How Massage Chairs Work: A Look Into Massage Chairs

How Massage Chairs Work: A Look Into the Inner Workings

In this fast-paced world that we live in, it is not surprising that most of us get home tired and ready to sleep. And who can blame us? Fortunately, there is a quick way to relieve stress—massage chairs. Are you curious about how massage chairs work? Then this article is for you!

Massage chairs have been around for decades. They provide a means for people to not only relax their mind but also relieve their bodies of certain aches—all without the need to hire a professional massage therapist.

Not familiar with massage chairs? Don’t worry; we have got you covered. Just continue reading, and by the end of this article, you will know everything you have to know about this remarkable piece of modern technology.

What is a Massage Chair?

Back in the 1940s, a massage chair was just a stool fixed on a stand. It features a metal frame that connects it to the stand through the stand’s back. Created by Roland A. Labbe, this design allows the chair to vibrate and massage the person seated on it. Attachments can also be added if you want different massage techniques.

Today, massage chairs are categorized as traditional and robotic. Traditional massage chairs are portable chairs ergonomically designed to give easy access to one’s head, shoulders, and back.

Traditional massage chairs are commonly used by massage therapists who offer on-site massages. If you want a hassle-free massage without the need to disrobe, getting a chair massage is the quickest way to go.

On the other hand, a robotic massage chair is an electronic device designed to massage a person by itself. It has gears and motors inside it that a person can control depending on the kind of massage he wants.

How Massage Chairs Work

Robotic massage chairs offer different ways of giving a massage. It can focus on a certain area of the body or massage several areas simultaneously, depending on the design. All these varieties have one thing in common, though, and that is to provide the recipient the feeling of receiving an actual massage.

Vibration is a common feature in massage chairs. Cheap massage chair pads would usually provide 10 to 15 minutes of vibration, focusing on the back and lower back to relax the muscles and relieve tightness.

How massage chairs work on the inside is another story. The most basic massage chair relies on a series of vibrations. These vibrations are created by rotating rollers, gears, and motors, which generate vibrations across the surface to mimic a massage.

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This system is supported by a framework that directs how the rollers will move. In short, the rollers rely on the structure of the frame to determine their range of motion.

More complex versions of massage chairs consist of rollers that can move up, down, left, right, and even in circles. This wider range of motion allows the manufacturer to use a microprocessor to program massage patterns for you to choose from.

Unfortunately, these patterns cannot be modified as you please. But, you can adjust the intensity of the massage to your liking. Some of the most common massage techniques programmed in massage chairs are:

  • Kneading massage – the massage rollers move in a circular pattern to stretch the muscles and relieve tension.
  • Tapping massage – rollers quickly push in and out of the backrest in tapping motions to work on the back and lumbar region and help improve blood circulation.
  • Swedish massage – this massage uses five massage strokes: kneading, tapping, friction, and vibration. Using firm and long strokes, the rollers apply pressure by gliding and kneading in the direction of your heart.
  • Rolling massage – using gentle pressure, the rollers move up and down a particular area of your body, usually near the spine.
  • Shiatsu massage – this massage involves stretching body parts and pressing against certain acupoints on the back. This involves patting, rolling, pressing, and sweeping motions, which provide relief and relaxation.

Massage Chair Improvements Through the Years

Since its invention, massage chairs have greatly improved over the years. Nowadays, you can choose between 2D, 3D, and 4D massage chairs. But, how do they differ from one another?

Aside from the price, each massage chair technology provides their own set of distinguishing features. These features are the determining factors in choosing which massage chair is perfect for a person’s needs and preferences.

  • 2D Massage Chairs

Among the three, the least expensive is the 2D technology. This is the most common technology found in most massage chairs. They feature massage rollers with movements limited to going up or down and left or right. This type is effective for soothing tired and tensed muscles.

  • 3D Massage CHairs

3D massage chairs are designed with all the capabilities of a 2D massage chair and more. With these chairs, massage rollers can move in tapping motions, and they can press on your back too.

Additionally, you can also personalize your massage therapy based on your body shape and height as it is electronically scanned by the chair. So, if you want a softer and deeper massage therapy, you can get that using a 3D massage chair. Other improvements include the addition of heating pads, which provide beneficial effects to muscles such as boosting immunity, activating tissue cells, and increasing blood flow.

Massage for the palms and arms are also available in 3D models. For these areas, kneading and stretching massages are provided. This promotes good blood circulation, improved flexibility, and better arm movements. Areas like the hips and thighs can also be massaged to relieve stiffness and muscle soreness.

Air compression massage chairs are also incorporated with more advanced models such as 3D massage chairs. The addition of airbags provides compression in different parts of the body.

When the airbags inflate, they squeeze target areas and, in turn, provide instant relief. The process of inflating and deflating happens fast and are usually specific to one target area at a time. This is great for alleviating joint tension and pain.

  • 4D Massage Chairs

4D massage chairs feature all functions of the previous two technologies plus the ability to turn. These chairs have massage rollers that turn and reach deeper into the target areas. Hard to reach areas like the shoulders can now be massaged. More massage techniques are also available with this model.


Getting a massage in the comfort of your home any time you want is a luxury many people wish for. Having your own massage chair is the answer to that.

If you are interested in purchasing a massage chair, then knowing the inner workings of different models can help you narrow down your options. With this knowledge, you can start weighing your pros and cons.

After all, investing in a good quality massage chair does not come cheap. So, you have to be extra careful in choosing one that can really provide you the pain relief and relaxation that you need.