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Learning Center - Features to Look for in a Massage Chair

features to look for in a massage chair

We've all experienced the living room chair with a vibrating motor that didn't do much more than rattle. That’s why it's important to choose a massage chair that emulates the massage style that best suits your needs. 

Whether you're in the market for comfort or to relieve chronic pain, here are the massage chair features you should consider: 

3D/4D Massage

3d massage rollers

A 3D massage system takes your massage up a notch and is starting to be found in the majority of massage chairs being released today. The 3D mechanism allows the rollers to work deep into your shoulders and back, penetrating into the muscles to break up knots and make your massage more intense.

The 3D rollers can protrude further out from the track and reach places that traditional, 2D rollers can’t, including the upper neck and shoulder area. These areas are consistently the site of most tension and having the extra depth from a 3D massage chair can be a huge benefit to those that deal with a great deal of tension.

The rollers can move left and right and up and down, plus the coveted in and out. This action helps to mimic the action of human hands. You can also adjust the intensity to make the massage as thorough or as gentle as you’d like with some limitations based on the chair itself. This can be particularly useful if there will be a few people using the chair.

These chairs are becoming more and more popular, though they are more expensive than 2D chairs. However, the adjustability does offer more bang for your buck.

The latest releases coming out today are taking this 3D technology and increasing it to 4D, which adds on still more adjustability.

4D Massage Rollers

4d massage rollers

For the greatest penetration and precision, 4D rollers give users a deep tissue massage because the rollers can turn and hit different angles that other rollers can’t as well as adjust their rolling speed.

We understand that 4D massage chairs also cause the most confusion for customers. What could have been changed from 3D? Basically, in a 4D massage, the rollers can speed up or slow down automatically to concentrate on tense areas in the back and shoulders.

The goal was to make a massage chair that is much more capable of replicating the massage that a therapist can provide. Many of the 4D chairs combine this feature with an L-Track which means they can work on your hamstrings, glutes, and go all the way back up to the top of your neck without losing contact with your spine.

As these chairs are some of the most expensive, many customers wonder if they are worth the price tag. That really is up to you. These chairs can do some things a 3D chair can’t, but they are also quite similar. Most agree that the determining factor is how often you’ll use the chair and what you can afford. If you’re looking for a chair that can really get deep and you’ll be using it for pain relief, a 4D chair may be the best move for you.

If you have the budget for a 4D chair and will use it regularly to tend to very tight muscles, they can be worth the investment. However, if your budget is smaller, you will still receive an excellent massage from a 3D chair.

Stretch Programs 

stretch massage techniques

A stretch program in a massage chair is also very important because it can help to release built-up tension and relieve stress. 

Stretching is a great way to undo knots in muscles in addition to loosening up muscles to prepare them for the rest of your day or a deeper massage. Most massage chairs use the built-in airbag system placed throughout the chair to strategically hold you in place in the massage chair so that you feel a stretch in the muscles in a specific area. This massage style can help relax your body and provide pain relief. This stretch is a very coveted massage technique for many customers and you can see if a chair offers this program in its description under auto programs and in the technical specs tab on our site.



Airbag Massage

airbag massage

Massage chairs give you the chance to enjoy all the benefits or a massage therapist right in the comfort of your own home. As they become more and more advanced, chairs have started to incorporate better features, including air compression massage.

Airbag compression massage is found in quite a few different models of massage chairs as a compliment to the rollers. So, how does it work?

What are the Airbags in Massage Chairs?

Airbags add a new massage technique into your massage chair. Airbags are usually found in places such as the shoulders, neck, arms, legs, and feet. They can normally attend to places where the rollers can’t reach.

Some airbags can also be placed to produce rotation, such as the lower back. This works by shifting your hips in alternating patterns that can assist to stretch your lower back and correct your alignment a bit.

How Does Air Compression Massage Differ from Other Techniques?

An airbag can produce a compression massage that differs from kneading, rolling, or tapping. Compression massage can simulate the area in a similar way by rapidly inflating and deflating the airbags, which can get users the massage they want in areas like your arms where you can’t place a roller.

The airbags inflate around the area, like your arm, and compress it. You can modify the intensity and each chair will present a little different setup, so take a moment to get familiar with how the chair you’re looking at allows you to adjust the massage.

What are the Health Benefits?

Compression is a safe, regularly used technique that can improve blood and lymph flow. You’ve probably heard of compression socks, which can help with circulation in the feet and legs, well the overall benefits of a compression massage are very similar.

Compression massage assists to enhance circulation while also kneading in order to relax tense muscles and help the body to rid itself of toxins. In regards to that, be sure to drink lots of water after your massage.

Swelling can also be decreased with a compression massage. Compressing tissues increases lymph flow. Lymph fluid houses our cells. By stimulating this flow, your compression massage can decrease or reduce swelling and even prevent it from coming back.

In addition, when you improve blood flow you can assist an injury to recover faster because the increased circulation helps nutrients and oxygen flow into your tissues quicker.

Zero Gravity

zero gravity

Another important feature that is probably one of the most important in your new massage chair is Zero Gravity. This is one of the most researched and innovative features that has become the bread and butter of a high-end massage chair. They should all start offering this and it is certainly a must-have in a chair.

Zero Gravity is remarkably popular and customers everywhere are singing its praises regularly. So, what is Zero Gravity and what are the benefits that make it so much more impressive than a traditional chair? 

What is Zero Gravity?

The Zero Gravity position in massage chairs was inspired by NASA. This position imitates the position astronauts assume upon launching into space. It’s beneficial because it distributes weight evenly across the body. If it can work wonders for astronauts, it can work wonders for you.

How Does It Work?

When you select Zero Gravity mode, the massage chair eases you into a reclined position, shifting your legs in line with your back to optimize comfort and reduce unwanted pressure.

There are also chairs with Two-Stage Zero Gravity. The second stage angles you even further back, moving your legs above the level of your heart. This position can improve blood flow which can, in turn, be very good for your heart and body. It also takes pressure off your spine which is where you’ll be feeling most of your back pain.

What are the Benefits?

Zero Gravity positioning offers quite a few benefits including:

  • Decreased back pain- We put pressure and stress on our spines all day. Zero-G takes the weight off your spine for less discomfort.
  • Improved circulation- While in Zero-G, your feet are level with your heart, improving blood flow. This can assist your heart, muscles, and arteries to function better, helping us feel healthier and even look healthier.
  • Decreased swelling- When your blood is flowing better, your body can reduce swelling faster.
  • Help with breathing- Lying flat can make breathing difficult for some people. Zero-G props the body up and helps open airways. It can also help those that suffer from asthma or sleep apnea.
  • Increased comfort and relaxation- When you combine all the benefits above, you get improved relaxation and a boost to overall wellness.


Inversion therapy is a method where people are suspended upside down to decompress and stretch out the spine and ease back pain. By changing the body’s gravity, it is created to reduce the pressure on the back while also implementing some traction.

Inversion therapy can be beneficial for people with:

  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Poor circulation
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
What Do the Studies Show?

The goal of this remedy is to help with backaches and discomfort. It’s also believed that the stretching and circulatory benefits can help to prevent future back issues.

Inversion is created to help the spine by:

  • Creating additional protective fluid around spinal discs
  • Flushing waste from the spine
  • Minimizing swelling
  • Improving circulation in surrounding muscles

More and more massage chairs are providing zero-gravity as a feature, and it has swiftly become a customer favorite. The inversion feature is fairly new, but it is also showing serious promise and can take the benefits of zero gravity one step further.

Most original zero gravity massage chairs tilted the seat back 30 degrees. Inversion will recline the chair back to below horizontal, thus inverting the user as much as possible while remaining seated and enjoying a thorough massage.

Inversion was introduced to massage chairs pretty recently and the best massage chairs that provide this feature can recline back past 180-degrees.

Once you’re reclining past 180 degrees, the inversion effect truly starts working and can even have you feeling like you might slide back off the chair, but you won’t. This inverted effect assists the spine to decompress like when using a traditional inversion machine.

Quite a few chiropractors and physical therapists use inversion, and many of their clients have sung their praises of the practice. Now that massage chairs are starting to incorporate this feature, customers can experience an even greater level of spinal decompression.

These massage chairs with inversion can act as an inversion machine to some degree and offer a measure of relief with the spinal decompression that therapy offers.

If you’re in the market for even greater relief, or maybe you already love zero gravity, check out inversion massage chairs and take your spinal decompression to a whole new level.

L-Track Massage

l track massage track

As developments in massage chairs continued to improve, the S-Track massage that we know and love was upgraded to the L-Track. The L-Track has been around for a few years and demonstrates the ability to travel down the spine as well as under the seat to reach the glutes and hamstrings. That chair was an Inada, the first manufacturer to offer an L-Track prototype.

Inada took time to perfect their chair, and as a result, Infinite Therapeutics, or Infinity, introduced the Iyashi model, which became the first commercially available L-Track massage chair.

More and more models have come out since then, and the MaxTrack found in the new Ohco M.8 Series extended from that original L-Track design to create an even better experience. This innovation has been one of the most significant improvements in massage chair history and allows for a much more full-body massage experience.

S-Track vs. L-Track

When you’re comparing an S-Track to an L-Track, think of it this way. The L-Track is an extension of the S-Track, which extends the length of the track to attend to the glutes and the top of the hamstrings. It’s still one continuous roller track that mimics the shape of your spine like an S-Track does.

The rollers work the glutes, piriformis, and hamstrings just as thoroughly as the neck, mid-back, and lower back where an S-Track rollers can’t reach and are only massaged by the airbags.

If you suffer from tight or sore glutes, or if you have piriformis syndrome or sciatica, an L-Track massage chair is going to be your best bet.

And remember, when you choose an L-Track you aren’t going to miss out on the benefits of an S-Track. After all, an L-Track is just an extension, and if you choose the MaxTrack, you’ll enjoy the L-Track benefits with the addition of being able to lie totally flat in the chair.

Just choose the right chair for your needs.

Need help finding the Perfect Massage Chair? Use our Massage Chair Tool