In your search for the perfect massage chair, you have probably come across terms or words that you have never heard of before. You may even think you want a particular feature because everyone talks about it, yet you don’t really even know what it means? I know I experienced that quite a bit when I first got into this business.
Well, I created this Glossary for customers just like you who may need a little explanation when it comes to certain terms that we, in the massage chair business, use very single day without even thinking about them. This is a two-part post. I have 13 terms; Part 1 will have 7 of the terms, while Part 2 will have the other 6. If you think of another term, the definition of which you are not familiar, mention it in the comment section of this blog and I will add it to the mix.
1. Zero Gravity – In the massage chair business, zero gravity refers to the positioning of the chair wherein the seat is tilted at a 30
degree angle and the chair back & seat articulate at a 120 degree angle with each other. This was deemed by NASA to be the most stress-free position for the astronauts in a seated position. Massage chair companies have integrated this technology into their products. You will feel that less stress is placed on the low back when zero gravity positioning is engaged.
2. Roller Track – The roller track is the housing for the rollers that perform the massage functions on the spine of the user. The rollers move on this roller track to extend from the top to the bottom of the track.
Many manufacturers and retailers refer to the “massage stroke length.” This essentially is the length of the roller track. Most tracks are 26-31 inches long, but newer models now extend to almost 50” in length.
3. S-Shape Roller Track – From a side view, the shape of your spine is not straight but made up of a series of forward and backward curves…the neck (cervical) and low back (lumbar) have forward curves, the mid back (thoracic) and pelvis have backward curves. This sinuous shape of the spine is referred to in the massage chair industry as S-shape. Most chairs have roller tracks that are S-shaped in order to conform with the natural shape of your spine.
In the early days of this industry, the first massage chairs had straight roller tracks, which did not conform to the shape of the human spine; thus, some areas did not get as effective a massage as others. The introduction of the S-Shape roller track made it possible for every segment of your spine to get a good massage from the rollers.
3. Quad Rollers – Most chairs nowadays have 4 rollers that move up and down the roller track – 2 on each side. These rollers are usually arranged so that the top two rollers protrude further forward than the bottom two rollers. This design was created to accommodate the changing curvature of the spine…when the curve changes, the upper two rollers will hit the coming curve, while the bottom two rollers will still be set back enough to hit the previous curve.
4. 3D Rollers – All rollers move from side-to-side and up-and-down, which represent the x- and y-axes of movement, respectively. Until recently very few actually moved forward-and-back, which is movement along the z-axis. Before, only 2 dimensions of motion were offered by roller systems. Now chairs are coming out with the z-axis dimension of motion…movement forward and back, which provides the ability to increase or decrease the intensity of the roller massage.
5. Kneading – Every massage chair has its own proprietary technology to perform basic massage functions. Kneading is one of those functions. It usually involves the rollers working in a small circular motion, while at the same time moving towards and away from the spine.
6. Shiatsu – The word “shiatsu” means “finger pressure.” When I was a practicing chiropractor, I often performed “trigger point therapy” where we would apply specific pressure to a muscle with the intent of getting it to relax. Shiatsu could be thought of as a form of trigger point pressure. The shiatsu function on a massage chair typically involves the rollers hitting a spot and staying on it for a few seconds to apply a “finger-like” pressure. Some chairs will also move the rollers in a very, very tight circle while pressing against the muscle. It can be uncomfortable for some, but it is a very therapeutic mode in a massage chair.
7. Airbags – Airbags can be defined in two ways, as airbags or air cells within an airbag. Airbags have become very common on most massage chairs. They are used for things like arm or leg compression, moving the chair seat, neck and shoulder massage, waist and seat pressure, moving the rollers forward and back, and much more. They are literally airbags that inflate via a compressor in the chair. An airbag can just be one airbag or contain multiple air cells that work together to affect a total airbag massage.