Woman getting human massage

If you’re used to paying for massages from a professional masseuse, the idea of enjoying unlimited, low-cost massages from a massage chair in the comfort of your own home probably appeals to you.

However, you shouldn’t expect a massage chair to do all the things a human massage can.

Here, we’ll go over the key differences between massage chairs and human massage:

  • Cost: A massage chair can pay for itself over time, while human massages tend to be expensive.
  • Targeting of certain areas: A massage therapist can pay attention to specific areas of the body that a massage chair can’t.
  • Accessibility: A massage chair can be accessed in your own home, while human massages typically require a drive.
  • Human connection: Human massages release endorphins, while massage chairs may not have the same effect.

Let’s take a closer look at all those differences before deciding if a massage chair or a human massage is best for you.


In general, the cost of human massages far exceeds that of massage chairs. After all, massages in the U.S. cost an average of $60 per session. This is according to an article from the University of Minnesota titled, “How Much Does Massage Therapy Cost?.”

If you get two professional massages per month for a year, that comes out to a grand total of $1,440.

On the other hand, if you purchase a massage chair for about $900, it will pay for itself after you use it three times per week for five weeks.

If you go for a more expensive chair that costs about $2,000, it will pay for itself after you use it three times per week for 11 weeks.

If you’re paying more than $60 per professional massage session, your massage chair will pay for itself even faster.

For that reason, massage chairs can be a wise investment for people who enjoy getting (or need to get) regular human massages.

Targeting of Certain Areas

It’s an undeniable fact that professional massage therapists can target specific areas of the body that massage chairs cannot.

For instance, a massage therapist is able to provide thorough treatment to the hands, scalp, feet and upper shoulders.

By contrast, massage chairs are usually limited to massaging more general parts of the body, such as the back, arms, legs and back of the shoulders.

While massage chairs’ capability is more than enough for most users, people who have pain in very specific areas may not be able to get the targeted treatment they need. This is also true for people with injuries in certain areas.


Ease of access is one of the major reasons that people choose to buy massage chairs.

Think of it this way: if you own a massage chair, your next massage is only as far as your own living room. You can even wake up, have your coffee and enjoy a morning massage in your pajamas.

However, human massages take much more effort to access. Whether you receive professional massages at a fitness club, spa, physical therapy office or sports medicine clinic, you’ll likely have to drive to get there.

What’s more, paying for a massage therapist to come to your home can be costly.

So, most people prefer the accessibility, convenience and comparatively low cost of a massage chair right in their own home.

Human Connection

It’s been repeatedly established in scientific studies that human touch has a calming, feel-good effect.

According to a 2010 article from NPR titled, “Human Connections Start With a Friendly Touch,”  this is because human touch causes two things to happen in the brain:

  • Oxytocin is released. Known as the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin plays a strong role in social bonding. When you pet your dog or hug a close friend, oxytocin is released.
  • Cortisol is lowered. Known as the “stress hormone,” cortisol is released in response to stressful situations and feelings. Too much cortisol can cause higher blood pressure, weight gain and other undesirable side effects.

Together, those two effects cause feelings of relaxation, bonding and trust. For that reason, human massage can create a sense of bliss and human connection that massage chairs cannot.

This may be especially beneficial to people suffering from anxiety, depression or high stress levels.

Which Is Right for You?

While both massage chairs and human massage are fantastic, therapeutic and relaxing options, each has their own unique set of benefits.

You should opt for a massage chair if you:

  • Don’t want to keep paying the high fees associated with professional massage.
  • Want to be able to get a massage whenever you want, without needing to get in the car.
  • Want a general, full-body massage that targets all the major muscle groups.

You should opt for human massage therapy if you:

  • Don’t mind the cost and travel associated with professional massage.
  • Want a highly-personalized massage that targets very specific areas of the body.
  • Want the feeling of human connection that comes with a massage therapist’s touch.

Of course, you can always have the best of both worlds. By using occasional human massage to supplement your massage chair, you’ll be able to enjoy the tremendous benefits of both massage chairs and human massage.