Maybe you have a physically taxing job, an intense workout regimen, or a medical condition that takes a toll on your body. There are relatively few large-scale, peer-reviewed studies on the health benefits of massage see What is massage therapy? For example, a study of healthy adults found that a majority of the participants reported feeling less anxious and more tranquil after sitting in a full-body massage chair for 20 minutes, and most rated the experience as highly pleasurable.
Is this hurting? Reclining takes the pressure off your muscles. The more your muscles relax, the more benefit you will get. However, Hedge said, some workplaces buy reclining massage chairs for their staff to use during screen breaks, which can reduce occupational injuries and increase productivity over time.
According to the Cochrane Library, the body that oversees such reviews, there is some evidence that massage therapy can provide short-term relief from neck pain , but more research is needed on the long-term effects. But more research is necessary across the board.
Massage therapists must be licensed to practice in most states, and they may also choose to be board certified at the national level. Unlike physicians, massage therapists have not completed medical school or earned a Doctor of Medicine MD degree, so they are not qualified to diagnose diseases or prescribe treatments. As with most self-care products, you can find hundreds—if not thousands—of mechanical massage-chair models for sale, many of dubious quality.
To narrow our search, we read numerous editorial and customer reviews online, and we scanned the websites of major retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart to identify the most widely available brands. From there, we further culled our list based on the following criteria:. I spent 11 hours testing portable massage chairs—setting them up in my living room and trying out the various coverage areas, style settings, intensities, and any extra features.
I took notes on how easy they were to set up, to use, to pack up for storage, and to carry around. I assessed the look and feel of the materials and the overall sturdiness. Even though a portable massage chair is designed to be folded up and tucked under a bed or put on a shelf, it should still be aesthetically pleasing—not to mention functional, comfortable, and durable.
Additionally, 10 Wirecutter staffers spent a collective 17 hours testing stationary massage chairs in our Long Island City, New York, office. These staffers two members of our style team, three members of our health and fitness team, two of our deputy editors, our editor-in-chief, and two members of our operations team range from to pounds and from 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall. They noted how far each chair reclined and how easy it was to recline, whether the heating feature was adequately warm, whether the intensity settings were easy to adjust and powerful enough, and whether they particularly liked or disliked any of the massage-style settings.
If the chairs had extra coverage areas such as the neck or feet or features like built-in speakers, the testers took notes on how well these functioned and affected the overall experience. They assessed the materials, build quality, comfort, and style unlike the portable models, a stationary massage chair occupies a big footprint in your home, so you need to be committed to how it looks.
After testing each chair, the testers assigned it an overall score on a scale of 1 to 5. The Osaki OS-Champ is the champion of massage chairs. Our testers gave it an average rating of 4 out of 5 on its overall performance, a score matched by just two other stationary chairs out of the 10 we tested.
The OS-Champ swaddles you in buttery-soft upholstery, reclines your body until you can see outer space or at least the ceiling , and massages you from head to toe—specifically your neck, shoulders, back, arms, thighs, calves, and feet. The OS-Champ is also comfortable, sturdy, and well made—if inelegant to look at. And it is one of the least-expensive stationary models we tested.
The OS-Champ massages muscles with a variety of movements, including kneading, tapping, rolling, compressing, and stretching. Mechanical knobs move on a track to massage the neck, back, thighs, and feet, while airbags inflate and deflate to massage the shoulders, arms, calves, and feet. It has three distinct intensity settings, which most testers said were intuitive to adjust. If you use a wheelchair, run recreationally, or spend all day on your feet, you might get more out of this chair than models with weaker or nonexistent calf- and foot-massaging features.
Probably my favorite foot massage of all. It was able to apply a lot of pressure to my calves, and the kneading motion it does on the bottom of my feet actually feels comparable to a massage experience I might have getting a pedicure at a nail salon. This chair performed the best in our testing in terms of heating.
Am I upside down? Okay, I like this chair. All of our testers found the OS-Champ to be highly comfortable to sit in and easy to use. The OS-Champ is backed by a three-year warranty, which should be more than enough time for you to gauge whether the chair has any flaws or is working improperly. And depending on the color you choose, at this writing the OS-Champ is one of the least expensive stationary massage chairs we tested. The HoMedics Shiatsu Elite II Massage Cushion MCSHJ is a great option if you want to stow your massage chair out of sight in between uses or take it with you—say, on vacation or for an overnight hospital visit hospital rules permitting.
It offers plenty of massage styles and settings, and it excels in key areas like heating and reclining. This model is also comfortable, easy to use, and well made. It has a more involved setup process because you have to strap it onto an existing chair to use it. And it lacks an adjustable reclining feature and covers fewer areas of the body than our stationary picks—just the head and neck, versus the entire body. Since the MCSHJ is more of a pad or cushion than an actual chair, you need to strap this model to an existing chair for it to sit upright.
For my testing, I chose a chair that was low to the ground and had a slight recline to allow for maximum relaxation. I especially appreciate the fact that the MCSHJ has a back strap as well as a head strap to ensure that it stays securely fastened to the chair, even at an angle the other portable models we tested have only a back strap. But its compact shape makes it easy to stow in a car trunk or closet, or beneath a bed.
It also comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a handle on top, which you may want to keep for storage and transit. Of the portable massage chairs we tested, the MCSHJ is one of the most comfortable to sit in, and the materials seem relatively luxurious and durable—ours remains in pristine condition after more than a year of weekly use.
But the MCSHJ does have a demo mode to showcase a few different motions which only a few of the portable models have , making it easy to plop yourself down and get an instantaneous massage. If you fit the chair, great. Aside from requiring more assembly before each use strapping it to a chair compared with our stationary picks—along with the fact that it massages fewer body parts—this model has two main drawbacks.
If the OS-Champ is unavailable, and your budget allows you to spend a few hundred dollars more on a similar-performing chair: Get the RelaxOnChair MK-Classic our erstwhile runner-up pick. Most of our testers said it had an upscale look and a luxurious feel, and it offers a wide range of features and settings. But its hefty price tag, coupled with its lack of any significant benefits over the OS-Champ—and only meager benefits over cheaper chairs like the OS—caused us to remove it as a pick in our latest round of testing.
The Rio performed fairly well overall, garnering an average score of 3. Its remote is easy to use, and it offers a variety of massage styles and intensity settings. Unlike the Elite II, this model can lie flat for a supine massage, and you can slide the headrest up or down to further adjust the height. If you want something that costs even less than our portable pick but still gets the job done: The Snailax SL is a good option, despite having a noticeably worse look and feel.
Compared with the Elite II, the SL feels somewhat flimsy overall, though its seat cushion is covered in a soft, fairly substantial vinyl material. It has plenty of massage styles and intensity settings, and we like that it has an extra flap of fabric you can add on to lessen the massage intensity.
It also has a removable headrest to further allow you to customize the fit and comfort of the chair. Based on feedback from readers with a strong fondness for massage chairs, we plan to test some spendier options from brands including, but not limited to, D. A massage from a massage therapist is undoubtedly better for the environment than any mechanical massage chair, most of which are made of metal, plastic, and pleather that is, more plastic.
But if you already have a massage chair or are planning to buy one, you can take a few extra steps to be more mindful of the planet:. The Human Touch WholeBody 7. It felt like a mechanical simulacrum of a massage—like what a highly intelligent robot studying human behavior would think a massage is, but is actually not really close.
The Osaki Titan Prime 3D performed worse than our top pick overall, earning an average score of 3. The remote is attached to the seat, making it more difficult to use, and the chair has only one style of massage. One five-foot-three reviewer says the chair was able to fully adjust to their body and also the body of their six-foot cousin. According to another person, the body scan takes about five seconds; the airbags inflate and mold to your body before it begins.
I find the 6 basic 20 minute programs are pretty much all I need. Only a handful of customers have reviewed this chair, but all of them give it four or five stars. It provides a full body massage, and it reclines all the way to the zero-gravity position. Not only does it provide heat and massage to knead out any kinks, but it is also an inversion table, which Perna says is particularly helpful for relieving pain. This will take pressure off the joints of the low back and discs.
This one was featured in our roundup of the best back massagers , with more 1, reviews on Amazon, 70 percent of which are five-star reviews. The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments , rolling luggage , pillows for side sleepers , natural anxiety remedies , and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
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