The Best Massage Chair Brand of 2018 & Buying Guide
Real massages from a licensed professional are great, but not exactly convenient—or affordable in the long run. If you find yourself needing frequent pain relief and relaxation, a robotic massage chair can be a smart investment for your overall health.
In this buyer’s guide, we’ll answer common consumer questions about massage chairs, and explore a few popular models for buyers to consider.
Best Massage Electric Full Body Shiatsu Massage Chair, Black
Kahuna Zero-Gravity Massage Chair Recliner LM6800, Brown
Human Touch iJoy 2.0 Perfect Fit Massage Chair, Espresso
Osaki OS4000TA Model OS-4000T Zero Gravity Massage Chair
Panasonic Real Pro Ultra Prestige 3D Luxury Heated Massage Chair
What are some benefits of owning and using a massage chair?
Chances are, you know massage chairs help you relax and alleviate pain, but they have several benefits beyond general wellness, too. Massage chairs can:
- Improve circulation by stimulating blood flow to extremities and muscles.
- Help nutrient absorption.
- Clear built-up toxins from massaged areas.
- Decrease physical and mental tension and stress.
- Increase endorphins for better pain relief, more energy, and improved mood.
- Provide pain relief for arthritis, muscle sprains, sports injuries, etc.
- Shorten recovery time after workouts.
There are also practical advantages to owning a massage chair instead of getting regular massages, such as saving money over time, convenience (you can use your chair whenever you want, instead of making an appointment and going to a masseuse), and customizable intensities an in-person massage might not achieve.
Additionally, many massage chairs have multiple massage functions, such as a more focused tension relief from Shiatsu, Swedish motions for better circulation, and even the relaxing and rejuvenating heat you’d find from hot stone therapy.
What are the drawbacks of massage chairs?
First, there’s the cost. Massage chairs aren’t cheap; even the least expensive options cost a pretty penny, and might be out of reach for some buyers. In-person massages, however, often come with sliding scales or membership/package rates, and could be more affordable in the short-term.
Next, buyers need to consider maintenance: massage chairs have motors and parts that can fail due to manufacturer defects, or break down over time from natural use. If your brand is shoddy, you might get a few months to a couple years out of your investment, at best.
Massage chairs also take up a great deal of space, which some buyers simply can’t accommodate. What’s more, full massage chairs have a distinctive “massage chair look” that clashes with many décor styles.
Finally—and perhaps most importantly—there’s the issue of range. Massage chairs just can’t reach every inch of your body with the same precision, pressure, and warmth that in-person therapies can accomplish.
If you need just one side of your back massaged, for example, or extra pressure applied to your tailbone or gluteus muscles, it’s unlikely a robotic chair can accomplish this like a person could.
Who should avoid using massage chairs?
Generally, massage chairs are considered safe for at least occasional use; most people can even use them daily with no ill effects. That said, there are some people who should exercise caution or avoid using massage chairs:
- People with low blood pressure. Massages tend to lower blood pressure, so anyone with too-low pressure as it is should likely avoid these.
- Anyone who has clotting issues or bruises easily.
- Pacemaker patients. While rare, it’s possible that the electrical fields that operate the chair could interfere with some pacemakers.
- Pregnant women. Most doctors agree that use up to 12 weeks is fine in a normal pregnancy, but should not be used extensively after that in most cases. Note: some agree that upper back, arms, and calf/foot functions are fine, but that pregnant women should avoid lower back massages.
- Overweight or underweight individuals. If the chair you’re considering is not suited for your body size and weight, it can cause bruising and pain due to improper intensity. Shoppers should contact manufacturers for suitable weight ranges and heights for any model they’re considering.
None of these are hard-and-fast rules, of course—we aren’t doctors, and aren’t here to diagnose or treat any condition or illness. Buyers should consult their physician before purchasing a massage chair, to ensure their medical conditions won’t be exacerbated by or interfere with a chair’s effectiveness.
The Best Massage Chair Brand Reviews
1. BestMassage Electric Full Body Shiatsu Massage Chair Review
BestMassage certainly knows the professional side of things: the brand sells massage tables, oils, mats, and more for spas and private masseuses—but are their home massage chairs able to pass the same tests of quality?
The Full Body Shiatsu chair features pressure-sensitive rollers and air bags (to avoid that poked-in-the-spine feeling), an optional heat function, and a molded footrest to make sure every part of you gets the relaxation you need, from head to toe.
We have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, the chair is packed with must-have features at a can-have price, and is clearly a favorite among customers—but the brand itself lacks presence, and doesn’t seem particularly responsive to consumer concerns. Buyers should keep in mind that this brand is solely a wholesale distributor; unlike other companies, they do not sell their products directly to customers, so you’ll have to research a particular seller first to see what warranties they offer, their return policies, and how well they handle customer issues. All in all, we recommend this one for those on tight budgets, who need relief ASAP.
2. Human Touch iJoy 2.0 Perfect Fit Massage Chair Review
Human Touch has been manufacturing massage and wellness products for over three decades, and state their mission has always been to provide affordable innovations to help consumers feel their best.
The iJoy 2.0 seems to line up with that goal precisely: as a full and partial back massaging chair, it skips the extra features to deliver a lighter, smaller design that doesn’t look like typical massage chairs—and at a price far below their competitors’ rates.
Chiropractors, athletes, and average consumers alike love Human Touch’s products for their attention to detail and affordability, and buyers who want a great back massage without the extra add-ons will enjoy this model. Of course, it’s not for everyone: the lack of foot or upper arm massagers, heat functions, and other extras might make this a hard pass for some buyers. For a basic back massager and stylish recliner, however, the iJoy 2.0 is a definite winner.
3. Panasonic EP-MA73KU Real Pro Ultra Prestige 3D Luxury Heated Massage Chair Review
We all know Panasonic from its wide variety of electronics and home products, so it’s not entirely surprising that they produce massage chairs, as well: they’ve taken their knowledge of all things technical and combined it into an ultra-comfortable, well-crafted chair, to deliver a fully immersive experience that delivers the soothing heat of hot stone massage, the easy tension relief of Shiatsu, and the firm but gentle kneading of Junetsu…wherever you need it most.
Founded in 1918 (and becoming Panasonic officially in 1955), this brand has an astounding amount of experience under its belt. They’ve adapted to the times and changing technologies, listen to their customers, and create products users trust as being cutting-edge and high-quality. While this massage chair isn’t budget-friendly, buyers can relax knowing their chair is backed with a longer warranty and stronger brand than many cheaper options on today’s market.
4. Osaki OS4000TA Model OS-4000T Zero Gravity Massage Chair Review
For Panasonic fans who can’t quite swing the top-of-the-line price, the Osaki brand might be a sound alternative. It features some of the same technology as more expensive brands, but comes at a price closer to what consumers would expect to pay for a full massage chair.
As a bonus, this model features computer body scanning, so it can customize pressure and speed to your exact fit. And if you’d prefer to take the reins, that’s fine, too: the wireless control panel is large and easy to operate.
Osaki isn’t as well known as Panasonic (then again, few brands are), but are growing in popularity. They specialize in home massage products and fitness equipment, and use parts from other vendors to bring their designs to fruition. While this zero gravity chair won’t fit seamlessly into your home’s décor, it does boast plenty of features to make up for it. We recommend this to buyers with a more flexible budget, who need all the bells and whistles of a bigger brand—without the mark-up.
5. Kahuna Zero-Gravity Massage Chair Recliner LM6800 Review
Kahuna’s parent company, AJX.LLC, got its start twenty years ago right alongside modern massage chairs themselves, and have evolved with the industry ever since. Their products come in a wider selection than many others, and their after-sales support is superior to many massage chair companies, as well.
The Kahuna Zero-Gravity Recliner is affordable, comfortable, and less bulky than other models in or even above this price range.
With FDA approval as a medical device, this recliner can serve both customers in need of serious relief, and those just looking for some preventative maintenance and an easy way to unwind. We recommend it to buyers looking for a full-body option, without the typically bulky build and “space age” look most chairs with this many add-ons provide.
We’ve all thought about buying a massage chair from time to time: with demos set up in shopping malls and home stores, it’s all too easy to sit back, relax, and daydream about owning one for ourselves. That is…until we see the price tag.
Some brands do cost far more than you’d expect to pay for a chair, but even those on the highest end are priced where they are for good reason: high-quality materials, responsive technology, and adjustable massage features don’t come cheap…and if they do, it should be because the chair is more simple than its fully-outfitted competition—not because a company is cutting corners.
Buyers should research several models thoroughly, yes, but the brands behind them, as well: how responsive and professional a massage chair company is will indicate what kind of products they create, and give you an idea of where, exactly, your money is going.