Woman on a morning run

There are nearly as many types of massage chairs as there are types of massage. Designed to cater to a user’s individual needs, each type can provide you with a unique set of benefits.

Ahead, you’ll learn about many of the different types of massage chairs so you can make a choice that’s right for you.

The five major types of massage chairs are:

  1. Air bag massage chairs.
  2. Zero gravity massage chairs.
  3. Full body massage chairs.
  4. Heated massage chairs.
  5. 2D, 3D and 4D massage chairs.

1. Air Bag Massage Chairs

Air bag massage chairs utilize self-inflating air bags to deliver a pressure-based massage. These types of massages have several benefits, including:

Relaxation and Comfort

The sensation of any type of pressure on the body, whether from a hug, air pressure or a weighted blanket, can help to relieve anxiety and stress.

This idea is backed up by a study published in the Journal of Medical and Biological Engineering in 2013, “Physiological Effects of Deep Touch Pressure on Anxiety Alleviation.”

Improved blood flow

Air bag massage chairs provide compression similar to that of compression stockings. According to a 2018 article from University Hospitals, “Why Compression Stockings Are Good For Your Heart,”  that compression promotes better blood flow.

This increased blood flow helps to relieve and treat:

  • Aching, fatigue and swelling.
  • Spider and varicose veins.
  • Poor lymphatic flow.
  • Strain on the heart.
  • Risk of blood clots.

2. Zero Gravity Massage Chairs

As we explained in-depth in our blog post about zero gravity massage chairs, these types of chairs provide a unique feeling of relief that mimics that of complete weightlessness.

That relief can be attributed to the zero gravity position, a position developed by NASA to reduce the pressure experienced by astronauts during liftoff on space missions.

You’ll benefit from zero gravity massage chairs if you:

  • Frequently sit at a desk, spend time on your feet or engage in vigorous exercise.
  • Suffer from tight muscles or stiff joints.
  • Have difficulty sleeping or relaxing.

3. Full Body Massage Chairs

While some massage chairs only massage certain parts of the body, like the back or shoulders, full body massage chairs can knead tension out of all major body parts.

These include:

  • Upper and lower back
  • Neck
  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Feet

Full body massage chairs can achieve such a comprehensive massage through rollers, air bags or a combination of both.

Many users love full body massage chairs for their ability to recreate the effects of a professional massage.

4. Heated Massage Chairs

Some massage chairs utilize heat to further relax the muscles, loosen the joints and calm the mind.

Heat therapy is well-documented for its ability to accomplish all of those things.

As we explained in a previous blog post, heat therapy is associated with a range of benefits such as:

  • Reduced pain, whether from arthritis, muscle spasms, tendinosis, sprains or a number of other conditions.
  • Increase blood flow, thereby relieving strain on the heart and potentially lowering blood pressure over time.
  • Improved sleep, both when falling asleep and during deep sleep.
  • Reduced depression, which has been demonstrated in studies wherein people with depressive symptoms experienced fewer symptoms after taking regular hot baths.

5. 2D, 3D and 4D Massage Chairs

Not all massage chair rollers are the same. In fact, there are three major types of massage chair rollers: 2D, 3D and 4D , each with its own benefits.

2D rollers:

  • Move both up and down and left to right.
  • Are excellent for normal soreness and tension.

3D rollers:

  • Move up and down and left to right, as well as forwards and backwards.
  • Are ideal for people experiencing normal soreness and tension, as well as those seeking a deep tissue massage.

4D rollers have all the capabilities of 3D rollers, but are also able to:

  • Target more specific muscle groups.
  • Replicate the hand movements of a professional masseuse.
  • Use a variety of massage techniques, such as shiatsu, Swedish or deep tissue.

Which Type is Right for You?

If you’re having trouble deciding which type of massage chair you’d prefer, you’ll be relieved to know that many advanced massage chairs combine several different types.

For example, the Cloud 9 Massage Chair is an air bag massage chair and a heated massage chair in one.

By comparison, the Nirvana Massage Chair is a zero gravity massage chair as well as a 3D massage chair.

With so many versatile options to choose from, you’re sure to find a massage chair that can provide you with the relief and relaxation you need.