Massage Chairs – Wall Hugger vs. Space Saver

dcore full recliner
dcore full recliner

As I’ve discussed in previous articles, the L-track feature that you now see in


the vast majority of massage chairs on the market has changed a few things that we had become quite accustomed to with the more traditional S-track chairs. Most notably is the capacity to provide roller massage to the seat muscles, i.e. the gluteals and the piriformis muscles. However, the L-track configuration also compromised a full extension body stretch, which is one of the great advantages of the S-track configuration. In this article, however, I want to talk about another feature that has changed with the advent of the L-track…wall spacing.

S-Track Massage Chair Wall Spacing

Because the S-track massage chair has a chairback that moves independently of the seat, the chair requires placement further away from the wall. S-track chairs differ from model to model, but as a general rule, you will have to place your S-track massage chair anywhere from 13-18″ away from a wall so that the chair back does not recline into the wall…and cause damage to your paint or even your drywall (believe me, these chairs can actually put holes in your walls if the chair is positioned too closely to a wall – we’ve done it many times in our showrooms!). If you are space-compromised, the L-track massage chair may be a better solution. I will explain why below.

Massage Chairs - Wall Hugger vs. Space Saver - massage chair stretch program 300x137 1
S-track chair in reclined position
HT-7450 Massage Chair
S-track chair in upright position

(Notice how much further away from the base the headpiece is in the reclined position)

L-Track Massage Chair Wall Spacing

The L-track massage chair has a chairback and seat that are one contiguous piece, thanks to the L-shaped roller track, and, thus, move in concert as one unit. The reclining of this type of chair allows for closer placement to the wall. But, even the placement can be different based on how the movement of the chair in recline happens. That is where the “space saver” and “wall hugger” terms come from.

Space Saver

Because of the unique unibody configuration of the L-track roller system, and accompanying simultaneous chairback and seat movement during recline, the chair “scoops under” as it reclines, thus allowing the chair to be placed closer to the wall. Rather than a chairback reclining independent of the seat, the whole chairback/seat mechanism moves as one unit, scooping under as it reclines. To visualize this, think of the rides at the amusement park where the carriage within which you sit rocks forward and back around an axis point. The chairback and seat move as one unit around that axis point. This is similar to the movement of the massage chair in recline. It’s not leaning back during the recline, it is scooping under. I hope that made sense!

Some chairs do a more efficient “scooping under” than others, but generally an L-track chair can be placed within 1-8″ of the wall.

D.Core Cloud massage chair cream side
D.Core Cirrus upright
D.Core Cloud massage chair cream zero gravity
D.Core Cirrus L-track recline


(Notice how the chairback of this space saver chair is further away from the base in the reclined position than in the upright position)

Wall Hugger

Many chairs also have a feature where the chair body slides forward along the chair’s base before it scoops under for the recline. Customers have described this movement as a space rocket sliding forward to the launching pad before take off. The chair slides forward about 12″ to move it away from the wall completely before reclining. These types of chairs are called “wall huggers” because you can place the chair within 1″ of the wall without having to worry about it hitting the wall during the recline, thanks to the sliding base.

So, a wall hugger chair is also a space saver, but a space saver massage chair is not necessarily a wall hugger, unless the chair has the sliding base described above.

Massage Chairs - Wall Hugger vs. Space Saver - Genesis Gold Side
Infinity Genesis Max upright
Massage Chairs - Wall Hugger vs. Space Saver - Genesis Gold Zero
Infinity Genesis Max full recline

(Notice how the back of the chair is actually further away from the base in the upright position than it is in the reclined position, meaning that the chair will be closer to your wall (only 1″ away) in the upright position than in the fully reclined position)

At the time of this writing, popular wall huggers include the Human Touch Super Novo, the Daiwa Pegasus 2 Smart chair, the Osaki Ekon, and the Infinity Genesis Max.

Popular L-track chairs without the sliding base include the JPMedics Kumo, the Ogawa Master Drive AI, the OHCO M.8, the Positive Posture Brio Sport, and the D.Core Cirrus.

Popular S-track chairs include the Luraco iRobotics 7 Plus, the Panasonic MAJ7, and the Infinity Smart Chair x3.

Dr. Alan Weidner

P.S. Give us a “Like” or “Share” 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?



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…

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?


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:

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

Introduction – Titan TP-Pro 8400 Massage Chair (Video)

TP-Pro 8400
TP-Pro 8400