Here is Part 2 of my Inada Flex 3S massage chair review. In Part 1, I covered a list of the chair's features that would give you a feeling as to what the chair is like. Today I will mention a few more features that I neglected to mention in Part 1 and then go into more detail about the massage and stretching capabilities of the 3S.
Nowhere in the owner's manual does it mention a body scan, per se. It does have a "shiatsu point locator" which is essentially a scan program designed to locate particular areas of the spine where the musculature is hypertonic and spasmed. I cannot be sure, but I think the shiatsu point locator system will also fit the massage to the size of the person in the chair. If that is not an included component of the "scan" then I do know that you can adjust the roller height once the shiatsu points have been located. When the shiatsu point locator technology has done it's work, the roller buttons will flash red. At that point you can move the rollers up or down manually by pressing the up or down arrows on the remote control.
The primary auto programs are broken up into two groups: 1.) the "Healthcare Sessions" and 2.) the "Conditioning Sessions". Their are two Conditioning Sessions, "Warm Up" and "Cool Down". The "Warm Up" session involves a gentle stretch that is most optimally used before exercise or when waking up in the morning. I suppose that for someone who is very tense and finds any one of the "Healthcare Sessions" just too much to handle right off the bat when first getting into the chair, the "Warm Up" program can be a gentle way of loosening up the user and preparing them for one of the more intense "Healthcare Sessions." It could also be used as a program unto itself without the need of any further auto programs.
The "Cool Down" program includes a nice, balanced stretch after exercise or a long day at work, to prevent fatigue when you wake up the next morning. Again, I suppose this program could be used as a cool down program after one of the more vigorous "Healthcare Sessions" have been used.
The Healthcare Sessions are as follows (with associated editorial comments):
1.) Massage & Stretch
This program combines the full body massage with a light, gentle stretch. The stretch in this program (stretching is included in all the Healthcare Sessions, by the way, so when I speak of the stretching feature in this program, the basic principles of the stretching mechanics apply to all the Healthcare Sessions) involves shoulder airbags, buttock airbags, lumbar (waist) airbags, thoracic (rib cage) airbags, the 3D rollers, along with the ottoman and chair back raising and lowering into extension and flexion.
By the way, extension is the position the chair puts you in when your fully reclined and the ottoman is down. Flexion your body position when when the chair is upright and the ottoman is up all the way. Pretty much all massage chairs come with the extension component, but very few come with the flexion component of the stretch.
I mentioned that the stretch program includes shoulder airbags (first pioneered by Inada in their now discontinued Doctor's Choice 3A model). These airbags are used effectively during stretch programs as well as when working on the posture of the user. They are quite comfortable but are quite engaged during the stretch programs. The idea is that during the stretch these airbags pin the shoulders back so that the posture is being worked on and any shouldering slouching, which is very common in today's computer-driven society, is reversed during the stretch and massage programs.
This particular program, the "Massage & Stretch", delivers the massage portion for the first part of the program and then introduces the stretch component later on.
2.) Full Body Stretch
Inada has always had great stretch programs. Now, with the flexion component added to the extension, Inada has really created an awesome stretch for the user. For both flexion and extension, the chair uses the rollers to dig into your spinal musculature while simultaneously using various airbags to really accentuate the extension or flexion positions. Here is a breakdown of how the airbags are used in the stretch programs:
a.) Foot airbags grab a hold of the feet while the ottoman drops down, thus offering a way to traction the lower half of the body.
b.) Shoulder airbags pin the shoulders back while the chair drops back into extension to traction the upper half of the body.
c.) Waist and mid back airbags inflate to push the torso up while the body is reclined in extension. This really adds to the feeling that you are being stretched!
d.) Buttocks airbags also serve to push the body up while in extension, but they also inflate on one side and then the other to introduce a rotation component to the low back while the chair is doing the stretch.
I just want to talk about the flexion component of the stretch programs. This is what makes this stretch program even more unique. When the chair comes upright all the way, including the ottoman coming up to horizontal, you will feel like you are being bent forward quite a bit. While your body is in that flexed upright position, now the airbags and rollers kick in. The airbags are inflating in the mid back, thus pushing your body forward, while the shoulder airbags are pinning your shoulders back. Simultaneously, the rollers are working up and down your spine pushing your body forward (but the shoulder airbags are keeping you pinned back!). The buttocks airbags are rotating your lower back while all this is going on. It really is quite a work out for a stretch program. You're gonna love it.
3.) Full Body Massage
This program is great for waking the body up if you are lacking a little energy or feeling fatigued. The rollers are doing most of the work in this program. Something that really stuck out to me in this program is how the rollers move out quite a bit laterally in the low back and in the shoulder blade area. Most, if not all, chairs have rollers that work within a set width on either side of the spine and that width is set up and down the whole spine. In the Flex 3S the rollers move further out to both sides of the hips and the shoulder blades, thus hitting muscles that ordinarily wouldn't get any attention at all from the rollers. It is a great feature to have with a roller system. In the hips, the rollers hit more of the gluts across the top and in the shoulder area, the teres muscles and the upper part of the lats are given a little attention.
4.) Low Body Focus
This program speaks for itself: the rollers and the airbags are used exclusively in the low back area. I might mention that this Flex 3S chair works wonderfully in the low back area in all programs. It seems to be a major area of focus for his model. The neck, on the other hand, is a little deficient in the auto programs. It is not as intense as the Sogno rollers are in the neck region. If you are after a good neck massage, I would recommend using manual settings to hit that area. Then you get a much better neck massage.
If you prefer to localize your massage to a particular area, you have lots of options on the Flex 3S. You can use the "Focused Sessions", which provide regional semi-automatic massages. Or, of course, you can just move the rollers to where you want them to go and then select whatever massage mode you want to experience, i.e. kneading, tapping, rolling. You can also adjust roller speed and width in this section.
Well, that just about does it. At the time of this review the price of Inada Flex 3S chair is $6499 USD. However, it will be going up to $6799 in December of 2014. So, if it suits your fancy, get it before Black Friday/Cyber Monday is over!
Dr. Alan Weidner
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