A good back massage chair may be the best purchase you ever make - or it may be the worst. The spectrum of quality in the massage chair market is very broad, ranging from mass-produced, cheaply made duds through to excellent therapeutic chairs built carefully according to chiropractor-certified designs.
Because of the massive range of quality - and the big impact one of these chairs can have on your back - it's important to have a quality guide to help you make the right choice. Luckily, you have that right here on this web page!
Read on to learn what you should be looking for when checking out back massage chairs, as well as some of the most popular brands and products on the market.
For starters, it's worth knowing that various chairs are capable of giving different styles of massage, and some of the most advanced chairs can do multiple styles on their own. When you start looking at massage chairs, you may be puzzled by the massive difference in prices - some models as low as $150, others around the $3000 mark and above. Let's get into some of the features that account for these big price differences so you know you're getting value for money.
The most basic chairs simply have a single vibrating pad in the backrest. Some basic models also have a heating function, so you can switch between heat, vibration or both.
While some of these chairs are better than nothing if you're on a tight budget, they aren't really ideal. They don't target specific parts of your back, and their 'massage' style doesn't really line up with any scientific principles. It puts pressure and motion onto your back, but that's about it - there's no real method to relieving pressure, loosening up muscles, and so on.
Now contrast this with a chair at the top end of the price spectrum, the Osaki OS-4000. You might have heard of 'gravity massage chairs' - this is one of them. It's called that because sitting in one almost feels like floating in space. It consists of several dozen airbags, along with multiple robotic arms in different parts of the chair so you can target particular body parts. The massage rollers are designed to feel like real human hands and move in patterns and motions that mimic real massage styles, based on time-tested techniques used by real masseurs.
Now do you see why there's such a big difference in prices?
Of course, not everyone has a spare $3000 sitting around waiting to be spent on a space chair. For those of us with more modest budgets, we need to strike a balance between price and functionality.
Buying second hand is a great way to get more for your money, but there are a few points to keep in mind when buying a used massage chair. If you're buying off an auction site like Ebay, always check the seller's reputation. There are many established online sellers dealing in furniture who have plenty of feedback, so you're best to choose from someone with an established reputation.
Alternatively, you can buy from a website that stocks second-hand units - however, if you do this you should compare warranties and prices between a number of sites. Warranties are especially important when buying second-hand as this reduces your risk of wasting several hundred dollars on a chair that malfunctions after a few months.
We've already mentioned the OS-4000 Osaki massage chair above - Osaki is known as one of the high-end brands in the massage chair market. Apart from the OS-4000, they have a few other products worthy of mention here. The OS-3000 is a slightly less 'tricked out' model, with fewer features and a lower price tag. On the other hand, if you really want the height of luxury, the OS-6000 might be more your speed - complete with extra air cushions and a built-in mp3 player! This is one of the most highly adjustable massage chairs you'll find at any price.
If you want something a little more basic and cost-effective, Human Touch is a brand worth looking into. The iJoy-2310 has received a lot of praise from happy consumers, and if you shop in the right places you can get one for under $400. This chair gets the balance just right for many people when it comes to price and features. The chair includes four different modes, each of which mimics a different method used by real masseurs. While you can save money with Human Touch, their warranties aren't particularly solid or long-term, so it is a bit of a risk if your chair malfunctions.
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