Choosing a Massage Chair
What is the right Massage Chair for me?
The massage chair industry can be likened to the car industry. Massage chairs are mechanical robots that when well-made can not only mimic human massage, perform body alignment adjustments, stretch and heat the body but can go all day every day without needing a rest. Unfortunately some products are well made and will literally last decades whereas others are made cheaply with low level technology pretending to be everything a good chair can be but ultimately failing and often hurting people.
Unfortunately most chairs are not well linked back to the manufacturer. Many retail companies carry chairs from various manufacturers and change manufacturers over time making it hard to know what you are really buying today or how to get your chair fixed in the future. Honest companies will be very open with who their manufacturer is whereas others lie and don’t even know who makes their chairs. Buy from companies that have long supportive relationships with their manufacturer.
There is no more important decision when selecting your chair than knowing who the manufacturer is. Some companies have been making chairs for over 40 years under very strict quality control measures. They have deep knowledge, continue to invest in technology and everything they produce or use to build their chairs are of high quality and are made to last in their function. Anyone who has limited knowledge of the industry will see that even well-known retail companies are selling chairs that have issues mechanically, electronically and often with material degradation. Ask your massage chair supplier who the manufacturer is, if they carry spare parts, how long has the manufacturer been around for, what quality certificates they achieve (ISO standards etc), what is the cost of replacing materials (the industry can range from $200 to $2000) and how easy is it to perform this task. Most mid level chairs these days will have removable materials and good chairs will last over 10 years without requiring a material change.
Many get misled in manufacturing by the country of origin but this is a poor guide. For instance in China over 100 manufacturers exist some have been around for a few years and the first one around 40 years. It’s simply not about country of manufacturer its about the technology, the size of the manufacturer and how many units they produce and therefore learn from, their quality control system that keeps failures low and their aftermarket support.
Note: buying direct from manufacturer is a very difficult and costly process leaving you with no technical back up if something goes wrong. Only cheap manufacturers offer this service because they don’t care about after sales support and the longevity of the industry. Remember massage chairs are complex robotics and require specific technical skill and understanding to often assemble them, diagnose issues and repair them. A failed repair or assembly can destroy a chair and/or harm or kill the technician. Manufacturers will take no responsibility in such a situation. So make sure your supplier has these skills and your warranty covers cost of parts and labour.
2. The Supplier/Retailer
Your supplier should provide the knowledge and expertise to help you select what chair you require for your own personal needs and needs of your family and/or staff. If you have specific medical needs check that there is someone who you can deal with that can understand and cater to your requirements. Massage chairs are medical products and suppliers should be trained in massage therapy and have a broad understanding of medical science to help you in your journey to select the right product and get the most out of your chair.
Like any industry many companies selling chairs will lie to sell a chair, so do your due diligence and talk to multiple companies to get the real story. Most companies know each other and who their suppliers are so feel free to cross check between suppliers to work out who is telling the truth. Google and other reviews are often made up and with a bit of wisdom people can work out who these companies are. Some companies will also only attend to clients who leave poor reviews (so they will change the review later to save face) so if you are having an issue with a supplier, leaving a poor review on the internet will often get them to act.
Use the skills of observation. Good chairs look and feel good in person. Reviewing the feel of materials, stitching, asking to see a roller mechanism etc should help to work out the quality you are purchasing. If you don’t have this “eye” for detail then ask someone who does. Stay away from shiny materials and wear areas they are covered by vinyl-like synthetics rather than flexible cloth-like material, as the rollers are constantly rubbing in these areas so they need to be highly flexible to last. These wear areas should also have 4 layers between the roller and your back. Buy from companies that are actually local and survived, they are much more likely to be there in the years to come when you need them most.
Do not get caught up in big emotive words, technology (it’s the “first” or “only chair in the world” catch phrases) or video testimonials saying it is the greatest chair ever made and everyone needs one. These are marketing games using human emotions to make you buy. Look for honest companies that care about you, your needs and your budget.
3. The Chair
Every chair is different. Even those from a single manufacturer varies extensively. Chairs can be thought about in different levels, again a bit like a car.
Basic- low option functions and robotics
Mid-level- more of a bang for your buck level, where you get most features but not the advanced robotics of the higher level chairs
Premium- Top of the line chairs from a manufacturer, can very a lot as what the best manufacturers have developed in technology can be far superior to “cheaper” manufacturers
Ultra premium- Very few of these chairs exist on the marker and only really from the best manufacturers in the world. This is an exercise in producing the most advanced and well-made chairs in the world. Just sitting in an ultra-premium chair should feel different without starting a program. They are the Rolls-Royces, the Ferraris of the massage chair world and your supplier should be able to tell you about awards they have won.
It is so important to try a range of chairs and your supplier should be able to guide you in the right direction for something that can suit you at your price point. The final decision however is in the feeling. Good chairs feel good, accurate and get to the places you feel need work or discover places you didn’t know had issues. Some chairs are strong and give deep intense massages whereas other are more gentle and luxurious in their action. Don’t buy a chair you haven’t tried, it’s a fast way to lose money.
Chairs do vary in different functions and modes and unfortunately it would take many hours to really experience all one chair has to offer but in 10-20 minutes each person should get a feel of the ability
and strength of each chair, to know if it suits them. We say the chair that is right for you, you should fall in love with. Be mindful however that with ongoing use of any massage chair your muscle tension will reduce and the chair will feel “nicer” or that you want more power out of it. Most professionals in the massage chair industry will recommend to buy a chair that feel slightly too strong knowing that in a few weeks it will be at the right strength for you.
So in conclusion, spend the time to know your supplier, where your chair is coming from and try enough chairs to buy the chair that will best suit you, your family or your company....... and always ask lots of questions.