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Are massage chairs good for health?
It’s a question we get with some frequency at the Chair Institute, and it’s certainly a fair one.
After all, massage chairs can get pretty expensive, with the top-of-the-line models being as much as a good quality used car, and if you’re going to spend that kind of money, you want to be sure you’re getting solid, tangible benefits.
The short answer to the question is a resounding yes! While it would be overselling it to say that if you want a healthy body, massage is essential (whether by human or mechanical hands), but as you’ll see in the sections that follow, owning a massage chair provides a whole raft of benefits that will help you in a variety of ways.
Rather than keeping you in suspense, let’s just dive right in and see what they are!
Health Benefits of Body Massage
The first and most immediate benefit of owning a massage chair is pain relief. In practice, this is the thing that drives most people to consider buying one. That’s unsurprising, given that a staggering 75% of US Adults have experienced back pain at one time or another.
Where pain relief is concerned, any decent massage chair will have an impact, but of course, not all chairs are created equally in that regard.
For example, if you suffer from chronic lower back pain and/or sciatica, you’ll want to be sure to get a chair that offers lumbar, and possibly leg heat.
Given that one of the leading causes of back pain is spinal disc compression, you may also want to consider a massage chair that offers some kind of body twist feature. This has the same basic effect as a chiropractic adjustment and provides almost immediate relief.
Most Important Massage Chair Features for Pain Relief
If you suffer from sciatica, your needs are a bit different, and you’ll want to look for a chair with a great leg massage, preferably one that has both lumbar and calf heat.
Strongly related to pain relief is improved posture, and if you’ve ever hurt your back, you know the story. From the moment the pain begins, even if you consciously try not to, you invariably wind up changing the way you sit or stand to make the pain less intense.
In other words, your body reacts to the pain you’re in by doing what it can to take pressure off the sore muscles. Unfortunately, this has the effect of putting added stress on adjacent muscles to compensate and contorts your posture in unnatural ways that your body just wasn’t designed for.
This worsening posture ultimately leads to more sore muscles, which leads to more pain, not less.
Again, a regular massage can help, first by relaxing the muscles themselves, which is soothing in its own right, but second, in doing so, you’re not as inclined to sit in awkward positions in an effort to avoid it, which takes stress off of related muscle groups, and ultimately improving your posture.
Most Important Features for Improved Posture
One of the biggest unsung health benefits of massage chairs is improved circulation because embedded within this one benefit are a number of others.
Better circulation can, by itself, decrease your pain level and lower your blood pressure, and since blood carries oxygen and fuel to your cells and organs, those all get healthier and happier.
Improved blood circulation also helps you flush toxins from your system, which can indirectly improve your immune system since your body isn’t as busy warding the effects of those toxins off. That’s a win all around!
The improvements aren’t limited just to your body’s blood supply, though. After all, your blood has the advantage of having a built-in pump, in the form of your heart.
Your lymphatic system, on the other hand, doesn’t have the benefit of a pump, relying exclusively on gravity and your own movements to circulate lymphatic fluids.
Massage chairs help in this regard too, as the action of the rollers and/or airbags gently coax your lymphatic fluid through your system, which can further enhance the functioning of your immune system.
If you suffer from poor circulation, you may want to consider buying a chair that has an inversion function. These are uncommon, but you can find a few. Also, some people swear by vibration massage to improve circulation. Massage chairs that offer this feature typically have their vibration plate in the seat of the chair, but some also offer a separate plate in the lumbar region.
A hidden benefit of improved circulation is the fact that you’ll also notice an unmistakable uptick in your energy levels as your cells gain the benefits of improved oxygen levels.
Most Important Features for Improved Circulation
Stress reduction is one of the greatest unsung massage chair health benefits.
Pain causes stress, so anything you can do to reduce pain will automatically contribute to reducing stress levels, but there’s more to it than just that.
The relaxation of a massage helps to trigger endorphins, which are your body’s “feel good” hormones. When released, they foster a sense of increased well-being and can help lower your blood pressure and help you get a better night’s sleep.
Also note that the combined effects of improved circulation and greater relaxation will help to improve mental clarity, giving you the ability to focus more clearly, and for longer periods of time.
Most Important Feature for Stress Reduction
Reduces the Risk of Post-workout Pain
Another of the health benefits of massage chairs is the effect they have on reducing or even eliminating muscle pain after a workout.
When you exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles, which is why they can get sore. Massage can help flush the excess acid from your system, reducing soreness. The most important features here are identical to the ones in the “Improved Circulation” section, above.
Lowers Heart Rate & Reduces Blood Pressure
These are both outcomes related to reduction of stress and improved circulation. As you start to relax, your heart rate naturally decreases, and as your blood flow and circulation improves, your blood pressure naturally drops, and drops further, the more you relax.
Massage Chair Health Benefits Conclusion
As you can see, there are more health benefits of massage chairs than you might have first imagined, making them a solid investment even if you don’t suffer from chronic pain.
The most important consideration, of course, is matching your specific needs with the model that best meets them. Someone who suffers from sciatica, for instance, will want a chair with a very different set of features than someone who is looking for maximum stress relief.
The good news is that with scores of models on the market today, whatever your needs are, there’s a massage chair out there that will meet them. Happy hunting!