So You Want to Buy a Massage Chair
Massage chairs are an invention that appeal both to our entertainment and comfort. When you lower yourself into one, it seems almost to consciously hug your body, even before you turn it on and begin the program. When you recline in it, you feel weightless, buoyant. Then when the program begins, you feel the rolls and the balls move along your back and neck in motions that resemble your local therapist. Then your forearms and legs are pleasantly constricted and kneaded, and the heat comes on.
When it is over, you get out of the demo chair and see no reason not to take this home with you. You're looking for a new recliner anyway. And then you see the price tag. The massage chair is not your regular recliner, and thus, most of them are not priced like one. Most models of massage chairs cost between $2,000 - $5,000, however the most expensive run in excess of $10,000. When you are making this type of investment, you want to be sure that you are going to be happy with it. These are some of the factors you need to consider.
We might as well start with the obvious. The massage chair you purchase will depend heavily on how much you are able to spend, and how much you are willing to spend. A decent massage chair costs more than most bed mattresses, and some cost more than many used cars.
A word of advice, there are some massage chairs that cost only in the hundreds of dollars. If you are able to spend more, then you should definitely do so. Underspending on a purchase like this is not advisable. There is one obvious reason that these cheap chairs come so cheap, and a reason that is more obscure. Obviously, the more you pay, the more options, features, and luxuries you will have on your chair. The cushioning and cover will be of a higher quality as well. What is not known to most, however, when purchasing a $500 chair, is that in addition to having less features, the chair's light price is due to the working parts also being extremely cheap - and of very poor quality. An $500 chair will end up costing more than that in the long run, due to you needing to replace working parts. The cushioning will also wear out faster, which will render it uncomfortable anyway. The only reason to even consider purchasing one of these low line models is if you only intend to sit in it and use it very occasionally, and are sure you only need the basic massage programming. Otherwise, refrain from purchasing a chair until your budget permits you spend at least close to $1,500.
What Are Your Physical Dimensions?
How tall are you? How much do you weigh? If you are substantially obese, do you plan on losing weight? Models are made to fit a range of heights. Some are more adjustable than others. All other things being equal, increased adjustability will add to the cost.
Weight is another issue. This is where the quality of the motor really comes in to play. If you weigh more than 250-260 pounds, then you are really going to want to research the motor of the brand of chair. There are some motors that market themselves on being able to bear the weight of anyone who can possibly fit into the chair, but there are others that list a definite weight capacity. If you exceed the listed capacity on the chair, it will still work, it will not immediately burn out the motors, however, it will shorten their life. You will eventually need to get them replaced, and sooner than you hoped. With some manufacturers, that may also affect the warranty.
Speaking of warranties, the length and coverage of them is a clear indication of the quality of the manufacturer. If the warranty only lasts several months, think twice, and maybe even three times, before purchasing. There is a reason warranties are short, and tend to come with cheap chairs. A good rule of thumb is that the warranty for both labor and parts should be at least three years.
As far as limitations go, it is fair for them to have certain exclusions for reckless misuse, consistent exceeding of its capacity, damages caused by children or pets, and failure to use a surge protector. However, for defective parts, they not only should have a length of a few years, but they should also have in home service, as shipping a massage chair in and out is no quick task.
In an ideal world, we could all try out a massage chair before purchasing. However, due to a number of factors - your location, retail store availability, and the manufacturer you are looking to purchase from, more often than not, this will not be an option. Some retail outfits like Brookstone usually have one or a few models available for demos. But those are only a few out of hundreds. Therefore, in addition to the quality of the warranty, you should definitely look into their return policy, in case the settings available can not be intense or deep tissue enough for you, or on the other hand, if the kneading or rolling is so intense that it causes you pain. As any massage therapist knows, intensity preferences vary widely between individuals. The manufacturer should definitely have a return policy, so you do not have to unconditionally commit to spending thousands of dollars on a chair that ends up causing you more pain than comfort.
What is the primary purpose of this massage chair? Do you have a completely healthy body, and you're buying this chair because you want a massage that feels good, and also perhaps a matter of health maintenance? Maybe a precautionary measure against certain future injuries that may occur in your life? Or, are you a person with a certain preexisting debilitation? If so, where is the chronic problem? Neck, back, legs?
Different brands have different strengths when it comes to their various programs and features. Some have a greater variety of neck massages, others specialize more in the legs or lower back. The very top end massage chairs most likely excel in all of them. If you do not plan to spend $9,000 for one of the best, you should read both the manufacturer's marketed features, and perhaps even more importantly, the customer reviews of the effectiveness on your problem area(s).
Who Will Be the Primary User?
Are you buying this chair for yourself, or as a gift for someone else? Or, will the chair go in your home, but you expect your spouse or other family member to use it more often than yourself? In that case, everything mentioned above will need to be taken into account for that person.
Understand Both the Strengths and Limitations
The massage chair can serve very useful purposes. Indeed, it can provide a lot of utility for you and your family, or whoever uses it. One advantage they have to a massage therapist or a chiropractor is that there is no appointment necessary; you merely need to walk into the room of your home where it is stationed, sit down, and turn it on. The massage from a decent caliber chair feels good, and it serves as an excellent way to de-stress yourself. If you have a minor muscle or bone strain, the massage chair can definitely aid in providing temporary pain relief while you heal, and can help accelerate the healing process. It is conveniently ready whenever you are.
Yet it is important to recognize its limitations. If you have a severe problem, such as a subluxation, or other substantial joint problem, or a muscle tear, the massage chair can definitely serve as an auxiliary benefit while you are healing. However, it can not replace the chiropractor or massage therapist. A good massage chair has a variety of programs, but for a severe problem, it has limitations in dealing with the intricate specifics. Conversely, if your muscles have exceptional injuries, the thoroughness of a massage therapist will be necessary. Since you will almost certainly not be visiting your massage therapist every single day, the chair can provide pain relief and auxiliary therapy while your injury heals. But the chair cannot completely substitute for everything.
Overall, if you can afford it, the massage chair is a very good investment. But use these guidelines to research before you make the purchase. Getting both a chair of suitable caliber, but also one that is right for you is absolutely essential to its effectiveness.