L-Track vs. S-Track – Difference & Comparison
So, you have decided to get a massage chair. For an investment like this, you would want to make a conscious and informed decision. After all, a massage chair is not exactly… cheap.
You start to do your research – you go through websites, read reviews and even visited physical stores to speak to the sales assistant. Amongst the many items that were being mentioned, the one term that often come up (besides the specs of the chair) is the ‘Track System”.
For someone with 0 knowledge about massage chairs, this can get quite confusing. What exactly is this “Track system”? And what is all this S and L thing that keeps being mentioned?
Today, we are going to help clarify all these because they do play an important role in helping you decide which massage chair model you ultimately go for.
This way, you can ensure that the chair you’re getting is the “best massage chair” that suits your needs and requirements without spending on unnecessary items.
Let’s get into it.
What is a "Roller Track System"
You know how when you sit in a massage chair and you feel these rollers knocking and tapping at your back?
Regardless of what type of massage technique your chair offers, the principle is the same as long as they are roller-based massage chairs.
For these rollers to roll accordingly, they need a track to sit upon on. Like this:
Just like a train needing a railway track, rollers need a track to roll on, too.
The above analogy should help you understand better. Train tracks are there to keep a train in the right direction, likewise in the case of a massage chair. Without a track, how else can a roller stay 'on track' (pun intended)? They will go all over the place, running haywire.
So yes, the track is actually a mechanism inside a massage chair for where the rollers stand to function.
It starts from the head and goes all the way down and where it stops, is actually where the distinction between S and L track comes from.
S Track System
The philosophy behind is actually pretty straightforward - it takes after the name.
The S Track System employs the sinusoidal shape of the human being's spine which yep, coincides with the letter "S" shape.
Following the natural spine curvature, you can see from the picture above that the track curves in at the lumbar area and more towards the neck.
The rollers thus move up and down this track to massage the subject.
Compared this to straight roller tracks that were once used in old massage chairs, the rollers in this case move forward to work the neck, retract to work the middle back and tailbone area before going back forward to work on the lower back.
Basically, in accordance to the spine's shape.
Instead of just going up and down a straight track where there will be areas that feel left out or missing and wanting a massage still, the S track will be able to reach each and every part.
Ranging from 28 to 31 inches long on average, most S Tracks stop right above the lumbar region.
This is the most common type of track, and one that you can see in almost every roller-based massage chairs nowadays.
L Track System
On the same note, the L Track system takes on the "L" shape.
One can say that it is a newer form of technology compared to the S track, but in actual fact, it is an evolution from, or an extended version of the S track roller system.
The L track takes on the natural S shape of the human spine but it doesn't stop at the lumbar region. Instead, it elongates further down to reach the seat's surface. Like such:
See the horizontal line? That is the extension from the "S" thus forming what's resembling the letter "L".
A L track is therefore longer than an S track, incidentally, it means that more body parts can be reached to get the same massage sensation.
With this extension, rollers are able to get to the lower back, glutes, piriformis and for the even longer tracks, even the hamstrings area can be reached.
This is why an L track massage chair is often deemed the best massage chair for lower back pain - because it is able to massage these areas, as simple as that!
With an L Track system, one can truly achieve a full body massage - from head to buttocks.
SL Track System
Eh, I thought there's just the S and L - where on earth does this SL track comes from?
We swear, we aren't trying to confuse you further.
But indeed, you may also have came across the term SL track a lot in your research. Using the same formula, you are correct to derive that the SL track is a combination of both S and L track systems.
But didn't you just mentioned that the L track system is actually an extended version of the S track, which essentially mean that the L track is therefore, the SL track system?
Yes, most of the time. But no, that's not necessary always the case.
You see, not all L track is built with the curvaceous shape at the top. Some actually take on the L shape literally – that is the old-fashioned straight track without any curvature.
Although it is more of the exception than the rule now, they still do exist. You certainly do not want to be getting those as they do not do much good in the massage therapy perspective.
This is because as we mentioned earlier, there will be areas that do not get the massage. Just to make contact, you will have to smash your spine back to the chair and we couldn't imagine that being very comfortable.
Of course, most L track systems are essentially the SL track system nowadays - you can even say that the term "SL" is a gimmick used to pull in the crowd only but it is one way to be 100% sure that the chair you are getting is indeed one that has both the S and L functions.
After all, a L track massage chair is generally pricier than a S track model - you'd want to make sure you are not paying the price of it for an old straight track system.
So, Which One Is Better?
Perhaps what most people are only interested in is the question of which one, among the two, is better?
This is explored on the basis that the L track is the extension of the S track = SL track system.
In this regard, we do have a clear winner here – it is, hands down, the L track system, merely because of its bigger coverage.
If you suffer from sciatica issues, sore butt muscles or any other conditions affecting the lower parts of your body, the extended part of the L track system will be able to cover these areas and provide them relief.
Of course, at the end of the day, it depends on where you carry most of the tension in your body.
If you are prone to sitting for long periods of time, it makes sense to get the L track rollers because these are the best chair for lower back and hip pain that massage the glutes.
The sales assistant at the store may even tell you not to be bothered by S track frames, but if your only problems lie in the neck and back region, an S –track massage chair may actually suffice in doing the trick.
Generally, a S track massage chair is cheaper but there are actually more and more affordable choices available nowadays for L / SL track massage chairs.
For instance, this Best Massage model cost you less than $500 and it is equipped with a SL track system. If you have a little more to spend, this one here with more sophisticated massage features and a SL track system is also a massage chair under $1,000 only.
So at the end of the day, it is important to first identify where your problematic areas are. Only then will you know what features to look for in a massage chair and in this case, which massage track you should go for.
The S and L track is not the only thing you should be paying attention to, though. Here's a list of all the most important things to take note of when purchasing a massage chair - trust us, it will give you so much perspective and clarity on what makes for the best massage chair for an individual.