How Does Massage Chair Mechanism Actually Work?

Last Updated on October 16, 2019 by Editor Futurescope

Did you know that massage chairs have been in existence for many decades? Yes, and many people in the modern world rely on massage to relieve pain and tension after tough days. A large percentage of the massage chairs in the market today will help you get the refreshing massage you need without any need of professional help. Unlike body massagers, such as leg, neck, shoulder, back and foot massagers which are mostly handheld tools that care for an individual part, a massage chair cares for the entire body.

The idea behind massage chairs is very simple. The chairs boast a device that provides the person sitting on it the massage sensation. Some massage chairs basically feature simple vibrating elements while others consist of more complex machinery that manufacturers design them to mimic therapist’s techniques massage – human massage. All best massage chairs available in the market are made to provide relief and comfort to the weary individuals with disposable income.

Most massage chairs rely on mechanical approaches. However, investors have developed several massage chair mechanism techniques to offer the best massage chairs. Some have designed chairs that massage away stress and tension using water while others have developed a series of airbags that promote blood circulation in addition to squeezing body muscles. Every massage chair manufacturer will combine several technologies in his products.

Massage Chairs History Since 1948

In the year 1948, Roland A. Labbe had to file a patent application after designimg a massage chair. To make the massage chair, he simply mounted a stool on a pedestal. What’s more, the chair had a metal frame attached to its pedestal’s back section. The chair vibrated and stretched the individual sitting on it to relieve tension, pain and stress. Roland’s chair also accepted attachments that could offer some other massage techniques. The design looks intimidating compared with the modern massage chairs.

In the year 1968, a massage therapist, David Palmer made the first massage chair design known as the “chair in a box.” The massage chair weighed around 28 pounds and he designed it purposely for performing effective massages safely without his clients falling to either side and without the practitioner holding him up.

To popularize the massage chair concept, Palmer published an article – “A Brief History of Chair Massage” in the Positive Health Magazine in the year 1998. And because he was a massage therapist, he started using the chair massage to educate people on benefits of massage.

With massage chairs, therapists from different walks of life – whether they are sports, structural, shiatsu, reflexology, Thai, Swedish – are able to make a larger client base while bringing relaxation, peace and homeostasis.

What Are The Final Improvements now?

Today, most massage chair mechanism rely on mechanical vibrating roller. However, inventors have also developed several other techniques with an aim of offering the best experience to the user. Some of the available designs use water to relieve tension and stress while others use airbag series to squeeze body muscles and facilitate blood circulation. Mostly, manufacturers combine several approaches.

Robotic massage chairs have existed for many decades. In the United States, for example, massage chairs are luxurious items that cost a few thousand dollars. And even though the chairs have a smaller market in the country, it is not the case in other countries. Evidently, the chairs are more common in Japan and around 20% of Japanese households own them.

How Does a Massage Chair Work?

It is evident that massage chairs have existed for several decades. Their demand has also been on the rise mainly because our lives are always getting busier. Today, you do not have to wait on queues in the local spas because with a quality massage chair you will enjoy the benefits of full body massage without having to leave the comfort of your home.

However, when purchasing a massage chair it is important you understand exactly how massage chair mechanism  works. That way, you will manage to use the chair in the best way and enjoy the best massage techniques for your body.

The primary idea behind massage chairs is easier to grasp. Manufacturers design all massage chairs with devices inside them which offer more soothing sensations to the individual on receiving end. Different massage chairs will always feature different designs to meet individual needs.

Even though most massage chairs rely on mechanical approaches, inventors have invested to developed many other techniques. Some have developed designs that rely on water to massage stress and tension away. Others rely on series of airbags to promote blood circulation and squeeze muscles.

Massage chair Mechanical components

Some chairs showcase complex mechanisms that provide massage techniques similar to those you expect with human massage therapists. Some others feature simple vibrating elements suitable for individuals who need basic massage chair features. However, every massage chair is designed to offer comfort and soothing feelings to individuals who want to rejuvenate their bodies.

Motors, gears, rollers, airbags

Almost every massage chair use a combination of motors, gears, rollers, airbags and vibrating mechanisms to accomplish various massage techniques. The chairs use small devices that contain weighted wheel or gear to make vibrations. When the electric motor rotates on a wheel, it generates vibrating motions – similar to vibrations in mobile phones. Manufacturers design massaging chairs with several of the vibrating devices to make vibrations on surfaces without having to unbalance the chair. During massage, the rollers act like human hands when moving over the body in soothing manner. The frame’s structure determines the nature of movements. In some chairs, the rollers can move left, right, and in circles.

Microprocessor a.k.a. ‘The Brain.

Microprocessor inside massage chairs stock information for every massage pattern. Immediately you choose a massage therapy, the microprocessor sends the commands to various apparatuses of the chair. Even though you cannot alter the massage patterns of your chair, you can easily adjust the intensity using a remote control. After that the microprocessor sends the commands to appropriate apparatus to alter the intensity.

Controlling the Massage Chair

Most massage chairs boast a pre-programed massage therapies list. As the user, you will have a chance of sitting on the chair and using a remote control to select the therapy you want from the list. There is little need or no need at all to operate your massage chair remotely. Therefore, most manufacturers wire remote controls directly to the massage chairs they offer.

Microprocessors inside the chairs store information for every massage pattern. After the user has selected a therapy, the microprocessor starts sending commands to the massage chair’s apparatuses. Users cannot modify the massage patterns but they can use the remote control to adjust the massage intensity.

How Effective Are Massage Chairs For You!

how does a massage chair work

With a massage chair you can enjoy personalised types of massage you desire when searching for professional masseuse services. By understanding the massage techniques available with massage chairs today, you will easily identify the chair with the best massage combinations depending on your needs. Most manufacturers have done their best to mimic human massage techniques and therefore, you will get an experience closer to that you would experience from human massaging hands. The following are some of the common massage chair techniques.

Swedish massage

The rollers glide in firm, long strokes, applying pressure and kneading in the direction of your heart to provide Swedish massage. Even though the massage strokes are firm, the chairs apply calming pressure that relieves body tensions faster. Swedish massage involves five types of massage strokes which are tapping, kneading, vibration and friction.

Tapping and friction movements relieve body tension particularly around the shoulders and the back while vibration, gliding and kneading increase the circulation of blood and facilitate toxins elimination from the body. Swedish massage technique provides full body relaxation and is the commonest form of massage in full body massage chairs.

The benefits associated with Swedish massage include reduced toxins in body muscles, improved circulation, higher oxygen levels in the blood, relaxation, tension release and increased flexibility.

Shiatsu massage

Among the commonest shiatsu massage chair techniques is the Shiatsu massage therapy which involves acupressure and stretching of particular body parts. The technique uses patting, pressing, rotating, rolling and sweeping movements. Even more, the technique follows masseuse finger pressure application to clear blockages in areas where pain and aches are more common with an aim of providing relaxation and relief.

Shiatsu massage therapy will restore your body, improve circulation, boost lymphatic flow and alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress and muscle pain. Shiatsu automated programs in massage chairs leave the body refreshed and invigorated.

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage uses firm gliding strokes that apply great pressure intensity to relieve tension in body fibrous tissues and muscle knots. The massage technique reaches every hard to reach bit and restores the natural body balance. It is more effective in relieving chronic pains in muscles and joints, increase range of motion, increasing flexibility and improving body posture. Regular deep tissue massage will help you manage severe muscle disorders.


Situated within the massage chair ottoman or the foot rest, reflexology massage rollers are made to work reflexes in your feet. The massage technique provides relief and healing to the comparable internal body organs. Manufacturers locate the reflexes in a way that they will fall in several spots around your feet.

Therefore, the technique is among the available whole body massage therapies that involve pressure application in particular spots and the massage chair user experiences the impact throughout the body. Reflexology improves circulation, eliminates tension and enhances natural healing ability of the body. It also relieves pain and improves relaxation and overall wellness.

Kneading massage

In kneading massage technique, the massage rollers stretch and manipulate body muscles to ease soreness and relieve tension. In most massage systems, rollers knead in circular motions and cover very small body parts at a time. Kneading massage is applicable in any body part but most people apply it on the neck, back and the shoulder regions.

Kneading massage provides deeper relief in the hard to reach places and you can combine it with other forms of massage such as air, vibration and tapping massage for better results. It will stimulate your lymph and circulatory systems, eliminate toxins from your body muscles, eliminate pain, relief tension and revitalize nerves.

Tapping massage

In this massage chair technique, the rollers operate in fast, pulsating tapping strokes. The massage technique is common in the massage chairs meant to work the lumbar and back region. It provides improved blood flow and circulation, lasting tension relief and promotes fast healing by strengthening and toning muscles and breaking up the scar tissues.

Rolling massage

As the name suggests, rolling massage technique applies gentle pressure on targeted body parts using up/down rolling movements. In a massage chair, the technique works the back and areas near the spine. It is beneficial for individuals who want to improve their circulation relief body tension and relax their back.

Air compression massage

Manufacturers incorporate airbags which provide compression in various parts of the body. The technique involves releasing and squeezing movements which alleviate joint pain and tension. The technique is simple. To squeeze, the airbags inflate. Whenever they squeeze, they provide instant stress and pain relief. The deflating and inflating action is fast and individualised. As a result they provide localised relief in every target area.

Air compression massage is recommendable for hands, shoulders, neck, hips, thighs, calves, feet and buttocks. It offers excellent pain and tension relief, improves circulation, eliminates stiffness and stimulates lymphatic system.

Stretch massage

Massage chairs deliver stretch massage with help of air massage systems. Manufacturers incorporate airbags which stretch particular body muscles. The technique stretches one muscle group or muscle at a time. Stretching loosens stiff/tight muscles, provides body relief and relives muscle knots.

Zero gravity massage

The form of massage takes place after your body is reclined in a zero gravity position. In the zero gravity position the body is usually aligned to the body structure. When in the position, your feet will be elevated above your heart a situation that will facilitate elimination of pressure from your spine and back and keep your body relaxed. In addition, zero gravity massage is known to boost circulation, enhance lung function and reduce stress on the spine.

Most massage chairs provide over two massage techniques. Therefore, during your purchase you have to understand the massage technique that will perfectly match your needs. All massage chairs are automated but some manufacturers include manual modes for operating some massage techniques. The option provides greater spot massage.

Simple vs Complex Massage chairs

how effective are massage chairs

Simply massage chair mechanism rely solely on a combination of gears, motors, rollers and vibrating mechanisms. The chairs date back to more than 50 years. Within the last few years, they have turned more sophisticated. When getting a massage from a simple chair, the rollers act more like the hands of a human massage professional. They (rollers) move in a pattern predetermined by frame structure. Some rollers have limited motion range – they only move up and down. To move, the rollers get the energy from an electric motor.

On the other hand, complex massage chairs feature more rollers situated onto mechanical arms that move vertically and laterally. In other words, the rollers move right and left or in circles. The chairs also boast a microprocessor which stores all recorded patterns – preprogramed by the manufacturer. Complex massage chairs also allow adjustment of the massage intensity.

Some complex massage chairs are simply recliners. In such chairs, manufacturers design the mechanical and electrical systems which can operate in a variety of positions. In some chairs, the user can change the motorised reclining system by pressing a button. Others require pulling of a release handle for the chair to push back against the backrest. Even though some chairs use water systems, the user will remain dry throughout the massage session.

3D Massage Technology

Researchers have constantly worked to develop the best massage chairs. Some years ago, the market could only offer 2D massage chairs – chairs that feature rollers that move up/down and right/left. The rollers bring out the kneading and rolling massage motions. 2D massage chairs are fixed and not adjustable. The chairs are usually in a single 2 dimensions flat plane. But now, manufacturers have introduced 3D massage technology.

2D massage chairs limit various motions, which 3D chairs offer. 3D chairs have all qualities of 2D chairs in addition to some other extensive characteristics and technologies that make them more desirable in massage.

The 3D roller mechanism

The 3D mechanism is the primary feature that differentiates the massage chair from 2D massage chairs. 3D roller mechanism moves in all dimensions, which include left/right, up/down and in/out. The movements provide a softer and deeper massage that reaches every body part.

The heating function

The technology heightens heating so that it can reach body muscles extensively. As a result, the massage activates tissue cells, boosts immunity and increases blood circulation.

Foot length extend and detection

Unlike the many available 2D massage chairs, 3D massage chairs have a differentiated technology that allows automatonlike detection of the user’s feet length. Therefore, it reduces or extends its length. That allows for more effective muscles massage that can relieve pain, tension and soreness.

Head air massage

3D massage technology allows for extensive and more relaxing head air massage. The user places his/her head in a position that can be easily extended or adjusted to relax the head. That alone facilitates blood circulation and allows oxygen and nutrition supply to various body organs in a better way.

Palm and arm stress massage

Did you know that your arms and hands represent the most used body organs? Therefore, every 3D massage chair will massage the two organs extensively. The chairs allow for kneading and stretching arms functions. That reaches all muscles and improves blood circulation. In addition, it revives and improves arm motions and flexibility.

Advanced massage for thighs and hips

With 3D motion, massage chairs are able to extensively reach thighs and hips of muscles effectively and relieve stiffness and soreness.

Difference between 2D, 3D and 4D Massage Chairs

If you already own a massage chair but want to upgrade for more massage features, you will have to understand the differences between 2D, 3D and 4D massage chairs. 2D massage chairs refer to the traditional massage chairs or the original massage chairs found in all markets. Their design showcases 2D technology. In other words, they feature rollers that move left/right, up/down. The massage chairs are suitable for individuals who want to soothe their bodies and relax their tensed muscles.

3D massage chairs are more expensive than 2D massage chairs. Manufacturers refer to them as high tire machines because they do not only feature a 2D massage chair but also provide additional movements which enable the rollers to move in/out for improved body therapy. The chairs work along the x, y and the z axis. The rollers extract, retract and press back as well. With the chair, you will feel like you are receiving the massage from a real human being. In addition, they can scan your body shape, and height to personalise the massage.

4D massage chairs showcase all the features of 3D massage chairs in addition to turning ability. The rollers can turn and reach deeper within the body. For individuals suffering from shoulders and back problems, the technology should sound more helpful. The machines enhance classic touch therapy, they can perform more techniques, are effective for the back and reaches shoulders. With the chair, you will also adjust the massage intensity.


Massage chair mechanism involves manipulation and rubbing of tendons, muscles, ligaments and the skin. Massage has moved from spas and medical practitioners are offering it in hospitals and clinics. Full body massage will benefit you both psychologically and physically. However, you do not have to go to the nearest hospital, clinic or spa. A quality massage chair will provide the benefits.

Did you like this?
Tip Editor Futurescope with Cryptocurrency

Scan to Donate Bitcoin to Editor Futurescope
Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some bitcoin:

Scan to Donate Bitcoin Cash to Editor Futurescope
Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send bitcoin:

Scan to Donate Ethereum to Editor Futurescope
Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Ether:

Scan to Donate Litecoin to Editor Futurescope
Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Litecoin:

Scan to Donate Monero to Editor Futurescope
Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some Monero:

Scan to Donate ZCash to Editor Futurescope
Scan the QR code or copy the address below into your wallet to send some ZCash:

Editor Futurescope
Editor Futurescope

Founding writer of Futurescope. Nascent futures, foresight, future emerging technology, high-tech and amazing visions of the future change our world. The Future is closer than you think!

Articles: 717