I was just thinking about some of the cool and unique functions and features that I see on some of the chairs I carry. It is amazing to me how interesting and innovative some of these features are. Pretty smart designers and engineers have made the massage chair industry a lot of fun. I will discuss 10 things between Part 1 and Part 2 of this article.
Here are the first 5 things I've found to be kinda cool in some of the chairs we carry:
1. Headband Airbag Massage
I'd never seen this feature before and, to be quite honest, I didn't think too much about it when I first saw it in the Osaki OS-7075R. It looked a little cumbersome and almost looked like it didn't belong. But, after trying it out I thought it was quite the cool feature. It uses airbags to squeeze the temporal muscles and the suboccipitals (under the back of the skull). For headache sufferers, this is a useful tool. And the squeeze is not light...it is quite vigorous. The headband has two hard rubber nodules in the back to work those suboccipital muscles. When the airbags compress those nodules, the headband better be situated correctly or else you get those two hard rubber nodules digging into your skull! When this thing is worn right it can certainly do some stress headaches sufferers some good.
2. Foot Rollers
This feature is becoming increasingly popular in newer massage chair models. It makes sense, especially for plantar fasciitis sufferers. It can feel a little intense at first but once you get used to it, you will adore it. Foot rollers, combined with airbag or paddle foot massage can be quite therapeutic, with or without a musculo-skeletal issue. Chairs that boast mechanical foot rollers in one form or another include the IT-8100, IT-8200, IT-8500, Omega Montage Pro, Osaki OS-7075R, and ZeroG 4.0.
3. Dreamwave Technology
Inada introduced this technology with the Sogno in 2008. It was the first time we'd seen a chair seat do more than just inflate. With this feature the chair seat moves from side to side and up and down. For a "hot" low back problem, I couldn't think of a better way to address it than a passive seat motion. Folks who use the chair love the dreamwave feature because it tends to be quite relaxing. The IT-8200 and IT-8500 have tried to mimic this feature. Usually with imitations, the subtlety and nuance of the feature isn't as great as that of the innovator.
4. Cervical Neck Traction
Staying with the Inada Sogno, the airbags in the headpiece that push down onto the trapezia muscles is brilliant. Massage chairs, heretofore, had never been able to find a way to massage the top of the shoulders (the trapezia). Well, along comes the Sogno with it's "cervical traction device" which provided airbag massage of those muscles. I love this feature, mostly because I have very tight shoulder muscles. The airbags push plastic plates with rubber nodules on them down onto the traps and it feels like a massage therapist using elbows to massage those muscles. It is great. Osaki has tried to imitate this feature in their OS-7200H and OS-6000 models, but, again, it is not nearly as nuanced or refined as that of the Sogno.
5. Heated Jade Rollers
Panasonic introduced this concept into their high-end MA70 massage chair. I had seen this feature before in some massage tables by a company called Ceragem, but had never seen it in a massage chair until the MA70 came out into the market. The rollers of this chair are made of jade stone and a heating element is built in next to the jade stones. The heating element will warm up the stones, which, in turn, will provide a deep to the spinal musculature. Great idea. No one has tried to mimic this one yet.
In Part 2 I will discuss 5 more cool features.
Dr. Alan Weidner