Can You Use a Massage Chair Too Much?
Massage chairs are a luxurious addition to anyone’s home. Whether you use it for post-workout muscle ache, chronic injuries, or just a way to relax, massage chairs can be well worth the money you pay for them. But can you have too much of a good thing?
Can you use a massage chair too much? Yes, you can. Because massage chairs are mechanical, there’s no way for it to know it’s hurting you. Sometimes massage chairs may even aggravate the injuries. If a person has a condition that can be aggravated by movement, massage could end up making the injury worse.
How and why a massage chair could cause problems depends on the chair and the person using it. Keep reading to learn more about your massage chair usage.
What Happens When You Overuse a Massage Chair?
There are three main injury types that can be caused by massage chair overuse. Bruising, skin irritation, and inflammation are three conditions that can be caused by the overuse of a massage chair.
Some people are more prone to these injuries than others, especially if they are just getting used to the massage chair. Since most massage chairs come pre-programmed, some of the settings can be too intense and cause injury to some people, especially if you are prone to bruising or skin irritations. That’s why it’s always recommended to start at a lower setting with a massage chair when you first get one to avoid potential injuries. (https://massagechairexpert.com/can-massage-chairs-cause-injury/)
How Can a Massage Chair Cause Bruising?
Bruising is caused when blood capillaries in your skin are broken. If your massage chair is at too high of a setting, it could potentially cause broken capillaries by applying too much pressure to your skin and muscle tissue.
It’s normal to feel a little bruising after an intense massage, but for some people, the bruising can be quite bad. This is extremely rare and, generally, only happens to people who suffer from certain health issues that prevent their blood from clotting.
How Can a Massage Chair Cause Skin Irritation?
There are two instances when massage chairs can cause mild skin irritation and itching. The first is the massage itself. It’s relatively common for people to feel itchy after a session in a massage chair if they are wearing abrasive clothing. When a person receives a massage in a massage chair it can cause the clothing to rub against the skin, which in rare cases can cause the skin to become irritated.
The other possibility is the product used to clean the chair. People with skin allergies or sensitivities can potentially experience a reaction caused by any residues or chemicals that might be left on the chair from cleaning, or from the production of the chair (especially when new). On the rare occasion a red rash or skin irritation appears after using the chair, you may be having an allergic reaction and should consult with a doctor to address the severity.
How Can a Massage Chair Cause Inflammation?
A modest amount of inflammation after a massage is common and is often a sign that the massage was successful. A massage helps to increase blood flow to the muscle tissue which will result in temporary inflammation due to the body’s healing response. However, excessive swelling can be problematic. Often if a massage is too intense, or an area of the body is overworked by the massage, the inflammation may cause pain or discomfort and result in congestion of fluids.
Congested fluids in muscles can be extremely painful and possibly lead to long term damage. A cold compress applied to the area of inflammation for a few minutes, as well as elevating the area can help to reduce the swelling and allow excess fluids to drain out of the muscle tissue into the lymphatic and circulatory system.
What Are The Uses And Benefits To Massage Chairs?
Massage chairs are a great piece of furniture to have for people who frequently desire pain relief and a meditative escape from the day-to-day. Massage chairs provide near-constant access to a relaxing massage experience for those who enjoy massage, making it an essential part of some peoples’ lives.
Massage chairs can increase blood flow and lymphatic flow. Increased blood flow means more nutrients are circulating throughout the person’s body, and improved lymphatic flow causes natural toxins to be released out of muscle tissue so it can be flushed out.
The use of a massage chair can also help with a moderate increase in flexibility and help to decrease tension by helping to relax muscle fibers that are tight and bound due to stress and overuse.
Regular sessions with a massage chair have also been found to increase endorphin levels. Endorphins are the chemicals in your body directly linked with feeling happy and relaxed.
How Do Massage Chairs Work?
Massage chairs work by applying pressure, movement, and/or vibration to an area. The massage helps to encourage blood flow and stimulate movement throughout the lymphatic system. Massage chairs use several different mechanics to apply pressure and movement to various areas of the body. Some chairs may even use multiple mechanics to help relieve tension and stress, such as rolling, vibration, lateral/horizontal movement, reclining, and some even provide heat.
The Three Main Massage Motions
One method of movement involves the use of rollers to apply constant pressure as they roll up and down the problem area. This pressure helps to relax, warm, and stretch the muscle fibers, which will subsequently help to encourage blood flow. This method is especially useful for loosening sore back muscles.
Another way massage chairs may work is through kneading. This is accomplished with balls that move in small circles to push and pull the muscle, helping to work out those stubborn knots.
A third method common in most massage chairs is vibration. Vibration applied to a specific area can help to increase blood flow and reduce swelling in overused muscles by helping to gently shake and move the muscles. This motion is also useful, as it helps to stimulate the nervous system.
Why It’s Important to Follow the Chair’s Instructions
All three of these motions are great in the recommended doses to relieve your pain and alleviate tension. However, too much of a good thing can lead to the injuries we discussed above.
Some massage chairs utilize tapping techniques to help stimulate tight muscles. Tapping or percussion massage is particularly useful for breaking up fascial adhesions and loosening scar tissue. The idea behind this technique is to stimulate the area to help facilitate healing. Again, utilizing the tapping function beyond the recommended time can aggravate the tissue and could result in bruising.
The settings for massage chairs can range from gentle to very firm. It is a good idea to start at the lowest setting to acclimate to the chair and avoid potential injury. Air and vibration massage are the most gentle and least likely to cause bruising or excess tenderness. The kneading massage setting is possibly the most intense and should only be used after warming up the tissue with a gentler setting, slowly working up to this more aggressive setting. This will make for a more enjoyable experience and help to prevent injury.
At the End of the Day…
Massage chairs are a great modern-day invention and an excellent investment for those who want a little TLC at home, whether it be to relax the mind or help to heal the body. When used correctly, a massage chair can relieve the everyday tension that comes from a stressful job, or work out chronically tense muscles. Truly, having a massage chair of your own can provide you a spa retreat experience in your own home.
Regardless of why it was purchased; however, it is always best to read the user manual and to follow all of the manufactures’ rules and safety precautions to prevent injury. If you use your chair incorrectly, or if you use it beyond your body’s limits, you can potentially injure yourself or even cause more permanent damage to your joints, tendons, muscles, and even bones. Remember, you can have too much of a good thing.
Richard A. Lehman, LMT, CSCS