In Part 2 of my review, I’d like to go over the actual massage experience of the Apex Ultra massage chair.
The first thing I noticed when I turned on the chair (and I must say that I started with Auto program #1, which is “Deep Tissue”), was how intense the rollers were…especially in the neck and shoulder regions. I find a lot of chairs don’t have a lot of kick in the neck area and customers who like deep tissue massage in that area could be left wanting. But, this chair has quite a vigorous massage up there.
The rollers hit the suboccipitals very well (those are the muscles at the base of your skull that are often the culprit of stress headaches). If you have headaches that are musculo-skeletal in nature, I think you might really “dig” the massage of this chair. The rollers also hit the levator scapulae muscles quite well too. Those are the muscles at the top of the shoulder blades that also can contribute to stress headaches.
You cannot adjust the depth of the rollers of this chair, so to have good default roller depth bodes well for those of you who want a deep massage in the neck. If you find the roller massage too intense for this part of the spine, the chair does have a fairly thick neck pillow which will damper the intensity quite a bit. If the rest of the massage is too intense, you can also use a throw blanket or towel over the back of the chair that will damper the intensity of the rollers in the mid and lower back.
The rollers do a great job in the low back and gluteal (seat) regions. The upper third of your hamstrings also get a good massage from the rollers. If you’ve never sat on a chair with an extended roller track (L-track), you will be in for a pleasant surprise…especially if you suffer from sciatica or butt muscle pain or piriformis syndrome. The Ultra will not disappoint in that regard.
The shoulder airbags are OK, but nothing to write home about. I found them a little useless; they didn’t really pin my shoulders back or hold me in place as the rollers moved up and down. They were just “there.” I would say the same about the hip airbags. If anything, all four of those airbags did offer alternate inflation from side to side creating his shearing effect of moving the body from side to side over the rollers. Not as pronounced as with the Infinity Iyashi, but similar. Again, I wasn’t overly impressed with those airbags.
Airbag intensity can be adjusted up or down. The chair offers 3 different intensity settings for all airbags. You will find this very useful especially in the feet, as the foot rollers can be quite intense particularly when the airbags are compressing down on the feet. Lessen the airbag intensity and the foot rollers can become less uncomfortable.
You can have all airbags deployed in a program or have only one region working. The chair defaults to all airbags being deployed during a program, but you can just isolate one region. The hand airbags are quite good, in my honest opinion. I really enjoyed them.
Two other auto programs on the remote are the “3D Reflex” program and the “Stress Care”. Here are my observations of these two programs:
1. The “3D Reflex” program is a combination of the Auto program #2 and #4. That is the “Relax” and “Stretching” programs. So, when you choose that option, you will see Auto programs #2 and #4 selected together and displayed on the remote control.
2. The “Stress Care” program is considered a stretching program in the owner’s manual, but it is really just a program combining Auto programs #1 and #4 (“Deep Tissue” and “Stretching”).
Both of these extra programs are not unique programs, but just combinations of existing Auto programs.
As far as the stretching program goes, as with all L-track chairs, the ottoman does most of the work. In the Ultra, it drops down when the chair is reclining and extends somewhat. I love how the ankle/heel airbags help with the foot grab and spinal traction when the ottoman descends. It is quite reminiscent of the IT-8500 ankle/heel airbag deployment, even though the overall stretch program of the Ultra is nowhere near as good or effective as that of the IT-8500.
In concert, during the stretching program, this chair employs simultaneous airbag inflation of both arms, rollers going down to the buttocks, reclining of the chair, and dropping of the ottoman with inflated feet airbags. It is a decent stretch for an L-track chair but, again, not as efficacious as that of a more traditional chair, like the IT-8500 or the Inada DreamWave.
If you are a more sensitive soul, you might begin with the “Relax” program and drop the intensity of the airbag inflation to it’s lowest setting. You might also want to use the neck pillow and perhaps even a throw blanket over the chair back. If you love intense massage, from head to foot, then you are going to love this chair without any padding.
When I got out of the chair, I truly felt like I had been worked over. The massage was thorough, vigorous, and comprehensive…and I’d have to say quite therapeutic.
I hope you found this review helpful!
Dr. Alan Weidner
P.S. Give us a “Like” or “+1” and leave me a comment or question below to share what you learned or ask any questions, so other folks can benefit from this material.