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Ultimate Massage Chair Buying Guide

The Ultimate Massage Chair Buying Guide

Benjamin Franklin once famously said, "In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Wise words, no doubt. But here at Recovery For Athletes, we'd suggest Franklin adds one more certainty to his list: back pain.

Whether it be pain caused by a tough workout and training regime, slouching in front of a computer all day, heavy lifting, or standing endlessly on your feet; back pain can start to seem like an accepted part of modern-day life.

If this sounds like you, don't despair. There is a solution...

...a quality massage chair.

And that's exactly what we are going to talk about in this post.

Here is our ultimate guide to massage chairs, covering absolutely everything you'll ever need to know.

Key Features to Look Out for When Choosing a Massage Chair

Key Features to Look Out for When Choosing a Massage Chair

Massage chairs are a pretty significant investment. We understand that most prospective buyers will probably want to do their research before making a final decision.

So to help you out here is a breakdown of all the key features many massage chairs have to offer.

Massage Tracks

Inside every massage chair, you'll find a long set of rollers set on tracks that run down the entirety of the chair. If you were to sit in the massage chair, these tracks would run from the base of your neck all the way to the base of your lumbar spine. While some high-end chairs even have rollers that run down the underside of your hamstring muscles and even into the leg rest, massaging the back of your calves.

There are two main massage track types:

  • S-Track works in a wave-like pattern. They relieve tension by moving up and down the natural curvature of the spine.
  • L-Track works similarly to S-Track, although they extend further down the body. Where S-Track stops at the lower back, L-Track travels down through the glutes and all the way down the back of the lower legs.

If you are looking for a whole-body massage, we recommend going for a chair with an L-Track system. The Positive Posture Sol is a premium, but affordable, L-Track style massage chair. The L-Track is designed to trace the natural curves of the human body, allowing the Sol to effectively massage your neck, low back, glutes, and hamstrings.

Massage Roller Options

Massage roller options can get kind of confusing. Like, what the heck does a 2D, 3D, or even 4D massage even mean?

To help you out, here's an overview of your options:

  • 2D massage rollers move in two different directions, up and down and side-to-side along the spine. You can think of 2D massage rollers like they are working on both the X and Y axes.
  • 3D massage rollers work similarly to 2D rollers, they also work on the X and Y axes. Although, 3D massage rollers also work on the Y-axis pushing into the muscles from the back towards the front of the body. Often, the intensity of 3D massage rollers can be adjusted to give either a light massage or a deep tissue massage.
  • 4D massage rollers are similar to 3D rollers, but they just kick things up a notch. A 4D roller massage not only adds back and forth, side-to-side, and up and down movement but also incorporates different massage styles, strengths, and speeds.

4D rollers provide the most realisitc and versatile massage. The Brio Plus from Positive Posture includes Intelligent 4D Rollers that recreate the sensation of human thumbs soothing your back, neck, hips, and gluteus muscles.

Zero-Gravity Recline

A zero-gravity massage chair allows the user to lay back into a position that raises the feet above the heart. This position not only helps alleviate some of the pressure placed upon sore joints and muscles but also flushes the legs with fresh oxygen-rich blood and rids the body of any niggling muscle tension.

A zero-gravity massage chair also allows for a more intense deep tissue full-body massage, facilitated by the extra body pressure placed upon the chair's rollers in this raised position. This is the ultimate in massage chair relief, a position that even a regular massage administered by a massage therapist can not achieve.

The good thing about zero-gravity chairs is that you don't need to sacrifice style for function. The Positive Posture Cafe Zero Gravity Recliner is an uncommon blend of exquisite design, advanced technology, and True Zero Gravity support. Positive Posture's True Zero Gravity recliners gracefully conform to your physique and unique relaxation requirements, and come in a variety of colors.


The addition of heat to a massage can really take pain relief to the next level. Heat therapy helps to improve blood flow, rid the body of toxins, and even improve muscle flexibility.

The standard for massage chairs is lumbar heat, where the heat is administered to the lower back region. Whereas, some high-end massage chair models even offer heat therapy to the thoracic and cervical spine (the upper back and neck).

Heat is an essential element to muscle relaxation and recovery. Luckily, most massage chairs these days come with a heating option. The Positive Posture Luma with Lift Assist Recliner is an affordable and stylish chair with warming back and seat heat, as well as a host of other features.


Some massage chair models come with built-in air compression massage settings. An air massage basically involves a gentle squeezing technique that is administered by airbags that are slowly filled and released of air.

This sort of massage technique helps to relieve muscle tension and stiffness while also increasing blood circulation and stimulating the lymphatic system.

Air massage provides relief to your calves, thighs, IT bands, arms, hands, and shoulders; perfect when you are looking for minimum intensity with no tapping or kneading movements. The ultra-luxurious Brio Sport from Positive Posture packs 56 air cells into its frame, meaning you can take advantage of the airbag massage on your entire body!

Body Scan Technology

Full body scan technology provides users the ability to personalize and receive a greater accuracy of massage for their weight and body type. Body scans utilize state-of-the-art sensors to customize a massage intensity and massage style that is perfect for your body.

Both the Positive Posture Brio Sport and Brio Plus offer Full-Body Scan technology

The Different Massage Therapy Programs

The Different Massage Therapy Programs

The last thing to consider when choosing just the right massage chair for you is the different types of massage programs it is able to administer.

Here are some of the different massage session options available to you:

  • Swedish massage
  • Shiatsu massage
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Compression massage
  • Reflexology massage
  • Vibration massage
  • Kneading massage

Final Thoughts

If you are on the hunt for a quality massage chair, then why not check out our extensive range below: