I received a great email from a visitor to our site…obviously someone who has been doing their massage chair homework. Below is their email to me followed by my response to them:
“Wanted to hear your thoughts. I have been struggling with for the last 6 months to try and make a chair selection. The issue I continue to run into is that there aren’t places in my area to try all the chairs.
The basics –
Details: Myself – 5’10, wife 5’6
Issues: Myself – C4 bulging disk, straight neck spine, slight curvature at base of spine. Regular discomfort usually located behind shoulder blades or in neck. Occasional issues with lower back. I do see a chiropractor.
My wife: Slight issues with hip (stiffness) and problems with circulation in legs and feet.
What we have sat in: Inada Dreamwave, Sanyo 8700DRK, Human Touch (most of them), Panasonic EP-MA51KU, Osim Ucomfort, Osim uAstro
Favorites (Mine): 8700DRK and Dreamwave. In particular, I really like the 3D massage. My issues is whether 3D is truly worth the cost variation. I am more about utility – what will truly be theraputic and helpful. Taking a step down I did like HT-7450. Didn’t like the other Human touch chairs. Was ok with Panasonic.
Favorites (Wife): Osom Ucomfort. Liked Sanyo and Inada. Others were “ok”. Didn’t really notice 3D.
In general we both like the 5 year warranties. I have been coming back to the Elite Optima – but really unsure since I can’t sit in the thing. Do you have thoughts or suggestions?
Dr. Weidner’s response:
Since I didn’t hear from you via phone, I figured I’d write up as much as I could for you to answer your inquiries.
It sounds like you have tried most of the better chairs. Your height and your wife’s height does not preclude you from any chair model, actually. If you were over 6 feet tall, that would affect some model recommendations. I would suggest the Sanyo 7700 over the 8700 since the price differential is $1000 and the 8700 is much like the 7700 but for folks over 6′.
Your spine sounds like you need a massage chair…that’s for sure. I can pretty much promise you that you will get a tremendous amount of relief from a massage chair, especially if you use it daily. Here are some thoughts about the chairs you mention and the conditions you suffer from:
1. if your wife suffers from poor circulation in calves and feet, then I would probably suggest a chair with both foot and calf massage. The Human Touch chairs, for the most part, do not have a foot massage feature…only calf massage (unless you go to the HT-9500 or HT-5320).
2. I think it is safe to say that all massage chair models massage the the mid back (thoracic) region quite well. If you want a chair that massages “way down” into the low back, i.e. the top of the butt/sacrum, then I would suggest an Inada chair or a Sanyo chair. Human Touch chairs typically only go down to the belt line.
3. For the neck and shoulders, all models are pretty good. The Inada Sogno has a cervical traction device which uses air bags to traction your neck and massage it. You can lift the cervical traction device off and let rollers work your neck and shoulders, too, if you so choose. The cervical traction device and the dreamwave technology in the seat of the Inada Sogno are incredible features, unduplicated by any other manufacturer at this point. From my perspective as a chiropractor, I must say that I absolutely love those two features of the Inada Sogno chair. There is great therapeutic value in them.
4. I don’t know much about the Panasonic MA51, other than what I have read about it. You know more about the feel of the chair than I do. I’d love to hear from you what your opinion of it is. Panasonic’s are traditionally well built chairs that are not great for taller folks. Your height, again, is perfect for any manufacturer’s chair, including Panasonic.
5. I have sat in the OSIM chairs and they are a typical, generic Chinese-made chair. Nothing out of the ordinary. I would have to classify the Elite chair the same way, though I have never actually sat in one. Feedback from clients is that it is also a typical Chinese-made chair. I have also heard from other shoppers and clients that the customer support for the OSIM and Elite chairs is questionable, based on either their personal experience or what they have found through their research on the web.
6. The uAstro chair by OSIM is a copycat look-alike of the Inada Sogno body appearance, but it is nothing like the Sogno in feature and function. The Inada Sogno is a very unique chair that does feel quite different than other traditional massage chairs.
In our business, the Inada Sogno is the most popular-selling chair, for what it’s worth. I have written quite a bit on my blog about the Sogno, the Panasonic 30007, and the Sanyo 7700, including some comparisons between the chairs. Please go to my website, www.massage-chair-relief.com, and do a search for any of those models and you’ll find a lot of info. For example, here are 3 blog posts comparing the Inada Sogno to the Sanyo 8700:
I hope this input helps in some way. Please feel free to call me anytime on my personal cell number, 801-651-2026, and I’ll be happy to chat about any of the models you are interested in.
Dr. Alan Weidner