How Does A Massage Chair Work – The Ultimate Guide

How Does A Massage Chair Work

massage chair allows you to relax and unwind in your home. It has become a popular home accessory for people who want to enjoy a good massage without going to a spa or a massage parlor. 

These traditional and robotic chairs are available in the market in various sizes, shapes, and prices. But how does a massage chair work?

The answer is simple it uses electric motors and attached devices to produce different massage motions. Its mechanical system provides different massages like pressure, shiatsu, rolling, kneading, vibration, etc.

How does Massage Chair Work? 

how does a massage chair work

Massage chairs were introduced as traditional chairs. Just before World War II, Japan made its electric version. Most massage chair manufacturers use the same basic design for their models, but not all the details are identical.

If you remove the upholstery from the chair, you’d see a frame made that supports a system of electric motors, gears, wheels, and rollers.

Research published by NCBI suggested that massage chairs are very effective in pain control and relief. Massage chairs have immense health benefits when used correctly and moderately. They help improve blood circulation, reduce stress, and relax muscles, thus relieving pain and stiffness.

These chairs function in many ways:

  • the mechanically vibrating chairs give the sensation of human touch on the back, legs, and arms
  • modern complex chairs deploy rollers and airbags to give the user a deep tissue and shiatsu massage
  • while the water massage technology provides a temperature-regulated tapping massage function

All these variations of a massage chair are ergonomically designed by keeping in mind the pressure points and curvature of the human spine.

How does Vibration Massage Chair Work

They’re mechanical chairs that need an electrical supply to work. These chairs vibrate at different frequencies and intensities to help you relax. 

Mechanism of a Vibrating Chair

They contain a built-in device with a gear or a wheel that produces vibration. There are multiple devices inside this chair. This way, you can experience a satisfying full-body massage.

The wheel is designed in an unbalanced position. Upon connection with power, this device rotates the wheel very fast.

As a result, the unbalanced wheel starts vibrating. This motion acts as a massage for the user sitting in the chair.

How do Roller Massage Chairs Work

Roller massage chairs don’t work by making your skin tingle and giving you a pleasant feeling. Instead, they use rollers to help you achieve relief.

Mechanism of a Roller Massage Chair

The structure of this chair frame determines the movements. The massage rollers are small electric devices that can only move up and down or on a vertical track.

This direction of motion is determined by the tracking system attached to rollers. The rollers get their energy from the electric motors. Some of these chairs have rollers in the armrests that move up and down and also sideways. 

Whether vibration or rolling, these chairs come with a microprocessor that can store different massage intensities and programs. And can be reused according to your preference.

How does an Air Massage Chair Work

An air massage chair

This kind of chair mimics the pressure and shiatsu massage. Because it uses electrically controlled inflatable airbags. You’ll have to spend a fortune to get them as they’re high-quality chairs.

The pressure can be controlled through a remote and their ergonomic design does not cause any harm while applying compression. They use multiple airbags to squeeze specific parts of your body, especially the arms and legs.

This chair inflates the airbag with a small air compressor, inside the chair. The air compressor connects to the airbags through a series of pipes or tubes.

They’ve got a built-in pressure control valve in them that allows the air to flow from the base to the seat, as well as to inflate one set of airbags.

The remote control also gives you options for low and high compression and massage intensities.

Versatile Mechanism of Airbag Massage Chairs

Airbags in the seat and backrest are nice additions to this massage chair. They give you the option to customize your chair to fit your needs and preferences.

The versatility in design helps to control the rate of inflation of airbags. It imitates the tapping, rolling, and kneading types of massages. 

How do Water Massage Chairs Work

These ergonomically designed innovative massage chairs use water pressure to create a tapping massage sensation. This chair has a heating and cooling system, that can adjust the water’s temperature to your preference.

The backrest has waterproof membranes with a series of bars around the front. These metal bars contain the water inside the membranes so that there’s no leakage.

You can fill the cushion with water by using the valves at the top end of the membrane. The back of the membrane is made of a series of holes or “nozzles”.

Whenever the pressure of the water inside it changes, the membrane becomes asymmetrical. This asymmetry gives the user the kneading massage on the neck, back, and shoulders.

What are the Components of a Massage Chair

The following information will show you the different components of a massage chair and what each component does.

Massage Function Elements

This part varies in different massage chairs. It is made of any combination of the following devices:

  • electric motor
  • gear or weighted/unbalanced wheel
  • rollers like S-track, L-track
  • vibrator rotors
  • airbags
  • water pump and membrane system


The high-end massage chairs have a processor which acts as software for the chair. Many expensive massage chairs have better processors that provide better overall functionality than cheap massage chairs.

This part functions as a data or program storage device. It receives signals from the push button or remote control. 

Push-Button Control

A handheld device is usually used to control the intensity of the massage. It also helps in adjusting the backrest and reclining function of the chair.

How Long to Sit on a Massage Chair

You should sit on the massage chair for no more than 15 to 30 minutes per session. If you overuse it may be harmful and may cause muscle and connective tissue damage. 

Excessive use may also lead to inflammation and soreness in the back and neck. Lastly, it may also damage the expensive chair. 


The massage chair work by a variety of robotic machination: vibration motors, airbags, rollers, or the water pressure mechanism. The recliner function adds to the qualities of this ergonomic chair. Research has been going to improve the safety of electric massage chairs from current and fire accidents.

Whatever the mechanism is, the massage chair is your long-term investment!

It relieves stress, reduces pain, improves circulation, and helps you sleep better. You can use it to relax, relieve tension, and rejuvenate after a tiring day at work or home.


1. Do massage chairs need to be plugged in?

Yes, the mechanical ones have electrical motors and they need a power supply to function.

2. Are massage chairs good for your body?

Yes. massage chairs aid good sleep boost circulation and metabolism, relieve stress and make you feel refreshed. But you should know to use it in moderation.

3. Can massage chairs be harmful?

Excessive use may lead to muscle and joint inflammation. It can damage your tissues. Also, overuse may cause the chair to malfunction and it’ll cost you.

4. Can I sleep in a massage chair?

Yes, you can take short naps in the reclining massage chair but it will not support a good night’s sleep. 

5. Is it safe to use a massage chair for back pain?

Yes, it is safe to use a massage chair for back pain. But it’s better to get medical advice before using it.

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I am Karen writing this story for you. My specialization is in the principles of biomechanics meant to improve the quality of life in humans. I’ve more than 10 years of experience in the field of workplace productivity. My passion for yoga has influenced me to teach everyone how to sit and select the best chairs for work and recreation. I try to add value to help this project grow services day by day.



Joshua is the founder and an ergonomist by profession. With over 10 years of working as a furniture designer and consultant, his depth of knowledge is invaluable for our project. He also manages content editing and product reviews.



Carl is a web developer and a tech enthusiast. He likes working at night and has been doing so for the past 9 years. His sense of color selection and understanding of user-friendly interface continues to amaze us. Besides that, Carl is a food lover and a pro at video gaming.