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Published Aug. 13, 2021

Ditch the standard recliner and get yourself a chair that does much more than rock back and forth. With multiple massage options, heat functions, muscle compression, and soothing vibrations, today’s best massage chair is a therapeutic thrones. New styles, sizes, and price points let you slide a quality massage chair into just about any living space. Go big with a large massage chair that feels like a bear hug, or keep it simple with a heated massage recliner disguised as a typical piece of living room furniture. Melt away all the stress of the modern world with a chair you’ll look forward to using.

What to consider when shopping for the best massage chair

If you’ve never owned a heated massage chair, it may seem like an intimidating purchase. With varying sizes, features, and cost, how do you know what chair is the best for your home, your budget, and your body? Before bouncing your muscles into bliss, understand how these luxury chairs work and know what to look for when choosing the best massage chair.

Digging into the chair massage functions

The key selling point of any massage chair is its ability to rub you the right way. Large message chairs will typically have a wide assortment of massage options. Shiatsu massage chair functions means the chair will come with “fingers” that will move in circular motion, mimicking the touch and feel of human hands. A rolling massage simply means your body will be treated to a rolling pin that travels up and down the body, mashing any muscles in its path.

Smaller massage chair recliners that look more like regular furniture will generally focus on your lower back. These are the cheapest massage chairs, but the rollers and fingers won’t travel down to your feet and may miss your neck and shoulders depending on your height and seating position. The bigger chairs can massage your entire body, head to toe. They can also pinpoint specific areas, like calves or shoulders. Full-body massage chairs are not cheap, and they are not small. Before you pursue this option, make sure you have the space and the budget for a top-to-bottom robotic masseuse. 

Should you buy a zero-gravity massage chair?

When shopping for a massage chair, you’ll come across a zero-gravity feature. These large chairs can recline and raise your legs above your chest. The result is a feeling of weightlessness that feels incredible. (But truth be told, you’ll still be well aware of gravity, so don’t expect a 100-percent accurate feeling of floating into space.) 

Zero-gravity massage chairs will be big and look more like a spaceship escape pod seat than a chic piece of home decor. But for a more blissful experience, these chairs can’t be beat. And once you’ve felt the luxury of a horizontal chair massage, you’ll never want to use another chair, or bed, ever again.  

Size and assembly of the massage chair

While a simple, low-cost massage chair will be somewhat easy to move into position, the big zero-gravity massage chairs are bulky and heavy. Moving these 300-pound beasts around a carpeted living room or down a flight of stairs requires strength and patience. You’ll need a good shoulder rub after setting up a large massage chair. 

Many of the big chairs will have small wheels on the rear legs so the chair can be tilted and pushed. But even with the helpful wheels, these massage chairs can be tricky to maneuver. You’ll need two people to get everything in the right place. Measure your space before you buy, and give yourself a lot of wiggle room for reclining. 

The massage chair will usually arrive in one or two shipping boxes. Assembling isn’t too difficult, but give yourself a free afternoon or weekend to put it all together. You can pay extra for professional assembly, which can save time and frustration.

Check the price before making your purchase

An affordable heated massage chair may cost between $100 and $200. These models are good at targeting lower back muscles. But once you enter the full-body massage chair market with its broader functionality, expect to pay $1,000 or more. 

These chairs are loaded with high-tech features such as heating and cooling elements, air cushions for better blood flow, and even smartphone apps to help you manage your relaxation. Some will come with LED lights and speakers. And they are more powerful, with deeper muscle penetration than the budget-priced massage chairs. Is all of that massage power worth it? Yes, if you want a total spa experience. But keep in mind that even the best massage chair won’t last forever. The moving parts will wear out and the electronics will begin to fail. And unless you’re a professional massage chair repair mechanic, once the chair breaks, it’s broken for good. After a few years of use, it may be time to buy another chair. 

Medical benefits of a massage chair

The best massage chair is more than just a fancy piece of novelty furniture. They are genuine helping hands. When muscles contract and stiffen up, they can put pressure on nearby nerves. The result is pain. Massaging loosens the muscles up and decreases pressure around the nerve. The result is nirvana. 

Massage chairs are great for the common aches and pains we all feel after a stressful day (or year, or decade). If you have chronic muscle pain, though, talk to your doctor. For inflammatory disorders and severe back pain, a heated chair message may not be the cure-all you’re hoping for. Massage chairs are designed for relaxing, but aren’t a replacement for medical treatment. 

The best massage chair can increase blood flow. Air cushions in the legs and feet area of the chair help your circulation and add to the feeling of relaxation. For best blood flow, choose a chair that has multiple massage modes instead of a simple vibration. The more variety, the better the blood flow.  

Related: Protect your back during the workday with the best ergonomic chair.

The best massage chairs

Ready to ease aching muscles with the touch of a button? When picking a massage chair, think about size and cost first. New features like zero gravity tilt and foot massagers can be worth the extra money. And look for a style that works for the room. A big massage chair looks fine in a man cave, but may look out of place in the dining room.

The best massage chair for spa lovers: Real Relax Favor 03 Massage Chair

Powerful Massage

Attack every inch of your body with a professional zero-gravity massage chair. Real Relax

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The Real Relax massage chair is great for full-body massages. Eight massage rollers and 50 airbags are strategically placed to hit the right spot. It’s particularly good at massaging and rolling calves and feet. The controls are intuitive. Switch between massage types, heating, reclining, and leg compression quickly. The zero-gravity tilt turns this chair into a cloud of comfort, and the chair can handle up to 400 pounds. This chair also comes with  Bluetooth speakers and smartphone connectivity. But even without those extras this is one of the best zero-gravity massage chairs and it costs less than $1,000. Not a bad deal for what you’re getting.

The best massage chair for the style-conscious: Esright Massage Recliner Chair

Great Look

This comfy recliner hides impressive massage power. Esright

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If you don’t want a big professional massage machine taking up space in your home, but still want a good massage chair, the Esright Massage Recliner Chair is a great solution. Eight modes of vibration target lower-back pain and the heating function keeps your body comfortable and cozy on cold nights. The chair is also a genuine recliner and swivel chair, perfect for just about any room of the house. (And ideal for a home theater.) Assembly is easy and it’s not too heavy. While it doesn’t pack the same powerful punch as a zero-gravity massage chair, this recliner is an affordable massage chair with a great sense of style.

The best massage chair for small spaces: CirC – Premium SL Track Heated Massage Chair

Small And Versatile

Slip this thin massage chair into any room and turn your apartment into a mini spa. Synca Wellness

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Not all massage chairs are big and bulky. The CirC massage chair is a compact 22 inches wide. It’s great for anyone smaller than 5’10’’ and the lack of arm rests means it can fit well in corners and near walls. The chair uses rollers to focus on your back and neck. There are no vibration functions and it doesn’t recline, but for a simple, lightweight massage chair, this is great for apartments and small spaces. It has lumbar heating and the chair massage feels good, even for a straight back model. It makes for a nice reading chair. Those taller than 5’10’’ will need something bigger, so take a close look at the size before buying. 

The best massage chair for bigger people: Real Relax 2021 Massage Chair

Large Seat

One of the most comfortable seats for any type of body. Real Relax

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Zero-gravity massage chairs usually have small seat widths that feel cramped and uncomfortable for some people. The Real Relax 2021 massage chair has a slightly larger seat and is great for bigger people. It has the usual high-quality features of other Real Relax massage chairs, including six massage modes, heated elements, automatic body scan, foot massage, and zero-gravity reclining. It can accommodate up to 400 pounds of weight and comes with a Bluetooth speaker so you can enjoy some music as you relax.

The best budget massage chair: BestMassage Recliner Chair

Affordable and Effective

A cheap way to give your muscles soothing relief. BestMassage

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For less than $150, the BestMassage Recliner Chair does a pretty good job at rubbing away lower back pain. It’s not designed to tackle shoulders and it won’t compress your legs for increased blood flow, but for the same price as a non-massaging chair, why not go for the one with the robotic fingers? It’s durable and easy to clean. Even in the reclined position, it feels sturdy and comfortable. If you don’t mind giving up the bells and whistles of zero-gravity massage chairs, this simple recliner has the vibration power to make it one step better than a traditional living room chair.

FAQs

Q: What is a zero-gravity massage chair?

A zero-gravity massage chair is the best of the best. It can be reclined to a nearly flat horizontal position. When your legs are raised above your chest, it can create the feeling of weightlessness. This position makes for a more relaxing experience. Zero-gravity massage chairs are bigger and bulkier than standard massage chairs, so make sure you have the room for it in your house. These provide the most comprehensive chair massage.

Q: Are massage chairs bad for your back?

Massage chairs are not bad for your back, when used correctly. First, massage chairs should never be targeting your spine—they are designed for rubbing muscle, not bone. Second, if you have chronic back pain, a massage chair may only provide temporary relief. And third, always limit your time in the chair. Spending more than 15 minutes in a full-body massage chair can overdo it on your muscles. Trained massage therapists know when to stop and when to keep going, but your massage chair isn’t that smart. So it’s always best to stop the massage after 15 minutes of use. The chair will come with advice from the manufacturer. Follow their guidance.

Q: How much does a good massage chair cost?

A good massage chair can cost as little as $200. But the best full-body massage chairs will usually run closer to $1,000. Zero-gravity chairs—the ones that look like futuristic cockpits—can cost more, so keep a close eye on your budget. Is a massage chair worth $1,000? If you want a great muscle massage in the comfort of your own home, it sure is. Consider how much a spa treatment costs and an at-home chair massage won’t seem so expensive. If you don’t want to spend that much, you can find cheaper options that do a good job at vibrating lower back pain away but won’t do much for necks, shoulders, and legs.  

Related: Learn how to massage yourself with this step-by-step guide.

The final word on the best massage chair

Eliminate sore muscles with the best massage chair. These high-tech pieces of furniture offer powerful kneading, rubbing and pulsating pressures to teach your muscles a lesson in relaxation. Some massage chairs will also use air cushions to massage calves and hips. And don’t forget the feet. A good massage chair should have dedicated rollers and vibration to sooth weary feet. Look for a massage chair that hits the spot and won’t break your bank account. With the best massage chair, your home will become a sanctuary of tranquility.

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