so if your door is couple inches shorter, you are able to use an Allen wrench to unscrew the bolts on each arm to slim it down.
Inexpensive and Zero Gravity feature
The Zero Gravity option is all the craze in the high-tech massage chair industry. It allows for space saving technology, and relieves pressure on the lower body and spine that conventional chairs would not.
What’s unique about the iDeal massage chair is that it is one of the cheapest massage chairs to offer the zero gravity feature.
Also it does a body scan to adjust for your body measurements. Pretty neat huh?
Not L-track and inconvenient for some
Let’s talk about cons.
This particular model does not have the L-track system. For those that unfamiliar, it means the rollers don’t extend based the tailbone onto your butt area. If you’re looking for a fuller massage, unfortunately the iDeal massage chair is not the one.
However, as always, I contacted the customer support.
Here’s what they said:
Oh yes! We recommend the FR-5KsL, we are running a promotion and for a small increase in price, you get the L-track feature
Sure enough, I went to their website, Forever Rest and looked up the FR-5KsL:
So there’s other options.
Now the iDeal Massage chair does not accommodate all people as well as other chairs.
If you look at the headrest area closely, you’ll see that there nothing protruding out. Well, here’s the problem. There is a concavity in your neck area whereas your back and the back of your head is touched the chair. So, in order to get the neck massage, a pillow may be needed.
Also if you’re 5’4” or shorter, your legs might not read the bottom of the foot massager since the length from the seat to the bottom of the foot massager is 20 inches.
Here’s an interesting designed massage chair, the Fully Assembled Curved Long Rail Shiatsu Massage Chair.
A futuristic feel and aesthetic resembling a first-class seating, the Curved Rail Shiatsu Massage Chair is a class of its own.
I couldn’t find the brand behind this massage chair but the quality is there so it made it to my top 10 list.
- Plug and play
- Responsive, flexible control
- Support multiple massage types
- Not much Lower body
- Remote is not LED
As discussed previously, the assembly can be a hard-fought experience for some of these high-end bulky massage chairs. Fortunately, this chair is a plug and play type. You can almost understand what the designers were going for with this chair: ultimate simplicity and mobility.
That’s why the control unit is embedded into the chair. The control panel gives a nice ‘beep’ feedback giving you the following choices to choose from:
- 15,20, or 30 minutes
- Strong, Medium, and Weak
- 3 Auto Programs
- Fast or Slow
- Move roller up and down
It also has bluetooth speakers and a slot where you can put your phone. One of the few massage chairs on the market with these features.
Through the control panel, you also select the massage types which help to simulate a real massage experience. You can choose between knocking, kneading, and knead and tap.
Knocking is done through light tapping using the side of a closed fisted hand. This releases fatigue and tiredness.
Kneading is done with open hands with a squeezing grip. Grasping and compression of the tissue. This is the type of massage most are familiar with.
Knead and Tap is a massage technique that involves a semi-closed fist with your fingers extended. Tapping and kneading, using the knuckle area to massage the body.
If you look at the chair from the side, you’ll see that the distance between the surface of the chair and the rollers get further as you go lower on the chair.
It should come as no surprise to hear that lower back massage is not as powerful as the upper back or neck massage.
The interior measure of the chair is 19.7 inches. So it’s not exactly for people with broad shoulders and wider frames.
Real Relax Massage Chair has one of the highest ratings on the market.
It should be no surprised that they have their own armrest linkage system design. The 8 air bags(4 on each arm) compresses your arms to relieve tension.
I didn’t get a response after trying to contact their customer service. So definitely a bad first impression.
In fact, upon researching the company more I found bunch of typos in their ‘About Us’ section. Not a big deal, but weary nonetheless. Personally, I’m not a fan of non-english customer support because the communication makes it that more difficult.
- State of the art features
- Movement control and auto program options
- Comfortable, good fit
- Bad customer service
- Lower-end quality parts
The Real Relax chair ticks off all the boxes in functionality for a massage chair. It’s got a zero gravity feature, Shiatsu style roller mechanism, and air bag compression technology.
This chair is also comfortable (many satisfied tall customers) and allows independent program selection between your feet and backrest massages.
What you should consider this massage chair?
First, the zero gravity feature will relieve any tension placed by the body of your weight. It takes stress of the spine and elevates your feet and legs over your heart all while the chair massages you.
Shiatsu style massage means the rollers will go in a circular motion instead of up and down, pinpointing the areas in your back.
The squeezing mechanism in the arm rest can help with musculoskeletal pain. A customer reported to have fibromyalgia said the airbags in the arms and legs helped relieve tension.
Customers who are 6 feet 5 inches have reported that the Real Relax chair was a perfect fit for them, despite the company stating that the max height is 6 feet and 1-2 inches.
You know its comfortable when you can take a nap on it after a long hard day of work. This is precisely what customers have done.
The chair is pretty darn comfortable in Zero Gravity mode that I actually fall asleep in it!
There’s more to say about the control than just the zero gravity feature. There are a total of 4 auto program to choose from, allowing the user to select the speed and strength. There is also a manual program where you can massage a specific or group of body part.
Why you might be turned away
As mentioned before, Real Relax’s customer service is not the greatest. The number on their website doesn’t seem to connect with anybody and their email seems unresponsive. The best bet is to contact the seller via a return request on Amazon. There seem to be a mild rate of success via this method.
The leather on the chair is faux leather, or to be specific PU leather. It’s made of split leather and a layer of polyurethane. It’s not a huge deal but know that is not real authentic leather.
The remote control seems to have most of the functionality you would expect:
- Choose between 4 auto program and set the massage speed and strength
- Set manual programs for your foot or backrest independently
- Adjust the reclining angle
That being said, customers have reported it faulty or small things like typos.
The Mecor Heated Recliner Chair is different in that it looks just like a regular reclining chair. It is one of the cheapest reclining chair options available on the market. As such, it does not include the premium features like zero gravity. In fact, it doesn’t even have a roller track, it is a purely vibrational massage.
- Easy to assemble
- Well distributed vibration
- Weak Massage
- Not durable
Why should you consider the Mecor Heated Recliner Chair?
The chair is made of bonded leather which means it is a composition of leather joined together with an adhesive. So it’s not real leather.
However, the chair is comfortable. It’s large and puffy and should be able to seat anyone shorter than 6 feet 4 inches.
There are two big components: The backrest and the base of the chair. The backrest snaps onto to the base seat and then once you connect the cables you are good to go. Definitely an easy assembly.
There are a total of 8 nodes where the vibration are pulsed. It’s definitely not a Shiatsu or deep tissue massage, but based on your preferences of strength, you may see this chair as a great means of softer relaxation.
One unique feature is it’s 360 degree swivel meaning the chair can spin around in a full circle.
What should you look out for?
As mentioned above, the mechanism that massages you are vibration nodes. This is vastly different from a chair that has rollers on a track that protrude through the backrest and the seating. If you’re looking for a solid kneading massage for those knots in your back, this isn’t the chair for you.
The biggest customer complaint is that it’s not real leather. Now, in part it’s due to the fact that it looks more like a leather recliner than the standard high-tech massage chair. This combined with a difficult customer service, can definitely rouse a mob of dissatisfied customers.
So you done all your research and decided to ditch the whole bulkiness of unit that comes with most of the massage chairs today. Well, I got good news for you.
The Adjustable Folding Shiatsu Massage Chair is brought to you by Bruntmor.
This massage chair stands out from the rest of the group in that it is a folding massage chair. Definitely an intriguing product.
I got a good first impression of their website. It’s modern and built on the Shopify platform. They integrated facebook messenger into the site and have an average response time of 3 hours. They also sell an array of kitchenware products like cast iron skillets, ceramics, and glassware.
- USB Charger
- Attached flexible control panel
- No foot massager
- No compression technology
Let’s talk about the mobility of this thing. A featherweight compared to some of the other behemoth of a chair like the Kahuna SM- 7300, this chair weighs in at 42.5 lbs. So whether you’re on the go or you simply don’t have the manpower to constantly move the chair around, this chair is highly mobile.
Although you won’t find yourself completely weightless because of zero gravity features, it does come with a standard control panel that lets you adjust neck nodes for different heights, switch between different vibration intensities, and control heat.
A total of 8 Shiatsu massage balls; 6 in the torso area and 2 in the neck area.
Why Buy a Massage Chair?
If you’re not completely sold on the scientific backings justifying the benefits of a massage, you’re not alone. Because of that, we researched a variety of case studies and lab experiments to compile a list of physiological benefits of a massage.
The alternatives are expensive
If you’re already familiar with the benefits of a massage, let’s talk about alternatives to purchasing a massage chair. The only other viable option is to purchase massage therapy sessions. According to an article written by University of Minnesota, the nation average of a massage is $60/hour.
If you do an hour session of massage every week $60 * 52 = $3120. In a couple years you would be spending upwards of $10,000!
Point taken. Purchasing a massage chair is a cheaper option.
Being at the comfort of your own home
According to the Motley Fool, American employees work an average of 38.7 hours per week. After a long day of work, there’s already a list of things to do like making dinner, going to the gym, finishing up emails, catching up the latest episode of Game of Thrones, etc…
Why add going to a massage therapist to the list when you can get one in the comfort of your own home. Plus let’s be honest, for those that deal with people all day at work, it’s nice for some alone time.
As technology improves, we get better at optimizing productivity. It shouldn’t stop when you need a massage. When you purchase a massage chair, you can effectively multi-task (Pop open a laptop and answer some emails, answer a call, watch TV). It’s a little different when you’re at a massage therapist’s office.
What features to consider in a massage chair?
This is going to sound redundant. The best features are the ones that give you… a better massage.
Two big obstacles come into play:
- A good massage for one is not necessary good for another
- You’re not always at the liberty of testing a chair before purchasing
We always recommending testing the chair to see if it fits your massage needs. However, we also understand that it simply might not be an option.
Let’s break down what constitutes a good massage and some difference people may have in order to come up with a feature list.
Strength of massager
The strength of a massager is by far the most subjective, meaning each person has their own preferences. Some want a lighter massage like a Swedish massage and others prefer deep-tissue massage.
Watch the movement of the rollers and contraction of bags
If you can’t try the chair first-hand, the next best thing is to watch a YouTube video where they show the massage chair in motion. Make sure to carefully see how much the rollers protrude through the surface and how tight the airbags contract, if there are any.
The next best thing is to rely on product reviews. Ideally you want to find a chair that is strong and kneads the body deeply since you can always dampen it with towels. If it’s too weak there’s not much you can do to make it stronger.
Find a reliable brand
Consider the brand name in gauging the strength of a massage. Visit their website and ask them a simple question about the massager, better yet ask them how strong it is.
If they respond and answer your question, it’s a sign of a good brand. In fact, we did this to Master Massage while compiling our list of best massage tables. We were surprised (in a bad way):
They didn’t actually answer my question and spoke with broken english. Not necessarily a deal maker (Master Massage has high-standard for their tables) but it’s something to consider for sure especially warranty is offered.
Check to see if the massage chair offers different levels of intensity. Especially for a 3D or 4D track systems, it’s possible to control how in-depth the rollers move (which makes it 3 dimensions since rollers can already go up and down, side to side).
L-track system vs S-track system
The track system refers to the track that the rollers glide on top of that ultimately gives you the massage experience in a chair. The ‘S’ in S-track stand for sinusoidal which is a wave in mathematics. Back when they first invented massage chairs, the rollers were poised on a vertical track and since the human spine is not perfectly straight – far from it – the S-track was invented.
The problem with the S-track is it doesn’t fully extend to reach the butt area. The L-track system was created in order to extend the S-track to include the butt and top of the hamstring area.
In short, the L-track massages your butt area whereas the S-track system doesn’t. If it helps to remember, the capital letter ‘L’ is shaped like a seat and resembles the extension it provides from the S-track.
Zero Gravity chairs are neat because they make you feel ‘weightless’ by distributing weight across the chair. If you’re into outer exploration you might catch a glimpse of what take off feels like.
With all jokes aside, are there actual health benefits in the zero gravity position? Yes, there is.
You see, the veins in your leg has to carry blood to your heart and it’s a lot work. Many of our lifestyle is sedentary (sitting on a desk, watching tv on the couch, etc…) and it doesn’t help circulation on the lower parts of our body. According to Vein Specialists of the South, you should elevate your legs above your heart 3-4 times a day for 15 minutes.
Especially if you’re already experiencing varicose veins or leg swelling(Lymphedema), the zero gravity feature will help alleviate symptoms.
Height and Weight Limitation
Humans come in different shapes and sizes. Customers can be very disappointed when purchasing and setting up a high-end massage chair to only find out they don’t fit in them.
In order to avoid that, make sure to read up on the dimensions of the product, height and weight limit.
Our product testers( average 6 feet and 220 lbs) felt these were the ideal dimensions:
- 44 inches height
- 22 inches wide seat cushion
- 30 inches from arm rest to arm rest
- 33 inches back rest height
- 12 inch foot massager height
Additionally look for chairs that have the body scanning feature that will customize roller movements for different body sizes. The body part that is best to scan is the shoulder area since that will determine how high the rollers should go.