If you’re considering investing in a massage chair you may be wondering, does it actually compare to a massage therapist? In this massage chair vs real massage article, we’re walking you through the differences between a massage from a chair and a therapist. We’ll see which is better and whether or not the best massage chair is worth it.
MASSAGE CHAIR Vs REAL MASSAGE: WHAT’S the difference?
Both a massage chair and a masseuse have their advantages. Although a massage chair may be mechanical, its technology has advanced significantly since its inception in the 1950s.
Today, many massage chairs are FDA-approved medical devices and are recognized by organizations like the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) as being credible supplements to chiropractic therapy. There are many knockoffs and massage chairs that don’t deliver a high-quality therapeutic massage.
You might be surprised by how effective a massage chair can perform if it’s made from high-quality materials and comes from a trusted brand.
However, a massage chair does not have the same human characteristics as a person and machines cannot replicate certain things. This brings us to our first distinction.
The most obvious difference between a massage chair & a masseuse? Human touch. The therapeutic benefits of touch are not only human but also universal.
The University of Miami School of Medicine’s Touch Research Institute has shown that touch, such as massage therapy, can have positive effects on all ages.
These include “enhanced attention, alleviation from depression symptoms, pain relief, stress hormone reduction, and an increased immune function.”
What if you are uncomfortable with the touch of a massage therapist?
The privacy of a massage chair is a big draw for people who want to enjoy a massage but aren’t keen on being touched by someone they don’t really know (like a masseuse).
For those with health issues such as sciatic nerve pain or treatment for their glutes, they might not want to be touched.
A massage chair allows you to be completely private, which is a great option for people who may not have the opportunity to get one. Some people feel more comfortable receiving a massage from a professional masseuse.
Consistency is another major difference between massage chairs and real massage. A massage chair is by default consistent because it has its movements programmed into it — it’s like a robot. You can be sure that the next time you are in the massage chair, you will get the same massage.
Humans, however, aren’t always as consistent. The only downside to a massage is the possibility of being given a poor or inexperienced masseur.
If you don’t have a relationship with your massage therapist or have worked with him often, choosing a massage therapy therapist can be nerve-racking. Bad or painful massages can be very stressful. However, there are many positive outcomes!
However, inconsistency by a massage therapist is not always a bad thing. A massage therapist can adjust their movements to provide a customized treatment that suits your needs.
You might ask the therapist to put more pressure on your neck, or focus more on a head massage. A massage therapist can adjust in ways that a massage chair cannot.
Perhaps the best argument for massage-powered humans is the ability to personalize treatment. A massage therapist can evaluate each client individually. A massage chair might have six techniques, but a massage therapist could have hundreds.
You can adjust the intensity and location of a massage chair using manual and program options. A massage therapist applies her knowledge to determine which techniques to use and when to apply them.
She also adjusts as she gets feedback from clients. It is impossible to replicate the dynamic nature of real massages. However, massage chair manufacturers don’t try to duplicate this dynamic nature.
Today, many massage chairs offer body scanning that maps your back to detect your height, shape, and (if it uses advanced technology) pressure points before automatically adjusting its rollers to give you a custom-fit massage.
Many massage chairs now offer 3D and 4-D massages. With 3D massage, the rollers not only move up and down and side to side but inward, applying pressure for deep tissue massage. While with 4D massage, the rollers have an additional movement: rhythm.
To simulate dynamic rhythms or speeds that you might encounter with a masseuse, rhythm alternates between the rollers’ speed — sometimes slow and sometimes fast.
Coverage is another important difference between a massage chair and a real massage.
The massage chair’s coverage is limited. It can only massage the areas it contains massage components, most often the neck and back.
The introduction of air massage technology has made it possible to treat many different areas. Today, many massage chairs (in all price ranges) use airbags to treat the sides of the shoulders, hips, lower back, thighs, buttock, arms, hands, calves, and feet.
Airbags are used to provide compression massage. They work by compressing an area and inflating or deflating it.
Many massage chairs include advanced air massage technology. This allows for a more thorough massage and uses airbags to work in concert with other components of the chair.
It’s not uncommon to see massage chairs that offer full-body stretching programs. These include airbags that hold the legs and feet in position while the chair reclines to stretch your spine.
You can also find programs that use airbags in the hips and seat to inflate at different intervals to gently twist and swing the lower body.
Although airbags make it possible to have a complete massage chair massage, it pales in comparison with what a massage therapist is able to do.
Massage therapists can cover the entire body, from head to toe. A massage therapist will be able to reach any small areas on your neck that is causing you pain. However, a massage chair may not be able or willing to reach the area.
The Final Words
Although both a therapist or a massage chair may deliver massages, they are completely different. Each one has its own advantages and drawbacks. You will be better able to choose the right option for you if you are aware of your preferences and treatment needs. We hope that our guide to the massage chairs and real massage will help you make an informed decision.