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The best massage chairs, according to experts

Experts share how to pick an at-home massage chair that will reduce tension and leave you feeling more relaxed.
Wish you could visit the spa every day? With a massage chair, you can pamper tense muscles from the comfort of your own home.
Wish you could visit the spa every day? With a massage chair, you can pamper tense muscles from the comfort of your own home.

Buying a massage chair is akin to buying clothing — to work for you, it must fit your body and your needs. When you find the right one, the result can make sitting down feel like a trip to the spa—both relaxing and rejuvenating. These at-home devices can make regular massages more accessible than the daily or weekly trip to the masseuse.

A regular massage can be beneficial to your well-being, according to experts. “Massage is important for overall health because it's a unique way to rid your body of a certain type of stress,” said Patrick Porter, PhD, the founder of BrainTap. “It is called kinetic stress and it means that your muscles are holding onto the stress.”

SKIP AHEAD The best massage chairs of 2023 | How to buy a massage chair

"Some studies have found massage chairs help reduce pain and overall feelings of stress and anxiety,” said Nikki Gnozzio, CSCS, LMT, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a licensed massage therapist. “Massage chairs can also be particularly useful for folks who shy away from physical touch.”

Massage chairs can be an investment, so finding the right one for your home and body can feel overwhelming. Below, we spoke with experts about the best massage chairs on the market, as well as how to shop for them.

The best massage chairs

Below, we rounded up the massage chairs recommended by our experts or options that are highly rated from retailers we’ve previously covered. You’ll find options across a variety of price points, as well as devices that offer different massage strengths and feels.

Human Touch Whole Body 7.1 Massage Chair

The Human Touch Whole Body 7.1 massage chair is one that Porter not only recommends, but uses himself. “It's easy to move around, and I can demo it for my customers,” he said, adding that he uses it every day to give himself a massage. While Human Touch also makes significantly more expensive options, Porter told us that this model has many of the same features as the higher-end versions (including zero-gravity positioning, which helps to remove stress and tension from the spine). “Vibration in a zero gravity or an inversion position will help move blood easily from the lower extremities, which will give you a deeper relaxation,” said Porter.

Snailax Shiatsu Kneading Massager

Gnozzio recommends this massager for its accessible price point and its portability. Simply place it on your existing office chair (or any other chair in your home) to turn it into a massage chair. Gnozzio liked that it has flexible massage nodes, which are adjustable to fit the natural curves of your body, and the fact that it gets warm, which helps to relax stiff muscles. This device has a 4.3-average star rating out of 16,134 reviews on Amazon.

Osaki OS-4000 Massage Chair

Gnozzio said that the ergonomic design of this Osaki chair helps to accommodate a wide range of body types and needs, making for a particularly customized-feeling massage. Thanks to its zero gravity position, this chair can help align your back with your thighs, helping to reduce vertical stress on the spine, according to the brand. Gnozzio noted that the heating pads in the lower back region of the chair may reduce pain and relieve stress.

HoMedics Shiatsu Elite II Massage Cushion

As the name suggests, the HoMedics Shiatsu Elite II is specifically designed to mimic a shiatsu massage. Porter said it does indeed closely mimic this type of massage, which is defined as a massage that applies direct pressure on various points and channels. The cushion features three massage programs – kneading shiatsu for a deep-tissue experience; rolling massage for a more gentle experience; and spot massage, which targets your most tense areas. According to the brand, this device can be placed on a chair, a couch or even on your bed.

Svago ZGR Plus SV395 Zero Gravity Recliner

Porter recommends this Svago ZGR Plus chair because it includes a full-body Shiatsu massage option, as well as the ability to fully recline. Other features that Porter liked include a heated foot roller massager, Thai massage option, and bluetooth speaker, so that you can listen to your favorite music (or meditation series) while you’re in the chair.

Insignia 3D Zero Gravity Full Body Massage Chair

Gnozzio told us that the Insignia brand produces great massage chairs, particularly citing the unique upper body scan that helps to customize your treatment to your body. According to the brand, you can just sit in the chair and it will automatically adjust to your measurements to give you a more customized massage. This chair contains a combination of rollers, air pressure and heat therapy and has 21 preset massage programs for you to choose from.

Renpho Back Massager

This back massager fits on any chair in your home and comes equipped with a massaging neck pillow. It offers a full-back massage courtesy of 8 deep kneading nodes that travel up and down. It also heats up and offers three levels of warmth. Finally, the seat vibrates to provide a relaxing sensation. This device has a 4.3-average star rating from 8,217 reviews on Amazon.

Comfier Folding Massage Chair

Looking for an actual massage chair that won’t take up a ton of room? This option folds up and can be stored in between uses. When you’re ready to use it, it comes with a neck massager that is adjustable, allowing you to pull it up or down depending on your height. The back features 8 massaging nodes that span from shoulder to low lumbar so they can knead every part of your back, according to the brand. The chair also has an adjustable back, allowing you to sit straight up or lean back for a more relaxed position.

What exactly is a massage chair?

A massage chair is exactly what it sounds like—a device designed to give you a massage. There are some that take the form of literal chairs that you sit in, while others are more portable. In the chair variation, you'll find knobs that act as massaging arms along with airbags and rollers to mimic the movement of hands. Oftentimes, these chairs also come with a remote that gives you full control over the speed and pressure of the massage.

Aside from the larger investment chair, you can opt for a more budget-friendly version that sits atop any chair. These usually look like mats that you lay over the back and seat. Similar to an actual massage chair, they contain rollers, airbags and massage arms to knead muscles. These devices tend to be less expensive and more portable.

What to keep in mind when buying a massage chair

Whether you go for a full on massage chair or a device that affixes to a chair you already own, purchasing one of these is an investment. To make sure you get the most out of your purchase, we spoke with experts to determine what you should keep in mind when shopping for a massage chair.

Think about safety

The most important element of a massage chair is safety, both Gnozzio and Porter said. “Massage chairs can hurt you if the rollers or the padding isn't sufficient for what you need,” Porter said. “The main thing is to find one that you feel comfortable in and that you can adjust to your particular needs.” That means that having a strong, intense massage isn't always the best option. Listen to your body, and respond accordingly. Gnozzio points out that within 24 hours, most folks will have a sense of whether their bodies feel better or worse after a massage.

You want to be able to make adjustments

“Just like your wardrobe, massage chairs come in different shapes and sizes,” said Porter. “If you’re buying a chair for your whole family, you need to make sure that it can be adjusted to hit the right areas on the body for everyone using it.” Be sure to try before you buy, Gnozzio said. “Different levels of pressure and pre-set massage patterns differ from model to model and not everyone likes the same thing.”

Pay attention to the extras

While heat settings and kneading may seem like extraneous bells and whistles for a massage chair, Porter said that heat helps to loosen up your muscles, while kneading helps encourage blood flow. “If the massage chair has kneading, reflexology, and shiatsu, it's going to imitate a massage therapist more closely than if it just has rollers,” he added.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Nikki Gnozzio, CSCS, LMT, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a licensed massage therapist, and founder of Junction Bodyworks.

Patrick K. Porter is an author, educator, consultant, entrepreneur, and founder of the brain-training platform BrainTap.

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