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