Massage therapy has been shown to provide numerous health benefits — but does it matter how you receive the massage? For those looking for a consistent source of massage, a massage chair can seem like a great option, but how good are they for your health? Can they effectively treat back pain and discomfort?
Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of massage chairs and whether or not one might be good for you.
Are Massage Chairs Good for You?
Massage chairs work by stimulating massage therapy through a use of internal gears and motors. If you’d like to see the specific mechanics of how they work, read our deep-dive into the history, construction and operation of massage chairs. Many of the benefits provided by a massage chair will depend on its functions and features. For example, a simple vibrating massage chair won’t match the array of massage techniques provided by a higher-end massage chair.
When used properly, the right massage chair will provide many of the same benefits that you can receive from a massage therapist.
- First and foremost, massage directly affects the muscles and connective tissues to stimulate blood flow and break up areas of stress and congestion. This serves to aid in recovery after exercise, strenuous activity or injury, can improve joint mobility and motor function and even provide therapy for conditions like fibromyalgia.
- Due to applied pressure, massage helps move blood and lymph fluids through congested areas, aiding in circulation, which can provide benefits for the cardiovascular system. It has also been shown to aid patients in recovery after heart surgery. Improving circulation in different areas of the body can also be a big help for those suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
- By alleviating stress and tension, massage can help to alleviate pain and discomfort. Beyond localized muscle pain, this can be especially helpful in addressing the symptoms of headaches. This stress relief can also help improve quality of sleep, which in turn can aid in addressing conditions like insomnia and sleep apnea. As an added benefit, by reducing pain and improving sleep, regular massage therapy can help you stay focused and alert.
Are Massage Chairs Good for Your Back?
If there is any part of the body that massage chairs are best able to focus on, it is the back. Massage therapy has been regularly shown to provide relief for lower back pain and sciatic nerve pain, and massage chairs are designed to provide the most support and therapy to the upper and lower back regions.
For that reason, your choice of chair is important for treating symptoms of back pain and preventing further stress and injury. Higher end chairs feature body-scanning technology to deliver a custom massage that applies pressure directly to specific areas of the upper and lower back. Some chairs also offer added features like zero gravity recline to reduce tension and pressure on the spine and heat therapy to better relax muscles.
If you’re looking to treat back pain, then your choice of massage chair can be an important investment in your health and comfort.
How Often Should You Use a Massage Chair?
To get the best benefit out of massage, your therapy should be on a regular basis. Regular treatment on a set schedule will better address stress and tension before it builds to a high level and causes pain or discomfort. However, what a “regular” schedule looks like depends on your own physical well being and health needs.
A massage is like a workout, while it has great benefits for your wellbeing, it also puts pressure on certain parts of the body. As a result, any massage that goes for too long or is too intense can risk pain or injury. To understand how often you should use a massage chair, start by consulting with your physician if you have chronic or acute health conditions. You’ll want their expert opinion before having any kind of massage therapy, as they could recommend which types of massages to receive for treatment, and which treatments to avoid.
Though you may be tempted to enjoy an all-day massage, massage therapy works best in shorter intervals. Sessions of around 15 minutes is usually enough to relax muscles and loosen knots. Frequency of use is also important, as overuse of a massage chair can prevent your muscles from properly recovering from activity. In general, try not to use a massage chair more than 3 or 4 times a week, and be sure to skip a day between sessions to give your muscles time to relax and recover.
If you do want to use a massage chair several days in a row, be sure to work different parts of your body on different days. For example, working the lower back and legs on one day and then upper back and shoulders on the following day can provide regular benefits without overworking your muscles.