So you have decided to buy a massage chair. Are you overwhelmed by the array of choices available in front of you? What should you look at first? Is it true that the more expensive a chair is, the better it will be?
There may be a million of questions running through your head but buying a massage chair isn't as daunting as you may think. It is a rather big piece of investment, yes, but if you follow our 10 tips below, you will be able to find the right chair that suits you best.
And no, it doesn't have to be the most expensive chair to be the best massage chair.
1. Identify Your Needs
There are generally two types of purpose people look for a massage chair - for relaxation, or for pain relief.
Massage Chair for Relaxation
If you do not have any major issues and are just looking for some form of relaxation and luxury indulgence at the comfort of your own home, you can probably make do with most, if not all types of massage chairs.
This is because most massage chairs offer relaxation to some extent, so you may not need too premium a massage chair to give you that.
Getting a high end massage chair may in this case, be quite the waste because chances are you wouldn't be using most of the features anyway.
The Real Relax Favor-03 Plus is a good choice to consider if your budget is no more than $1,000. It has all the basics a massage chair should have, even with zero gravity functions that are known to give the ultimate form of relaxation.
Massage Chair for Pain Relief
On the other hand, if you suffer from any body pain or aches i.e. the very common back aches, lower back pain, stiff neck and shoulders etc., then you may have to do a bit more homework to track down specific massage chairs that are designed to relieve pain.
There are chairs that focuses on back issues, then there are those that do a very good job in alleviating neck and shoulder pain. If you have lower back problems, you may want to choose a chair that has an SL track instead of S track.
In any case, you should go for roller-based massage chairs instead of vibration chairs because the latter do not do much from a massage therapy perspective.
A combination of roller and airbag massage will be ideal if you suffer from chronic pain issues but these generally lean towards the pricier side. The Kahuna SM7300 and Medical Breakthrough 6 are two good examples that do an excellent job in pain relief.
So yes, the first thing you should be doing is ask yourself:
What am I looking for? What are the results or benefits that I am expecting?
This, in many ways, echo to the above. Once you have identified your needs - be it you are looking for a quick fix or a long term solution - you can then look for features that target those needs.
Start from finding out what type is the massage chair. By that we mean whether it is vibration, airbag or roller-based. For the latter, you may want to delve further if it is 2D, 3D or 4D. Whilst kneading, rolling, shiatsu, tapping, swedish are common techniques usually offered, not every massage chair has them all so do go and find out.
Then consider if you need any of the following 'additional' functions:
If there will be multiple family members using the chair, it is worthy to go for one that is equipped with what's called a "computerized body scan" feature.
This is because with one, the chair is able to tailor its massage according to each person's body size so that everyone can enjoy its optimum benefit.
You see, some may say that a particular chair is excellent because it hits at all the right spots, but a different person may say otherwise (that their neck wasn't touched at all, or the pressure is mild at some parts).
This is because they are of different heights - the former being rightly suited for what the chair is designed for whilst the latter may be too tall (or short) for the chair.
By scanning an individual's body shape, the chair is able to detect where the key areas of neck and back are so as to be able to massage the right spots.
For those that are chronic pain sufferers, we advise going for a zero gravity massage chair. Though costly by comparison, they do an EXCELLENT job in relieving pain and stress (click here to find out more about zero gravity).
If you can afford it, definitely choose one with zero gravity functions. It will be the best investment you can make for your health and overall wellbeing.
Speaking of which, do not naturally assume that all massage chairs reclines - there are plenty that do not offer such option at all especially those from the lower price range.
Also, just because a chair is able to recline does not necessarily make it a zero gravity chair - there is a clear distinction between the two.
A massage recliner chair is generally more comfortable than one that does not, but do check how far back it can go and do not forget minor details like whether it is automatic mechanism or manual operated.
Again, if there will be more than one user, it is worthy to get a chair with memory setting. This way, the chair will be able to remember each person's setting and program preference, so you don't need to re-set your massage sequence every time.
Heat is one selling point for many chairs and it is usually offered at the lumbar region but some have it at the back and seat as well.
We wouldn't say it is a MUST-HAVE feature but it does provide extra comfort and soothe when combined with a massage.
If you have poor circulation, you may want to consider having it.
Don't forget to check if the chair offers foot and calf massage.
Massage in this area is usually done in a compression form so if a chair isn't equipped with airbags, chances are they don't offer massage at the leg region.
They may have rollers located under the feet area though, so look out for that.
And while you're at it, you may want to consider getting one that has an extendable footrest, so that again, everyone in the family can fit comfortably in it.
Do not forget to look at the weight and height limit of a chair to see if it suits you.
3. Measure Your Space
This is something many fail to consider but confirming whether you have the floor space for a massage chair should be amongst your first few priorities. After all, a massage chair is not exactly ... small.
Especially if you are going for the full body type - these are usually in the traditional design, the bulky ones as many would normally associate with when it comes to home massage chairs.
Or if you are eyeing at a zero gravity massage chair, the more you should do your measurements first because these chairs will require a certain distance away from the wall for it to be able to recline to its zero gravity position.
Thanks to modern technology, there are more and more choices available in the market that are both compact in size and function well.
So yes, measure your space first. Especially so if you buy your massage chair online because the return shipping fee is expensive, and usually not included, if you find that your house does not fit.
And then, we move to the issue of budget. Contrary to many's belief, this should not be your first priority because without considering the above, you may be paying for something you don't even need.
Having said that, you should set aside a budget for your massage chair so as not to get carried away.
Contrary to many's belief, a massage chair does not always have to cost an arm or a leg. There are many affordable options around as well and they do not necessary compromise on their functionality or quality.
To help you out, we have put together a list of best massage chairs according to their price points here so that you don't have to do the hard work yourself.
The most expensive massage chair may not be the best massage chair for you; the more features (and advanced) a massage chair has, the more expensive it is, though.
5. Warranties Period
This is something often neglected by many but if we are to let you in on one industry's secret, it is that the warranty duration period is actually very telling of a product's quality.
Although not exactly conclusive, the longer a warranty period is offered, the better quality a product is is something you can safely presume.
Likewise for a massage chair. For a purchase like this that is by no means cheap, you would expect, and want to, for it to last a very long time.
Some of the best massage chairs come with the longest warranties (we're talking at least 5 years here) and this is the type you should be looking for.
The longer a warranty period is offered, the more reliable and durable a massage recliner is because it shows that the manufacturer is confident enough with its product.
So compare different brand warranties, and make sure the one you get has at least a few good years offered.
6. Customer Service
Similar to the above, a brand's customer service tells of its product quality.
You'd want to look for one that is fast and responsive because even though we do not wish it on you, there can be instances where some sort of faults are found with your massage chair. You will want to be able to get help in the fastest way possible, so a good customer service frontline is important.
You can check so by contacting a chair's customer service and see how fast they respond to you. While you are at it, do find out what their after sale service is and if they have a service centre at your area.
It would be even better if they offer in-house service because that, will save you so much trouble.
A brand's customer service quality reflects that of its product.
7. Do Your Research
As with anything else, you should always do your research first before pulling the trigger.
Online research will help you find everything you need to know about massage chairs. This includes showcasing how one works and how to put it together. Don't forget to read the reviews - they are often a good source to find useful information.
Ask around friends and family members who have had the experience of buying a massage chair. You never know, they may just be able to give you some valuable insights and brand recommendations. It certainly is a good point to start from in this whole journey.
Google is your best friend.
8. Try It Personally
Last but not least, if you can, pay a visit to the physical store to personally test out the massage chair you have your eye on.
Sit in it and see how it feels for you. Is the pressure too much, or it is too mild an intensity? Does it fit your height?
If in-store testing is not an option, there are actually many online retailers that offer a 30-day trial period nowadays. You can have the massage chair delivered to your home to try out first and if it doesn't suit, you can always return it.
Make sure it is the model you are keen to purchase if everything goes well, otherwise, shipping one that you have no intention to buy at all will cost you quite a bit, given most retailers do not cover shipping fees (even though full refund of the product will be provided).
So there you have it - the top 8 most important criteria to look at when purchasing your massage chair.
By following this guide step by step, you will have so much more clarity in knowing what to find and what to ask and best of all, it is to know that you can still get the best massage chair, one that suits your needs and lifestyle without necessarily having to buy the most expensive massage chair.
So we wish you all the luck in finding your dream massage chair and if there is anything you are unsure of, do drop us a message and we'll try our best to answer you.