Should I Buy a Massage Chair? Human Massage vs. Massage Chair

Human Massage vs. Massage Chair

Massage therapy brings an incredible amount of benefits. From the heart and organs to nerves and muscles, the entire body can see the impact of massage’s health benefits.

With improved circulation, blood is able to bring more nutrients to the bones, organs, skin, and muscles. This leads to an overall healthier body as well as a stronger skeletal system, which the body relies on to function properly. 

The nervous system is impacted because body’s stress is relieved with massage. Washing toxins out of the body with massage means that the digestive system will improve. The skeletal system as the foundation for the body and the organs, muscles, and nerves that run the body can all see massive benefits from regular massages.

Can you get these same benefits from a massage chair as a “real” massage (i.e. one given be a professional)?  Let’s compare the experiences – Human Massage vs Massage Chair…..

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Human Massage versus a Massage Chair

There’s much talk about the benefits of massage when applied by a human being versus one that is done with a massage chair. While the element of human touch means that the experience is more holistic and personalized, there are differences that are worth expanding on and exploring.

1. Costs Involved in the Massage

Over time, there are financial benefits to choosing a massage chair over a human massage. It can be broken down using some average costs.

For example, a human massage can cost approximately $80 per session without a tip. That can lead to a cost of $100 for the sake of roundness. At $100, you might schedule a massage twice a month. That leads to spending $2,400 per year.

A massage chair cost can vary depending on the model and features, but an average cost is $5,000. In two years, you’ll have received a return on your investment.  (There are also some more affordable massage chairs that might be a better fit for your budget).  A good, quality massage chair can last for many years, especially with a warranty.

Lower costs

When you have your own chair, you’ll be able to increase the frequency of the massages, which will increase the benefits you’ll receive. In the end, reduced stress (1) from regular massages can also impact your health and well-being. This can lead to lower medical care costs, which is another financial benefit.

RELATED: 5 Best Massage Chairs Reviewed

2. Time for a Massage

The demands on your time are often what will make you stressed enough to need a massage. Between time spent at work, carting children around, making time for exercise, and social obligations, it can be nearly impossible to make time for a massage. When you have to schedule a massage with a technician, you’re adding more stress to your day.

With a massage chair, you schedule the massage whenever you can sit in the chair. This kind of accessibility means that you’ll introduce more massage time and its resulting benefits to your life. Looking forward to the treat of spending 20 minutes in the massage chair each night can help you through the day.

Regular massages like this can result in a calm, relaxed state of mind, pain reduction, and a boost to the immune system (2).

3. The Touch of a Human

While some people enjoy the touch of another human being, even if it’s a massage therapist they barely know, others do not like to be touched so intimately. The person being massaged will have to remove their clothing, which can also create uncomfortable situations.

women getting a professional massage

There’s no need to disrobe to sit in the massage chair, and there’s no awkward touching by virtual strangers in an intimate way. When you’re trying to relax, being uncomfortable with the touch of another isn’t going to bring you to that calm place in your head or body, either.

4. Massage Pressure

A human massage therapist is trained to deliver the right amount of pressure based on what’s needed. Unfortunately, you’re at the mercy of the technician who might not apply pressure in the right amount for your body. It could be too light or too hard, and while the therapist will take direction, you’re not relaxed while having to give feedback.

In a massage chair, the controls are within your reach. There’s no need to have a conversation about what kind of pressure would work for your aches and pains. With the press of a few buttons, the chair is providing the right massage pressure every time.

With this in mind, it’s best to get a chair with the right features and a deep massage pressure, so you can increase the pressure over time for better results.

Most of the quality chairs with great features will have human hand options. They’ll give you a Swedish or Shiatsu massage as well as the stretching of a Thai massage. Any of these can be changed and customized to exactly what you need in that moment.

5. Advanced Technology and the Massage Chair

While human hands can only work on one section of the body at a time, the quality chairs on the market today can massage all areas simultaneously. These reclining massage chairs have settings for a variety of massage styles, but they also allow the user to relax while the back, arms, legs, shoulders, and neck are massaged at the same time.

Massage armchair isolated on white background

Massage therapists have been trained and should know which techniques to employ on which muscles for the best results.  Your massage relies on thousands of hours of programming.  While today’s massage chairs can adjust for your height and weight, it’s up to you to decide which muscle groups need work.

The features and functions of the chair will vary depending on price and the brand, but with many, you’ll be able to find a basic system that will fit your needs.  Zero Gravity massage chairs help your spine to stretch and realign probably better than any techniques used by a massage therapist.  

Even the basic system of many massage chairs will rival a trip to get a professional massage.  With most massage chairs you can add heat throughout the body, while at most spas all you would get is the warmth from the massage therapist hands.  Some chairs even come with Bluetooth speakers so that you can enjoy your favorite playlist during your treatment.

Make sure the massage chair you buy fits you.  If you are over 6 feet tall, please check out our recommendation for a best massage chair for a large person

6. Predictable Massages

When seeing a licensed massage therapist, you still don’t know whether you’re going to receive a good massage. While you might leave one appointment feeling spectacular, others might leave you feeling less than relaxed. It could be the skill of the therapist or what kind of massage you need that day. For many reasons, the massage might be less than satisfactory. Unfortunately, you’re still paying the bill for that session.

With a massage chair, the level of the massage is the same when you press the button. If you want a light pressure, that’s what you’ll receive. Every time you press the settings, you’ll get exactly the massage you need. If there’s a time when you are not feeling relaxed, you can come back to the chair later without having to pay out money for another session, too.

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7. Privacy of the Home

One of the biggest benefits of the massage chair over a human massage is that you’re in the privacy of your own home. You don’t have to worry about being undressed in front of a stranger, or preparing your body in any way for another person to be so close to it. When you’re uncomfortable in the massage therapist’s office, you’re not getting the full benefits of the massage. You’ll leave dissatisfied, which is not the calm space that should follow you after leaving the massage office.

a person relaxing in the comfort of their own home with a dog

In your own space, you can create an atmosphere of calm and relaxation. Wear your most comfortable clothing, light some scented candles, or listen to your favorite music without being uncomfortable at all. For many, this is the only way they can achieve true, calming relaxation.

Massage Chair or Real Massage Therapist: Which is Best?

Overall, the massage chair has more benefits than a human massage. While some people believe there is no substitute for the human touch, there are numerous benefits of a massage chair. The costs, time, privacy, and predictability of the massage with a massage chair will – for many – far outweigh the touch benefits with a human massage.

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Elena Curtis