We’ve put together a whole guide especially for people thinking about buying a massage chair. We’ve come up with a few favorite models to recommend to you, and we think there’s something here for everybody, whether you’re buying your first one, or looking for the chair of your dreams.
In this guide, you’ll find our comprehensive reviews of three excellent models that we think are the best on the market. We’ve chosen them over the competition because of their ergonomics, effectiveness, space-efficient designs, and long-term reliability.
In each review, we’ll break down all the reasons we think these models are your best bets for relaxation bliss. And at the bottom of this page, you’ll find a quick guide to choosing your ideal chair!
Let’s jump right in with a glance at our Top Three:
Best on a Budget
- Our Rating: 4.5
- Popularity: Low
- Our Rating: 4.6
- Popularity: Low
- Rating: 5.0
- Reviews: 5
Whether you’re a person dealing with a serious postural issue or a stressed executive looking for a relaxing home treatment at the end of a day, there’s nothing quite so luxurious and therapeutic as a massage chair.
Massage chairs can make a huge difference in your overall health and well-being. They’ll help you walk taller, move easier, and feel better in pretty much every regard! They can work out tough muscle knots, and help you unwind all your tension. That’s if they work well, that is.
Plenty of massage chairs don’t work very well at all, wasting your time and money, and putting your back at risk. With something that costs this much to buy, you want to be absolutely sure you’re purchasing a chair that’s safe for both your wallet and your back. That’s why we’ve put these reviews together!
Best Massage Chair Reviews 2018
The iJoy is our favorite model for folks looking to save on space and money without compromising on massage quality! It’s a full-featured model with a wide range of functions from targeted rolling, kneading, and tapping to complete pre-programmed sessions onboard.
We love this one because it’s so easy to fit into small spaces: ideal for the apartment or shared space. It’s also easy on the wallet, since it costs well under $750.
We recommend it to buyers who haven’t owned one before, as well as those who are strapped for either cash or space.
It’s compact. It’s only 60 pounds, and the whole thing measures just 40 x 29 x 36 inches. It’s easy to fit in a corner, and it doesn’t take over a room like most full-size models. Buyers said that the size was one of the top selling points for them, since this doesn’t take up nearly as much room as the average model.
It’s affordable. This one’s available for less than $750, which is an absolute bargain for a machine that’s so versatile. It makes an excellent first massage chair, or budget solution for folks who can’t spend a lot of money on their massage chair.
You can recline to 170 degrees, and change the setting while you’re enjoying your massage. There’s a handy dial on the side of the machine for you to adjust. Reviewers said it moved extremely smoothly, and didn’t feel rickety like other inexpensive options.
It’s made by a very reputable company. While a lot of others at this price are cheap, generic knock-offs that lack ergonomic finesse or real body science, this one comes from Human Touch, which has received lots of awards, including Consumer Digest’s Best Buy for this model.
The massage technology in this chair also comes recommended by the World Federation of Chiropractic. That’s all to say that there’s real massage science behind this model. It’s safer and more effective to use than other chairs at this price.
It comes with a full remote control for easy adjustments. You can choose between the preset sessions, adjust a whole-body massage setting for yourself, or move targeted therapy around your body, to release your tension exactly where it’s trapped.
If you need a custom massage in a certain area, you can toggle an up/down switch to focus in on wherever you’re feeling tense. We really like this simple feature, which makes it super easy to hit the sweet spot without having to go through a whole preset program.
It offers all different kinds of massage, including kneading, rolling, percussion, and compression. There are also three full preset programs, so you can easily choose a massage experience that suits your needs on a given day:
The Sore Muscle Relief program is an invigorating session that works out tension while encouraging blood flow and stimulating your internal systems. It’s a full-back treatment that reaches the whole body.
The Stress Therapy program is aimed at total relaxation. It works away at knots and tension, encouraging you to sink back and let go of stress. This one focuses especially on the neck and shoulders, which is where most of us hold all that stress tension.
The Back Wellness program focuses specifically on back issues, especially in the lumbar and lower back region.
Previous buyers loved all three programs, and wrote in their reviews that the overall experience of sitting in this one was far better than they expected for the price, and easily rivaled chairs costing twice as much. They found that it did wonders for back issues, and quickly became one of their most-used purchases.
Even though it’s compact, it still has a reasonable capacity. It can handle people up to 200 pounds, between 4’10” and 6’ in height.
It’s available with optional warranty coverage up to 3 years.
It’s extremely easy to set up. You simply fasten the back of the chair onto the base with two bolts, and you’re up and running.
It looks fantastic. While a lot of models are big, bulky eyesores, this iJoy is a refined, sleek package that doesn’t look as therapeutic as it feels. It has a smart leather covering, and an unobtrusive design which fits into a lot of different decor styles.
You can adjust the intensity easily by using an additional layer of cushion, which iJoy call a “softening pad” under the backrest leather. It’s easy to slide in and out of the pre-sewn pocket.
It has excellent longevity. We read reviews from several buyers who had been using their chairs for 5 years or longer with no issues. In fact, we didn’t find any complaints about quality control, reliability, or durability with this model.
It’s not good for larger people. It can’t fit people above 6 feet at all, and it can be uncomfortable for some people near to that mark. The neck massage features aren’t ideal for folks above 5’6”, according to users, since they end up hitting you between the shoulders. Previous buyers said that while this was a very nice option for small to medium-sized people, they couldn’t see it working for larger bodies.
It doesn’t have a heat function. That’s not a huge surprise at this price, but it’s something to be aware of when you buy.
It’s pretty low to the ground. This one’s definitely lower than your average recliner, but that suits most smaller people. If you want to raise the height, there are plenty of leg extension options available cheaply.
The factory warranty that comes standard is only for 1 year. You’ll have to pay slightly more to get the extended coverage.
It’s not as immersive as some larger chairs. This one doesn’t have individual leg pockets or as much of a “surround” feel as full-size options.
There’s a big jump between the iJoy and this Kahuna, which is our midrange choice. This chair is much roomier, much cushier, and much more well-rounded. It includes heating, air massage, and a full zero-gravity setting, as well as multiple pre-programmed sessions and customizable manual settings.
This is an excellent option for people who want premium performance and features, but can’t afford to spend $3,000+ on their new massage chair. This Kahuna provides a lot of the experience of one of those big, fancy chairs at a very reasonable price, and in a reasonably-sized package.
Like the iJoy, the Kahuna has lots of built-in massage sessions that you can easily select with the remote control.
In addition to the massage techniques featured on the iJoy, the Kahuna has a few extra tricks of its own under the hood. It features shiatsu massage, rolling, kneading, tapping, and a tapping/kneading combination setting.
There are also air massage components for the calves, shoulders, and arms. There are 6 different programs to choose from, each lasting 15 minutes. You can also choose massage features manually. Buyers said there was something for every need, no matter how weirdly their muscles were contorted at the end of the day.
It’s immersive. The iJoy has flat cushions, while the Kahuna actually envelops your arms, legs, and back. That allows it to massage you from the sides as well as the back, and to create a more relaxing “cocoon” sensation. This is much more of a chair you can sink into. Previous buyers said it felt extremely comfortable, so much so that they actually found themselves falling asleep!
It has also has a “yoga” feature that’s designed to stretch your spine the way you would in a yoga class, only from the comfort of your chair. It sounds a bit unorthodox, but reviewers overwhelmingly loved the way this setting stretched their whole body, elongating the spine. They said it helped them clear out tension and re-set their posture after a long day at work. Many said they used one yoga session in combination with one of the more intense sessions for a full treatment.
The L-track system on this chair is designed to align every part of your spine, to improve posture and nervous system function, as well as restoring proper blood flow. It decompresses spinal tension while the rest of the machine works on your musculature. There are rollers all along the L-track, to loosen every part of your frame without collapsing your posture. It also allows the chair to work into your hips and glutes, which most chairs at this price ignore.
Many buyers said that the L-track system was the best feature of the Kahuna, especially since it’s so hard to find in models under $3,000. It’s a huge upgrade over budget models like the iJoy.
There’s also a zero-gravity setting. The first option brings you to a “true” zero-gravity position, so that your body hangs in balance without placing any stress anywhere. The second position actually brings your legs above your heart, to change up the balance in your body. It’s one of the least expensive chairs on the market to feature an L-track and zero-gravity settings.
It’s very adjustable. The whole thing automatically senses your body size and weight, and adjusts accordingly. You can adjust between 3 speed levels for the internal rollers. The air pockets at the sides of the chair are also adjustable, so you can find the pressure level that feels best for you.
There’s heat to go along with your massage. As you’ll know if you’ve used one before, even a little bit of heat can make a big difference in relaxing stressed muscles. The Kahuna has heating elements for both the back and the calves, providing lower and upper body relaxation at the same time.
The double foot rollers allow the chair to truly massage from head to toe. That’s a big advantage over the iJoy, which primarily focuses on your upper body.
It’s FDA-registered as a medical device. That means that folks who are prescribed a massage chair by their doctor can count this as a medical expense, and possibly receive reimbursement from insurance. Plus, it’s backed up by the testing and certification processes manufacturers have to go through to earn the medical designation.
It’s very well-made for the price. Previous buyers said all the materials, as well as the fit and finish, were exceptional. They complimented the high-quality leather, as well as the overall smoothness of the internal components. We found that the few buyers who had issues with their chairs received prompt service from the manufacturer.
Even though it’s a larger chair than the iJoy, it still fits fairly easily in tight spaces. This one only needs a 4” clearance behind, so it fits pretty close to walls and in corners.
It’s completely covered by a 3-year warranty. That covers parts, repairs, everything. You won’t have to pay for anything, which is a big contrast from a lot of other warranties you’ll see these days.
It’s bulky. While the Kahuna still fits close to walls, it’s 200 pounds, and it takes up a 46 x 48 x 31 inches footprint.
It’s expensive. At $1500+, this is more than twice the price of the iJoy. It’s certainly a big purchase for anyone, especially people who haven’t used a massage chair before. We recommend it for people who know what they want in a massage chair, or for people who have used a premium massage chair, and want as much of that experience as possible for half the price.
It’s not the most aesthetically-pleasing thing in the world. The Kahuna has a brown leather upholstery, but the base casing is plastic, and the nature of the immersive cushions make it look a bit odd.
It can’t handle anybody over 240 pounds, or 6’ 2” in height. As with the iJoy, it’s for small to medium sized folks.
Some buyers thought that the rollers felt a bit intense, since the fabric covering was so thin. That was a common comment on the foot rollers in particular. Most users said they wouldn’t recommend using the foot rollers with bare feet. Thankfully, you can supplement the foot cushion with some foam from the packaging, as many buyers did.
It’s harder to assemble than the iJoy. The “white glove” assembly and unpacking service is also very expensive, and previous buyers said that some of the delivery men didn’t actually have any experience assembling massage chairs.
However, the company has recently updated their assembly procedure and instruction manual to respond to buyer feedback. Judging by recent reviews, it’s made for easier assembly for buyers who purchased in the past 6 months.
A couple buyers had problems with their chairs out of the box. However, they said that the manufacturer was quick to provide service, repairs, or replacement parts where necessary.
It won’t run longer than 15 minutes at a time. Each program is designed to last exactly that long, and the machine will come back to neutral after 15 minutes of any manual setting. That’s to prevent you from getting over-worked in one area, and to make sure you don’t fall asleep. However, most reviewers thought it was a minor annoyance.
3. Inada Flex 3S
The Flex 3S from Inada is our top quality recommendation right now. It’s a full-featured, premium massage chair with lots of options for all sorts of aches and pains. It’s exceptionally good at massaging muscles, and it’s also very good at aligning your spine properly. Previous buyers said this was by far the best massage chair they’d ever used, and we don’t think you can do any better!
Even though it’s a premium chair, it’s still relatively compact: 32.7″W x 52.4″L x 41.7”H, It’s also only 165 pounds, which is actually lighter than the Kahuna! It’s a deluxe chair that’s easy to move around your home.
It has by far the widest range of massage options of the three. This one combines all the techniques featured in the Kahuna and iJoy, and adds sophisticated shiatsu programming.
It also has the most pre-programmed massage sessions and manual adjustment options. There are 11 built-in programs to choose from right off the bat, and there’s the potential for 1000 different custom options for manual massages. 4 key programs have dedicated buttons on the remote, so you can jump right in. They’re “full body massage and stretch,” “full body massage”, “full body stretch”, and “low body focus”.
It has a much more sophisticated body scanner than the Kahuna. It’s designed to locate shiatsu points, in order to support proper spinal alignment and target muscle stress points more accurately. Previous buyers said it was effortless to get set up, since they barely had to make any manual tweaks to the settings.
As with the Kahuna, you can manually scroll between shiatsu points for a more targeted approach.
It uses air massage technology to achieve your ideal level of compression. You can adjust the pressure using the remote.
The shoulder stabilizers improve posture, and help improve the mobility and flexibility of your upper back area. It’s a chest-opening like you get at a yoga class. Overall, the Inada makes much more of a difference in your posture than our other recommendations.
It has hot-rock style heat on the hands and feet. It’s more subtle than the Kahuna, and reflects traditional Japanese massage techniques rather than the average Western recliner chair.
It’s designed by experts. Both the iJoy and Kahuna are rated very well by healthcare experts, but the Inada has by far the most sophisticated and refined massage features onboard. It’s much more finely tuned than the cheaper options, and every aspect has been tweaked by Tadashi Kaneko, a famous Japanese sports massage specialist.
The choreographed movement patterns are all designed by experts in physical therapy and physical health. The Flex 3S is especially designed to improve mobility in your back and hamstrings, as well as aligning proper posture.
We love the “max intensity” button for days when everything feels super tense and locked up.
It’ll ramp up all the massage techniques to a higher intensity level, while still allowing you to use pre-programmed sessions for convenience. Previous buyers said it was an excellent way to experience some of the extra power of less subtle massage chairs with a refined movement pattern that you can’t get on chairs that aren’t made by Inada.
It gets right into your hips and thighs. The Inada does even better than the Kahuna’s L-track system at getting into those lower back and upper leg areas, to release pelvic tension and help you engage your core naturally to prevent lower back pain. Reviewers
It’s easy to customize. The headrest pillow and back cushions are both adjustable, so you can find your ideal comfort level. There are also shiatsu mounds
It’s very high-quality. This unit is made completely in Japan, to an exceptionally high standard of quality control. We couldn’t find any complaints about fit, finish, or durability with the Flex 3S, and most reviewers went out of their way to compliment all three aspects. This one feels the most solid of our recommendations and is designed to work problem-free for approximately 25 years, according to Inada.
It’s covered by a full-service 3-year warranty, with an optional extension to get 5-year coverage.
The synthetic leather outer surface is resistant to soil and bacteria, which helps your chair stay clean, especially if you use it after a workout.
Previous buyers said that beyond massaging better than other premium chairs, they noticed very tangible improvements in their posture as a result of using the Inada. This is our top choice for people who have postural problems or back pain related to spinal curvature. Paired with a proper exercise and physical therapy regimen, previous buyers said the Inada made the most significant difference in their symptoms of any aspect of their health routine.
It doesn’t recline quite as far as our other recommendations. This one only goes back to 165 degrees, so it doesn’t reach quite the zero-gravity setting that the Kahuna offers. However, the Inada offers a more therapeutic experience in the actual massage, so we’re not too disappointed by the reduced recliner range.
The remote is a bit behind the times. Aside from the 4 dedicated program buttons, you’ll have to scroll through options to reach the other presets. It’s all fairly intuitive, but it’s less convenient than a lot of remotes provided by American companies.
It’s very expensive. While some buyers were able to find this at a discount, most paid around $5,000 or more for the Flex 3S. That’s a lot of money, so we only recommend the Inada to people who will use their massage chair on a daily basis, and can appreciate its high-quality design and build.
It’s not officially designated as a medical product by the FDA. That may be because it’s completely designed and built in Japan, but it’s a definite downside for folks who are medically prescribed the use of a massage chair.
It doesn’t have thoracic or lumbar heating. This one heats more traditionally, at your hands and feet, like you’d get with heated stones during a traditional massage.
We didn’t find any complaints from buyers, since the cocooning leather tends to trap body heat in your back pretty well. However, if you like to be heated all along your body, you might not love the Inada.
Which is the Best Massage Chair for the Money?
The iJoy is the perfect choice for people on a budget, since it costs a fraction of the price of the Kahuna or the Inada.
It’s by far the most affordable, as well as the most compact unit here by a long stretch. It might not have as many features or extras as our full-size recommendations, but the features it does have work much better than other budget options. This one also has an outstanding reputation for reliability, which is a rarity under $1,000.
However, it’s not as immersive as our full-size recommendations, and it doesn’t have any onboard heat sources. It’s also not a good choice for larger users, since it’s so compact.
The Kahuna is a fantastic choice for people who want a big, immersive massage chair, but can’t afford to spend $5,000+ for something premium.
It offers the size and power of the Inada, without the high price tag. The Kahuna comes with a range of pre-programmed sessions, and a reasonable range of manual adjustments.
On the downside, it’s not quite as refined as the Inada, and some buyers found it a bit too aggressive. It’s more utilitarian than the premium options, for sure, and it lacks the finesse and smart design features that come from the more expensive Japanese brands. We’ve also found that the build quality and reliability of the Kahuna are inferior to the Inada.
We think it’s the best you can do under $3,000, though! It’s a good choice for people who need a massage chair for medical reasons, since it’s FDA-approved and can be claimed as health equipment.
We highly recommend the Inada to anyone who knows what they want in a massage chair, and can afford the best of the best. While this model will probably cost you $5,000 or more, it’s more sophisticated, refined, and effective than the Kahuna or any less expensive competition. It has more programmed massage sessions, more refined spinal alignment, and a more finessed massage technique.
Plus, we think the sheer longevity of the Japanese build quality justifies the higher price tag. This is an excellent chair for people with chronic back issues, postural problems, or spine issues. We think it’s the best you can do without hiring your own personal masseuse!
How to Pick the Best Massage Chair in the World for You
Decide on your budget:
Massage chairs generally cost between $500 and $5,000, although there are a number of premium options costing as much as $10,000.
We recommend that first-time buyers aim for something between $500 and $1,000. In that price range, you’ll find quality chairs, with basic massage feature and sturdy quality, so you can get a sense of the massage chair experience without shelling out thousands of dollars. However, these tend to be like your average recliner.
They have massage rollers and features in the cushions, but only for the back of your body. They don’t do much for your sides, and they can’t use compression or heat as effectively as full-size motors. Massage chairs that envelop and immerse you tend to cost over $1,000. Expect to pay $1,000+ for something with heat and compression features.
People who have used a massage chair before and want that full, immersive experience will want to spend $1,500+ for something with a larger build, and a full complement of pre-programmed massage settings. You can also expect these machines to have some form of heater, and manual adjustment options for targeting certain areas of your body.
These units are powerful, and they can be very effective, but they lack the finesse of the premium models. As a result, some users will find them a bit rough, and they can be hard to adjust with precision.
These models also lack the range of movements, techniques, and conveniences that you’ll find on the top-shelf models from Japan. They’re also built rather more cheaply, so they have inferior reliability.
Premium massage chairs (usually from Japanese companies) cost $3,500+. These machines are usually designed by renowned masseuses or physiologists, and they’ll have the most sophisticated, smooth massage techniques and sequences onboard.
They also offer nearly infinite adjustment, and superior build quality. Best of all, they’re built much better than budget or midrange massage chairs, so you can expect to use them for at least a decade or two.
There’s no reason why the average person wouldn’t want one of these massage chairs, aside from price. As long as you know you’ll get lots of use out of your massage chair, we think these options are very worthy investments. However, their high price means they’re overkill for people who will only use their chair occasionally.
When you’re deciding how much to spend, think about which features are important to you. Do you consider heat a necessity? What about compression? Are you concerned about improving your posture, or just dealing with sore muscles?
Consider how often you’ll use your chair, and how it’ll fit into your overall wellness routine/plan. If you’re going to use it on a daily basis for years, you should consider spending more. If your chair will only see occasional use, on the other hand, you probably don’t want to shell out for something premium.
Will you be the only person using your chair, or will you be sharing it? Answering all these questions up front will help you get a sense of what price tier you’ll be shopping in.
If you have ongoing medical issues or chronic back pain, postural problems, or other long-term concerns, you’ll want to be sure to spend enough to buy a medical-grade unit. These start around $1,500, and you can look for FDA-certification to be sure yours is considered medical equipment.
You’ll also do very well with a high-end Japanese model, but you should be aware that not all of these models are certified by American medical authorities. They’re definitely refined enough to help with chronic issues, but you may not be able to write off a Japanese unit as a medical expense.
Think about your symptoms:
As you compare different features on massage chairs, think about exactly what you need from your unit. That’s going to depend on the symptoms you’re hoping to resolve with your chair.
For sore muscles in your whole body, after workouts or after a workday, you’ll want a basic mixture of kneading, rolling, and tapping techniques. A heat function also won’t go amiss. However, every massage chair is designed to address sore muscles, so your job is simple: look for a model with a range of basic techniques which suits your body type.
For lower back problems, you should look for specific lumbar settings or programs, along with a full-back stretch function. You should also look for a chair that specifically targets the hip and upper thigh muscles, which are neglected on a lot of lesser massage chairs.
For stress, you’ll want to look for a chair with specific features or programs to address upper back, shoulder, and neck muscles. That’s where most of us tend to hold stress, and you’ll want to make sure you find a chair that can help you with your upper body as well as your back.
For spinal problems, you should look for a machine with L-track, shiatsu, or zero-gravity technology, in order to help your spine reach proper alignment. You can also look for full-body stretch or “yoga” features to help elongate your spine and relieve compression points.
For posture issues, you’ll want something that broadens your shoulders using compression, and works out your lower back to help your core engage properly. It’s also a good idea to find a chair that has an L-track that can properly align your spine as you enjoy your massage. A full-body stretch feature is also good for improving posture, and getting you out of your slump, slouch, or hunch.
For overall wellness improvements like revitalization, improving circulation, and aligning yourself at the end of a workday, shiatsu massage techniques are the best thing you can look for. Zero-gravity positions are also good, since they allow your whole body to feel cradled, and promote better circulation of your cardiovascular and nervous systems. However, very good shiatsu systems will cost a premium, and no zero-gravity setting can improve blood flow and vitality like a good cardio session.
We’ve found that $1,000-$3,000 chairs have mixed reliability, but they generally have long warranty coverage which makes up for their cheap builds.
Over $3,000, you can expect close to perfect quality control and very sturdy build quality in your massage chair. You’ll also find that these premium models have the best warranty coverage. For the best durability and build quality, opt for a chair that’s both designed and built in Japan.
Look for real massage science and features backed up by experts:
Finally, it’s important to be sure that your massage chair is the real deal, not a cheap imitation. Always buy from a reputable company that’s known for quality massage chairs. Even if you’re buying on a budget, look for something from a company that also makes higher-end chairs, so you can be sure that the designers knew what they were doing when they planned your model.
Massage chairs can make a big difference to your spinal and muscular health if they’re used properly and designed well. However, a poorly-designed massage chair or a massage chair that can’t be properly adjusted to your body can cause more harm than good to your health.
Look for machines that are backed up by approval from a chiropractic association, or models that have been designed specially by well-regarded physiologists/massage therapists.
FDA-certification is also a good designation to be on the lookout for, but you won’t find it on many of the premium Japanese models. Instead, look at the individual designers, and make sure they have the proper credentials to come up with a beneficial massage chair.
Still looking for the perfect massage chair for you? Check out the best sellers on Amazon! We also reviewed the best portable massage chairs in the market in case you’re looking for something that takes up less space. Find more reviews for massage products in our homepage!