Inada DreamWave vs. Inada Flex 3S (Part 2)

September 29, 2014
 By Dr. Alan Weidner
September 29, 2014
 By Dr. Alan Weidner

Inada DreamWave vs. Inada Flex 3S (Part 2)

In Part 2, I go over the differences between these two popular Inada models.


1. Size

Inada Dreamwave

Inada Dreamwave

When the Inada DreamWave came on the scene, it’s body styling was unlike anything we had heretofore seen in this industry. Copycats started popping up everywhere, so much so that today a chair that doesn’t have similar body styling seems “out of place.” This new design made for much larger chairs that came in multiple boxes when shipped.

The Flex 3S takes this design and creates a much smaller chair. Though it looks similar to the DreamWave body styling, it is quite a bit smaller. It will leave a much smaller footprint in your home or business, should space be a concern. The Flex 3S comes in one box, fully assembled, whereas the DreamWave comes in two boxes, one with the chair body and the other with the ottoman and arm rests.

In conjunction with the size differences, the weight of each chair is quite different. The DreamWave weighs in at 265 lbs. while the Flex 3S tops the scales at 165 lbs. Needless to say, it is a heck of a lot easier to move the Flex 3S around your house than it is the DreamWave!

2. Total Number of Air Cells
The DreamWave has over 100 air cells compared to “only” 50 in the Flex 3S. I say “only” quite loosely, as 50 air cells is still more than pretty much every other massage chair we carry, except for the iRobotics 6S. 50 air cells is still an extraordinary number…but only half of what the DreamWave boasts. But, when you think of all the areas of the body that the DreamWave hits, you can understand why there are so many air cells; the traps, the neck, the upper arms, the thighs, the figure-8 seat movement…all areas addressed uniquely by the DreamWave.

3. IlioTibial Band Massage
In #2 I just mentioned thigh airbags that the DreamWave has that is not available on the Flex 3S. The DreamWave is one of the few massage chairs that used air cells to actually massage the IlioTibial Bands (ITB) on the outside of each thigh. This muscle is usually tender if the user has ever had back, knee, and/or hip problems. I find it to be a very effective use of air cells in a massage chair.

4. Trapezia Massage
I also mentioned trap massage via air cells. There are only two chairs that I am aware of that effectively massage the top of the shoulders, where the trapezia muscles are: the Panasonic MA70/73 uses the rollers to massage the rear aspect of the traps, and the Inada DreamWave which uses airbags to compress down on top of the traps. It is a great feature, but unique to the DreamWave and not available on the Flex 3S.


Inada Flex 3S shoulder air cells

5. Upper Arm vs. Shoulder Airbags
The DreamWave uses air cells to do a compression massage on the upper arm/biceps region. The Flex 3S does not use airbags this way. It has shoulder airbags that compress against the front of the shoulder joints, pulling the shoulders back. The chair utilizes this fantastic feature in two ways: 1.) to enhance proper posture but pulling back slumping shoulders, and 2.) to accentuate the stretch programs, for which the Flex 3S is made.

When the Flex 3S goes through the extension and flexion phases of the stretch programs, the shoulder airbags are used to pin the shoulders back and, thus, traction the upper body while the rollers go work the spine and while the foot and calf airbags grab a hold of the lower extremities to traction the lower body. This makes for a very effective stretch program.

6. # of  Auto Programs
Inada just doubled the amount of auto programs in the DreamWave by adding a deeper tissue version of each of the 8 auto programs. The Flex 3S has 9 auto programs, 2 of which are warm up and cool down programs, something that is quite unique to this model. My experience has been that you will find one or two programs that you tend to use all the time, so having so many options may not be that big of a deal for most folks over the long run.

7. Massage Stroke Length
Both chairs have slightly shorter stroke lengths than most other chairs, with the DreamWave track length at about 28.5″ and the Flex 3S coming in at just over 27″. While the DreamWave has a fantastic lower back and neck massage, the Flex 3S has a bit of a deficiency, in my honest opinion, in the neck area. It hits the base of the neck well, but for a better upper neck massage the user will have to go to the manual settings and move the rollers up to the top of the neck.

Both chairs hit the low back, including the sacral and tailbone areas, very well. Because both chairs do not have zero gravity as a positioning feature, the rollers tend to go lower down into the buttocks than do chairs with a longer roller track and zero gravity as a feature.

8. User Size Limits
The DreamWave is made for people of all sizes, catering to folks as short as 4’11” to folks as tall as 6’5″. The Flex 3S, being a smaller framed chair, caters to people who are as tall as 6’2″ and as short as 5’0″ tall.

9. Weight Restrictions
The DreamWave weight restriction is stated in their motto “if you can fit, you can sit.” On the other hand, the Flex 3S has a pretty low weight limit of only 240 lbs.

Well, that’s about it for the comparative review between these two great chairs, made by a great company. I hope it helps you, in some small way, with your decision-making process.

Dr. Alan Weidner

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