In this article we’ve put together a comprehensive massage chair guide followed by an in-depth review of the top massage chairs. For a full understanding of the benefits, types, considerations, specifications and functionalities of massage chairs, we recommend reading this article from top to bottom. If you want to skip to any particular section, however, you can click on the quicklinks in the Table of Contents below.
My back and I have gone through a lot. From injuries incurred playing sport to working in a warehouse and even falling headfirst trying to learn how to water ski, I’ve put my poor back through the ringer. I’ve seen physiotherapists, chiropractors, surgeons… you name it. While I’ve managed, thankfully, to recover from the acute injuries I still carry a lot of tension in my back. That tension contracts my back muscles and causes more prolonged pain. It’s a hell of a sob story, I know.
So, you can only imagine how seized I was by the thought of actually buying myself an armchair. Previously I’d always assumed that massage chairs were an expensive luxury that were just never worth the asking price. As I dived deep into the world of the massage chairs I discovered that there are indeed expensive models, but there are also a whole range of more affordable ones too.
Each and every type of massage chair comes with a host of unique features, functions and designs. To be honest I was incredibly overwhelmed. I had no idea where to begin. Did I want zero gravity? What’s with L-shaped tracks? What’s the difference between a massage roller and airbags?
To save you from becoming similarly frazzled by the many options out there, I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of 6 of the best massage chairs along with some handy explanations about the benefits and different types of chairs as well. This review guide will help you find the perfect massage chair for your body’s health and wellbeing too!
Benefits of Massage Chairs
There are lots of benefits to using massage chairs. We’ve listed the main reasons why you should consider buying yourself one.
Whether you suffer from back pain, shoulder pain, or even leg pain, a full body massage chair is a great way to reduce pain anywhere in your body without any effort on your part. While we’ll dive into this topic further below, the best zero gravity massage chairs are designed to take pressure off of your joints and muscles for instantaneous relief as well.
Therapeutic massages are certainly worth travelling for but if you can experience similar effects in the comfort of your own home and lounge room, all the better! Watch TV, listen to music or read a book while you do it, it’s up to you. Short but regular use of a massage chair produces the best effects. By having your own massage chair in your home you’ll easily be able to find time for a 15-20 minute session multiple times a week.
Yes, massage chairs do require an initial financial investment and some models can fetch a hefty price. However, if you’re planning on using your massage chair regularly, you’re certainly going to save money in the long run. Some full body chairs can be bought for around $1,200-1,600. The more expensive models can be 6 or 7 times that, and the cheapest of the best quality massage chairs come in at less than $1,000.
If you’re an active individual and often work out or play intensive sport, you’ll know all about the importance of muscle recovery and rejuvenation. Massage chairs—especially the ones with multiple functionalities and modes—are fantastic for helping you recover better and faster. Regular massaging stimulates blood circulation, eases muscle tension and promotes faster recovery. If specific muscle recovery is of particular interest to you, make sure to check out our reviews of the top percussion massagers and massage guns too.
We’re all for a little tender love and care when you need it. What could be more relaxing and rejuvenating for the body, mind and soul then regular sessions in a comfortable recliner chair that also gives you massages at the same time? Most of the home massage chairs come with both intensive and gentle settings, allowing you to control your level of relaxation.
Full body massage chairs are designed to relieve tension along the entirety of the body. Regular relaxation of the muscles, particularly in the upper back and shoulders, aids in the correction and improvement of one’s posture. A good posture is hugely effective in preventing further back pain and damage. The better your posture the less pain, the less pain the better your posture and so on…
A lesser known benefit of massage chair use is better breathing. When the muscles surrounding the lungs are contracted, due to improper posture and/or increased muscle tension, breathing can be impaired. Regular muscle relaxants, such as those found in the best Shiatsu-style massage chairs for example, improves one’s breathing ability.
Styles of Massage Chairs
Before we dive into reviewing specific models, it’s important you understand some of the more technical jargon thrown around in discussions about massage chairs. Here’s a breakdown of the most common terms so you can easily identify the right chair for your specific needs and preferences.
Full Body – many massage chairs offer a variety of massaging options for different areas of the body but are designed with a specific body part or muscle in mind. A full body chair is constructed to really massage the entire body, instead of just focusing on area.
Recliner – a recliner massage chair is much the same as a regular arm-chair, only it offers in-built massaging pads/rollers/balls. Not all recliners provide full body massages or include feet and lower leg massaging capabilities.
Zero Gravity – this style aims to ‘mimic’ the effects of being in a zero-gravity environment, hence the name. How does it do this? By tilting backwards and taking the pressure off your legs and back. This effectively redistributes your body weight equally across your body to help relieve pain and tension.
Shiatsu – this Japanese massage therapy style is based on relieving tension and helping improve the body’s energy flow. A Shiatsu massage chair works to replicate the genuine sensation of a hand-given massage.
S-shape – The S-shape Track System housed in the massage chair reflects the curvature of the spine (roughly S shaped) and massages your back accordingly. The rollers move in an up and down motion along your spine.
L-shape – the L-shape Track System provides a back massage as normal but also extends into the seat cushions as well. Its name is derived from the L shape of the track. If the chair doesn’t have an L-track then don’t expect to feel the massage under your buttocks or in your hamstrings.
Rollers – rollers are the mechanism by which most massage chairs administer the actual massage. Like the name suggests, they spin around in a rolling style and move up and down your back providing a deep and exact sensation.
Airbags – airbags are another mechanism by which many massage chairs work. Airbags of various sizes are contained in numerous spots around the chair and inflate/deflate to administer compression and pressure to parts of the body. Sometimes they also act to move the seat or cushions of the chair as well, furthering the compression sensation.
While we’ve researched some of the most popular massage chairs on the market and sorted the best ones from the rest, the right model for you will depend on your personal preferences. Have a read of the following recommended considerations so you’re as informed as possible before you begin browsing.
There can be many reasons to want a massage chair. Think about what’s the most important functionality you need. If you’re a fan of a Shiatsu massage, then you’ll want a chair designed to replicate that experience. The same goes for kneading or percussion style massages. If you need your shoulder massaged specifically, then you’ll want one capable of providing that level of pin-pointing. Additionally, you may find an airbag based massage chair more comfortable than a roller massager, in which case you’ll also want to choose accordingly.
Massage chairs range in price points. You can find models that come in for under $1000 and you can find higher-end chairs that will cost you $7,000-8,000. The moderately priced massage chairs range from $1,200-1,600. The variation in price will often come with a variation in functionalities. If the bells and whistles are important to you, or you need a highly specialised type of massage, a higher priced model could deliver more effectively than a cheaper model. If you’re price conscious, there are plenty of options that won’t break your back or the bank.
Some of the more technologically sophisticated chairs offer some pre-set programs or simple speed/power options. Consider whether you are looking for an easy-to-use and operate chair that’s ready to go the second it’s set up or if you enjoy spending some time tailoring a program and massage session for yourself.
All of the best massage chairs—including all of the ones on our review list—are comfortable to sit in. Whether the material involved is polyurethane, felt or leather won’t determine if you’ll find it comfortable: it’s simply a matter of personal preference. Having said that, if you tend to get hot easily and sweat, for example, perhaps a leather chair isn’t ideal for you. If you’re particularly sensitive to slightly more rigid materials then polyurethane could be the right option.
One of the most enticing smart technologies now being included in massage chairs is body scanning technology. This high-tech functionality scans your body and customises the massage according to your body shape. Most massage chairs feature some sort of body scanning capability but those with particularly sophisticated scanning, such as the Infinity IT-8500 Massage Recliner Chair, do come with higher prices.
Entertainment & Connectivity Features
What do you plan on doing while sitting in your massage chair? If you’re going to be watching TV, you’ll want a holder for the remote. If you’re planning on spending time on your smartphone, a USB port for charging would be a huge plus. Some chairs even come with built-in Bluetooth speakers or accompanying smartphone apps for extra control and usage. Take a look at the special features of the model you’re considering to see what it offers you.
Size & Weight
Buying a massage chair, like buying a new couch, requires some consideration about the space you’re going to put it in. If you’re tight on space, make sure you choose a more compact model like the Real Relax 2020 Full Body Massage Chair. Additionally, if you’re planning on moving the chair every so often from spot to spot, the weight of the chair should be considered, as well as whether it has wheels on it. Both the Infinity IT-8500 Massage Recliner Chair and the Inada Dreamwave Massage Chair weigh in at 265 pounds, which is significantly heavier than the RR 2020 which weighs a mere 136 pounds by comparison.
Certain massage chairs offer heat functionalities. The benefits of heat range from pure comfort to instant relief from pain. If this is an option you want or need, make sure to have a look at whether the chair you’re considering offers that functionality and how far the heat pads extend. In some chairs it may just cover the lower lumbar region while in others it might include the seat cushions as well.
All of our reviewed massage chairs boast positive user reviews and ratings. While we’ve indicated the average star ratings on Amazon for each chair we cover, we strongly recommend you read through some reviews by previous users so you can get a sense of what individuals loved or didn’t love about the product. For example, the Inada Dreamwave Massage Chair has an average of just 3 out of 5 stars compared to the 4.5 stars average of the Real Relax 2020 Full Body Massage Chair. Bearing that in mind, the Dreamwave is over 8 times the price of the RR 2020 so many of the review comments reflect the cost of the machine in addition to functionality.
Our Pick of the 6 Top Massage Chairs
While we’ve reviewed each of the individual chairs below and included prices and pictures, we know there’s a ton of information and points to consider.
Here’s a handy guide breaking down all 6 of our picks as a quick reference point to help you navigate your way towards finding the ideal massage chair.
|Model||Style||Price||Material||Weight (pounds)||Reviews||Our Take|
|Kahuna Massage Chair Recliner LM-6800||L-track, zero gravity||Moderate||Felt||200||4.2/5 stars||The LM-6800 is our top pick. It offers many of the technological features and capabilities of the top end products but for a cheaper price.|
|Osaki OS-4000 Massage Chair||S-track, zero gravity||Moderate||Polyurethane||255||4.35/5 stars||The OS-4000 offers great variety in massage types and features, but its S-track and manual options are limited.|
|Infinity IT-8500 Massage Recliner Chair||S-track, zero gravity||High||Polyurethane||265||4.4/5 stars||The IT-8500 is an expensive but impressive option. It doesn’t offer much more than other cheaper models but just operates that little bit better.|
|Inada Dreamwave Massage Chair||Shiatsu massage||High||Leather||265||3/5 stars||The Dreamwave is certainly a luxury massage chair suited to anyone willing to shell out substantial cash for some substantially special features.|
|Real Relax 2020 Full Body Massage Chair||Shiatsu, zero gravity||Low||Leather||136||4.5/5 stars||The RR 2020 is a great and affordable option if you’re looking for a simple, lightweight yet effective machine.|
|Ideal Massage Full Featured Shiatsu Chair||S-track, zero gravity||Moderate||Synthetic||200||4.5/5 stars||The Ideal Shiatsu Chair is a well-priced and very effective model, though it does have some functionality limitations compared to more expensive models.|
The Kahuna LM-6800 provides a full body massage along an L-track design frame. This massage chair combines a number of impressive massaging technologies to produce a real all-in-one experience. The 4-roller massage system, multiple zero gravity positions, kneading/rolling/tapping/Shiatsu functionality and advanced air cell massaging technology work together to focus on the areas you need attention to most based on its impressive computer body scan. Thanks to the unique design of the air cell system, only a minimal number of cells is used which makes for more targeted massaging and quieter operation. There’s also a fantastic mix of manual techniques and auto programs so you can jump on it for a quick, refreshing session or enjoy a more intensive, customised experience. While the LM-6800 provides effective massaging to the entire body, the heat functionality only operates on the lower back and legs. All in all, the Kahuna model offers professional-level massaging and a truly great experience.
Style: L-track & Zero Gravity
Assembly: Comes fully assembled except for the side parts of the chair.
Dimensions: 48 x 31 x 46 inches
Weight: 200 pounds
Reviews: Average of 4.2/5 stars
– 4 roller massage system
– 3 true zero gravity positions
– 5 manual settings and 6 auto-programs
– custom body fit with computer scanning technology
– cell massage system using air cells
– extra foot padding
– remote control holders
– space saving technology
– special Yoga Stretching program
Image sourced from Chair Institute
The Osaki OS-4000 massage chair is a reliable model that offers a variety of fantastic features, including zero gravity function, computer body scanning technology and options for air massage, heat functionality and even seat vibration. All of this is easily controllable from the wireless remote that allows you to choose your massage intensity, speed, body area, and massage style. The airbag massage functionalities particularly home in on certain areas of the body including the arm, foot, calf, hip, lumbar and shoulder which means that if any of these locations are particularly sore for you the OS-4000 is an excellent option. What makes this model particularly unique is that its ergonomic design and S-shape track uses micro adjustments based on the body scan to fit perfectly to your body shape. This customisation isn’t just limited to the back either: the calf and foot massager is also adjustable depending on the length of your leg to ensure every muscle is in the perfect spot for maximum effect. The only heating pads on the OS-4000 are two pads in the lower lumbar region.
Style: S-track design with zero gravity and airbags massage
Assembly: Easy to assemble with minimal construction
Dimensions: 52 x 31 x 34 inches
Weight: 255 pounds
Reviews: Average 4.2/5 stars
– Computer body scan technology to map your body’s curvature
– Ergonomic design to suit a variety of spine contours and shapes
– Zero gravity with 2 stages
– Wireless controller
– Full sized LCD-display remote
– Lower back heat functionality
– Automatic leg scan
The Infinity IT-8500 Massage Recliner Chair is one of the pricier models, but for good reason. It offers a whole range of high-tech functionalities and features. The focus of the IT-8500 is its 2-stage zero gravity position which makes use of one of the most sophisticated body scanners on the market. The enhanced ability to determine your body’s contours and shape using unique 3D technology works to an impressively specific degree ensuring you’re in a position that works best for you. This 3D system extends even to the neck where the sensors will automatically adjust the rollers depending on your height. The 38 separate airbags work seamlessly in automated programs to keep you supremely comfortable throughout the session. The heating functionality on this chair covers the entire lumbar region and the foot massage itself contains 8 airbags and 6 rollers for each foot! From top to toe, the IT-8500 is capable of both delivering a super powerful massage and a soft, relaxing experience you’ll never want to stop… which is why the in-built timer comes in handy too.
Style: S-track design with zero gravity functionality
Assembly: Easy to assemble with minimal construction
Dimensions: 59 x 35.4 x 45.7 inches
Weight: 265 pounds
Reviews: Average 4.4/5 stars
– Available in multiple colours
– 3D massage rollers
– In-built Bluetooth and speakers
– 5 3D intensity levels
– Lumbar heat functionality
– Android and Apple apps available
– Full body airbag feature with pressurised deep tissue massage
– Spinal correction technology
– Pre-set programs including refresh, extension, rest and specific body emphasis
– Foot massage functionality
The Inada Dreamwave (previously branded as the Inada Sogno Dreamwave) is one of the most sophisticated and luxurious massage chairs available. It is the product of extensive research and testing, and comes supported by many technicians and ergonomic experts. Designed to recreate a full body Shiatsu massage (using an exclusive point detection technology), the computer body scan matches you with one of its 106 body type programs ensuring a truly dream-like massage experience. The synthesis of its airbag and 3D roller system allows precise accuracy in targeting the right points of your body. What really separates the Dreamwave from its competitors is the exceptional shoulder unit which works the top of your body to a truly professional level. That’s not to say it neglects the rest of your body though. The massaging capability covers 1,200 square inches, more than just about any other massage chair. Yes, this does include specifically designed foot rollers so no area of the body goes neglected. The heat functionality extends beyond just the lumbar region and includes the seat. Additionally, thanks to its advanced noise-reducing technology, this massage chair from Inada is one of the quietest available. If all of the above wasn’t enough, the specific Dreamwave function includes a relaxing vibration and rocking sensation proven to relax the body.
Style: Shiatsu massage technique
Assembly: Easy to assemble
Dimensions: 55 x 48 x 37 inches
Weight: 265 pounds
Reviews: Average 3/5 stars
– Broad massage functionality with unique shoulder functionality
– Exclusive “Dreamwave” technology for gentle, rocking motion
– Pre-programmed healthcare programs and options for gentle massages for sensitive users
– 3D massage rollers with vibration functionality
– 100 air bags
– Unique body point locator functionality for 106 types of bodies
The Real Relax 2020 Full Body Massage Chair sits among the cheaper of models, but despite that it still offers genuinely good bang for your buck. Of course, in this case, by bang we mean fantastic massaging features and functionality. The 2020 offers a zero gravity feature, though without the multiple stages of more expensive options. There are 4 different pre-programmed massages which draw on its 50 different airbags to provide a full body massage experience. While there is no variety in its massaging techniques, what it does offer is still effective for aches and pains and relaxing for those looking for more affordable luxury. There are still a couple of surprisingly attractive features in the 2020 for a model with its price tag: there is a heat functionality for your lower back and an independently-controllable foot roller massage system. The unique benefit of the Real Relax 2020 is its comparatively compact size and lighter weight. If you’re planning on moving your massage chair around the house these specifications, along with its back wheels, make a huge difference.
Style: Shiatsu and full body zero gravity
Assembly: Assembly is required but is quick and easy
Dimensions: 49 x 33 x 53 inches
Weight: 136 pounds
Reviews: Average 4.5/5 stars
– Bluetooth functionality
– LED lighting
– 5 position head-rest adjustability
– Smart control remote (not wireless) with high definition display
– Roller and airbag foot massager
– 2 back wheels for easy relocation
– Lower back heating functionality
– Lower massage setting for sensitive users
There is a lot that’s ideal about the Ideal Massage Shiatsu Chair: as a relatively affordable option there’s a ton of great functionalities. The zero gravity feature combines with its 4 massage rollers and numerous airbags to provide a number of different techniques along the entire body. While the rollers extend from your neck down to the bottom of your back, the airbags cover the shoulder/arm area as well as the legs. When it comes to the foot massage, there are 6 separate balls which apply a kneading massage motion for effective ache and pain relief. The chair comes with multiple pre-created programs but also allows you to customise your own functions using its 4 available techniques. The Ideal chair includes a body scanning technology though its effectiveness is limited by the amount of customisation they offer. The heated feature is effective but limited to the lower back region.
Style: S-track zero gravity full body Shiatsu massage
Assembly: Easy to assemble
Dimensions: 49 x 33 x 53 inches
Weight: 200 pounds
Reviews: Average 4.5/5 stars
– 3D body scanning technology
– Lower back heating functionality
– 4 massaging rollers and 6 foot massaging balls.
– 4 pre-programmed options including rolling, kneading, vibrating and Shiatsu massages
– Manual control over intensity and speed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which massage chair has the best reviews?
Both the Ideal Massage Full Featured Shiatsu Chair and the Real Relax 2020 Full Body Massage Chair have the highest ratings (4.5 out of 5 stars) on Amazon. Considering that these are two of the more affordable options, the reviews reflect great value for money for both of these options. If you’re looking for a massage chair with more advanced technology, greater variation and more functionality the other models reviewed in this list will cover those bases but for a higher price. The Medical Breakthrough Massage Chair, which we did not review due its lower popularity, does boast a 5 out of 5 star rating but is based on a fewer number of reviews.
Are massage chairs worth it?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on you. If you’re looking for a relaxing way to ease tension, improve blood circulation, reduce muscle pain and generally benefit from regular massages then yes, they are worth it. If you’re unlikely to use the massage chair regularly, then the financial investment (not to mention the space required to house it) may not be worth it. There’s always the option to rent a massage chair for a short period of time as well or to simply purchase a massage chair pad.
Can I use my massage chair every day?
Again, the answer to this question depends. The recommended usage is for up to 15-20 minutes a day 3 to 4 times a week. This will depend on what you’re using it for. If you want to relax and rejuvenate, more frequent use will be okay. If you have an injury, overuse or too prolonged a massage session can serve to only aggravate the muscle more and increase your pain.
What is the best zero gravity massage chair?
The Infinity IT-8500 Massage Recliner Chair, Kahuna Massage Chair Recliner LM-6800 and the Osaki OS-4000 Massage Chair provide excellent zero gravity massages thanks to the accompanying sophisticated body scanning technology and customisable options. The cheaper zero gravity massage chairs don’t offer the same level of choice. The Infinity IT-8500, however, beats out the other two and is rewarded with a significantly higher price as well.
What is the best portable massage chair in the market?
The Real Relax 2020 Full Body Massage Chair is one of the most portable massage chairs available thanks to its compact size and (relatively) light weight – only 136 pounds. Additionally, the two wheels at the back make transporting the RR 2020 a breeze. For a more in-depth review of portable massage chairs, check out our other review article here.
What is the best Shiatsu massage chair?
If you’re looking specifically for a massage chair that was designed with Shiatsu techniques in mind, we can’t go past the Inada Dreamwave Massage Chair. It’s a refined, luxury model that recreates a full body Shiatsu massage better than just about any other competitor.
Find The Right Massage Chair For You
While all of the top massage chairs we reviewed have great features, excellent specifications, pros and cons, at the end of the day the choice is yours. Think about what sort of chair you’re looking for, what you want it to be able to do and what aspects are most important. There’s no real right or wrong answer, so spend some time having a look at each of the options and reviewing what they offer. Whichever one you land up on, I hope you have a relaxing, rejuvenating time using it!