What is the Best Massage Chair for Me to Buy?

China is known as the birthplace of massage therapy, so it is no wonder that most of the best massage chairs are made there. The Japanese further enhanced the art of massage a couple of centuries later so the chairs made there are often better than even the best Chinese ones.

That said, China being China, there are many inferior wannabe brands there that sell poorly made chairs with limited functionality. Here, we only carry brands with stellar reputations that sell chairs that are backed by warranties.

Narrowing down what chair is the best one for you to buy is another story - there are lots to choose from. Hopefully, this guide will help you make a better-informed decision.

How Much Space Does the Massage Chair Need?

Massage chairs are not small. Even the smaller ones are the size of a full size recliner so they definitely take up some space. If you are getting a chair that reclines (also called a "Zero Gravity" chair), you'll need at least an additional three feet of space.

The best reclining massage chairs are ones that slide forward, not back. That way, you don't need to set the chair 3-4 feet away from a wall. Most of the Zero Gravity massage chairs on this website slide forward, allowing you to place them as close as a few inches away from a wall - something that makes the chair an attractive piece of furniture that blends nicely with your room.

Bottom Line: If you purchase a reclining massage chair, you'll need a space that is 6-8 feet in length and 4-5 feet wide. Whether or not you can place it near a wall depends on whether the chair offers "Space Saving Technology" or not.

HINT: With most of our chairs, you can scroll down to the main description area will you will find a "Specifications" tab that often has the chair's length, width and height - both upright and fully reclined. If you don't see that, you can always Contact Us, too.

Although it may seem silly to point this out, please remember that electricity is needed to power your massage chair. Therefore, it should be placed in close proximity to an electrical outlet and preferably in a place where there is no chance that anyone will trip over the cord!

Can I Fit in the Massage Chair?

A massage chair isn't going to help you relax if your are too tall for it to hit all the right spots on your body or if it cannot handle your weight. Make sure that you are buying a massage chair that matches your body type.

The following massage chairs can accommodate larger people:

It should also be noted that just because a massage chair can handle larger bodies, it doesn't mean that smaller people can't use them. Most massage chairs, including the ones, above, also work great for people as small as 5' tall, too!

Will the Massage Chair Look Good in Your Home?

We already discussed the space issues with massage chairs but we have not gotten into aesthetics. A massage chair also needs to blend in well with your other furnishings or it just becomes an eyesore.

Although a chair's main image on our category pages may show it as being one color, most of our massage chairs are available in several colors. We decided to make it easier for you to find the right color chair without having to click on every single one of them, so we added filters on the left hand side of every category page that allow you to narrow down your choice by the color of the chair.

Please keep in mind that color is often subjective and there are also many different shades of a given color. Sometimes, a manufacturer calls a chair a certain color and we don't agree with it. The color this happens most with is "beige" where we see it as more in the "white" color spectrum. We've listed the colors the way we see them - not necessarily what the manufacturer calls them (although we do use their color term on the individual product pages).

Also, please remember that computer monitors do not always depict colors accurately. They should be pretty close, though!

Finally, be careful when you start thinking about the material a massage chair is made of. Yes, you may have beautiful leather furniture and think it would be wonderful to have an all-leather massage chair. Unfortunately, these chairs are not like normal chairs - they go through a lot of pushing, pulling, inflating, rolling and in some cases, heating. Leather wouldn't last very long being subjected to that! That is why most massage chairs are made from synthetic fabrics, although some do have leather highlights in areas of the chair that can endure those stresses.

What Kind of Massages Would You Like Your Chair to Perform?

Because this is why you are really buying a massage chair, perhaps we should have listed this question first. Then again, it really doesn't matter how great a massage a chair gives if the chair doesn't fit you or your house!

You may be buying a massage chair because you simply want to relax and enjoy a soothing massage after a long day of work. Then again, you may have a medical condition or physical pain that you are hoping the chair can alleviate.

IMPORTANT: Please discuss the use of a massage chair with your physician if you have a medical condition that could worsen by using a massage chair. When in doubt, ask!

Not all chairs perform every kind of massage, so make sure that if you want a certain kind of massage, the chair you purchase can actually perform it. The following types of massage techniques are available with massage chairs:

Kneading – Kneading involves the compression of soft tissues against one another or against underlying bones. It is an excellent technique for relieving pain, relaxing tight muscles, and increasing flexibility. Massage chairs achieve this effect with airbags, rollers or a combination of the two.

Tapping – Tapping is a rhythmic massage technique designed to stimulate your muscles, which in turn aids blood circulation, increases the temperature of the area and increases tissue elasticity. It is the pounding and striking actions (like karate chops) a professional would apply with his/her fists. In a massage chair, this is accomplished best with rollers, which can only produce the effect if it is a 3D or 4D massage chair. The rollers push in and out against your back in rapid succession. The effect can also be produced to a lesser extent by alternately inflating and deflating a chair's airbags.

Rolling – Rolling is a relaxing massage technique where a masseuse lifts and rolls the skin between their fingers and thumbs. Rolling is used for treating muscular tension and stimulating blood circulation. In massage chairs that are so equipped, it is simulated by the chair's rollers, which are specially designed to simulate the movement of a human hand. The rollers slide up, down, to the right and to the left on your back, producing a relaxing and comfortable massage. The rollers’ action is very relaxing, and it stimulates your back’s blood circulation.

Shiatsu – A super popular and effective massage technique, shiatsu is usually applied with the hands, palms or thumbs against stress points in your body, which promotes relaxation and muscle relief. In a massage chair, shiatsu is performed by rollers on chairs that have 3D or 4D capabilities and airbags are sometimes also used, though not as effectively.

Heated Massage – Applying heat to muscles helps them relax, which creates a better massage. It also decompresses your spine and improves circulation, which increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients in your blood. Massage chairs, that offer heat massage have various ways of producing heat for massages. Most use heated pads located in the lower back area, delivering relief to one of the body's most sensitive stress areas. Some models also have a heated massage feature for your feet, which is very relaxing. High-end massage chairs often use infrared rollers for heated massages that cover the entire back, from your neck to your buttocks.

Acupressure: Acupressure has been providing relief to painful body parts for centuries. By pressing in just the right spots, pain can be relieved in completely different parts of the body. The only type of massage chairs that can accurately perform acupressure are 3D or 4D chairs.

Reflexology – Reflexology is a technique that applies pressure to reflex zones on one part of your body - usually your feet or hands - and that pressure affects the nerves, which then carry signals to other parts of your body. Although some massage chairs attempt to do this with airbags, it can only really be achieved by 3D and 4D massage chair rollers.

Muscle/Spine Stretching – Gently and gradually stretching and manipulating muscles helps relieve pain in overworked muscles and allows them to recover more quickly. Similarly, gently stretching the spine can also relieve pressure on discs that may be causing you pain. Massage chairs achieve muscle and spine stretching by gently clamping down on muscles with airbags and then moving the airbags.

If you have never had a massage, you may not know which techniques are the ones that will bring you the most relief or relaxation. If that's the case, it's best to choose a massage chair with as many functions as you can afford. That way, you'll have the opportunity to experience all of them and can tailor your massage to what works best for you.

What Features Should I look For in a Massage Chair?

The features you should look for on a massage chair are dictated by the type of massage you want and, of course, your budget. More expensive chairs tend to offer more and better types of massages than their lower-priced counterparts. Here, we'll cover the features a chair may have:

Intensity Level(s): I think we've all heard of people who complained that a massage was too rough or wasn't intense enough. People have different intensity thresholds and massage chairs offer varying degrees of intensity. Keep this in mind if several different people will be using the massage chair. If you have the budget, look for a massage chair that offers several different intensity levels - the more, the better. If you don't have the money to pay for a chair that offers different intensity levels, look for a chair that has pads that can be removed so that you can feel the rollers more intensely if you so desire.

Air Compression: Most massage chairs these days offer some degree of air compression, which they achieve by the use of airbags in the massage chair that inflate and deflate. The airbags push against your muscles, massaging them and can also be used for stretching muscles. Better massage chairs have airbags throughout the chair that cover your neck, shoulders, arms, hips, legs and feet. Although you will often hear that the more airbags a massage chair has, the better the chair is, that is not necessarily true. Many more modern chairs utilize larger, more efficient airbags which cut down on the wear and tear on the valves of the chair, which increases the longevity of the chair.

Body Scanning: Perhaps the most important feature available on modern massage chairs is the ability to adapt the massage to each individual. Chairs equipped with body scanning technology have sensors that analyze your height, the curvature of your spine and other aspects of your body which allow the chair to automatically make adjustments, customizing the massage for the exact body build that is in the chair. In other words, if you're tall, you won't have a massage chair performing a buttocks massage on your lower back. If you are shorter, you won't have a massage chair squeezing your head instead of your neck.

Zero Gravity: Perhaps an over-exaggeration, chairs that offer "zero gravity" recline to a level or nearly level plane with the floor. This evenly distributes the weight of your body and leads to a more relaxing and effective massage and also takes pressure off  of your vertebrae. Some massage chairs have multiple stages of zero gravity positions. The final stage raises your legs to heart level, which takes strain off the heart muscle, allowing it to pump blood with less effort.

Auto Timer: Most medical professionals consider 15 minutes to be the maximum amount of time that you should have a massage performed on a given area of your body. Anything more than that could cause actual muscle damage. Good massage chairs have timers that will stop the chair automatically, just in case the massage is so relaxing, you fall asleep.

3D or 4D Technology: Most of the better massage chairs use a series of rollers that massage from side to side and top to bottom. A 3D massage chair has the ability to move its rollers in and out, making it possible for the chair to perform true tapping, Shiatsu, reflexology and acupressure. 4D massage chairs take it one step further, adding a circular motion to the inward pressure and they can apply more pressure during certain parts of the circle than others - just like a real, well-trained masseuse does. A 3D massage chair approaches the capabilities of a real masseuse. a 4D massage chair is as close as you're going to get to having a real masseuse at your beck and call.

Pre-set Programs: Pretty much every massage chair has at least a handful of pre-set programs that they can perform. The cheapest simply offer different intensity levels of the same program. Better ones offer several massage programs in addition to the ability to change intensity levels. The best massage chairs offer a half dozen, a dozen, two dozen or more different programs to chose from and the ability to adjust the intensity levels of each of those programs. The more pre-sets a chair has, the easier it will be for you to find one that is perfect for you!

Manual Mode: Being able to choose from pre-set programs is wonderful but what if none of them are exactly right for you? A really good massage chair will allow you to pick and choose the areas you want massaged and the type of massage for those areas and let you skip other areas of your body if you want to.

Programmability: The best massage chairs allow you to customize your massage but they also have a memory that allows you to store your customizations. That way, once you have your massage customized just the way you like it, you can simply hit one button and get your perfect massage every single time without having to re-enter all of the customizations, one at a time.

Full Body Massage: Pretty much every massage chair in existence massages your back but the better ones also massage your neck, hips and buttocks. The best of the best massage your feet, ankles, legs arms and hands, too.

Adjustable Footrest: Although a smaller or taller person may be able to fit in a massage chair, sitting with your knees bent because the footrest is not low enough or having your feet dangle because your legs aren't long enough  is not only not the most relaxing experience, it could be detrimental to the efficacy of your massage. The better massage chairs have extendable footrests so that the chair will work well and fit longer or shorter leg people the same. The truly great massage chairs have footrests that adjust automatically, starting out fully extended and then gently coming up until they sense the bottom of your feet.

LED Lights: Some massage chairs have LED lights that illuminate a darkened room with a pleasant blue glow, which many people find very soothing.

Bluetooth Capability: Nothing is more relaxing than listening to the perfect music as you massage away the day's tensions. Many massage chairs have speakers built into the headrest and you can plug the music player of your choice (iPad, Android, iPod, etc.) into the chair to listen to your favorite songs. Even better chairs allow you to connect wirelessly to your device via bluetooth.

What Kind of Warranty Does the Massage Chair Have?

If a massage chair doesn't have at least a one year warranty, I'd run from it. Most of the massage chairs on this website offer a 3 year warranty, which includes all parts and service for the first year, parts-only for the second year (service charges are extra) and a frame-only warranty during the third year (again, with service being extra).

Even better, a large portion of the chairs on this website offer warranty extensions so that you can have a 4 year or 5 year warranty. If you opt to pay a little bit extra for those extended warranties, everything increases by a year or two years. A 4 year warranty includes all parts and labor for two years, all parts-only for three years (service charges extra) and frame-only for four years. A 5 year warranty includes all parts and service for three years, all parts-only for four years (service charges extra) and frame-only for five years.

With all of the moving parts involved - especially in the mid-to-high price range chairs - it's certainly an investment worth making!

Still Not Sure What The Best Massage Chair to Buy Is?

Well, we tried ... That's OK, we love helping people get the perfect chair - one that they'll enjoy for many years to come. Simply Contact US and we'll be glad to help you in any way that we can!