Massage chairs are chairs designed for massages. It can refer to two types of products. Traditional massage chairs allow the masseuse to easily access the massage recipient’s head, shoulders and back, while robotic massage chairs use electronic vibrators and motors to deliver massage.
Here’s an amazing fact: about 20% of Japanese households own a massage chair. For a typical Japanese person, using a massage chair is much more than just getting a massage. Rather, it is part of a complete and holistic approach to healthy living. And maybe – just maybe – the secret of the longevity of the Japanese population can be attributed to this attitude?
A robotic massage chair contains internal electronic motors and gears designed to massage the person sitting in them. Most robotic massage chairs have some form of controller to change the type, position or intensity of the massage. The first electric massage chair was invented in Japan before World War II.
Massage is a practice with a long history of providing a wide range of health benefits, from pain relief to improved circulation to accelerated healing. However, when massage chairs were first developed, they were thought to be primarily designed to facilitate rest and relaxation. While they certainly accomplish this goal, they could do much more.
One of the reasons massage chairs do more than help you relax is that today’s best massage chairs are vastly improved over older models. In the early days, massage chairs were very simple and had limited functionality. In many cases they could only provide pressure in a few areas and only with the most basic movement patterns.
Where, specifically, can a massage chair provide health benefits? Although it depends on the person’s physical condition, how often the chair is used, and other factors, people report (and in many cases, studies confirm) benefits that include:
Reduced pain: Regular use of a massage chair can help reduce pain in many areas of the body. One where massage is particularly effective is the lower back. When muscles that have become too tight for any number of reasons begin to relax, lower back pain tends to decrease. In fact, for many people, massage may be more effective in reducing lower back pain than measures such as acupuncture or medication. While you should follow your doctor’s instructions, of course, massage chair sessions can be a valuable addition to your treatment plan.
Less headaches: headaches in general and migraines in particular can have an element of muscle tension. By reducing or eliminating this muscle tension, the best massage chairs may help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches.
Faster recovery from exercise: When you exercise vigorously, your muscles produce lactic acid. This byproduct of training contributes to fatigue and muscle pain. Gradually, your body processes lactic acid and removes it from your muscles. As athletic trainers and athletes alike will attest, regular use of an advanced massage chair can help your body eliminate lactic acid and help you recover from workouts more fully and faster.
Lower blood pressure and heart rate: The stress of our hectic schedules often manifests as muscle tension in many areas of the body, especially the neck and shoulders. This stress can increase the response of the so-called sympathetic nervous system (SNS), raising your blood pressure and heart rate. High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) increases the risk of many conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and damage to organs such as the kidneys. Massage produces a very beneficial and healthy counter to daily stress. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which exists to moderate the effects of the SNS. In other words, the best massage chairs help bring the body back into balance and contribute to healthier blood pressure and heart rate levels.
Improving immune system function: When your body is stressed, your immune system can be suppressed, making you more vulnerable to disease. By helping you relax, the massage empowers your immune system to work more effectively. So while massage itself doesn’t prevent disease, it can help create the conditions where your body can better protect itself.
Lower Cortisol Levels: Cortisol is a hormone known to trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response to a crisis. Although it plays a necessary and important role in certain situations, persistently high levels of cortisol can cause a number of problems in the body. Massage can help lower cortisol levels and reduce the body’s “stress response”.