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"Sitting In My Massage Chair Hurt!" Beginner Mistakes With Massage Chairs

Why Were Your Sore After Your First Time in Your Massage Chair

It’s never what you want. You’ve purchased your massage chair, hooked it up, and are ready to enjoy an incredible session, but when you get out of the chair you feel sore, and maybe even during the massage, you were experiencing pain with some of the massage strokes. What went wrong? Why did this massage hurt when you’re supposed to be so relaxed and blissed out afterward?

It can be disappointing to take home a chair with all the top features like Bluetooth, enhanced 4D rollers, body scanning, and more only to be in pain after the first massage. This is also very common. Quite often people don’t truly realize the settings and intensity that they need from a chair and when the person in the store helps you they typically program the chair to be effective but gentle based on what you told them.

But there is more to a rough first time than just a bit of soreness.

In America, especially in the fitness world, the saying is “No pain, no gain.” In fitness gyms and classes around the nation, there is a perceived relationship between the aches we feel after a workout and the results. So many people think that the sorer they feel, the better and faster the results will be. And that makes a lot of people push themselves to their breaking point.

When it comes to true progress and particularly massage chairs, that kind of thinking isn’t helpful.

According to, stated in a recent Healthy Lifestyle article, “some forms of massage can leave you feeling a bit sore, but [a massage] shouldn’t ordinarily be painful or uncomfortable.” If a massage chair causes the user to wince or feel discomfort, it’s simply not doing its job and should be refined.

Yet, because of our perception of pain equating to an increase in results, we frequently think the opposite–that a session in a chair where we are prodded and pounded is actually going to be the most effective for us. However, this is completely wrong. In fact, not only should a session in your massage chair not hurt, they should reduce pain.

So, what could be causing the pain you’re experiencing in your massage chair when you take it home? Well, the bad news is that there are various reasons why you might experience some discomfort and soreness despite a wonderfully executed massage session. The good news is that determining what it is for you isn’t too hard. Let’s dive into the causes behind this first-time use pain.

You’re Just Not Used to It Yet

One of the most common reasons why you may be feeling sore after your time in a massage chair when you choose any of the pre-programmed massage sessions is that you may just not be used to the chair yet. If this is your first massage chair purchase and you’ve never experienced the direct pressure of massage rollers, it can feel very alien to your body.

This is similar to the feeling that you might have after returning to exercise after a long while or trying a new activity. Your body just isn’t acclimated to what that exercise does for you. The first two or three sessions in a massage chair can feel like this, just as it would when you’re exercising.

But why does this happen?

As your body adjusts and gets used to the muscular and tissue manipulation achieved through your newly-bought massaging chair, whether you’re using a spot massage or the full-body options, it may get a bit sore.

Massage chairs, like the massage therapists who do this for a living, use all the tools in its arsenal, like the rollers and track systems, (as well as the built-in compression airbags) to tirelessly work your body’s tense muscles. When it is your first time in the chair, your muscles, particularly the ones that have been lying dormant for an extended time, will respond in the form of inevitable and unwanted pain.

You Might Be Dehydrated

Did you know that there are steps you should take both before and after a massage session, whether in person or in a chair? The truth is there are several, and drinking water is one of the most important.

Massage therapy, regardless of whether you’re lying on a table in a spa or getting on from your very own shiatsu massage chair, assists to flush out toxins from your body. And what do you need to get those released toxins from your muscles and bloodstream out of your body? Water.

What happens when you are dehydrated and didn’t drink enough water before your first massage session in your chair? You get a buildup of toxins that can lead to aches and pains all over your body. What’s the fast and simple fix? Make sure you drink lots of water not just following your session in your new chair, but, equally importantly, prior to sitting down and enjoying a full body massage.

You Didn’t Warm Up Your Muscles

Ever went straight to running for a while without any warm-up or stretching? If so, then you’d probably be one of the many that were really sore after that run. The same is true with a first-time massage session in your chair, particularly when your muscles have been tied up in knots and have stayed tense over a long period of time.

For this reason, hot stones, saunas, and warm towels are popular just before a massage at the spa. The warmth not only soothes tensed muscles but also assists them to loosen up and increases muscle flexibility before they get worked on to break up adhesions and knots.

So, what else can you do that constitutes a warm-up? Similarly, when you’re getting ready for your first session in your massage chair, you should consider selecting a gentler massage setting prior to diving straight into intense deep tissue styles and consider using any heating function present to warm up your muscles for the first few minutes. You should also stretch before and after.

Some Essential Tips for Beginners

Keep these tips in mind as you experience the features of several massage chairs in the store:

  • When a massage chair scans your back and body to locate shiatsu acupoints, it is sensing the most essential areas to craft a session around, so be sure to sit still and let your back rest against the chair fully.
  • A gentle, nuanced massage does work for pain relief and relaxation when those acupoints have been located.
  • The remote should allow you to customize the session if it starts to be uncomfortable quickly and easily.
  • Since pain is subjective, you may need to decrease the intensity even if it seems low to begin with.
  • When a massage chair causes physical soreness, something is typically wrong if you have taken all the above steps. It may have unrefined choreography or be poorly constructed.

You know your massage chair is worth the investment when it makes you feel better and helps to alleviate the concerns that brought you to it in the first place. Soreness or discomfort after a massage isn’t a good sign, and it doesn’t mean you got your money’s worth out of it. Rather, it’s the fact that pain and discomfort are lessened.

Take It Slow

Since your muscles aren’t yet used to being massaged on a regular basis, you’ll need to take it slow. This will help prevent unpleasant soreness.

For your first week, only use your chair for one or two sessions. Then, slowly increase to two or three times in the chair per week. As you get more accustomed to the chair, you can use it the full three to four times per week. If you want to learn a bit more about how often you should be using your massage chair, click here.

Familiarize Yourself With the Settings

You’ll find a variety of settings and features in any massage chair and they can vary from chair to chair greatly. For example, some chairs include zero gravity, while others provide built-in Bluetooth speakers.

When you’re setting up your chair, get to know the available features, and take time to try all of them before you decide on a routine. Since the majority of massage chairs come with user-friendly controls, getting to know the programs available should be simple and straightforward. If you’d like to learn more about the features found in most massage chairs, check out our Learning Center here.

Remember Your Problem Areas

When using your massage chair, use it to enjoy a full body massage, but also remember to take some time to address the areas that are giving you the most concern. For example, if you stand all day, make sure to capitalize on the foot and calf massager.

By taking the time to focus on the areas that need it most, you’ll see results much more quickly and those results will be even better.

Massage Chair Maintenance Is Crucial

Once you own a massage chair, the last thing you want is to have it wear out or break down. To keep your chair running smoothly and looking great for its entire lifespan, make sure to always clean and maintain it on a regular basis.

We suggest:

  • Scheduled cleaning: By surface cleaning your massage chair every one to two weeks, you’ll keep it looking beautiful and stop the accumulation of dirt and debris.
  • Periodic deep cleaning: Those nooks and crannies need special attention. So, give your chair a thorough cleaning every couple of months to be sure even those small areas stay clean.
  • When needed, talk to a technician: If your chair starts making strange noises or failing to perform the necessary functions, don’t just hope it will resolve itself. Consult a technician right away to prevent further damage, especially when you’re still under your warranty.
  • Use your chair regularly: By doing this, you’ll be able to ensure that you always know if its internal components are in tip-top shape.
  • Consider your environment: Put your chair in a spot where it can avoid direct sunlight, children, and pets.

Click here to read our in-depth guide to massage chair maintenance.

Where Do You Go From Here

Massage therapy offers tremendous benefits including stress-relief, chronic and acute pain relief, and so much more. However, it is also possible that your first time on your massage chair can cause some discomfort. When this happens, there is a number of things that you can look into to determine the cause including whether or not your body is used to the pressure and accuracy the massage rollers can provide to the individual settings you’re using. You can also consider dehydration and not warming up as the culprits behind the discomfort.

In general, so long as there are no additional serious and underlying conditions, the temporary pain should go away as you become more familiar with the chair’s features and what it feels like to get massaged by it.

It might also be that the massage chair was poorly designed or it was the wrong type of chair for your needs. 

Don’t let your massage chair go to waste. Use these tips and you’ll be able to get the most out of your chair, effectively relieving aches and pains as well as keeping your chair working as it should for years.

Finished With Your Research?

You can look into the chairs, techniques, and other benefits of massage in the Learning Center on our website, and you’ll be able to see the physical benefits each of the styles offer and what to be prepared for from them. 

If you have any questions or are interested in purchasing your first massage chair, check out our Massage Chair Buying Guide or give us a call. You can even reach out through email at

With all this in mind, don’t forget about our financing options. We understand that investing in a massage chair is a big decision, and we want to help make that process as simple and stress-free as possible. Our sales representatives are ready and excited to get you into the perfect chair!


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