The Best Massage Chairs – 2019 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

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Quick Summary
Massages can do wonders for muscle pain, sports injuries, stress and other ailments, but who has the time and money for regular professional massages?

Massage chairs allow users to experience many of the same benefits as professional massages but from the comfort of your home, and they’re more affordable than they once were. They can be used to relieve pain from a variety of health conditions or simply aid in relaxation.

Massage chairs come in a variety of styles, with different massage types, body coverage and special features. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive buying guide to help you wade through the various options on the market. Read on for our top picks for the best massage chairs and what to consider when choosing one.

The Best Massage Chairs of 2018

Editor’s Pick – BestMassage Shiatsu Massage Chair

Runner-Up – Ideal Massage Shiatsu Massage Chair

Best Budget Buy – Flash Furniture Massaging Recliner

Best Full-Body Massage Chair – RELAXONCHAIR MK-II Plus Massage Chair

Best for the Price – Real Relax Full Body Massage Chair

 

How We Decided

 

45 massage chairs considered –– 39 hours of research –– 4 experts consulted

Massage Chair Reviews

BestMassage Shiatsu Massage Chair – Editor's Pick

Highlights
  • Full-body massage includes legs, arms and feet
  • L-track for extended rollers
  • Reclines to 170 degrees
  • Heat therapy for back and feet
  • Dimensions: 35” x 55” x 42” (upright)

The BestMassage Shiatsu Massage Chair is a high-quality, full-body chair at a relatively affordable price. It features four massage styles, including Shiatsu, kneading, tapping and knocking. In addition to traditional back massage options, the chair includes rollers for your feet and airbags to compress leg muscles. You can even insert your arms into the armrests for arm and wrist massages. It also has an L-track, so rollers extend near the glutes.

The chair has four intensity settings that can be controlled through a large, detachable remote. Its back automatically adjusts to your height, and you can recline up to 170 degrees. It also features heat therapy in the lower back and feet. All around, the BestMassage is a top-performer.

Ideal Massage Shiatsu Massage Chair – Runner-Up

Highlights
  • Full body massage includes legs, arms and feet
  • Fourteen massage style combinations
  • Three zero gravity positions
  • Heated backrest
  • Dimensions: 33” x 53” x 49” (upright)

The Ideal Massage Shiatsu Massage Chair has a wide variety of features to please any user. It has four different massage styles, including Shiatsu, kneading, rolling and vibrating. You can choose from four auto programs or use manual control to pick from fourteen combinations. Airbags are located at the shoulders, arms, seat, legs and feet, and six kneading balls help relieve stress in your feet.

Intensity and speed are both adjustable. You can customize massage duration between five and thirty minutes. The chair also has three different zero gravity positions. All of these features plus a heated backrest add up to the ultimate in relaxation.

Flash Furniture Massaging Recliner – Best Budget Buy

Highlights
  • Fraction of the price of other chairs
  • Minimal design and lightweight
  • 9 massage modes and 5 intensity levels
  • Heat therapy
  • Dimensions: 29” x 30” x 42” (upright)

If you’re looking for a solid massage chair at a fraction of the price of other chairs, check out the Flash Furniture Massaging Recliner. This chair resembles a traditional recliner and ottoman and takes up less space than other massage chairs. It features a kneading massage style, and you can use its remote control to choose from nine massage modes and five intensity levels. The chair can target your legs, thighs, lumbar and back.

While the chair doesn’t have as many features as more expensive chairs, at fifty pounds, it’s much easier to move around. It also offers a side pocket for storage and the seat and back are heated. The plush, leather upholstery makes the chair feel much more luxurious than its price tag implies.

RELAXONCHAIR MK-II Plus Massage Chair – Best Full-Body Massage Chair

Highlights
  • Full-body massage includes legs, arms and feet
  • Spinal decompression stretches back and legs
  • Three zero gravity positions
  • L-track rollers
  • Dimensions: 31” x 32” x 46” (upright)

The RELAXONCHAIR MK-II Plus combines rollers, airbags and stretching for the ultimate full-body massage. It features four auto programs, three manual options (kneading, tapping, combo), three airbag intensity levels and three speed levels. It also has a spinal decompression mode that works to stretch your back and legs. Airbags surrounding arms, legs and feet contribute to relaxation for your whole body.

The MK-II Plus has three zero gravity positions, and body scanning allows the chair to customize pressure based on your spine. Its L-track system allows for deep massage all the way down to your glutes, and a heated backrest will relax your lower back muscles.

Real Relax Full Body Massage Chair – Best for the Price

Highlights
  • Variety of features for affordable price
  • Eight massage points and four auto programs
  • Three zero gravity positions
  • Built-in bluetooth speaker
  • Dimensions: 33” x 53” x 49” (upright)

For a relatively affordable price, the Full Body Massage Chair by Real Relax includes a variety of features. It has fifty airbags, eight massage points and four auto programs. Massage styles include kneading, Shiatsu, rolling and vibrating, and you can also target specific areas like your shoulders, arms, glutes and calves. The chair also includes rollers near your feet and a heating system to aid in muscle relaxation.

The Full Body Massage Chair has three different zero gravity positions, with the full position raising legs above the heart for reduced heart rate. The remote control is easy to read and fits into a side pocket. You can also listen to music while relaxing using the chair’s built-in bluetooth speakers.

Massage Chair Buying Guide

There’s great variety when it comes to massage chairs, and it can be difficult to know what to look for. In our buying guide, we first look at who might benefit from a massage chair and then delve into the top considerations to make when purchasing a massage chair.

Who can benefit from a massage chair?

Massage chairs might seem like a luxury, but when you consider the variety of benefits they provide, a massage chair may feel more like a necessity. Massage chairs can help alleviate symptoms of a variety of conditions, including:

  • Stress & Anxiety: Most can agree that massages are relaxing, but science actually backs this up. One study found that just five minutes of massage led to reduced heart rate and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A massage chair is also a great option for anyone who wants the benefits of massage but is anxious about being touched by a stranger.
  • Chronic Pain: Chronic pain is associated with a variety of health conditions. Massage chairs can provide relief from chronic pain by relieving muscle soreness and increasing blood flow. Chronic pain often results in trouble sleeping, which can in turn worsen the pain, and massage chairs can improve sleep quality.
  • Sports Injuries: Sports injuries can lead to either acute or chronic pain in a specific area. Massage chairs let users target massage to that specific area. They have the added benefit of allowing you to massage your injury as often as needed.
  • Diabetes: Some studies have shown that massage can help normalize blood glucose levels by increasing circulation. Diabetes can sometimes lead to nerve damage, or diabetic neuropathy, which can cause pain, numbness and tingling in certain areas. Massage chairs can help improve sensation in these areas.
  • Cardiovascular Conditions: One of the top benefits of massage chairs is their ability to improve blood flow. Massage has also been shown to reduce heart rate, so using one can be beneficial to those with cardiovascular issues or anyone looking to improve cardiovascular health.
  • Muscle Pain: Whether it’s from a physically demanding job or from hunching over a computer every day, our lifestyles often contribute to acute muscle pain. Using a massage chair regularly can help alleviate muscle soreness.
  • Sleep Issues: Because of their ability to relieve pain, reduce stress and increase blood flow, massage chairs are known to help users sleep better.

What to Consider when Purchasing a Massage Chair

Size & Weight

Massage chairs tend to be larger than regular chairs, and additional features often mean bigger chairs. Be sure to check the product dimensions before purchasing a chair. Also keep in mind that many massage chairs recline, requiring extra space behind the chair. Many choose to place massage chairs in an office or bedroom, where there might be more space, rather than a living room.

Massage chairs can also be very heavy, so enlist help when moving it into place. More minimal chairs weigh around 50 pounds, but most weigh between 100 and 300 pounds.

Massage Styles

It’s important to understand what massage styles are included in a massage chair before making a decision. After all, you don’t want to purchase one that’s not suited to your needs. Most massage chairs include options for multiple massage programs, but be sure to see what’s included. The most common massage styles are:

  • Tapping: This massage style involves regular percussive movements on specific muscles to stimulate them. It’s meant to mimic a massage therapist using his or her fists and is great for increasing blood flow.
  • Kneading: Kneading involves applying slow pressure, often in a circular motion. It works well for easing muscle tightness and pain.
  • Shiatsu: This popular massage style involves applying targeted pressure to specific stress points in the body. Many chairs allow users to increase the pressure as they get used to the more intense feel of Shiatsu. The massage style is great for stress and pain relief, and traditional Shiatsu is believed to restore energy flow.
  • Rolling: This style relies on massage chair rollers and provides pressure all along a certain part of the body. It can help relieve tension and muscle soreness.
  • Compression: Most chairs utilize airbags that inflate and deflate to provide pressure on certain muscle groups. It’s often used in tandem with other massage styles to relieve muscle tightness.
  • Stretching: Some chairs come with a stretch feature, sometimes called yoga stretch. The chair physically moves to stretch certain muscle groups, which can be especially helpful after a workout.

Massage chair rollers also come in one of two configurations. Those on an S-track are arranged along your spine, while an L-track includes rollers near the glutes and hamstrings. If you primarily have back pain, an S-track might be sufficient, but if you experience soreness in your lower body, you may want to opt for an L-track.

Features

Massage chairs vary greatly in the features they include. Be sure to check out everything a massage chair has to offer and also consider what’s important to you. A certain feature may be impressive, but if you’re not going to use it, it’s just unnecessarily adding to the price tag. The most common features include:

  • Reclining: Many massage chairs also recline, which contributes to a more relaxing experience for many users. It’s more similar to lying on a massage table.
    • Zero-Gravity: Some chairs feature a zero-gravity recline, which is a position inspired by NASA research. It’s meant to distribute weight evenly across the chair. Some even position your legs above your heart to allow your heart rate to decrease.
  • Intensity Settings: Different individuals have different tolerance levels for massage intensity. Many chairs allow you to increase or decrease intensity, depending on your preference and needs.
  • Speed Settings: You may want a slow, deep massage one day and quick tapping the next. Massage chairs with different speed settings allow you to customize the feel based on your preferences.
  • Auto Settings: Many chairs come with programmed massages that incorporate one or more massage styles. Some target specific areas while others are designed for a full-body experience.
  • Manual Setting: You may also want the option to customize your massage experience or focus on a specific part of the body. Manual settings allow you to do so.
  • Heat: Some massage chairs feature heat therapy, which works in tandem with massage to relax muscles.
  • Vibration: In addition to rollers, some chairs feature vibration, which is usually found in the seat region to provide a massage to the glutes and legs.
  • Body Scan Technology: Higher-end chairs sometimes include body scan technology, which provides the ultimate in customized massages. Body scan technology uses infrared sensors that read where your body touches the chair and customizes your massage based on your body type.
  • Bluetooth Speakers: If you’d like to listen to music or podcasts through your chair, you might want to opt for one with bluetooth speakers to use with your bluetooth-enabled device.
  • MP3 Player: Some chairs feature a built-in MP3 player and speakers so you can listen to your favorite music while you relax.
  • Remote Control: A remote control enables you to easily change your massage program even if you’re fully reclined.
  • Auto Off: Many chairs will automatically shut off after a massage program is completed, which is a good idea as using the chair for too long might bruise your muscles.

Body Coverage

Some massage chairs focus solely on the back, while others provide a full body massage. If you primarily suffer from back and neck pain, then a traditional chair may be perfect for you. If you’re an athlete or on your feet a lot, you may want a chair that targets other parts of your body. Some use airbags and/or rollers to massage legs and feet. Others include rollers that target muscles on the side of your head, which can provide excellent stress relief.

Safety

Massage chairs are typically safe to use, but it’s important to keep some tips in mind. First, too much of a good thing does apply to massage chair use. Limit your use to short sessions, around 15 to 30 minutes, once or twice a day to avoid overworking or bruising your muscles. Be sure to supervise children or elderly individuals when they’re using the chair. Also ensure that the chair is positioned so that no one will trip over the electric cord.

If you’re pregnant, there are special considerations. Massage chairs are safe for those with normal, healthy pregnancies but should be avoided if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Either way, check with your health care provider before using a massage chair while pregnant. Don’t use the heat feature while pregnant and avoid Shiatsu massage as deep tissue massage tends to be advised against during pregnancy.

Warranty & Return Policy

Most massage chairs come with a three-year limited warranty, though these can vary between one and five years. Be sure to look closely at warranty terms so you’re not left with an expensive repair or replacement on your hands. Many vary in what they will cover in each year of a warranty. They will commonly cover parts and labor in the first year, parts in the second year and the main structural frame in the third year. Warranties typically cover defects and not normal wear and tear.

Many massage chairs come with a 30-day return window, but check to see if you’re expected to cover shipping costs. Because massage chairs are large, shipping them back can be expensive.

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