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Massage Chair vs Massage Therapist

Massage Chair vs Massage Therapist

Getting a massage is something that most adults think of, especially if they're having reoccurring body pains. But, not all working adults have the time to schedule a session with a massage therapist. 

You're probably thinking of some massage alternatives that you can do for yourself in your own house.

You might have thought about getting a massage chair, but you're not sure if it's worth the money or if the massage would be comparable to that of a professional massage.

If that's the case, then this massage chair vs massage therapist article is for you.

Massage Chair or Massage Therapist?

Physical Contact

Researchers believe that when you stimulate specific nerve endings, the brain interprets it and sends a feeling of security and comfort.

They think that the reason behind this comes from the "human touch."

Human Touch

From the moment that we were born, our sense of touch has been developing by being continuously stimulated.

In a sense, our understanding of physical contact has helped us greatly when we were in our developing years. 

So, can massage chairs be a good substitute for having that "human touch" feel? Absolutely!

Is it as good as the human touch? No, the sole reason for this is because it's only a mechanical device; it can't fully copy what a person can do.

Body Scanning

Today's high-tech massage chairs scan the body and change the massage rollers' location to match the user's height.

These are advanced programs built to produce the best possible massage any time you sit in a chair. 

A massage therapist can also adjust your massage depending on your height and weight.

Unlike a massage chair, a massage therapist isn't restricted if you tend to be unusually small or big and tall.

Some Massage Chairs have Zero Gravity.

Some massage chairs offer zero gravity positioning. Zero gravity is a reclined position that places the user's legs above their heart.

This position was inspired by NASA and is a natural position for humans.

Zero Gravity

Receiving a massage while in the zero gravity position enhances the benefit of the massage.

While in zero gravity most of the user's weight is placed on the backrest relieving pressure and stress of the spine.

With the legs above the heart, the blood circulation is improved.

Privacy and Convenience

Privacy is one of the most significant factors why people invest in a massage chair.

You don't have to worry about removing your clothes and having a stranger touch you, which can be awkward if you aren't prepared.

It can be uncomfortable for some to have specific areas of the body massaged by a therapist, like the glutes for example.

If you are uncomfortable during a massage it can prevent you from receiving the maximum benefits.

Being able to receive a massage in the comfort of your own home, by yourself, anytime you want is one of the best benefits of owning a massage chair.

Human Interaction

Your massage therapist and you can have a pleasant human interaction or conversation. Friendly talk and a smile go a long way towards stress reduction.

Human Interaction

With a massage chair, you do miss the human interaction. However, some massage chairs come with speakers and Bluetooth capabilities.

You can call your favorite person or you can relax while listening to your favorite music or podcast. Some may choose to enjoy their massage in silence.

Cost Comparison

A good massage chair can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the features, model, and brand. If you want a high-quality massage chair, you may want to save up around $5000+.

Compared to a human massage that will cost you about $50 to $100+ per hour. It can be a little more expensive than this depending on where you live and what type of massage you want. 

If we talk about cost over time, massage chairs are a one-time payment, unless you need to finance.

Massage chairs will have a manufacturer warranty to protect your investment in case something goes wrong.

Massage chairs can last for several years, depending on the usage and quality.

When we talk about cost over time, massage chair therapy can be more cost-efficient than having to pay a massage therapist every time you need or want a massage.

Massage Customization

Massage therapists are here because they help you relax, relieve stress, and work out sore tired muscles.

You can always ask them to focus on the areas of your choice. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head, they can massage it for you.

They are educated and know what areas need to be massaged to relieve certain pains.

Most massage chairs already come with pre-programmed massages. They are a great alternative to a massage therapist.

If you want to concentrate on a specific area of your body you can choose what area (depending on model), intensity, speed, and massage technique in the manual mode.

Some massage chairs have more flexibility in choosing what area you can manually massage than others.

Most chairs also come with arm, calf, and foot massage and offer a heat option.

Massage Consistency

One of the significant differences between a massage chair and massage therapists is consistency.

A massage session from a human massage therapist will vary depending on who the massage therapist is. 

It can be difficult to receive the same consistency when using the same therapist.

A massage chair is already programmed to deliver fixed massage therapy.

The performance wouldn't change no matter how long you want it to operate.

Some massage chairs available today have user memory settings that remember your personal preferences once you've set them.

Massage Variety

Massage therapists work to relax muscles, reduce tension, and focus on troubled areas to remove muscle knots.

Below are some of the techniques that you can expect when visiting a massage therapist: 

  • Effleurage - Uses a circular stroking motion and lotion or oil is typically used.
  • Friction - Uses pressure while moving back and forth or in a circular motion using the balls of the fingers or thumb. 
  • Vibration - A technique that presses and releases tissue in an up and downward motion. 
  • Petrissage - Uses deep pressure to relieve muscle knots and spasms. 
  • Tapotement - A rhythmic percussion typically given by the edge of the hand used in a Swedish massage.

Massage therapists should recognize which strategies to administer to which muscles to achieve the most significant outcome.

They can also listen to your suggestions to give you the treatment you like, whether it's deep tissue, kneading, or gentle contact. 

Like massage therapists, massage chairs offer a variety of massage techniques.

Here are just some of the massage techniques that you may find with massage chairs:

  • Kneading - Uses pressure by lifting the muscle in circular and upwards motions.
  • Rolling - Gently rolled in a continuous forward motion
  • Swedish - Uses long gliding strokes
  • Grasping - Rhythmic squeezing of soft tissues
  • Shiatsu - Rhythmic pressure

Massage chairs have an assortment of choices and depending on the model will have options for intensity &/or speed adjustments.

Options like heat, air compression, zero gravity, and foot massage allow you to customize your massage.

You can run an automatic or manual massage program, depending on your needs.


In terms of convenience, massage chairs are the best option. A massage chair allows you to enjoy a massage anytime you want in the comfort of your own home.

You can start your day with a massage and end your day with a massage. When you own a massage chair you and your family can enjoy it when and where you want.

Convenience of a Massage Chair

With a human massage therapist, you'll have to schedule a treatment that fits your schedule. You'll also have to get dressed and ready to drive to town or wherever the therapist lives or works.

Again, maybe it's worth it for you to do this or maybe you want a massage at home.


Massage chairs are incredibly convenient for people that don't have a lot of time on their hands. These machines are available anytime you want a massage. Massage chairs are available with a wide variety of options and price points.

Having an expert massage therapist will certainly give an outstanding massage.

Although close, not even the best massage chair is exactly the same as the human touch you receive from a massage therapist.

The biggest drawback of having treatment with a professional therapist is that it can cost you more time and money in the long run.

You will also have to drive to their place of business and work around their schedule.

These are just some of the differences when comparing a massage chair vs massage therapist.

By looking at the pros and cons of each option you'll be able to choose which is best for you.

Thank you for reading and if you'd like to talk to one of our experts about a massage chair give us a call at 800-566-2798.

Previous article How Often Should You Get A Massage?


We do not provide medical advice. The content of this article, including text, graphics, and other material, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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