How Effective is Massage Chairs in Relieving Pain?

Complementary Healing, Pain or Injuries

Massage chairs are heavily promoted in the health industry. In Malaysia, a massage chair from a reputable brand costs from RM7000 to over RM10000.  Celebrity endorsement of the brand and huge advertisement banners are costly- so logically, the chair will have to be very expensive in order to meet the cost.

The advertising media has been trying to convince people that massage chair are quick fixes for all types of chronic problems and pain. In order to bring the message home- advertisements pull at heartstrings when the message send across during Mother & Father’s Day promotion: ‘your parents have worked hard for you all their lives and now they’re old. They’re in pain. Why not you get them a massage chair?’. And pictures of happy elderly parents enjoying the massage chair convinces you to fork out almost 10k (payable back in installments) just to get a massage chair for them.

How effective is massage chairs?

Massage chair is supposed to mimic the movements of a masseur- and supposedly enable a person to save on the long term of treatments. The lower end one basically just move lightly at your back where the higher end ones have more function such as adjustable speed, massage at the lower back, knees, head and feet. Those little extra features can set you back easily for about an additional 5k to 6k.  Still, no matter how convincing the advertisement is, what I fail to understand is why do I see these massage chairs lying around houses like white elephants- and they really do occupy a lot of space. Why do people stop using them after a while if they are really that good and effective?

No doubt, massage chair is able to increase the circulation- but it is only done at the surface level as the massage does not go deep. To go deep, you need a professional to do it.

Massage chairs does not:

  • increase your metabolic rate
  • help you to built muscles
  • effectively cure painful conditions such as arthritis

To achieve the above, there is only one way- exercise- incorporating programs such as brisk walking, weight training and stretching. And if you only want to massage the surface, inexpensive traditional massage tools can be used:


(Source of picture above:

These massage tools are just as good, if not better because you or your partner will need to use energy to manually massage- and it helps you to burn some calories and give you a light cardio workout. And if you buy them and do not use it, you will not feel like you’ve burned a big hole in your pocket. You can find these tools in shops selling discounted items that are made from China.

Also, think about this: if your circulation is no good and sluggish (due to inactive couch potato lifestyle and diets of high in fat and sugar), if you sit on a massage chair and it massage only your back and not the front, don’t you think the areas not covered by the massage chair will be blocked as well? When you go for professional or traditional massage, the therapist will normally massage your entire body to ensure proper drainage. I always remember what an Indonesian massage lady told me: we cannot massage only one part of our body because if other parts are blocked, then everything just get stuck at the blocked part. You need to massage all surrounding areas to ensure proper drainage and removal of toxins. So, there is danger of localised massage as what massage chairs are made to do.

Another concern I have is also on the energy levels- massage chairs are operated by electric- that means currents are flowing beneath the chair to get the surface moving and doing the work. Already we spend hours on our handphone, in front of the PC and the telly. And our body are current conductors- so current from these gadgets will move through us as well. Improper discharge of such currents may cause development of oxidants- and that attributes to development of cancer. This is especially so with the portable hand held massage equipments- I have tried it once and I immediately don’t like it because I can feel little currents flowing through my back as the equipment gently massage my back.

So, perhaps it is better to think twice before investing in expensive, modern and state of the art massage chairs. I have covered a few methods of pain relief in previous posts (yes, you need to work out a sweat for those):

1, Videos for Injuries/ Pain

3. Stiff or Painful Joints- Take immediate action before it’s too late

4. Fancy Beating Yourself with a Cane? Enter…Cane Exercise


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