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What Should I Look for in a Massage Chair?

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Updated July 27, 2013

Question: What Should I Look for in a Massage Chair?
Q. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a massage chair but don't know where to look or what to look for. How can I find that information?
Answer:

Massage chairs can be big investments, so it's important to do a bit of research beforehand. When it comes to getting massage chairs, each person has different requirements and a different budget, so it's important to ask yourself some questions to ensure you get a massage chair that suits your needs.

Where Would You Put The Massage chair?

The first thing to think about is whether you have the space for a massage chair. Where would you put it?

Massage chairs can be bulky, which is why they often wind up in the bedroom or home office. Although you may think it would look great in your living room, other people in your household may feel differently. Discuss it with others who share the space to be sure it works for them.

If the only place you can agree on is in the corner of the bedroom or in your home office, you'll want to really consider whether you'll use it there.

If you'd like a massage chair that reclines, you won't be able to position the back of the massage chair close to a wall. Measure the space you have in mind before selecting a chair. A massage chair salesperson should be able to tell you how much room you need for the massage chair to recline all the way, and whether the particular model you're interested in will work in your space.

Some massage chairs, such as the Ijoy (www.interhealth.com), have wheels, so the chair can be moved from room to room or out of sight. This makes them ideal for people who don't mind a massage chair in their living room, but want to be able to move it out of the way when company comes.

If you just don't have the space, you may want to consider getting a portable massage cushion. Although not as feature-rich as a massage chair, it can be placed on any chair and removed and stowed away when not in use.

Who Will Be Using The Massage Chair?

Most massage chairs are designed for people who are approximately 5'10. If you are significantly taller or shorter than 5'-10", it's especially important for you to give the massage chair a test drive. For instance, if you are 5'-3", the back rollers will roll approximately seven inches too high for you, which means that it may massage the back of your head and neck.

You might have to use the control pad to manually adjust the position of the rollers and nodes each time you use the massage chair, which can be inconvenient. Some massage chairs, such as certain Panasonic models, are designed to automatically adjust to the height of the user by sensing where the tops of the shoulders are.

Each person who will be using the massage chair should check that the height of the seat of the massage chair is comfortable. Some massage chair seats are quite low to the ground, which may be uncomfortable for people 6'-0" and over, or people with knee, hip, or low back pain.

What Features Does The Massage Chair Have?

Massage chairs often have tons of features, but the reality is that people only use some of them.

If you tend to get muscle tension in certain parts of your body, you may want a massage chair that does a particularly good job massaging that area.

For example, the Isymphonic massage chair (www.osim.com) is designed to pay attention to the neck and shoulder areas. The Panasonic Pro Elite (www.panasonic.com) has airbags in the arms that inflate and deflate to massage that area. Some massage chairs have expanding air bags in the leg and foot area. Others incorporate the hip and buttocks.

You'll also want to compare the intensity or pressure of the massage. Some massage chairs give a strong massage, others use a lighter pressure. If you are considering investing in a massage chair, it's really important to try it in person for about 15 minutes to make sure that the pressure and fit are okay. Some massage chairs allow you to increase or decrease the intensity of the massage.

If there are specific massage strokes or sequences you like and you're sharing the massage chair with other people, you may want to consider a massage chair that allows you to save massage sequences. This means you won't have to reprogram your massage sequence each time you use the chair.

Some people like to have an ottoman or extendable leg rest, which allows you to sit with your legs elevated.

What Is Your Budget?

Massage chairs generally range from over $700 to $6,000. But don't just rely on price to gauge quality, and don't feel that you have to buy at the top of the price range to get a quality massage chair. Not everyone needs or will use the features of higher-priced models. It's a matter of finding the right massage chair for you at the right price.

If a massage chair is out of your budget, you may want to consider trying a massage cushion. They can be purchased in home goods stores, office supply stores, and online for about $100 to $200. Many stores have floor models that allow you to try them first. Homedics (www.homedics.com) is a popular brand with a variety of massage cushions.

What Is The Warranty On The Massage Chair?

Be sure to find out how long the warranty lasts and what it includes. A standard warranty should cover parts and labor.

To see a demonstration of massage chairs, watch the About.com video, Buy a Massage Chair. It's approximately three minutes long.

And finally, if you are considering getting a massage chair, it's a good idea to check with your doctor first. Make sure there are no restrictions on the type or duration of massage you can get.

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  5. Buying A Massage Chair - What Should I Look For?

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