The Most Comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Massage Chairs in India with Answers
Is the quality of an automatic massage chair exactly the same as a human massage?
Not Yet - Trained massage therapists can definitely perform better than automatic massage chairs. Firstly they can see, hear, feel and sense the person they are massaging. They get feedback from these senses and can fine tune the massage, for example the amount of pressure. Human therapists can access the customer's body better, they can move around themselves or ask the customer to roll over for this. All this makes them better at it.
Exceptions- Unlike the US where massage therapists have to go to college for 500-1000 hours training to learn to massage and have to pass an exam before they get a massage license, in India, anyone can offer to do a massage. So it is common to get untrained and unskilled ‘therapists’ that learnt massaging from others or through trial and error and many unscrupulous massage spas offer just some ladies rubbing your body with absolutely no clue on how to do a massage. These 'massage therapists' may cause you more trouble than benefit.
Why should someone invest in an expensive automatic massage chair in India ?
There are many reason for this . Some of the most important ones include
Convenience - For the same reason many people in India now use washing machines. They may not clean as well but they are very convenient. With a massage chair people can get a massage at work, in their hotel room in the evening or late at night at home after returning from a long day at work. This is much more convenient than looking for a massage therapist and checking their spa hours or if they will come to your home.
Consistency - In India, many massage therapists are not trained so you don't know what you'll be getting. With a massage chair you can program it to your desired style, part of body that needs attention or intensity.
Usable by All - Unlike massage spas that mostly cater to young men that are bold enough to venture in, massage chairs can be used by everyone including elderly parents, women and even children in the comfort of their homes and offices without any embarrassment.
Cost Benefit - In India, the average cost of a massage in a good spa is Rs 2,000/hr. At 24 massages a year per person, it costs ~ Rs 1 lac per year for a family of 2 for just 48 hrs of massage
If they instead invest in a massage chair the cost of ~Rs 2 lac, could be utilized over 365 days x 15 min x 4 sessions/day or over 365 hrs of massage .
How 'close' in performance are robotic massage chairs to good human massage therapists?
In our opinion, if a good massage therapist has a 5 star rating, a good massage chair would be a 4.5 star.
Half a star deduction for the 'robotic touch' which still lags human hands a bit and another half a star deduction for not being able to take 'feedback' and adjusting automatically. On the other hand massage chairs are more consistent, and accurate as they are programmed to apply the exact same pressure and operate at the exact same speed every time. Then there are functions like Yoga Stretching or parallel massage where your back, body and foot as being massaged at the same time saving you almost 65% time for a massage. And you don't need to take off your clothes and don't need any appointments, or take a bath after the massage. So there are many pluses.
What are the main features when considering an automatic massage chair in India? What distinguishes the low cost massage chairs from the high end massage chairs?
Cost - Massage chairs in India vary in price from Rs 1,00,000 to Rs 5,00,000. If you are new to massage chairs, it is wiser to start with the more inexpensive ones to see how they work for you before investing in an expensive high end one. The most common differences between the low cost and high end massage chairs in India are based on the following features. You can also read our blog post about the exact price variations to expect based on different features.
2D vs. 3D vs. 4D - All machines are 2D at least which means the rollers can go up and down (Y axis) but also narrow and wide (X axis). Pressure is usually varied by inclining the backrest so if you incline the bed full flat, your entire body weight is pressing against the roller for max pressure.
Anyhow, if this was not enough, 3D machines have rollers that can also go in and out (Z axis) to increase and decrease pressure that the rollers apply on your back. 4D is fictional (marketing hype) as scientists haven't discovered a 4th dimension in the real world yet. This is used by massage chair marketers to indicate that the rollers have the ability to vary rotation speed of the rollers.
Beware of some manufacturers claiming their chairs to be 3D just because their foot massage does massage from 3 directions- airbags on top and rollers on the sole calling it a 3D foot massager. Real 3D chairs will normally have a button called 3D on the remote control to turn it on or off or you can ask the dealer to show you the difference. You should feel the rollers digging into your back in and out-only then do you know it is a 3D chair.
Size of Chair- Larger Chairs are bigger and heavier, normally because they use better components, more motors and made of a sturdier frame (like a Mercedes vs a Suzuki). They also use more material and usually have more features. Petite (smaller) and lighter massage chairs are made to meet the specification and price requirements to be sold at lower price in larger volumes with cheaper components, more plastic and less durable materials. They are also made so that they can be shipped in one box reducing the shipping cost and the effort of assembling and disassembling it sacrificing performance in the process. Normally a larger and heavier machine is a better quality machine.
S Track vs. L Track- The roller assembly for massaging the back runs on a track in the back of chair. The tracks were usually in a S shape and were shorter as they only massaged the back. Newer models have an L shape that are longer, and form an L going down the back and then along the bottom of the buttocks and glutes so you can get a massage all the way to your thighs. L Track chairs are more expensive. There are variations of L Track called SL or J shape but basically the same idea.
Number of Rollers - Usually 4, 6 or 8 rollers are most common. Higher meaning more rollers or 'fingers' and therefore a better massage. Newer machines have ribbed rollers to replicate human fingers.
Airbags - Airbags, when inflated give you the squeezing sensation. The more airbags the more 'human' the massage chair is supposed to resemble a human massage. These vary from 24 airbags in the lower end machines to 100 airbags on the high end machines. Beware a lot of manufacturers game the system by dividing an airbag into 2 or 4 by adding a stitch in middle. So don't look at this number exclusively as some of the best chairs may half the number of airbags as a cheaper model.
Zero Gravity - While many massage chairs let you lie flat like 1st class plane seats, there is a specific position called "Zero Gravity" which is a reclined position elevating the feet at or above the heart and creating a torso-to-leg angle of roughly 128 degrees with a variation of +/- 7 degrees. This is supposed to be the most relaxing position for humans. Some chairs market them as such and others may have this ability and not advertise them.
Automatic Programs - Not a big differentiator as they can be easily copied. Different brands have different sets of auto programs and a number of programmable options. Some are even called choreographs and are designed by famous massage therapists but they all mostly just vary the combinations and speeds of airbags and rollers. For example most chairs now have the Stretch feature. Different makers call it Yoga Stretching (Osada), Spinal Decompression, Spine Twist, Body stretch, etc.
Heating - Most massage chairs have heating for feet and back now. The more expensive chairs have heating all over and some have heated rollers with infrared heating. In practicality the simpler heating pads work better than heated rollers and get more hot. However temperature control is very spotty in most chairs and only have an ON/OFF modes.
Bluetooth, USB, Speakers, Voice Control & Lighting - Bluetooth connections, USB charging ports, speakers, ambient lighting, voice control, etc. are the most common high end features that the more expensive chairs will claim to have. In most cases you are going to be in the chair for 20 minutes and are not really going to get much benefit out of this. after all you can take your high end wireless Bose headphones with you to the chair. Voice control which is very hyped is mostly a failure as it only recognized Chinese and most people just use a Auto program and don't want to deal with it. Have you tried dictating an address to Google Maps. Now imagine trying to explain to the massage chair to find a sore spot using your voice. Not easy - right?
'Made in' Country - Although massage chairs will claim to be Japanese, Korean or American- like Apple iPhones or Nike shoes, every chair is very likely made by the same factories in China or other Asian countries. In massage chairs, reputation wise, justifiably or not, Japanese brands rank as the best, followed by American made and then the rest. India, unfortunately doesn't manufacture robotic massage chairs yet. Most massage chairs in India are made by white label manufacturers in China and labeled by the brand. Most brands just import and sell these machines along with any other items they can find demand for (Diwali lights, fitness equipment, shoes) as they have no intention to provide support to their customers which is very difficult and expensive. Osada India is focused on massage chairs only. We believe in long term success and as a customer oriented brand we will offer customers the best support for massage chairs throughout India as this is our core business.
After Sales Support - This is by far the most important factor for these chairs. While most companies will offer you warranty and support, because these chairs sell in small quantities it is impossible to have parts or trained technicians available everywhere at all times. Most manufacturers or dealers will send an untrained mechanic to try and fix your machine. Also shipping these heavy chairs is not feasible. So to avoid having your massage chair become a 'white elephant' recliner taking up space, only trust Osada India to take care of your massage chair throughout the warranty period and beyond.
How much time should you use a massage chair for?
Since massage chairs work on different parts of your body at the same time, you only need about 20 minutes of massage to get the equivalent of 1 hour of a human massage. Any longer may cause unnecessary stress on your muscles and in some cases even cause pain the next day if you are not used to massages.
Don't make the Rookie Mistake- Most people that use it for the first time or use it after a few drinks, enjoy it so much that they keep repeating the massage cycles, even though most machines turn off after 20-30 minutes. If you are new to massage chairs start with the Quick Relaxation mode or low to moderate pressure for the first week for about 8-10 minutes in the standard position which is around 45 degrees. As you get more used to the chair and can handle the deeper pressure, you can start going for the Zero Gravity Position and longer massage programs.
Can I use the Massage Chair as a Recliner?
No, The massage chairs usually have a back that is just a hollow space within a rectangular frame. The only thing within that is the rollers that move up and down. In the rest position the rollers usually move to the bottom, so there is nothing supporting your back, so it is not comfortable. So just because it looks luxurious and comfortable, don't assume this is something you can curl up into and read a book or listen to music for a long time or fall asleep. At the most you can take a quick nap if you fall asleep.
How much space does the massage chair take? Can I keep it in the living room? What is the best place to keep a massage chair at home?
A massage chair is usually 4 feet deep, 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall when erect and becomes 6 feet deep when reclined, so you need at least 7-8 feet deep space. Height and Width are usually not a problem in most places except when moving it into a room with narrow doors (most chairs are around 33 inces wide)
You can keep it in a living room if that is your only option. Just be aware that the chair is significantly bigger than a recliner or other regular sofa furniture. So it may stand out if you are picky about such things. Another thing about massage chairs is that the legrest portion has these slots to put your feet in and some people feel it does not look good.
Most people would prefer to keep the massage chair in a non-public space in their house like a large master bedroom, guest bedroom that is not being used, library or study, game room or gym. Obviously it is not a good idea to keep the chair in an outdoor space like terrace, balcony or garage
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