Are Massage Chairs Worth It? It Depends
Everyone’s seen a massage chair in the mall, often with a price tag that changes by the minute. They look tempting, offering up a nice respite from the long walks while shopping. Some people like it so much, they even buy their own for their homes.
Are massage chairs worth it? It depends on what you’re looking for in a chair and how much you’re willing to spend. A massage chair is not a complete replacement for a massage therapist, but it is a good way to keep blood flowing and reduce chiropractic visits.
Massage chairs are not cheap, but they can offer a lot of perks to the right person. Let’s take a look at a fair and balanced debate on the value of owning your very own massage chair, shall we?
Are Massage Chairs Worth It?
The value of massage chairs is all in the eye of the beholder. They are excellent for helping to prevent back pain, prolong the time between chiropractic visits, and wonderful tools for relaxation. In certain cases, they can also become excellent supplemental treatment options for chronic pain and inflammation.
Massage chairs are excellent choices if you frequently need to loosen up muscles and soothe pain. However, if you’re not using them regularly, it’s may not be worth it in the long run.
Can Massage Chairs Replace Actual Massage Sessions?
Massage chairs can offer a nice superficial rubdown, but they are not capable of offering up the same type of specialized therapy that a licensed massage therapist can. There are multiple reasons for this:
- It is not the same tactile experience. There’s a huge difference between a rollerball and a human hand. Hands offer a softer, less harsh touch while many massage chairs have a more mechanical sensation.
- Humans can work out knots, while massage chairs aren’t capable of it. Knots require specialized massage techniques and can be found in a variety of hard to find places on your body. Most massage chairs don’t have the technology to find and unwind those knots.
- They cannot readjust your neck. Massage chairs do not have the power nor the technology to offer chiropractic adjustments.
- Humans are also better for specific, targeted massages. Hiring a professional massage therapist is the only way to make sure that you get the specific strokes you need. A human therapist can also focus on painful trigger points, and leave you feeling better than you did when you arrived.
If you were looking for a spa-style massage or a way to entirely rid yourself of chiropractic care, massage chairs aren’t going to do the trick. While they aren’t a replacement for human touch, they still offer up lots of benefits worth discussing.
What Are The Benefits Of Massage Chair Use?
While they’re no replacement for actual professional therapy, massage chairs can still offer a lot of therapeutic benefits to the right person. Their benefits include:
- Increasing blood flow and improving circulation. A good massage chair will help blood flow improve in areas where clots and pain often occur.
- Relieving leg and back pain. Back pain and leg pain can often be alleviated using a massage chair.
- Decreasing the need for regular therapy visits. If it’s a matter of circulation or chronic pain, owning a massage chair can help reduce the number of visits you need to a therapist.
- Immediate (minor) relief without a trip to a chiropractor. Trying to book a chiropractor appointment on the day of your pain is nearly impossible. Having a massage chair can help you minimize discomfort while you wait, without even having you leave your home.
- Reduce overall tension. If you’re feeling tense from a day at work or a difficult time at the gym, a massage chair can help you get back on your feet.
- Stress relief. Even if a massage chair doesn’t have that human touch, it can still offer up amazingly soothing results.
How Big Of A Perk Is Convenience?
The most obvious perk of owning your own massage chair is convenience. When you own a massage chair, you don’t have to leave the house to get your rubdown, nor do you have to pay a fee.
Being able to get a massage whenever you need it in the comfort of your own home can be a game-changer for people with limited mobility. Those who don’t have much trouble getting to a local massage chair station, however, might not see much benefit from the added convenience.
Can A Massage Chair Treat All Types Of Pain?
Though massage chairs may be great for certain types of chronic pain, they are not cure-alls. Massage chairs are not good for treating pain due to injury, arm pains, or certain types of shoulder pains.
If you need targeted pain relief, a massage chair probably won’t be a good option. If you have parts of your body that shouldn’t be touched during a massage, owning a chair might not be a good idea. However, it is still a good tool if you just want to get rid of tension throughout your body.
Should You Get A Specialty Massage Chair?
Believe it or not, companies are now starting to make massage chairs that specialize in aiding specific issues. In upscale chairs, the mode used specifically for health issues is known as “healthcare mode,” and can be accessed through a remote.
If you’re a chronic pain sufferer who wants to get the most out of a massage chair, finding a chair with healthcare mode is a good choice. That being said, most percussive chairs will be able to offer some level of pain relief.
Can A Massage Chair Alleviate Exercise Pain?
Most athletes have felt sore after a workout. In fact, it’s one of the most common sensations associated with an active lifestyle. People who regularly work out often use massage chairs as a way to alleviate muscle soreness and tension.
It’s not uncommon to hear about professional athletes who use massage chairs as a way to cool down after a particularly taxing workout. If you’re training for major triathlons or want to get to a professional level of athleticism, a massage chair could be a smart investment.
Can A Massage Chair Help Heal Injuries?
This all depends on the type of injury you have. Since each injury has its own characteristics, it’s best to bring injury-related massage chair questions to your doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to advise you on massage chair use.
Can A Massage Chair Reduce Stress?
Who doesn’t like feeling a nice, long massage after a rough day? Though it’s not a replacement for a spa trip, there’s definitely a reason why so many malls have massage chair stations inside them. They work!
Using a massage chair regularly is linked to lower levels of stress and higher levels of emotional wellbeing. It absolutely can help you if you suffer from stress-related tension. However, massage chairs are only capable of treating the physical elements of stress–not the emotional ones.
How Often Should You Use Your Massage Chair?
How often you intend to use your massage chair makes a huge difference in your investment returns. People who will use their massage chair once a month won’t find it to be a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, people who need to use it daily or weekly may find it to be a smart buy.
There’s no limit to how frequently you can use a massage chair, nor is there any reason to limit the number of massages you have. The more you use your massage chair, the more you’ll be able to reap all its benefits.
How Much Will It Cost To Maintain A Massage Chair?
For the most part, massage chairs are fairly sturdy machines that won’t require much maintenance or repair. However, when a massage chair breaks, it can easily cost hundreds of dollars to repair.
Though massage chairs are built to last, they still won’t fare well under harsh conditions. Households with children who could break the chair are not good places for a massage chair since the impact can harm their functionality.
What Can Increase A Massage Chair’s Chances Of Breaking?
Massage chairs are built to last, but that doesn’t make them invincible. You might want to set aside money for repairs if:
- You have kids in the house. Kids can climb on chairs, jump on them, and do other actions that could potentially harm the parts inside the chair. This is why it’s not advisable to have a massage chair in a room with younger children.
- You’re buying a massage chair that requires smart technology. Smart technology isn’t invincible. With more tech comes more chances at signal misfire and potential tech obsolescence. Some companies might not keep their programs up-to-date, which could potentially limit the amount of time you can use your chair.
- You are unusually heavy. Every massage chair has a weight limit. If your weight is near or past the weight limit of the machine, your chances of having mechanical issues will increase. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t buy a massage chair that doesn’t work with your weight.
- You intend to use it for hours on end. Though massage chairs are sturdy, motors can only take so much use in one session. Even high-quality massage chairs can suffer motor burnout if they’re not given a break.
Do Massage Chair Companies Offer Help With Their Products?
The amount of support you can expect from a massage chair company will vary, but don’t worry too much. Most massage chair companies will offer support when it comes to broken chairs, or at least be able to refer you to a repair company.
This is where buying a new chair tends to make sense. If you buy your massage chair used, then you won’t have the same level of support. Some companies require purchase information or purchase proof to get free or discounted repairs.
Should You Get A Massage Chair Warranty?
Most companies offer warranties with their massage chairs as an add-on or as a free gift. If your massage chair comes with a free warranty option, it’s a no-brainer. On the other hand, if your massage chair warranty costs money, it can be more debatable.
For the most part, you shouldn’t expect a brand new massage chair to break down in the first couple of years. Since most warranties run out within the first couple of years, it’s best to buy a warranty if you live in a household where breakage is more likely to happen.
Is A Massage Chair Worth The Price?
A typical massage chair can run anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000, and most health insurance companies will not subsidize it. That’s a lot of money to spend, even if you are fairly well off. Moreover, massage chairs typically tend to increase in quality as their prices increase.
It’s smart to try to calculate how long it’d take to pay for your massage chair in individual sessions. To make the most of a massage chair, you would need to use it frequently enough to justify the price.
Assuming a $10 per 10-minute session, a massage chair that sees daily use would pay for itself within a year to two years. If nearby massage chairs only charge $5 per session, then the time it’d take for your massage chair to “earn its keep” would double.
How To Get A Massage Chair On A Budget
If you want to get a massage chair but don’t have the spare $5,000 lying around, don’t worry. There are some other ways to get a chair on a budget, some of which might make it worth the price tag. These include:
- Looking at massage chairs on sale. Many stores that sell massage chairs have sales when they want to clear out their inventory. Depending on the store and the situation, this can lead to discounts worth thousands of dollars.
- Buying a used massage chair. If you don’t care too much about getting company support for chair maintenance and are willing to take a little risk, buying a used chair might be your best bet.
- Buy a floor sample. Stores that sell massage chairs often will have a floor sample that has been used by curious shoppers. Since they have been used in live demonstrations, most stores will sell their floor samples at a deep discount despite being in near-mint condition.
- Consider a payment plan. Most stores selling massage chairs have payment plans available to customers. If you have good credit, this could be a good way to make your massage chair more affordable.
Before You Buy A Massage Chair
Knowing how to cut costs and maximize your benefits is important, but there’s still more to shopping for a massage chair that needs to be addressed. Before buying one, it’s wise to do the following things:
- Research each chair you want to buy. Not all massage chairs are equal. Some may have features that treat specific types of pain, while others might not. Reading reviews and seeing all the specs can help you pick the best chair for your particular needs.
- Make sure you know what a massage chair feels like first. Before you plunk down the money, try a massage chair–any massage chair first. Some people aren’t actually fans of them, despite being avid massage fans. If you don’t like the sensation, buying a massage chair will be a waste.
- Try your specific chair before you bring it home. There’s a reason why stores have floor samples. A massage chair is a massive investment. It only makes sense for people to try it out before they buy it.
- Consult with your doctor. If you’re buying a massage chair as a way to treat a specific condition, talking with your doctor is a wise choice. Your doctor may be able to recommend a specific model or even just offer their advice on what modes your body will react best to.
- Shop around. Different stores will have different prices for the same massage chair. The more you do your research, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to snag a great deal on a good chair. You’d be surprised at how much a quick look online can save you.
- Talk to your insurance company. Though most insurance plans won’t cover a massage chair purchase, there are some cases where insurers might agree to cover a portion of the costs If you aren’t sure if it’s covered, call your insurance company to find out.
Buying a massage chair is a huge investment that is only really worth it if you are going to use it every day. Even if you shop for one and find a great discount, massage chairs will still cost you several thousand dollars.
How much benefit you get from owning one all boils down to convenience and health requirements. So, if you have mobility problems, are a training athlete, or otherwise need a daily rubdown, it might be worth it. Otherwise, it’s best to just stick to renting one by the minute.
Richard A. Lehman, LMT, CSCS