How do you feel about AI and machines taking care of humans?
We know that lots of people have lost their jobs, many will lose in the coming years and many professions are gone forever, but on the bright side, machines make lives easier for human beings.
Take Massage Chairs for example …
There was a time when after a tough and long day at work (9 to 5 grind, you know) you had to go to a spa to get some warm, soft and gentle human hands taking care of your pain, exhaustion, and fatigue.
Nowadays, there are full body massage chairs with technologies that replicate different actions of human hands … It is because of such massage chairs that you are capable of enjoying human touch massage at an office or home – minus the spa.
But this ease of choice puts a much bigger question to the end-users – there are simply so many manufacturers out there and each of them has many different versions of massage chairs to offer.
So how to pick one and ditch the rest of them – it is a daunting decision, but after reading 2021massage chair reviewsand the buyer’s guide, you’ll feel confident picking your massage chair.
Best Massage Chair Reviews Consumer Reports 2021 [Top Picks]
In this section, you’d get to read the detailed reviews of each of the 7 top massage chairs that I picked for this review. I wrote these reviews based on personal experience, questioning the experts, and a lot of research.
Let us suppose that you need a full-body massage chair – your doctor suggests so or you just like the idea of getting a full-body massage whenever you want.
But you have limited space at home or office and you want a full-body massage chair that will not only blend in with the rest of the furniture in the room, but also double as a movie chair, executive chair, and lounge chair etc.
Well, this chair is one of the few full-body chairs that I’d recommend for you. However, these are not the only reasons to have Kahuna SM-9000.
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To start with, this massage recliner comes with an SL track-system for massage rollers. Suffice it to say that an SL-track is even more advanced than the L-track that is considered better than the S-track.
The Air Float 3D+ massage rollers conform to a more advanced massage mechanism and as a result, the kind of massage that you get with this massage chair is way better than what you get with a simple S or L-track massage chair.
It comes with a bright LED display remote-control that you can use easily while it is held by the dedicated holder. The combo of massages that Kahuna SM-9000 is both: gentle and silent as well as firm and strong full-body massages.
The best thing about Kahuna’s full-body massage chair is that it is equally good for tall people; I know that there are some full-body massage chairs that are not suitable to people taller than average, but this chair can accommodate people with height up to 6 feet and 5 inches.
The chair glides into zero gravity reclining position and the best part about that is the space-saving technology that Kahuna used while making this chair. This massage chair does not need as much space as other chairs need for a gliding or zero-gravity move – all you need 3 inches off the wall.
So, those of you who never dived deeper into the realm of massage chairs (of course why would you do so, I’m the researcher here), might not know the name of this brand because a couple of big names like Kahuna and Osaki, etc. are more famous.
But believe you me when I tell you that this chair is creating quite a buzz on Amazon – it has got a 4.3/5-star rating and rave reviews from the customers.
And in the category of full-body massage chairs that look cool and can easily double as executive chairs, this one is right next to Kahuna.
It is a full-body, shiatsu massage chair that offers zero-gravity recline. With your one-hand operation remote controller, you can control everything.
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And what’s everything? There are 4 automatic massage programs that cater to different purposes and areas that need attention: relaxation, rejuvenation, stretching of muscles, and back massage.
Likewise, there are 5 manual massage options to choose from: kneading, tapping, shiatsu, a combo of kneading and tapping, and rolling.
This massage chair is so full of options that you’d love to customize your massage the way you want. For example, there are airbags in different parts of the calf and feet area. Airbags are used to provide compression massage; you can always increase or decrease the intensity of compression because there are 3 levels to choose from.
Another amazing feature is computerized body scanning – definitely at home or office, sometimes we have more people to use the same massage recliner. The computerized scanning sensor will scan the length and contour of a body and pick a program suitable for it.
The L-track massage rolling system can definitely not be compared with SL-track, but it is still more advanced and better than S-track.
Ideal Massage is a big name in full body massage chairs and although most of its massage recliners (like this one) do not conform to the whole executive/lush outlook that full-body massage chairs from vendors like Kahuna do, in terms of features, functions and efficiency, massage chairs made by Ideal Massage are top of the line.
When it comes to reviewing a massage chair, everyone has their own preferences, but to me, everything starts from the roller track system.
Machine-made massage is all about rollers, heating pads, and airbags – everything else is just detail or the factors that control these main players.
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This massage chair has an L-track just like high-quality Kahuna massage chairs. The reason why L-track delivers better than S-track is the extended reach that the rollers get because of it. You cover more ‘real estate’ of your body if your massage chair has an L-track roller system.
What’s more? There are 10 auto-massage programs that you can enjoy while using Ideal Massage. Those 10 massage programs are swing sleep, stretch, upper back, lower back, buttocks, full back, relaxation, recovery, Swedish and activate.
You just pick the massage type (as per the affected area of the body or the kind of fatigue you feel) and let the automatic massage options take care of your body.
I cannot help, but appreciate the attention to detail that this chair shows in the feet and calves’ area. There are foot-massage rollers right under the feet that give you a sensational massage and foot elongation feature lets taller people stretch their legs up to 6 inches.
This massage chair has zero gravity mode and space-saving technology just like we noticed in case of Kahuna SM-9000. The chair needs hardly a few inches off the wall and glides on its own pedestal.
Just like Kahuna SM-9000, the Kahuna LM-6800 is also a full-body massage recliner – although it not as advanced as LM-9000. Instead of the latest SL-track, this chair offers an L-track.
However, L-track is still far better than the old-school S-track and as per some researchers, SL is more about hype and while there is a difference, it is not too different from the L-track.
Other than the L-track roller system there are many cool features that make people buy this chair without giving it a second thought.
For example, there are 4 manual programs that you can choose from: kneading, tapping, rolling, shiatsu, and yes – combo of kneading and tapping massage.
Another amazing thing – something that you won’t even find with SM-9000 is the 3 positions of zero gravity mode. With more positions than most of the other chairs can offer, this chair lets you choose from different levels of comfort and zero gravity.
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Also: in case you do not want to pick a program, you can trust your massage to computerized body scanning sensor. When a new person sits in the chair, the sensor takes a scan of their spine and provides a customized massage tailored to that person’s body shape.
Another goodie is dual-foot rollers. In most of the massage chairs (if there are foot rollers at all), there is only a one-foot roller set. However, in case of this massage chair, you get dual-foot rollers and thus you enjoy a massage 2x better than what most of the other massage chairs will offer.
Apart from manual programs, there are auto-programs too – two of them are pretty special and the reason why Kahuna massage chair LM-6800 sells like hotcakes. They are Yoga Stretching and SH-Chiro – both of them are signature programs that cater to two different types of body fatigues and problems.
BestMassage is Apple of massage chair manufacturers. This company knows how to add personality, style and luxury to a massage recliner.
In case you want an executive, lounge chair and plush recliner all in one, but you’re not happy with what Kahuna or Relaxonchair have to offer, you’d love the executive style, look and feel of this chair.
But again – when it comes to a massage recliner, things like style and luxury do not dictate the buying decisions. This chair has everything to impress a massage chair aficionados out there.
We’re talking about 21 airbags – from top to the feet area that provide you intensive air compression massage and help this massager give you a good stretching massage.
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You can control the speed, you can control the intensity of massage and you can choose how wide or narrow area the massage rollers and bags will cover. There are 3 intensity settings for each of these details – you can have 3 different levels of comfort as per your requirements.
There are in total 7 massage modes that you can choose from: kneading, tapping, stretching, shiatsu, air pressure, heating, and combo of your favorite massages. Then there are 9 preset auto massages as well – each of them is made of a combination/pattern of 7 massage modes that I’ve just mentioned.
When it comes to computerized scanning sensors in massage recliners, this is one of the few chairs that really impressed me. It has an 11-signal test switch and Holt integrated circuits sensor that takes measurements of your height and length of spine etc. to offer a massage tailored to your needs.
While this chair does not have zero gravity mode, you can adjust the reclining angle as per your level of comfort. I personally feel that zero gravity mode and memory feature could make this massage chair even better.
This massage recliner from Real Relax, another company that is not too famous like Kahuna and Human Touch etc., conforms to the standards set by industry’s leading brands: yet another massage chair that doubles as executive chair or lounge chair.
However, this one is better than some of the best massage chairs offered by Kahuna in terms of the wholesomeness of experience and adaptation of new technology.
For example, this massage recliner has Bluetooth audio-play connectivity options that Kahuna’s SM-9000 and few others don’t have.
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It is a full-body massage chair with 8 massage rollers dedicated to the neck and back area. There are 50 airbags in total – from top to the feet area – which is more than I’ve seen in case of most of the full-body massage recliners.
Real Relax’s massager has 6 auto programs that you can choose from. With this chair comes a smart remote controller with high-definition VFD display and advanced settings so you can customize your massage the way you want.
Speaking of customization, it is important to know that just like a few other tops of the line executive massage recliners, this one also offers 3 levels of speed and strength of massage that you can enjoy with rollers and airbags.
Although it is not as big as SM-9000, it can still accommodate a user with a height range from 5 feet 2 inches to 6 feet 1 inch. It has the same footrest extendibility feature as you notice in the case of SM-9000.
Not only this massage recliner has zero gravity mode, but it is a one-touch operation. Press the button for once and immediately delve into zero gravity mode. The good thing about ZG mode is that this chair does not take too much space and sort of glides on its own pedestal.
Titan Chai is another well-known brand – known for making Osaki massage recliners which are no doubt one of the best massage recliners in the category of full-body massage recliners with an executive look and feel.
In terms of design and style, this chair is very similar to Best Massage’s EC-06. It has a very luxurious and stylish outlook and it is needless to say that it will blend very well with the furniture at your home or office.
The upholstery on Osaki OS-400 is high-quality PU faux leather – while it is faux leather, one cannot tell the difference because it is very durable and comfortable.
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This recliner has a zero-gravity mode and there are two positions that you can choose from. It is great to have two modes because this means that you have a choice and you can pick a position that is more suitable to the chosen massage type and the expected level of comfort.
Another good feature is dual lumbar pads for heat massage – there have been some complaints from the customers of a few other massage recliners that the lumbar heat massage wasn’t very satisfying and the reason was a single pad. Dual pads on this one, take care of both halves of your lower back.
It has a large and easy to read LCD display that stays put in the holder and can be controlled via a wireless remote controller.
Via airbags that are strategically placed from top to bottom, you enjoy a wholesome air compression massage. The areas covered by this massage are feet, calves, hips, and shoulders. You can set an auto-timer for this massage and the duration can be from a minimum of 5 minutes to 30 minutes.
What makes everything even better is that you can pick from 5 levels of speed and intensity irrespective of whether you’re enjoying air pressure massage or roller massage.
What we liked
2 Levels of Zero Gravity
Dual Heat Massage Pads
5 Levels of Speed and Intensity
What We didn't like
Feet & Calves Massage Could be Better
Benefits of Having a Massage Recliner in 2021
So, this was our break down of 7 top massage recliners. After reading the reviews you might have a few questions in mind and the most important of all of them is why have a massage recliner at home or office, why not go to a spa whenever needed?
A spa or a physiologist will cost you on a permanent basis, while a massage recliner is a one-time investment. I know that massage recliners (especially full-body ones) can be very expensive, but remember that ‘buy once, cry once’ proverb.
Here are some of the best benefits of buying your own massage chair:
Saves time – We all know this point because I sorta kinda covered this at the beginning of this piece. We live very busy and hectic lives – the hustle does not even allow us to have some time for the gym or jog. A massage recliner saves you time because you can enjoy a massage at home or office, without having to go to a spa or a physiologist.
Saves money – Yes, I know – there are some full-body massage chairs that actually cost one a fortune (almost), but how do you compare a one-time investment with paying to expensive physiologists and spas every day or every alternate day? In the end, your own massage chair saves you a lot of money.
Multiple Massage Techniques – While your massager at the spa or your physiologist can be the world’s best massager or physiologist, they cannot be the master of as many different types of massage therapies and techniques as you explore and get benefited from when you use a latest technology full-body massage chair.
Human VS Machine – We know that when it comes to massage everyone loves the touch and feel of human hands. Kneading and tapping – for example – are human massage techniques, but while your advanced massage chair can replicate human touch and techniques, humans cannot give you a massage 24/7 with the same consistent quality that you experience while using a massage chair.
Multiple-purpose Investment – When you buy a beautiful executive quality massage chair you just don’t buy a massager, but a piece of furniture that will not only complement other pieces of furniture at your home or office but double as an executive chair, movie chair or lounge chair.
How Does Massage Chair work?
Massage chairs have been around for so many years – it is not a new technology. The success of a massage chair lies in how well they imitate real human massage and how much ‘real estate’ of your body does it cover.
A good massage chair can be one that caters to your entire body or one that only takes care of a particular area such as backbone – and does so very satisfyingly.
It is important to know how a massage chair works and most importantly, how come this machine replaced human hands.
There are quite a few parts in a massage recliner that imitate different human touches, massage styles and other equipment used by human massager.
For example, airbags compress different parts of human bodies with a simple action of inflation and deflation.
They are used in many different ways – for example, the stretch massage technique is delivered with the help of these bags. The massage chair leans backward while airbags strongly grip the user’s body.
Likewise, rollers work their way up and down in a kneading motion that is very similar to how a massager applies to knead on the backbone to eradicate the pain and provide immediate relief to their client.
Then there is heat massage – there are one or two heat pads in the lumbar area or the legs area and they imitate the hot water bottles that people still use to apply heat and relieve pain. These heat pads either create heat or hot air to imitate the same effect.
However, all these technologies deliver good results when used in unison. We’re lucky that we’re living in an era of technological advancement that has drastically changed the way massage chairs work – otherwise, basic technology massage chairs relied on nothing else but vibration. We still have those chairs and cushions, but even with multiple vibrating surfaces, such chairs cannot beat the latest and more sophisticated massage technologies.
Types of Massage Techniques
In order to better understand the way a massage chair works, we need to first understand the kind of massage techniques that one can enjoy in a basic full-body massage chair.
Whether your chair has music or not, whether it can get into zero gravity mode or not, these techniques remain the same and they are the core of what every massage chair does.
All of these techniques either imitate a human touch and massage style, or the equipment human massagers use to relieve pain and provide comfort to a particular body part.
Let us take a look:
Kneading – Kneading is what kneading is (imagine a chef kneading a piece of dough) – this is a human action and exactly what a massager does with backbone’s discs. The rollers of a massage chair make movement in circles or in other formats to perform this type of massage.
Tapping – As the name suggests it is nothing but a gentle tapping – exactly what you experience in a spa where a human being applies the massage. This type of technique is accomplished with the help of rollers striking your backbone gently and pushing out.
Shiatsu – Shiatsu is a Japanese massage and definitely it is performed by humans, but now some massage chair manufacturing companies have started making massage chairs that imitate the same effect with the help of rollers. The rollers stimulate and push certain sensitive points on your spine and thus perform Shiatsu massage.
Stretching – As I have already explained, stretching is one of the oldest forms of massage. Whenever we feel tired, we naturally lean back, arching our back, stretching the body and thus we relieve fatigue or pain. A massage chair imitates the same technique with the help of airbags. Airbags get ahold of your body, while the chair leans back and you enjoy a natural stretching massage.
Heat Massage – Back in the days when massage chairs were not invented, heat massage was rendered via hot objects such as a hot water bottle. The automatic massage chairs imitate the same technique with heating pads in the lumbar area.
Automatic vs Manual Massage Programs for 2021
While reading this lengthy guide on massage chairs, you must have noticed that almost all of them have a combo of automatic/pre-set massage programs and manual massage programs.
You might even be wondering as to what is the difference between an automatic massage program and a manual one.
Well, manual massage therapy is mostly based on one typical massage technique. For example, you can pick the area where you want massage, and then you can pick the technique e.g. kneading and you can enjoy a manually selected kneading massage in that particular area.
However, an automatic massage program is mostly a combination of a few basic massage techniques. You pick a massage program to let different parts of the machine (airbags, rollers, and heat pads in unison) and different massage types be applied to your aching and fatigued body.
The difference varies from one massage chair to another – and one manufacturer to another.
How to Take Care of a Massage Chair in 2021?
In the end, a massage chair is just another machine at your home or your office – it needs proper cleaning and maintenance or it will fail to perform flawlessly.
However, taking care of a massage chair is something new to you and you need to learn how to clean it and take good care of it.
First of all, you should know that most of the massage chairs are shipped unassembled; assembling your own massage chair gives you a good chance to understand how it works and how you can take proper care of it.
Here are some points that will help you clean and maintain your massage chair:
In case your massage chair needs batteries for any part e.g. remote controller, make sure that you do not leave those batteries in there for a long period of time.
Getting to know your massage chair demands to understand the kind of upholstery is on it. Most of the companies use PU or other types of faux leather – while this material is durable, make sure to not use acidic contents to clean upholstery.
If you use liquid cleaning agents to clean the massage chair and its different parts, make sure that you do not apply that liquid (acidic or not) to the parts that move and that consume electricity – rollers are a good example of the type of parts that I’ve mentioned.
Use microfiber damp cloth for upholstery and other parts – while microfiber cloth is best known for cleaning and leaving no residues, dampening it will free you of the need to use powerful/acidic industrial agents. This way, you will use cleaning agents like oil only once a month and mostly use a harmless damp cloth.
In case the upholstery is removable and you washed it for better cleaning, make sure to not put it on the chair unless it is completely dry. Remember, this thing runs on electricity and you do not want any kind of liquid (water, oil, other cleaning agents) to damage the sensitive circuits.
Massage Chair Buying Guide 2021
As promised …
I know that I’ve reviewed 7 top massage chairs and you can pick any of them, but in case you want to know what to look for when buying a massage chair, here is a buyer’s guide that will help you pick your dream massage chair.
Let us admit it – one cannot buy anything one wants. Every one of us has a wish list longer than devil’s highway and we have it only because we cannot buy each and every one of those eye-catching products that we drool over.
So, the first point is to know your budget and then look for a massage chair that checks most of the boxes (your expectations and requirements) and is still available within your budget.
Here is a pro-tip to help you with finding the best chair with limited resources – do know that whatever price you pay for your favorite product, has always a fair share of the brand value.
While a China-made cell phone may have the same specs as a brand-new iPhone, the price of that phone will not be the same. It is because the iPhone is made by Apple.
You can buy a great massage chair at an affordable rate if it is made by a new entrant in the massage chair manufacturing game. Look out for brands that are not as well-known as Kahuna, Human Touch, and Titan Chair.
If you’re someone with chronic back pain or a strain, injury, or problem in some other area of your body e.g. calves, you should look for a massage chair that does not only cater to that area but also delivers its best in that specific area.
For example, if I have a lumbar pain problem and I know that lumbar heat message takes good care of my old problem, I’d not only look for a massage recliner with lumbar heat pads, but I’d make sure that it is a recliner with dual heat pads – for both sides of the back.
Likewise, if I have to walk a lot and my feet ache badly when I come back home, I know that the kind of massage chair that I need is not only one that has massage rollers and airbags for the feet and calves area, but there are dual rollers to provide comfort to the bottom of my feet.
Speed and Intensity
When it comes to massage, the speed, and intensity of the massage are the two most important factors. I have read many reviews, made by angry customers, who complained about how rollers were so hard and rough.
I bet that if their massage chairs allowed them to control the speed and intensity, they wouldn’t give them negative ratings.
Modern massage chair technology makes it possible for the users to control the speed and intensity of rollers, airbag compression, vibration and even heat pads. In case you love a gentle massage in your lower back and a little rough in the calves area, you can make it possible now.
Make sure to pick a massage chair that allows speed and intensity settings. I’ve seen as many as 3 or 5 levels of such settings and it is needless to say how easy they make the things.
So, what the buzz is all about?
Well, you know that astronauts enjoy zero gravity in their space shuttles, and what ZG does to the human body is make it lighter.
Massage chair manufacturers stole the idea from NASA and they added this useful feature to the massage chairs. A massage chair with ZG mode reclines back while the legs are elevated higher than the heart.
This way all your body’s weight is evenly distributed across the entire body and not only you feel lighter, but this boosts blood flow to your brain and thus makes you feel better.
Now, in case you’re not interested in all this, you can write this function off your list and buy a chai without ZG, but in case you love ZG mode, pick a chair that has two or three zero gravity positions.
Do you love music? There are some massage recliners that come with Bluetooth connectivity; just connect your mobile/iPod with the massage chair and enjoy music through the built-in speakers.
There are some other fancy features and if you like them you should find a massage recliner that checks all the other important boxes along with the one that you fancy.
For example, there are some massage chairs that have memory functions. The sensor that takes a 3D scan of your body feeds the data in the machine and the next time machine will automatically apply the massage suitable to your needs.
Or you can feed settings, chair will save them and will use them the next time you’ll b using it. It is perfect for those households where two or more persons are going to use the chair.
Bests Massage Chairs Comparison Chart 2020
Before I conclude this review and buyer’s guide on my verdict, here is a little table to put things into perspective:
Infrared heating rollers
Relaxonchair MK-II Plus
3 stage ZG
Ideal Massage Shiatsu Chair
Dual foot rollers
Best Massage EC-06
Dual Heat Pads
Real Relax 2020
Titan Chair Osaki OS-4000
Auto Leg Scan
And here are the top 3 massage chairs out of 7 that I picked for this review: