What do I Need to Study for Purchasing of a Massage Chair

It can be difficult to know what you need when looking for the perfect massage chair for you. Many companies will use jargon and language that you don’t understand in order to dazzle you with features and benefits. But fear not! Here we will tell you how to cut out the jargon so that you truly understand the features and specifications that you need to consider before you purchase your perfect massage chair.

There are so many benefits to bringing a massage chair into your life — from better posture, health, relaxation, sleep, to convenience and overall cost benefits. You will need to consider things like S-trek or L-trek; 2D, 3D, or 4D, Zero Gravity, Heat Therapy, Dual or Quad Rollers, Airbag Numbers, Scanning Features, Intensity Levels, Programs and Setup, Remote Controls, Music, Height and Weight Supports, Leg Massage, Warranty, and finally the cost.

Overwhelmed yet? Don’t fret, we’ll go through this step by step, so you understand each feature, what it does, and what is the best option for you. This is an important investment and you want and need to do the right research before you purchase it. Don’t go in blindly and be dazzled by the sales information, know what you want, and what you’re doing, and the specific features your perfect chair has. It also helps to do some research on reviews and the companies that make each chair option.


S-track or L-track?

This refers to the long roller track that runs from the head of the chair down to the low back area, sometimes including the buttocks and hamstring areas. It is similar to that of a train track which the rollers use as a guide up and down the back of the chair. This is the basis of the massage from the chair and is particularly used for the spinal area. The rollers move laterally and vertically along the track which provides massage modalities such as tapping and kneading.

So, what is the difference between S-track and L-track? Most massage chairs have an S-track roller system and the sinusoidal shape is a model of the human spine. This means the rollers move up and down your back while following the curvature of your spine. L-track technology has been around for a while and is pretty much just an extension of the S-track which stretches beyond the lower back to the seat and the top of the hamstrings. It works the gluts, piriformis, and hamstring muscles.

If you suffer from sciatica or another lower back or pelvic pain, then the L-track would be the best option for you. Every chair has an S-track, it’s just whether you decide you want the extended L-track to enhance your chairs features.


2D, 3D, or 4D

This simply refers to the dimensions of the rollers. For instance, most massage chairs in the past have been 2D which means the rollers at the back of the chair travel up and down, left and right. These are the two dimensions at which they travel.

Premium massage chairs now have the ability to extend and retract the rollers. This is an added dimension to your massage, making these types of chairs 3D and they provide the deepest massage due to the pressure they give to your back similar to that of a masseuse. So, the dimensions in this type of massage chair are up/down, left/right, and in/out. You will also have the ability to fine tune your massage from soft to a deep tissue massage depending on what you want. 4D means that the speed and the timing of the 3D rollers can be controlled and varied. At first trial, it’s hard to tell 3D from 4D, but in the long run you may feel it is more accurate and close to hand massage.


The Zero Gravity

A chair that has a zero-gravity component seems impossible and once again you’re not wrong. This does not refer to the idea that you will defy gravity while relaxing in your massage chair, but rather that the chair has the ability to get into a position that makes your body feel weightless. This is a position that makes the muscles balanced meaning there is less pressure on them giving you true and real relaxation.

The seat will tilt up by 30 degrees in order to produce this weightless position. This is a huge revolution for the massage chair as it delivers the most relaxing and beneficial massage. It helps to reverse the effects of gravity, such as slouched and rounded shoulders along with a forward head carriage. Slouched shoulders can cause strain and pain on your muscles and body in general while also giving you poor posture and alignment. This can lead to musco-skeletal conditions such as degenerative arthritis. Putting your body into this “zero gra vity” position relieves these pressure points on your joints and aids in re-aligning your spine to give you a good posture. The gravitational force is lessoned and so your knees, hips, neck and upper and lower body can finally relax.


Heat Therapy

This one is pretty clear in what it means. You can choose a massage chair that offers heat therapy as a feature. This simply means that the chair will warm up while you receive your massage giving you the deepest and most relaxing massage possible. Heat therapy is a huge bonus to your massage chair due to the fact that heat therapy helps the body to heal and has many benefits. Applying heat to your lower back can help to decompress your spine, improve circulation and increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients. Applying heat while receiving a kneading technique reduces the tension and stress in the body.

Heat helps to relax and loosen tense muscle after a long day of hard work. Think about how your body and muscles feel when you slip into a lovely, hot bath. It is the same kind of idea. The heat relieves the tension in your muscles which is why you feel so relaxed. Heat therapy can also help with poor blood circulation which can cause your muscles to cramp. There is also the added benefit of removing the stress from your body, thus removing the stress from your mind, improving your mental well-being.


Roller Numbers

This refers to the number of roller ‘balls’ on the end of the massage arms. They move up and down the spine and can come in dual or quad rollers. The dual rollers have two ‘balls’ placed on either side of the spine which with move to give you a massage. The quad rollers have four ‘balls’ and have two on either side of the spine. They work as a unit and move up and down the spine in unison in order to give the illusion of massaging hands working the muscles symmetrically.

You can find some massage chairs that have rollers which move independently of each other to varying pressure for your tight muscles. The dual rollers tend to be deeper and provide a more aggressive and intense massage whereas the quad rollers use more broader and lighter movements for their massage. This does not mean that you will not receive an intense massage from the quad rollers however, the dual rollers tend to dig into your muscles more. This is due to the dispersion of the massage force across the number of rollers. Those with two rollers use the maximum force between them whereas four rollers disperse the pressure between them.


Airbag Numbers

This refers to the pockets in the massage chair which inflate and deflate with air. These are used to loosen the muscle tension and compress, knead, squeeze, and swing the body from side to side. The main function of the airbags is to compress a body part along with moving the body to give passive movement to the lower back and pelvis. They also push the muscles deeper into the chair, so the rollers can give a stronger massage. Massage chairs have a wide range of airbags — you can find some with barely a dozen airbags and some with one hundred airbags.

They can be put inside the sides of the chair, the seat, foot rest, backrest and also in the head/neck area. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the larger number of airbags is better because this is not always the case. Some massage chairs have less airbags due to the new technology they use which allows the airbags to cover more surface area, which in turn reduces the strain on the massage chair but still provides a high-quality massage. The airbags, especially those placed in the feet area, can help with circulation problems by mimicking the action of compression socks. They help to encourage healthy circulation from the feet to the heart.


Scanning Features

There are two different types of scanning which involve height and not weight or width. The first is back scanning which is where a sensor detects pressure. For example, as the rollers move up the back to the neck area they will detect no pressure, and this will be the top of the massage cycle and will stop at this point depending on the person’s height. The massage chair may only scan and measure the top portion or top 1/2 of the back.

The second type of scanning is the leg length scanning. Due to the fact that people are different heights and have different leg length, the chair ottoman has to accommodate for this. There are other ways to achieve this, but the scanning version means that the ottoman with extend or retract on its own until it feels pressure before stopping. 3D/4D massage chairs have the best accuracy due to the fact that they can detect forward pressure. This is different from 2D massage chairs as they operate on a flat plane. Some 3D/4D chairs are so accurate they can even detect spine curvature and automatically adjust the massage strength across a larger surface.


Intensity Levels

This simply refers to the ability to change the intensity of the massage you receive from your chair. The level of intensity will change the pressure of the massage and the movements of the rollers to give you the massage you require most. If you have different levels of pain depending on the day, then getting a massage chair that gives you the option to change the pressure of the massage will be of benefit to you. Some models of massage chair only come with one setting which is fine for those who need general relaxation at the same level, but for those who suffer from good and bad days perhaps the ability to change the intensity is the right choice.

With the chairs that do offer this feature there are usually two ways to change the intensity level. The first is manually through the settings and the second is using a button to quickly adjust the intensity level. Along with this, the lower end chairs tend to have two to three intensity levels whereas the higher end chairs have three to five intensity levels. Therefore, you have to consider your budget along with your need for the different levels of intensity.


Programs and Setup

You will find that most massage chairs that you come across will have several automatic programs. All you have to do is simply press a button and the chair will do its job and give you the massage with the desired effects. These programs are pre-set and designed by the manufacturers. These programs control the massage techniques such as duration, location, and systems. The programs are not all one and the same for every massage chair, so you need to make sure you purchase a massage chair that has the programs and affects you desire for your perfect massage.

Such features in the programs might include Shiatsu which is a Japanese massage technique which closely resembles the hands of a masseuse. With this program some models have an optional direction mode which means the rollers can change direction to give you a more satisfying massage. One other great program to look out for is the Stretching mode. This will help you to lubricate your joints and muscles which will help you in the long run. There are many setup and program features to look out for but they vary between different models so make sure to look for the programs that will suit you the best.


Remote Control

All chairs and models come with a remote control, but these will be in different forms and formats. The microprocessor inside the chair stores the information for the patterns of each massage. When you choose one of the therapies the microprocessor sends commands to the chair’s unit in order for them to start working. Some remote controls will be built into the chair and some will be wireless depending on what your preference is. Although it seems unnecessary to have a handsfree remote for a massage chair. There is even the possibility of finding a touch screen remote control. It’s important to discover the perfect way to control your massage chair and what would be the easiest for you to understand and manage.

You don’t want a controller that has an unusable interface or so many buttons you can’t fathom it. So, make sure you find one that you can understand so you can use your massage chair to its full potential. You might even be able to find some models which have voice activation commands, so it can recognize your voice and perform its duty without you having to understand the interface.



This is a very interesting feature and uses fascinating technology. Manufacturers have incorporated a function that synchronizes the music and the massage. It basically means that with the touch of a button the chair will work its massage to the rhythm of the music. This also means the intensity of the massage depends on the tempo of the music. If you choose this function, then rock music is likely to produce a more invigorating massage whereas classical music will be much lighter.

This is a new feature that aids in relaxing you, as both listening to music and receiving a massage when put together can perform optimally. It has worked very effectively to reduce stress and help users to relax after a hard day at work. You can enjoy the sounds of your favorite music along with a tempo dependent massage. There are also massive health and mental benefits to listening to music while receiving a massage. It can quiet and soothe your psyche as well as discharging the stress and tension from your body. Listening to music allows you to receive the most intensive and extensive treatment possible so that you receive the optimal benefits from your massage chair. Now lots of massage chairs have Bluetooth function, so that you can listen your favorite music from your phone.


Height and Weight Supports

It is important to look at the weight and height capacity for the massage chair you are thinking of buying. You don’t want to purchase an expensive massage chair just for it to wear out due to excessive weight or height. Each massage chair will have a weight capacity so make sure to double check this before you purchase it. It is also important to try each chair you are considering before you buy it as everyone’s body is different and what might fit comfortably for one person might not fit comfortably for you.

Most manufacturers have a maximum weight of 245 lbs to 350 lbs but it’s important to double check that you can fit and that it is comfortable for you. Manufacturers provide the chairs with enough support to handle those who are considered heavy, but this doesn’t mean you should squeeze into any old chair. You must make sure you are comfortable within the chair, so it doesn’t suffer from damage or voiding the warranty of the chair.

If you are over 6’4” taller, you may look for massage chairs that were made for taller people.


Leg and Foot Massage

Airbags can also be used in the lower body and legs and give you the opportunity to receive a gentle and progressive massage for your legs. This technique is called ‘gripping’ and it works by squeezing the muscles firmly for a couple of seconds before releasing them. Airbags are used to produce this type of massage technique because it is easier to isolate the extremities. This massage is also designed to make sure the user doesn’t become injured or produce too much pressure, so you can receive the desired massage for your legs.

It works from a small air compressor inside the chair inflating the airbags which are connected through a series of tubes or pipes. Some massage chairs may include the ability to shut off air passageway, so the chair can inflate one set of airbags without affecting the others. This type of leg massage is perfect for those who suffer from sciatica or who exercise very often and need help to stretch and relax afterwards. The sensation of the massage on your legs may seem odd at first, essentially it feels like your legs are trapped by the chair, but the squeezing sensation is extremely comfortable and not too intense.

Lots of massage chairs now provide really good foot massages using two or three rolls of rollers. Unfortunately most Japanese chairs do not offer foot massage with rollers.



It is always a good idea to check the warranty of the massage chair you are preparing to purchase. This will ensure that your chair works to its optimal level and if damage does occur then it can be fixed. Most warranties will not include general wear and tear or if damage occurs intentionally or accidentally. It is generally only acceptable if there is a malfunction within the warranty period. Each chair with have gone through a rigorous quality control during the manufacturing process but things can still go wrong. Making sure you have a decent warranty will make sure that you are covered if this happens to be the case. There should be at least a 3-year warranty to ensure you receive the best product and customer service from the company you are purchasing from. If it’s a 3 year warranty, it’s usually 3 year warranty for the parts and 1 year labor. It can vary depending on the chair, so please check.

Most companies will also offer an extended warranty for an additional cost which means that your chair will be protected even after the initial manufacturer warranty lapses. Make sure to double check what your warranty covers and how long for and whether it might be worth investing in an extended warranty. You should also check if it covers the limbs, ottoman, and mechanics of your chair.



As you can imagine the higher the cost of the massage chair the more high quality features it will include. Those will a lower cost, like $200-$500 will have a much simpler usage. The features will be extremely limited. These types of lower budget chairs still work as a massage chair but will have simpler mechanics and features which will be fine if you need a general relaxing massage but may not be ideal for those who have specific needs. Sufferers of back pain, neck pain, sciatica or other issues will be relieved by those chairs specifically designed for such things which will most likely be in the higher bracket of cost.

You will also have to consider that the design will come into cost as well as the functions and features. Attractive leather upholstery and colors that match your decor may increase the price. But it is easy enough to find an attractive chair with most of the features and easy-to-use controls within an acceptable price range. Clearly the higher the quality the product, more stylish and smarter interface the more expensive it will be. So, you have to consider whether it is worth forking out a substantial amount for the best of the best or if you can make do with a lower quality chair at a lesser price.


Final Thoughts

As you can see there is a lot to consider when choosing the perfect massage chair for you. It’s a huge investment that will benefit you in the long run as well as reduce your costs, especially if you visit a massage therapist often. Now you can receive a massage from the comfort of your own home. Rather than booking an appointment or scheduling it in, you can walk in from work, flick the TV on and lay back and relax in your very own massage chair. The overall benefits are astounding and can help you and your muscles, as well as your mental health.

So, now you’ve decided to buy a massage chair, you’ll need to know which one is the best one for you. It is easy to get dazzled with the many features and functions that sales people are likely to throw your way. We have explained the jargon and features that most massage chairs will incorporate so you can choose which one is the perfect design for you. The most important things to consider are the tracks, dimensions, whether you want zero gravity, roller numbers, whether you want heat therapy including, airbag features, and the warranty and cost. There are many other features to consider as well and we hope this article has help you have a better understanding of what is available to you in the market to enable you to make an informed massage chair purchase decision.