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Learning Center - Terminology

massage chair terminology

Massage Chair Terminology

Massage chairs are by design fairly straightforward and end up doing most of the work for you, but if you have done any research into buying a massage chair, you'll quickly find out that there are enough differences and such a wealth of information that you can quickly get buried in new terms you don't quite understand.

This will help you understand the basics of the various features massage chairs offer. We've broken down some of the finer aspects of massage chairs, and a lot of their techniques and technologies to help you make an informed decision about your massage chair purchase.

Let's begin.



Acupressure is a massage technique that delivers pressure to a targeted range of acupoints across the body. Acupressure has much in common with acupuncture, but uses no needles and instead relies on pressure from the massage therapists fingers or rollers from a chair. Shiatsu massage is often called acupressure massage. It is believed that applying pressure to the acupoints will have the same desired effect as the acupuncture needles.

Acupuncture Point or Acupoint

You have over 350 acupoints across your whole body, with over 100 of them in your back and neck. Acupoints are believed to have a direct connection to specific parts or systems of the body. They can be found along the bodies meridian and are used in acupressure and acupuncture.

Airbag Massage System

Airbag massage systems are used to provide compression massage. They do this by inflating the airbag system in specific ways to provide a massage to muscles in the extremities and help the chair achieve a beneficial stretch to muscles that need it. The airbag massage of most massage chairs is the basis for any stretch programs and can work with the back rollers to improve the results by pushing you back onto the massage rollers. These airbags also attend to areas the rollers can't reach. You can learn more about airbag massage here.

Automated Programs

Automated programs are a preset that come with your massage chair and provide a specific kind of massage focusing (most times) on one massage technique. Most automated programs can be customized to the users preferences using manual adjustments typically available on the remote.

Body Scan Technology

body scanning

Body scan technology uses the massage rollers and other peripheral devices, such as infrared and computer mapping, to determine the size, shape, and location of the back and shoulders of every individual that uses the massage chair. A massage chair with body scanning technology will provide a more personalized massage to each user with every use. You can learn more about body scanning here.

Brain Massage

Brain massage is an exclusive massage mode used by Bodyfriend massage chairs. This technique combines massage and binaural beat healing music to stimulate brain activity. A binaural beat is a third sound created in the brain when two sounds with different frequencies enter each ear. This third sound aligns with brainwaves and helps you to experience a deeper level of relaxation and improved concentration.


Chromotherapy, also called color therapy, is an alternative medicine treatment used to produce relaxation. This feature is newer in massage chairs and designed to enhance relaxation. You can learn more here.

Clapping Technique

For the clapping technique the massage roller mimics a cupped hand and utilizes a clapping motion on the muscle that lifts and stretches it.

Compression Technique

Often administered by the massage chairs airbag system, a compression massage is a tight squeezing (or in some cases rubbing) massage that provides relief. You can see more about how this works here.

Deep Pressure Massage

As its name suggests this massage mode applies strong pressure to a group of muscles for a sustained amount of time in an effort to remove deep knots in the muscle.

Deep Tissue Massage

This massage style is able to access deeper muscle and connective tissue for an increased effect by applying deep sustained strokes to problem areas of your back and neck. There is often a little soreness associated with this type of massage if you haven't experienced it before.

Heat Therapy

heat therapy

Heat therapy in a massage chair exists as a set of built-in heating pads that work with the massage rollers and airbag system to increase the benefit of your massage. Heat helps relieve stress and loosens muscles, exponentially improving the effect of your massage. You can learn more about heat therapy here.

Inversion Therapy

In addition to zero gravity, inversion is available in several massage chairs and is designed to provide spinal decompression and reduced lower extremity swelling. You can learn more about inversion therapy here.

Kneading Massage

Kneading massage employs thumb and forefinger massage in a pinching gesture, applying pressure to stretch and warm the muscles. This technique is also the basis for the grasping massage technique.

Massage Chair Motors

Massage chairs have internal motors that offer different functions in the chair. There are rotary motors, piston motors, and vibration motors. Rotary motors control the massage rollers and the kneading and tapping functions. Piston motors control the leg rest and recline functions, and vibration motors control the vibrating movements.

Massage Roller

The massage roller is a circular shaped robotic component that runs along the massage track. The rollers are used to massage, stretch, and warm the back so that they can receive the benefits of any type of massage, ranging from gentle to intense.

There are three types of massage rollers- 2D, 3D, and 4D. The D in the name refers to the dimensions in which the rollers can move. The 2D rollers can move up and down and side to side. The 3D rollers can move up and down, side to side, and in and out. The 4D rollers can move how 3D roller move and also adjust their speed. You can learn more about the rollers here.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is comprised of several massage techniques that are designed to relieve muscle knots and promote relaxation and well-being. Known benefits of massage therapy are enhanced muscle function, improved healing, improved relaxation, and a better overall sense of well-being. You can learn more about the health benefits of massage here.


The meridian in Chinese Medicine is believed to be paths in which life-energy flows through the body. Acupressure and acupuncture is based on targeting specific areas called acupoints located along the meridian and unblocking those channels so that your life force can flow freely throughout your body.


reflexology foot rollers

Reflexology is a therapy that applies physical pressure to the feet, hands, and ears. These points are believed be connected to systems throughout the body, providing therapy to them as well.

Rocking Technique

Many massage chairs provide the rocking technique. This rocks back and forth in a metronome base movement to provides a classic rocking chair feel that can be incredibly soothing and even make sleeping that much easier.

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage is a Japanese therapy that incorporates the thumbs, fingers, and palms in applying pressure as well as stretching to the body. This is also referred to as acupressure massage.


Space saving technology was created to shrink the amount of space required to fully recline the massage chair. There are several models available at MassageChairPlanet.Com that can recline fully in just a few inches. You can learn more about space-saving here.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is a varied therapy that includes multiple styles and stretches. This applies kneading, long strokes, and friction to different muscles as well as joints.

Tapping Technique

The tapping technique applies deep tissue massage by emulating fists tapping on the back and shoulders muscles.


Vibration gives a balanced shaking effect that can alternate in muscle penetration. Vibration is often used with other massage techniques so you get the most out of either. Many massage chairs have a "Sync Massage to Music" mode which utilizes the vibration massage and syncs its effect to the beat of your favorite playlist.

Zero Gravity

zero gravity

The Zero Gravity position in massage chairs was inspired by NASA because it imitates the position astronauts assume upon launching into space. This position distributes weight evenly across the body which works perfectly for an astronaut and can work wonder for you as well. You can learn more about zero gravity here.


If your answer isn't listed here, feel free to give us a call (888) 346-3220. One of our massage chair experts will be happy to assist you with your question. You can also email us at The world of home massage chairs can be a complicated one when comparing models and features, we are here to help you find the massage chair that is right for you and your specific needs!

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