The Pros & Cons of a Retractable Ottoman

Traditional ottoman
Traditional ottoman

One of the drawbacks of massage chairs, in general, is that they don’t look like recliners much at all. They are designed to be therapeutic devices and, with that, comes a styling that does not hide the fact that a chair is truly a therapeutic device! Some companies, like Human Touch, have gone to great design and engineering lengths to create chairs that look like recliners first, that have massage chair functions, second.

Inada Yume massage chair
Inada Yume

Other companies have tried to lessen the “therapeutic device” look in some of their models by incorporating designs that try to hide the more overt therapeutic features, i.e. Panasonic has introduced a rotating ottoman, cleverly hidden arm airbags, and a back pad to their MA70/MA73 series and Osaki has brought the OS-3D Pro Intelligent to market to double as a regular recliner. Yet others, like the Infinity IT-9800 or the Inada Yume are very simplistic massage chairs that exclude foot massagers in the ottoman and don’t have any arm or shoulder airbags at all to try to make the chairs look less like massage chairs.

One of the features that is very clever is the retractable ottoman. Human Touch has incorporated the retractable ottoman for years in models like the HT-9500, the ZeroG 2.0 and 4.0, the WholeBody series, and the AcuTouch 8.0 Bali. Osaki uses the same technology with it’s Pro Intelligent model.

Retractable ottoman
Retractable ottoman

The two greatest benefits of the retractable ottoman are:

1. Aesthetics – the retractable ottoman hides the foot and calf wells, which some folks consider hideous looking. To look at a chair with this feature you’d never know that the chair even had foot and calf massage as a feature.

2. Space Saving – when the ottoman is retracted,  you save about 18″ of space that would ordinarily be taken up by the ottoman.

The biggest drawback of the retractable ottoman, at least at this point and time, is the inability of the ottoman to extend or retract once it has been fully deployed. A regular ottoman has the ability to extend to accommodate a longer leg. It may be a manual extension, as with the Inada DreamWave or the Infinity IT-8500, or it is an electronic extension with sensors for stopping the extension, as in models like the Osaki Pro Dreamer or the Titan Alpine.

Whatever the mechanism, the ottoman is the primary part of a massage chair that allows for taller folks to sit and fit…the extension allows for longer legs to fit, thus allowing taller folks to enjoy. Of the models mentioned above, the Human Touch chairs and the Osaki Pro Intelligent, neither allows for that ottoman to extend thus limiting the height of the people who can effectively and comfortably fit in it.

That is the only real drawback to this otherwise incredibly clever feature. My experience is that most of these models will not fit a person much taller than 6′ – 6’2″. The HT-9500 can manage someone taller as the seat is longer and the length of the ottoman extension is greater, but the rest of the models mentioned will not fully accommodate really tall people. The ZeroG 4.0 will manage folks up to 6’0″ tall but not much taller. Likewise for the Osaki chair.

These are the things you should consider when looking at a chair with a retractable ottoman. I hope this serves you in your research!

Dr. Alan Weidner

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