One of the most popular features that customers ask about when shopping for a massage chair in our showrooms is the stretch function. Nowadays most, if not all, massage chairs have an automated stretch program. And for most of those chairs, the stretch program involves the chair back reclining all the way down while airbags are simultaneously deployed to grab the feet and calves (and shoulders in some chairs), thus extending the spine through pulling of the legs downward and tractioning the shoulders back.
Some other massage chairs, like the Panasonic MA73 and MA70, don’t use that type of stretch but, instead, have segmental stretching programs. The stretch itself and the feel is quite different, but still soothing and therapeutic. In this article, I want to talk about the former, more common, stretch and the difference between that stretch in an S-track chair and the stretch of an L-track chair.
The primary difference is that the seat on the L-track chair is tilted up in a zero gravity-like position (30 degree tilt) while the seat of the S-track chair remains horizontal. This means that the stretch of the S-track chair is more exaggerated because the body is virtually horizontal and the whole spine ends up being stretched/extended. You can never be completely horizontal on an L-track because, well…the chair is always in a fixed L position.
So, if the chair can never fully recline and be horizontal, the stretch can never fully extend the back. The ottoman dropping, with the airbags deployed, ends up feeling more like a pulling of the legs from the hips, instead of the feel of the whole spine being extended and stretched because the body is completely horizontal.
This subtle difference (seat tilt) makes quite a difference in the feel of the stretch. It’s a little tough describing this difference in writing, but when you try an S-track stretch immediately after an L-track stretch, you will surely notice the difference.
Dr. Alan Weidner
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