Massage Chair Stretch Programs: L-track vs. S-track

Massage chair stretch programs
Massage chair stretch programs

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.

Infinity Escape Stretch (L-track)

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

P.S. Give us a “Like”, “Share”, 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.

Mail Bag – DreamWave Classic, iRobotics 7, and L-Track

email sign with mouse
email sign with mouse

Customer Question #1a

Dear Alan,

I have been searching for a good massage chair, but I’m having trouble deciding which chair would be best for me.

Over the years I have tried the basic Panasonic, and brief demos of the newer technology chairs, but I have been disappointed. I’m trying to find a chair that can duplicate the feel and beneficial effects of a human massage on my main trouble spots: back, shoulders, and neck.

I tried using the comparison feature on your website, but it did not help me narrow down my search. Can you recommend a specific model that would solve my issue?

Thanks,

Loren

My Response #1a

Inada DreamWave

DreamWave Classic

Hi, Loren
Thank you for your email. Feedback from visitors to my showroom is that the DreamWave Classic massage chair comes the most close to mimicking human hands. It has some versatility as far as the neck and shoulders are concerned…a headpiece that has airbag massage of the neck and traps or rollers to give the neck and upper back a good, stiff massage. It also has a great low back massage. Check it out here…

https://www.massage-chair-relief.com/massage-chairs/dreamwave/dreamwave-classic/

Customer Question #1b

Thanks for the fast response Alan. I see why you recommend DreamWave; the specs and number of testimonials are very impressive.

One concern I still have: DreamWave uses Airbag pressure to do a lot of the functions. In the past when I briefly tried similar chairs, the Air cylinders held my neck or arms in place, but did not seem to really relax my muscles like an intense roller (or human hands) could do. Is there any airbag technology difference between DreamWave and the other high end chairs?

Loren

My Response #1b

Hi, Loren
Yes the DreamWave uses a lot of airbags but aside from the traditional use of airbags in other chairs and uses them a little more creatively…

1. airbags in the headpiece are used to massage the neck and offer compression onto the trap muscles…something we don’t really see in any other chair.

2. airbags on the lateral aspect of the thighs actually offer a pretty deep massage of the IlioTibial Bands…again, something we don’t see very much of. Most other chairs use the hip airbags simply to hold the hips in place while the rollers go up and down the lumbar spine. But, in the DreamWave the airbags actually perform a compression massage.

3. airbags are used to move the seat up and down and side to side…this is what the term “DreamWave” actually alludes to. This is the first chair to use airbags in the seat to introduce passive motion to the low back and pelvis. Again, quite unique and innovative.

4 waist airbags are used to move both sides of the low back forward, simulating a rotation or “twist” of the lumbar spine. Very innovative in this industry…but now everyone has employed that in their chairs.

I hope this helps a bit in understanding how DreamWave uses airbags, but not in a typical fashion. Of course, the rollers in the back reach the neck all the way down to the sacral area of the pelvic area. Great roller massage. Combined with the airbags this chair gives quite a remarkable overall massage experience.

Customer Question #2

After 11 years as a US army physician and more than a decade working at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, I have returned back to the great state of Texas. I have put off buying a massage chair due to the 220 vs 110 voltage difference. Too many sandbox tours have left me with chronic knee pain and lumbar pain. Also as a gastroenterologist, I am constantly looking at monitors while pushing scope and suffer from cervical/thoracic muscle strain. I am looking at a couple different chairs to include the Osaki, Inada, Panasonic and the Luraco. I have touched base with Luraco as they are in Dallas and they do offer veteran discounts. Not surprising as they are the only US massage chair manufacturer. FWIW, I am 5’11” 220 lb and my wife is 6’1” and 160lbs. Is there any particular chair that you would recommend? Jeffery

My Response #2

Hi, Doc
Thanks for your email. My experience is that many massage chairs don’t have the strongest neck massage, although most massage chairs have a great mid thoracic massage and a sufficient lumbar massage. Here are some thoughts that crossed my mind as I read your email:

1. There really aren’t any massage chairs that work directly on the knees, however there are a couple of models that have very good IlioTibial Band airbag massage, soft tissue that is typically affected by knee and back problems. Take a look at the DreamWave Classic and the Panasonic MA73. The Luraco iRobotics 7 has a 2-tiered calf massage mechanism that reaches up to just below the knee, which might also serve your knees well.

2. Most chairs hit the lumbar region well, but there are a couple of models that do an exceptional job in the sacro-iliac area. Again, consider the DreamWave Classic which has a roller track that hits the sacral area better than most. The trade-off is that the DreamWave does not have a zero gravity feature, which allows the roller track to hit lower down the spine. I wrote an article about that trade-off on my blog. Here is the link:

http://www.massage-chair-relief.com/blog/general/zero-gravity-or-not-that-is-the-question/

iRobotics 7

iRobotics 7

Incidentally, the Luraco iRobotics 7, mentioned above, does have the zero gravity feature. Another type of chair that might impress your lumbar and gluteal areas is the new L-Track chairs, where an extended roller track goes down the spine and under the seat to the top of the hamstrings. This is a wonderful new feature that really does a dang good job on the low back, glutes, and piriformis muscles. A couple of models to consider would be the Infinity Iyashi (although the neck massage is not stellar), Infinity Escape, the Apex Ultra, and the Titan TP-Pro Alpine. Take a look at those and see what you think.

3. The Osaki chairs are great overall chairs, but I often feel as though they are not outstanding in any one feature. But, they are a great bang for the buck.

4. Our most popular selling Chinese-made chair is the Infinity IT-8500. Awesome neck and upper back massage, good lumbar massage, mechanical foot rollers, and zero gravity to boot. Take a look at that model.

Our top selling Japanese chair is the DreamWave. Therapeutically, one of the best feature-sets around, and the quality, life expectancy, and failure rate are superb, but you pay for it. Great neck roller massage and, as I mentioned above, a great lumbo-sacral massage with a masterful combination of rollers and airbags working on that region. The US-made iRobotics 7 has taken the industry by storm and has a wonderful feature-set, too, including foot rollers and zero gravity.

I hope this helps somewhat. Let me know if you have any other questions or need assistance with your order. I am always at your disposal.

Dr. Alan Weidner
www.massage-chair-relief.com

Infinity Escape Review!

Infinity Escape
Infinity Escape

Escape_Brown_sideThe long awaited arrival of this new offering from Infinite Therapeutics, the Infinity Escape, is finally here. We received ours at our Southern California showroom over a week ago. I actually set it up myself and spent quite some time on it to get a good feel for it for this review. Here are my thoughts on this model:

1. Set Up/Assembly

The chair took some time to set up. The shoulder airbags, hip airbags, ottoman, and arm rests all came in separate boxes and had to each be attached/assembled. The assembly was not terribly difficult…and that’s coming from a man who is not a fixer-upper person by any stretch of the imagination. I found the pictures in the owner’s manual to be too small to make out the detail of some of the parts being assembled, but I figured it out anyways.

The shoulder airbags took a little figuring out to get them locked in, but, again, I figured it out.

2. Comfortable Fit

When I first sat in the chair, before turning it on, I found it to be a very comfortable fit. It was not too narrow, as with some chairs, but it seemed to fit me quite comfortably. I am 5’9″ tall and about 185 lbs. No problem fitting. This chair can handle taller and wider bodies because of the broader seat and shoulder airbags as well as the longer chair back.

Infinity Escape Remote
Infinity Escape Remote

3. Remote Control

The remote control has a very simple button and screen layout. The screen is quite easy to use and seemed to be patterned somewhat after the remote control of the Infinity Iyashi. Don’t be fooled, though, by the simple remote layout. Once you get into the screen menu, you will see that this chair has a lot of versatility and can do so much more than what you might be led to believe when you first take the remote in your hands.

For example, the chair shows only 4 auto programs when you first go to the auto menu: Recover, Relief, Stretch, and Renew. But, then you have the option for “Special Programs”, which gives you 5 more auto programs to choose from, for a total of 9 auto programs. So, this chair actually has 5 more auto programs than the Infinity 8500 and Iyashi.

This chair has 10, 20, or 30′ timer increments and also allows the instructions to be viewed in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, as well as English.

One thing I almost forgot…on the remote there is a button labeled “Quick Relaxation”. Press that button and the chair goes into a nice, soothing auto program without the use having to go into the auto programs to select a program. Push one button and you are good to go!

4. Roller Massage

This chair has the extended roller track (aka L-Track), which allows for the buttocks to be massaged as well as the back and neck. I found the roller massage intensity to be moderate and very comfortable. It was not too intense, yet not too soft. It was, as Goldilocks would say, “just right”!

I found the neck roller massage to be a little soft in the auto programs, but when I went to the manual settings and moved the rollers up to the neck, I found it very intense. So, if you want a strong neck massage, don’t be discouraged during the auto programs…the manual settings will provide more than enough kick for your neck area. By the way, it did a great job at the base of the skull. Great news for stress headache sufferers.

I also felt as though the transition of the rollers from the low back to the buttocks was pretty smooth. On a lot of L-Track chairs the rollers hurt the user because the rollers go over the bony prominences of the pelvis. Well, on this model, the transition was smooth and quite comfortable (for me, anyways).

5. Mechanical Foot Rollers

This was a treat! This chair has 6 rollers per foot…more than any other chair that I am aware of. It felt fabulous; my soles, toes, and heels were all massaged. And quite comfortably, I might add. I loved it. After a while, as with most mechanical foot rollers, it got a little old and I had to turn off the foot rollers, but the overall experience seemed head and shoulders better than comparable chairs with foot rollers.

6. Airbags

The chair lists 38 airbags, but it doesn’t feel too much different than any other chair. The things I noticed about the airbags are

  • The arm airbags were long and “sausage-like” and ran the length of the forearms. I had to focus on keeping my arms pushed to the outside of the arm rests so that the airbags would not squeeze my arms out of the arm massager.
  • The calf airbags didn’t do much; I hardly noticed them.
  • The shoulder airbags both inflated at the same time (not alternately) to hold the upper body in place while the rollers passed by. They were not too strong, but quite adequate.
Infinity Escape Stretch
Infinity Escape Stretch

7. Stretch Program

Like most L-Track chairs, the stretch program is a little different, since the chair can’t flatten out the chair back and seat (they are one long unit). But, the stretch program on the Escape was good, nonetheless. It involved a lot of roller massage in the buttock area as well as using the calf and shoulder airbags for compression and distraction while the chair tilted back into it’s zero gravity position (only 1 zero gravity position on this chair, by the way). And I noticed that while the airbags were deployed in the stretch program, the rollers lifted the neck up. Then the airbags deflated and the rollers continued to hold the neck up so that it felt like the neck was getting stretched. It was reminiscent of the Panasonic MA73 or Osaki JP Premium neck stretch.

 

Well, that’s about it as far as the major observations go. Of course, I’ll learn more about the chair’s nuances as I sit on it more and as I hear back from my customers who purchased it.

It is a great bang for the buck for an under $3K L-Track chair. I will soon do a comparative review between the Escape and the Apex Ultra, another L-Track chair priced just the same.

Dr. Alan Weidner

P.S. Give us a “Like”, “Share”, 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.

 

New Store Update; New IT Model; Black Friday!!

Black Friday Sale
Black Friday Sale

stock-illustration-51153206-black-friday-vector-illustrationWell, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner…and just our busiest weekend of the year. I will be sending out an email on Thursday listing our Black Friday specials, but they are actually in effect NOW. You can just call our toll free number, 888-259-5380, to find out what they currently are. If you want to get the email with the list, just sign up for my special report at the bottom of any page of our website you’ll get the notifications. We’ve got some great deals this year.

I might mention that Luraco already has $700 off on their new and exciting iRobotics 7. Up until yesterday, the instant savings on our site was $500 off. From not until Cyber Monday, the instant savings are $700 off. But, without giving away too much, call or watch for our email of Black Friday specials…there just might be some more savings on that chair! (just sayin’).

I flew back down to Southern California Sunday night to get ready for all of our new chairs and to train our new staff, Michael and Chris. I will let you know more about our staff once I get to know more about them, but we have 13 of our chairs on the showroom floor now. We spend the day yesterday assembling them and testing out a few. Today we begin training on the chairs themselves. All the digital study is done…now for the practical application.

I will be here until tomorrow, but will be right back on Friday morning for a Black Friday opening. We even had our first customers last night. All of us were sweaty and dirty from assembling chairs all day, but someone already found us, so we demo’ed the chairs for them. Thanks to Darrell and Lily, of Cerritos, for dropping by to check out our cool chairs.

Here are the chairs we will have in the SoCal showroom, at this moment:

Inada DreamWave

Inada Flex 3S

Inada Yume

Panasonic MA73

Luraco iRobotics 7

*Human Touch Navitas Sleep

*Human Touch ZeroG 5.0

Infinity Iyashi

Infinity IT-8500

*Infinity Escape (new model coming out later this week!)

Infinity IT-9800

*Osaki 4D JP Premium

Titan Alpine

*Titan Executive

Apex Ultra

*Ogawa Active

*Ogawa Refresh

The chairs with asterisks represent chairs we’ve never had in our showrooms before. The Infinity Escape is a brand new model just announced by Infinite Therapeutics last week. Here is what they tell us about it…

Escape_Brown_side
Infinity Escape

“A revolutionary chair bringing all of the latest massage technologies to your customer base at an amazingly affordable price point. The Escape takes the personal massage experience to an entirely new level. Operating with a 47” stroke length track the Escape soothes from neck and shoulders down and under to include the Gluteus muscles!  With a reengineered foot massager the reflexology coverage is now more comprehensive than ever before.  While delivering a soothing reflexology foot massage the user will simultaneously feel relief from an advanced heal rubber for heel pain and plantar fasciitis. A first of its kind! Covering all possible options the Escape is fully outfitted with Zero Wall capabilities, the latest in space saving technology everyone is asking for. The Escape will have an MSRP of $3,995, a MAP of $2,995, and is an amazing addition to the Infinity Family in a price point that no other chair on the market can compare too.”

Sounds pretty good for a $2995 chair, eh?

Well, that’s about it. The store showroom should be ready for customers on Friday morning. The paint is on, the carpet and tile is laid. The woodwork and doors should be up this week. I just hope the bathroom sink and door are put back up this week. It would be a real bummer if the bathroom wasn’t ready for Friday!!

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Back office
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Showroom
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Showroom
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From back of showroom
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1st customer Darrell
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1st customer Lily