I received a letter the other day from a client who bought an HT-1650 massage chair from our site. Her inquiry addressed a very valid issue for shorter folks on this particular model. I wanted to share her letter and my response to her for your information.
"I have a question about a chair that my husband ordered from you. It arrived two days ago and we have had a few days to try it out. We have found some drawbacks to it and wondered if you can help us.... maybe there is a way to make it work.
"I am 5'7" and so am not short, but I find it impossible to sit in the chair for a massage at the same time as my legs are getting a massage because the leg massager does not raise up or down and it is too low for my legs.. Most of the pre-programmed massage programs include the legs so I assume the company meant for you to be able to have a back massage and calf/foot massage at the same time. I can get the leg part to feel like it fits better but if you adjust it even a little bit... then it won't turn on.... it only turns on when fully extended. This causes further problems because by fully extending it, it puts it to far out from the chair and so the back of my calfs hit against the top of the calf massager. I have bruises on the back of my calves from this. Is this really the way it is supposed to work. Is there supposed to be some adjustment as to placement of the leg/calf massager? The chair is nice... I'm just really surprised that you did not make this adjustable for height and leg length. Can you send me some feedback on this.
Also. we find that if we recline the seat than we lose any lower back massage that there is supposed to be. In order to feel it on our lower back we have to be sitting completely vertical. This is not very relaxing. Any ideas? The only way to possibly get comfortable is to use the optional pillows...but then you can't feel the massage. I'm wondering what was the design thinking here.
Any help on this would be great. I'm hoping that my chair is malfunctioning and that there is a way to raise and lower the calf/foot massager.
Thank you so much for your email. You have touched on the ultimate challenge for all massage chairs...being able to cater to every body morphology in the home! In other words, a chair that fits and works perfectly for one may not work ideally for another. We see it all the time. As a matter of fact, we even know of families that have 2 massage chairs...one for the husband and one for the wife, because of this great reconciliation challenge.
Regarding the HT-1650 massage chair, the ottoman has a very unique construction. It's very construction is what makes it the best leg and foot massager of any chair we have ever experienced in the industry. But, it also creates the issue of which you speak of in your email. Let me explain...
The foot and calf portions of virtually all other chairs are detached and, therefor, separate. In other words, there is a hinge/joint between the two components. In this way, the ottoman can be fully extended to a horizontal position for tall people. The great problem with this is that the foot never gets the intended "reflexology" massage for which it was intended, because when the ottoman is horizontal the foot massager lies parallel and not perpendicular to the calf massager. The user, who wants a calf AND foot massage, now only gets a calf and ankle massage...and it is not very comfortable, quite painful to the ankle by most folks accounts. In order for the user to get a calf AND foot massage, the ottoman has to be at about 45 degrees from horizontal (the highest position of the HT-1650, as you know). Then, when the user fully reclines, with the ottoman at this approximate 45 degree position, the same problem exists that you are talking about with your HT-1650. I will also tell you that the massage on the foot and calf, even in this position, on other chairs, can't even touch the massage of the HT-1650.
What Human Touch has done to provide the most luxurious and wonderful foot AND calf massage, is make the ottoman one, fixed component. This way, the massage is fantastic, but the ottoman will only go to about 45 degrees. But, to offset this, when the chair is fully reclined, as you mentioned in your letter, the ottoman tends to "lock" the calf and foot in that position and it can "pull" on the low back. Now, to be honest, that is one of the features that some folks absolutely love about the ottoman and full recline....it provides a low back stretch that is very therapeutic, especially for low back pain sufferers. But, for some it is uncomfortable (refer to my opening sentence of this email, regarding the "ultimate challenge" of every massage chair).
Now, this is what we recommend for the HT-1650: For FULL recline, if you struggle with discomfort, just bring the ottoman out to the point where it is horizontal on the ground before it starts to incline to the 45 degree angle. Fully recline the chair and just rest your feet on the ottoman, without putting our whole calf and foot in the ottoman. This will afford you the opportunity to shuffle your back right up against the chair back, take out the pillows, and enjoy an absolutely luxurious massage. When you want to focus on the foot and calf, and you are not comfortable with the ottoman incline and the full recline of the chair back, just incline the chair back to a position of comfort and enjoy. You have probably found that it is only a few degrees of difference to go from discomfort to comfort.
Another thing that might assist you in the use of this chair...the ottoman rotates so that when it is out and you would rather have the back massage without the leg massage, you can just rest your legs on the back of the ottoman massager and position yourself where ever you wish on the chair. There is a little lever on the right hand side of the extended ottoman (when you are sitting on it). Just pull it and rotate the ottoman massager around and then you will have a flat surface whereupon you can lay your legs while your back is being massaged!
I hope this assists you in more optimally using your new chair. It is my personal favorite (I am 5'9" and I totally get what you are saying about the full recline/ottoman issue). You have chosen our most popular massage chair, BY FAR. It is the finest looking and it has the greatest therapeutic benefit, particularly for the foot and calf. Once you are accustomed to using it for your body type, you will grow to love it like I do.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Dr. Alan Weidner"