Choosing a massage chair is a difficult process. If you buy the wrong one, you’ll most likely be stuck with it unless you want to dish out the 20% re-stocking or shipping fee.
It can be a tricky process as well. Many product descriptions have buzzwords like zero gravity and computer body scan when they don’t offer those features at all.
We’ve analyzed hundreds of massage chairs. We interviewed dozens of sales people and staff to understand what goes into a quality massage chair.
Here are the most important things to consider when buying a massage chair:
1. Responsive Customer Service
Massage chair brands that respond to customers tend to sell quality massage chair products. If they are confident in their product and serious about their brand, they will have a good channel of customer service.
The best massage chair brands also have US-based English speaking customer service. Not outsourced like Comcast.
2. Strength of Massage
Nothing can increase the strength of the massage that a chair provides. You want to choose a massage chair that will almost hurt you on the highest settings because you can always lower the intensity.
You want to avoid massage chairs that are too weak for your body. Everyone has different sensitivity and tolerance for deep tissue massage. Ideally you want to try out the massage chair at a trade show or live event. Most of the time that’s not possible so we recommend looking for customer reviews that specifically say its strong and an intensity meter scale that some brands like Osaki provide.
Also, you want to look for a chair that has a wide range of massage intensity adjustments. Choose chairs that have 10 intensity options over 5 because it’s more likely you’ll find the perfect strength for you.
3. Depth and Breadth of Features
You’ve probably heard of some of the common features that most modern massage chairs provide: zero gravity, computerized body scan, reflexology based foot rollers, spacing saving technology, etc…
The list of features can be enticing but really you should focus on how well the features are implemented.
Brands that implement features well typically will have patents because they know they do it better and differently than their competitors. For example, Medical Breakthrough massage chair has a function on their chairs that twists and turns the individual’s hip called Medical Breakthrough World Famous Hip Twist™. They have more than 20+ patents on their medical massage chairs. This is a good example of a brand you want to buy from.
The more proprietary efforts a brand places on their massage chair, the better. It means they care enough to invest into furthering massage tech.
When it comes to the number of automatic programs, the sweet spot is around 6 – 8. Anything less than you don’t have much options. Anything more and you’ll have too much and there will be overlap in functionality.
In our research, we found that the best price of massage chair for a typical consumer to be between $2000 and $3000.
However, the keyword is “typical.” If you have a serious back issue or need fast athletic recovery, we would recommend upping your budget above $4000.
One thing is for sure when it comes to massage chairs: you get what you pay for
We have talked to too many customers who bought $1000 massage chairs only to regret it and purchase a more expensive quality chair.
Remember that a massage chair is an investment toward your well-being. If you think about it, its peanuts compared to what you would spend on a massage therapist.
5. Appearance and Aesthetics
Most massage chairs come in neutral colors like beige, black, grey, and white. There isn’t much concern with fitting into your current home decor.
However, the size and surface material may be more important to you. Most massage chair are made out of synthetic leather. The only exception we found is Luraco, their chairs are actually made out of genuine leather. Genuine leather and quality synthetic leather will last more and is more comfortable.
The size of the chair will determine if it actually fits into the room of your choice. Also, it’s important that they have space saving technology, which will allow the chair to be placed inches before the wall and still operate the zero gravity feature.
6. Height And Weight limit
Because many massage chairs were initially designed in Asia, the size of massage chairs ran smaller than expected for American consumers.
When brands caught onto this problem, an influx of bigger and taller massage chairs flooded the market.
When looking for a massage chair, always look at the height and weight capacity. Even better, look for a chair that advertise their size. Usually models will indicate this by adding “Plus” or “+”
On the flip side, if you are smaller, say less than 5 feet tall take a look at our list of massage chairs for petite people. Being smaller than average can pose a similar severity of problem: air bags not reaching your body, the rollers going way past your head, the massage is not strong because it doesn’t reach etc…
Lastly, look for a massage chair with computerized body scan and adjustable leg extension. This technology will accommodate users of different size adequately, typically adjusting the rollers to be optimal.
7. 2D, 3D, 4D Roller Track System
We talked about features already but the roller track system itself deserves its own category.
The roller track system is the mechanism inside the chair where these rollers (think small spherical wheels) glide on a track that ultimately provides the massage in a massage chair.
2D means that rollers can go up and down, 3D means it can go up and down and be adjusted by speed, 4D means it can out of the chair (think z-axis).
Because the most important part about a massage chair is its ability to effectively massage, we highly recommend seeking a chair with 4D rollers. This will allow you to control the deepness of the massage.