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How To Pick The Best Massage Chair, According To A Massage Therapist

Author:

Kelsea Samson

October 11, 2022

Written by

Kelsea Samson

Kelsea Samson is a writer, content manager, certified yoga instructor and founder of The Mindfulness Program for Kids and Yoga for the Blind in Tampa, Florida.

Image by mbg creative

October 11, 2022

Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

Prioritizing relaxation and physical recovery is one of the healthiest things we can do–not only for our physical health and athletic performance, but also for our mental well-being. The best massage chairs can have a huge impact on the way our bodies recovers and perform physically, and on how we feel mentally.

If you want to boost your physical recovery and mental health at home, a massage chair is a great way to do that. Along with offering the ultimate full-body relaxation, massage chairs are a research-backed1 way to reduce stress and relieve sore muscles. This study even showed massage chairs to be beneficial in decreasing pain caused by arthritis.

While you can totally enlist a partner or give yourself a massage, these at-home chairs do the work for you. When choosing which massage chair is best for you, there are a ton of options and features to evaluate, including: body scan technology for personalized sessions, massage pads for on-the-go relief, compression boots for recovery from intense workouts, and zero gravity chairs with voice control so you literally don’t have to move a muscle.

Keep scrolling to learn how massage therapy can benefit your overall well-being, and to find the best massage chair for your personal needs.

What is a massage chair?

A massage chair is an at-home device that can provide similar benefits to a professional massage. While they’re often a sizable investment, massage chairs can be a great way to improve your overall health and well-being. Whether you’re aiming to reduce stress, improve physical performance, or relieve sore muscles, these chairs can help your mind and your body feel more relaxed.

A standard massage chair will look pretty similar to your typical living room furniture, but there are a ton of different makes and models on the market today, including zero gravity chairs, portable massage chairs, ergonomic chairs, compression boots, massage pads, and more.

Who can benefit from using a massage chair?

Experts agree that many different people can benefit from using a massage chair regularly, whether for sports recovery, to alleviate chronic pain, or as part of a daily relaxation practice. “The relaxation, the neurological shut down after activity or for those in pain, maybe the most beneficial offering of massage chairs”, explains holistic massage therapist and owner of LIFT Performance Enhancement, Lisa Jamison.

The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine2 discovered that massage chair therapy can effectively treat pain. After a workout, many people benefit from using a massage chair to perform the myofascial release. Keep in mind, this should supplement your cool-down instead of replacing it. Even the best massage chairs should not replace a professional massage therapist who can apply personalized knowledge to tailor each session to your specific needs.

What are the benefits of massage and compression therapy?

Even pro athletes, like Lebron James and Kevin Durant, swear by compression boots for faster recovery times after intense workouts. Jamison backs their benefits, saying that “The biggest benefit of compression therapy is increased venous return and help with inflammation and acute swelling. The level of compression to assist with lymph drainage, however, is not the same as for venous return, and one must know what their intention is and how to get the tool to work on their behalf.”

If you’re seeking lower-body relief after an intense training session, compression boots may do the job better than a massage chair. On that note, not everyone should use compression therapy. “Compression therapy is contraindicated in an array of patients”, she adds. If you’re unsure of what type of massage is best for you, you might start by looking for a massage chair with an array of styles like shiatsu, deep tissue, kneading, knocking, and vibration.

How we picked:

Design

All bodies are different, so our selections showcase a breadth of different designs to make sure that people of all sizes get a great recovery session.

Features

Our picks have all the bells and whistles you’ll need for sufficient mental relaxation and sports recovery.

We picked massage chairs that fit a wide range of prices, including Amazon options, and a few splurge-worthy picks for those looking to seriously invest in their at-home recovery.

Reviews

Real customer feedback is important, so we read hundreds of reviews and selected massage chairs with high ratings and positive feedback.

Our picks for the best massage chairs of 2022:

Best Osaki: Osaki OS-4D Escape

Osaki OS-4D Escape

VIEW ON Brookstone | $4,199VIEW ON Amazon | $7,000

Pros

Aromatherapy and chromotherapyBody scan technologyModern design

Cons

Expensive

Number of Massage Settings: 6 levels

Special Features: Zero gravity, 4D massage, aromatherapy and chromotherapy, space capsule

Zones for Use: Legs, Feet, Head, Neck, Shoulders, Back

Heat: Yes

Reclining: Two angles

This 4D zero-gravity massage chair provides top-tier physical relief and helps ease away muscular tension and mental stress in one session. It has luxury features like aromatherapy, chromotherapy, lower back, and calf heating, and a space capsule cover for your head. We were particularly impressed by S-track massage rollers, which contour to the curvature of your back, allowing for a more even distribution of pressure.

While there are not a ton of reviews for this chair yet, customers are writing home about the sleek design and range of intensities it offers. That said, if you don’t like a super-deep massage, this might not be the chair for you. One customer writes, “The pressure is pretty darn strong as I haven’t figured out just yet how to adjust. It’s fine for me because I like deep tissue massage, my wife however can’t handle the low back deep pressure. I own an $800 chair as well and it will be getting shipped to my son as there is no comparison in quality.”

Best Compression Boots: Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs

Hyperice Normatec 3 Legs

VIEW ON Hyperice | $799VIEW ON Dicks | $799

Pros

Science-backed resultsUsed by pro athletesLightweight

Cons

Legs and feet only

Number of Massage Settings: 7 levels

Special Features: Bluetooth technology, customizable sessions

Zones for Use: Legs, Feet

Heat: Yes

Reclining: N/A

If these compression boots are good enough for Lebron James, they’re good enough for us. Also featured in our best compression boots for recovery, these were made with a unique patented precision pulse technology designed by a MD, PhD, and with input from top pro athletes and sports medicine professionals. The brand uses durable nylon and biomimicry to replicate the natural muscle pumps, and dynamic air compression to maximize your recovery, training, and performance. This model is meant for your legs, but you can also purchase attachments for your arms and hips. While these compression boots are a less expensive option than a full massage chair, they don’t skimp on quality or tech savviness.

There aren’t many reviews on the brand’s website yet, because this is a newer model, but the existing feedback (58 reviews) is overwhelmingly positive. The boots have a 4.8 out of five-star rating overall. One reviewer says, “What I like about this product is the customization it offers on the recovery boots. The handheld controller has a few settings – pressure level, zone booster, and time selection, but the app offers a few extra settings which I found extremely helpful to target my sore calf muscles. This feature specifically allows you to target sore muscles post-workout. Also, the app has specific routines that you can pick from – warm-up, post-workout recovery, sore muscle treatment, etc. Now I use the recovery boots to warm up before my endurance runs and noticed my recovery time has dropped with this routine!”

Best Massage Chair Pad: Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager

Snailax Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager

VIEW ON Amazon | $124VIEW ON Snailax | $170

Pros

PortableAdjustable widthIntensity control

Cons

Not a full chair

Number of Massage Settings: 3 levels

Special Features: Heat, intensity control flap, adjustable width

Zones for Use: Neck, Shoulders, Back

Heat: Yes

Reclining: No

While there’s definitely value in investing in a high-quality massage chair if you can, a massage chair pad is another great option. It’s not quite the same as sinking into a full body experience, but if neck and back relief is what you’re after, a pad could actually suit you better! Lay this massage pad on top of your chair or couch, and choose between shiatsu, rolling, or vibration massage. We love that the intensity and height are adjustable, so different body types can be accommodated.

Nearly 8,000 Amazon shoppers gave this massage pad a perfect five-star rating. With an overall rating of 4.4, there are thousands of reviews raving about how easy, affordable, and effective it is. One person says, “[It’s] the massage chair I thought I could never afford! I work in a high-stress job and need a good way to take a quick break to relax, help with neck pain and rejuvenate. I found it with the Snailax massager. The strength is exactly what I needed to relax my back and neck muscles and work the stress out of my neck from looking at multiple computer screens all day!” Some people note that, depending on your height, you may have to adjust your posture to get relief from the massage nodes.

Best Portable: Comfier Portable Massage Chair

Comfier Portable Massage Chair

VIEW ON Comfier | $330VIEW ON Amazon | $300

Pros

LightweightPortableLess expensive

Cons

No massage capabilities for arms, legs, or feet

Special Features: Heating, seat vibration, foldable

Zones for Use: Neck, Back, Glutes

Heat: Yes

Reclining: Yes

There’s something to be said for a massage chair that you can use all day long, and not just during dedicated work breaks. While this folding chair isn’t as luxe as some of the other options on our list, you can take it with you to the office, on trips, or to different rooms in your house. You can even fold it up and easily store it away if it’s interfering with the feng shui of your living room. It packs a lot of power in a lightweight package, and it’s an affordable option compared to full body massage chairs. Plus, it has multiple massaging nodes, heat therapy, a reclining back, and is adjustable.

There are some pretty impressive Amazon reviews for this portable massage chair, and with a 4.4 rating overall, there were little-to-no complaints. “Comfier provides abundant relief with a vigorous, but never rough or painful, rotating ball set. I was very happy with the massage strength and used it almost daily due to my frequent exercise schedule. If you need to dial down the intensity, the chair comes with convenient removable padding on both the back and neck massage mechanisms,” one reviewer writes.

Best Zero Gravity: Real Relax Zero Gravity S-Track Massage Chair

Real Relax Zero Gravity S-Track Massage Chair

VIEW ON Walmart | $1,049VIEW ON Amazon | $1,000

Pros

Less expensiveVoice controlBluetooth speakers

Cons

Assembly not included

Number of Massage Settings: 6 levels

Special Features: Zero-gravity capabilities, bluetooth speakers, LCD control pad and voice control

Zones for Use: Legs, Feet, Head, Neck, Shoulders, Back, Hips, Arms

Heat: 3 levels of heat

Reclining: Yes

If you have a tight lower back, you might want to consider a zero-gravity massage chair. This type of chair gently tilts to create a feeling of weightlessness and take pressure off of your spine, which helps relax the muscles in your neck and back. It’s not hard to see why zero-gravity massage chairs have skyrocketed in popularity. Research has linked them to improved circulation, reduced varicose veins, and reduced chronic pain.

This massage chair has two sets of rollers that mimic a two-handed, professional massage, plus three levels of heat, and compression airbags from head to toe. In addition to a standard compression massage setting, it also offers shiatsu, kneading, and knocking, and three levels of intensity and heat–all of which can be controlled and customized using your voice or the chair’s LCD monitor. It also has a Bluetooth-compatible speaker so you can listen to your favorite playlist or podcast while you’re relaxing. Plus,it’s less expensive than a lot of other zero-gravity massage chairs.

Customers are raving about this faux leather massage chair’s full-body massage experience–and it has nearly 4,000 perfect 5-star ratings on Amazon. Some reviewers do mention that assembly can be difficult, but others say it comes together easily. One reviewer writes, “Both my husband and I work out 5-6x a week, which leaves us sore and in need of some muscle relaxation. This is an amazing massage chair for sore or tight muscles and has a great price compared to other similar products. My favorite setting is using the zero gravity, with the heat on, airbags on, neck and waist settings on kneading at mixed speed, and the foot massagers on = ? it’s amazing. Also, it is shipped in two boxes. My husband said the directions were easy to follow and assembly took maybe 30 minutes tops.” If you’re hesitant about the self-setup, the company will assemble it for you upon delivery for an added charge.

Best value: SMAGREHO Massage Chair Recliner

SMAGREHO Massage Chair Recliner

VIEW ON Amazon | $880

Pros

Less expensiveZero gravityBluetooth speakers

Cons

Less features

Number of Massage Settings: 6 levels

Special Features: Zero-gravity capabilities, bluetooth

Zones for Use: Legs, Feet, Neck, Shoulders, Back, Arms, Waist

Heat: Yes

Reclining: Yes

It turns out nice things can come with lower price tags. This massage chair might not have the same bells and whistles as the last (like smart voice control and multiple massage tracks), but it has all the features of a standard zero gravity massage chair, and it’s even more affordable.

With six different modes and eight massage heads, meant to target your neck, back, and waist, it can definitely help you slip into that much-needed relaxation mode.

A highly rated pick, this massage chair has more than 800 5-star ratings on Amazon. People love the value it offers for the price, and one reviewer says, “This chair is worth every penny. I’m not one to leave feedback unless it’s something mind-blowing, and this massage chair is all that.I love [that] you can control the strength of how hard you want [it]. Another exceptional thing about the chair is the great-sounding built-in speakers that you can connect to Bluetooth and enjoy a very relaxing massage.” Many reviewers warn that shorter folks might need to sit on a pillow to reach the shoulder massage.

Best Smart: iRest A306 Massage Chair

iRest A306 Massage Chair

VIEW ON Amazon | $2,198

Pros

AI voice controlBluetooth connectivityAutomatic body scan

Cons

Height restrictions

Number of Massage Settings: 6 levels

Special Features: Zero gravity, body scan for personalized massage, AI voice control, bluetooth technology, customizable width

Zones for Use: Legs, Feet, Neck, Shoulders, Back, Arms

Heat: Yes

Reclining: Yes

With three levels of zero gravity and an outstanding automatic body scan technology to give you the personalized massage you’ve been dreaming of, this is one of the most impressive massage chairs on the market today. It has two pairs of massage tracks that simulate a professional hands-on vibration, and 12 automated massage functions, including whole-body soothing, fatigue recovery, and stretching. Oh, and AI voice control allows you to switch between the twelve functions without lifting a finger.

Although this is one of the priciest options on this list, it’s within the average range for a high-quality massage chair. With a 4.4 out of five-star rating on Amazon and loads of reviews to back up this brand’s integrity, this is clearly a fan favorite. One reviewer writes, “We tried the different massage auto programs, twelve in all, each gives a different massage type. I normally like a strong massage while my wife likes a gentle massage, which makes it difficult to choose a chair, however, we both enjoyed the massages, a couple were gentle enough for my wife. I really enjoyed the variety of massage and stretching programs. I definitely recommend this massage chair.” Note that the height requirements for this chair are 5.25 ft – 6.23 ft.

Best Ergonomic: Costway PU Full Body Massage Chair

Costway PU Full Body Massage Chair

VIEW ON Walmart | $2,899VIEW ON Amazon | $3,500

Pros

Voice controlsYoga stretching functionZero gravity

Cons

Assembly not included

Number of Massage Settings: 12 levels

Special Features: Zero gravity, voice control, bluetooth, yoga stretching function

Zones for Use: Legs, Feet, Head, Neck, Shoulders, Back, Hips, Arms

Heat: Yes

Reclining: Three angles

For an ergonomic and outfitted massage chair that’s reasonably priced, we like Costway’s zero gravity full body massage chair. It has 12 preloaded programs, five massage techniques and speeds, three width adjustments, and three levels of pressure intensity for compression therapy. Smart features include voice control, LCD remote control, and Bluetooth.

With nearly 100 reviews on the Walmart website, this massage chair has earned a 4.7 out of 5 star rating. One satisfied customer raves, “Let me tell you, it can really squeeze and dig into all the right areas if you want it to. It has intensity levels you can adjust. I love it FULL INTENSITY!” Most people commented on its ease of installation, comfort, and value for the price.

Best Splurge: Kahuna EM Arete Superior 3D Elite SL Track Massage Chair

Kahuna EM Arete Superior 3D Elite SL Track Massage Chair

VIEW ON Amazon | $6,499

Pros

Arrives assembledFull body heatingHuge selection of massage programs

Cons

Expensive

Number of Massage Settings: 28 levels

Special Features: Zero gravity, body scan for personalized massage, AI voice control, bluetooth technology, customizable width

Zones for Use: Legs, Feet, Neck, Shoulders, Back, Arms

Heat: Yes

Reclining: Three angles

If you’re able to splurge on a luxury massage chair, this is the one to get. It has a 3D roller system for precision targeting, smart body scanning for personalized treatment, 24 preloaded massage programs, five speed settings, five levels of compression strength, and three zero gravity recline positions. The AI voice control and touch screen remote make customizing your massage easy, and the chair’s memory function remembers your preferences for future uses. Other standout features include all-over heating, bluetooth speakers, and rollers for calves and feet. It arrives fully assembled and comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty.

This chair only has a handful of reviews on Amazon so far, but each of them comes with a 5-star rating. One person writes, “The massage is better than an actual human. It feels realistic, but more enveloping than a traditional massage.” Another adds, “Beautifully designed chair with an amazing remote that has plenty of presets for every part of your body. I enjoy the upper back and neck presets. The heat option is also amazing. I highly recommend this massage chair.” While there are no reviews with less than 5 stars, the specs note that the height requirements are 5′ 1″ to 6’3″. So if you’re shorter or taller, you might consider a more height-suitable chair.

What to consider when choosing a massage chair?

The massage chair that your friend swears by might not necessarily be the best one for you. For example, someone whose fitness routine involves heavy strength training might prefer deep kneading or compression boots, while another person might prefer acupressure.

As Jamison puts it, “the chair should fit your body shape, offer the modality you desire, and be used wisely.” It’s important to note that standard massage chairs are typically built around average-sized male figures, so you’ll want to pay attention to sizing as well, to make sure it will be a fit for your body type.

Another cause for consideration is budget. It’s true that most high-quality, full-body massage chairs cost thousands of dollars. If that price range is out of reach, focus on the body parts you want to treat. For example, the best compression boots will benefit your arms, legs, and feet and the best portable massage chair will do wonders for your neck and back. Even Jamison confirms, “You don’t need the most expensive chair to get the job done.”

To get the most bang for our buck, she advises being mindful of how you feel when you sit in the chair. “Do you relax when you get into the chair? Does the chair offer you significant support and fit so your body can come into ease?” Once you’ve found something that meets those standards, you can expect to reap the benefits of relaxation.

What is the difference between an S-Track and L-Track?

When browsing the best massage chairs, you’ll notice some new vocabulary: L Tracks and S Tracks. The difference is that rollers in L Tracks travel from the neck down to the glutes (sometimes even hamstrings) while an S Track follows the curve of the spine from the neck to the lower back. So, which is best? Our expert, Lisa Jamison, explains, “Having the option of an L-Track is great if the chair fits you, and you have control over the track (to shorten it if you desire). That said, massage over every part of the back line of your body is not appropriate for everyone.”

FAQ:

Which full body massage chair is best?

According to our expert, the best massage chairs are ones that fit your body shape, offer the modality that you desire, and are in your budget.

Is a massage chair worth it?

Yes, research shows that massage chairs are effective in treating pain and boosting recovery for athletic performance.

What are the disadvantages of a massage chair?

Price seems to be the biggest disadvantage, as massage chairs can be a hefty investment. You also want to keep in mind that massage chairs will not offer the same knowledge of a professional masseuse, and not all models have customization options.

How long should you sit in a massage chair?

While there’s no magic number for how long your sessions should be, our expert explains that longer isn’t always better. Most massage chairs offer timed programs to prevent excessive treatment.

Can a massage chair help with injury?

Our expert notes that specific injuries may benefit from certain options of a massage chair, but you should always consult your healthcare practitioners when injuries are involved.

The takeaway

These massage chairs could be a great solution to help you step up your self-care and recovery routine–especially if you find yourself craving luxurious, at-home relaxation and muscle relief. Not quite ready to invest in a full massage chair? There are also some amazing massage guns on the market to help relieve your body pain.

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