Updated Jun 17, 2022 5:06 PM
Ditch the standard recliner and get yourself a great massage chair that does much more than rock back and forth. With multiple options, heat functions, muscle compression, and soothing vibrations, the best massage chair is a therapeutic throne. New styles, sizes, and price points let you slide a quality massage chair into just about any living space. Go big with a large massage chair that feels like a bear hug, or keep it simple with one disguised as a typical piece of living room furniture. Melt away all the stress of the modern world with the best massage chairs you’ll look forward to using.
How we chose the best massage chairs
You should feel like you’re in a tropical paradise in the best massage chairs—not sitting in the middle of a mall an arm’s reach away from a lotion kiosk and sportscar raffle. It should be equal parts functional and stylish: you want something that will look good in your living room and make your back feel like it’s being pummeled into blissful oblivion. We looked at reviews, recommendations, user impressions, and what’s used in spas to guide our search. And, we did the incredibly difficult and not at all relaxing work of trying out a few—all in a hard day’s work of product testing.
What to consider when buying the best massage chairs
If you’ve never owned a heated massage chair, it may seem like an intimidating purchase. With varying sizes, features, and cost, how do you know what chair is the best for your home, your budget, and your body? Before bouncing your muscles into bliss, understand how these luxury chairs work and know what to look for when choosing the best massage chair.
The key selling point of any massage chair is its ability to rub you the right way. Large message chairs will typically have a wide assortment of massage options. Shiatsu massage chair functions means the chair will come with “fingers” that will move in circular motion, mimicking the touch and feel of human hands. A rolling massage simply means your body will be treated to a rolling pin that travels up and down the body, mashing any muscles in its path.
Smaller massage chair recliners that look more like regular furniture will generally focus on your lower back. These are the cheapest massage chairs, but the rollers and fingers won’t travel down to your feet and may miss your neck and shoulders depending on your height and seating position. The bigger chairs can massage your entire body, head to toe. They can also pinpoint specific areas, like calves or shoulders. Full-body massage chairs are not cheap, and they are not small. Before you pursue this option, make sure you have the space and the budget for a top-to-bottom robotic masseuse.
Should you buy a zero-gravity massage chair?
When shopping for the best massage chair, you’ll come across a zero-gravity feature. These large chairs can recline and raise your legs above your chest. The result is a feeling of weightlessness that feels incredible. (But truth be told, you’ll still be well aware of gravity, so don’t expect a 100-percent accurate feeling of floating into space.)
Zero-gravity massage chairs will be big and look more like a spaceship escape pod seat than a chic piece of home decor. But for a more blissful experience, these chairs can’t be beat. And once you’ve felt the luxury of a horizontal chair massage, you’ll never want to use another chair, or bed, ever again.
Size and assembly
While a simple, low-cost massage chair will be somewhat easy to move into position, the big zero-gravity massage chairs are bulky and heavy. Moving these 300-pound beasts around a carpeted living room or down a flight of stairs requires strength and patience. You’ll need a good shoulder rub after setting up a large massage chair.
Many of the big chairs will have small wheels on the rear legs so the chair can be tilted and pushed. But even with the helpful wheels, these massage chairs can be tricky to maneuver. You’ll need two people to get everything in the right place. Measure your space before you buy, and give yourself a lot of wiggle room for reclining.
The massage chair will usually arrive in one or two shipping boxes. Assembling isn’t too difficult, but give yourself a free afternoon or weekend to put it all together. You can pay extra for professional assembly, which can save time and frustration.
An affordable heated massage chair may cost between $100 and $200. These models are good at targeting lower back muscles. But once you enter the full-body massage chair market with its broader functionality, expect to pay $1,000 or more.
These chairs are loaded with high-tech features such as heating and cooling elements, air cushions for better blood flow, and even smartphone apps to help you manage your relaxation. Some will come with LED lights and speakers. And they are more powerful, with deeper muscle penetration than the budget-priced massage chairs. Is all of that massage power worth it? Yes, if you want a total spa experience. But keep in mind that it won’t last forever. The moving parts will wear out and the electronics will begin to fail. And unless you’re a professional massage chair repair mechanic, once the chair breaks, it’s broken for good. After a few years of use, it may be time to buy another chair.
The best massage chair is more than just a fancy piece of novelty furniture. They are genuine helping hands. When muscles contract and stiffen up, they can put pressure on nearby nerves. The result is pain. Massaging loosens the muscles up and decreases pressure around the nerve. The result is nirvana.
Massage chairs are great for the common aches and pains we all feel after a stressful day (or year, or decade). If you have chronic muscle pain, though, talk to your doctor. For inflammatory disorders and severe back pain, a heated chair message may not be the cure-all you’re hoping for. Massage chairs are designed for relaxing, but aren’t a replacement for medical treatment.
Air cushions in the legs and feet area of the chair help your circulation and add to the feeling of relaxation. For best blood flow, choose a chair that has multiple massage modes instead of simple vibrations. The more variety, the better the blood flow.
The best massage chairs: Reviews & Recommendations
Ready to ease aching muscles with the touch of a button? When picking a massage chair, think about size and cost first. New features like zero gravity tilt and foot massagers can be worth the extra money. And look for a style that works for the room. A big massage chair looks fine in a man cave, but may look out of place in the dining room.
Best overall: Real Relax Favor 03 Massage Chair
Why it made the cut: This easy-to-use zero-gravity massage chair includes voice controls and Bluetooth connectivity to truly sit down and relax.
- Dimensions: 52 x 27 x 43 inches
- Capacity: 400 lbs.
- Reclining angle: Around 145 degrees
- Controller: LCD screen; voice control
- Voice control
- Bluetooth, smartphone connectivity
- Intuitive controls
The Real Relax massage chair is great for full-body massages. Eight massage rollers and 50 airbags are strategically placed to hit the right spot. It’s particularly good at massaging and rolling calves and feet. The controls are intuitive. Switch between six auto programs, heating, reclining, and leg compression quickly using your voice or the large LCD remote controller. The zero-gravity tilt—which can recline up to 145 degrees—turns this chair into a cloud of comfort, and the chair can handle up to 400 pounds. This chair also comes with Bluetooth speakers and smartphone connectivity in order to jam to your favorite music or play spa tunes to set the mood. But even without those extras, this is one of the best zero-gravity massage chairs and it costs a little over $1,000. Not a bad deal for what you’re getting. Reviewers note that it takes at least two sets of hands to get the chair inside when it’s delivered. Post-assembly, it’s easy to move thanks to two built-in wheels.
Best stylish: Esright Massage Recliner Chair
Why it made the cut: At first glance, this massage chair looks like a recliner, making it an inconspicuous addition to living room relaxation.
- Dimensions: 35.8 x 33.5 x 43.2 inches
- Capacity: 330 lbs.
- Reclining angle: 150 degrees
- Controller: Remote
- Side pocket
- Resembles a recliner
- Cup holder
- Difficult to close footrest
If you don’t want a big professional massage machine taking up space in your home, but still want a good massage chair, the Esright Massage Recliner Chair is a great solution: It looks like a standard faux leather recliner you’d buy at the furniture store. Eight modes of vibration target lower-back pain and the heating function keeps your body comfortable and cozy on cold nights. The chair is also a genuine recliner and swivel chair, featuring a 150-degree reclining angle, 360 degrees of rotation, and rocking capabilities, making it ideal for a home theater. It even includes a cup holder and a side pocket for beverages and magazines. Assembly is easy and it’s not too heavy. While it doesn’t pack the same powerful punch as a zero-gravity massage chair, this recliner is an affordable massage chair with a great sense of style. Reviewers note that it takes some strength to close the footrest, which is controlled by a pull handle between the seat cushion and armrest.
Best for small spaces: CirC – Premium SL Track Heated Massage Chair
Why it made the cut: This ergonomic, retrofuturistic massage chair is perfect for small spaces and apartments thanks to its compact design.
- Dimensions: 40 x 21.75 x 37
- Capacity: 250 lbs.
- Reclining angle: N/A
- Controller: Remote
- Ambient lighting
- No assembly required
Not all massage chairs are big and bulky. The CirC massage chair is a compact 22 inches wide. It’s great for anyone smaller than 5’10’’ and the lack of armrests means it can fit well in corners and near walls. The chair uses rollers and SL track massage technology to focus on your back and neck. There are no vibration functions and it doesn’t recline, but for a simple, lightweight massage chair, this is great for apartments and small spaces. It has lumbar heating and the chair massage feels good, even for a straight-back model. It’s also an ergonomic chair, meaning you aren’t sacrificing comfort for style. It makes for a nice reading chair, thanks to the built-in ambient lighting. The chair doesn’t need assembling and the fabric cover is replaceable. Those taller than 5’10’’ will need something bigger, so take a close look at the size before buying.
Best for tall people: Real Relax Massage Chair Recliner
Why it made the cut: A larger seat and adjustable massage roller widths make this chair a great option for taller or larger people.
- Dimensions: 57.48 x 28.34 x 42.12 inches
- Capacity: 400 lbs.
- Reclining angle: Around 145 degrees
- Controller: LCD screen
- Bluetooth capabilities
- Control panel interface could be more user-friendly
Zero-gravity massage chairs usually have small seat widths that feel cramped and uncomfortable for some people. The Real Relax Massage Chair Recliner has a slightly larger seat and is great for taller people. It has the usual high-quality features of other Real Relax massage chairs, including six massage modes, SL roller track design, heated elements, automatic body scan, foot massage, and zero-gravity reclining. However, this chair allows you to customize your massage, with three levels of intensity, five levels of airbag pressure, and three massage roller widths. It even has hand massage capabilities built into the armrest. It can accommodate up to 400 pounds of weight and comes with a Bluetooth speaker so you can enjoy some music as you relax.
Best budget: BestMassage Recliner Chair
Why it made the cut: This massage chair features capabilities of more expensive models at a fraction of the price.
- Dimensions: 39.8 x 27 x 34 inches
- Capacity: 275 lbs.
- Reclining angle: Up to 160 degrees
- Controller: Remote
- Easy assembly
- Eight modes of vibration
- Color options
- Tall people might find it a bit small
For less than $150, the BestMassage Recliner Chair does a pretty good job at rubbing away lower back pain. It’s not designed to tackle shoulders and it won’t compress your legs for increased blood flow, but for the same price as a non-massaging chair, why not go for the one with the robotic fingers? It has a two-point massage system and eight modes of vibration. It comes in seven durable and easy-to-clean colors. Even in the reclined position, it feels sturdy and comfortable. If you don’t mind giving up the bells and whistles of zero-gravity massage chairs, this simple recliner has the vibration power to make it one step better than a traditional living room chair. Assembly only takes two minutes and does not require any tools to build. Some reviewers note that people taller than 6 feet might find this chair too small for them.
Q: What is a zero-gravity massage chair?
A zero-gravity massage chair is the best of the best. It can be reclined to a nearly flat horizontal position. When your legs are raised above your chest, it can create the feeling of weightlessness. This position makes for a more relaxing experience. Zero-gravity massage chairs are bigger and bulkier than standard massage chairs, so make sure you have the room for it in your house. These provide the most comprehensive chair massage.
Q: Are massage chairs bad for your back?
Massage chairs are not bad for your back, when used correctly. First, massage chairs should never be targeting your spine—they are designed for rubbing muscle, not bone. Second, if you have chronic back pain, a massage chair may only provide temporary relief. And third, always limit your time in the chair. Spending more than 15 minutes in a full-body massage chair can overdo it on your muscles. Trained massage therapists know when to stop and when to keep going, but your massage chair isn’t that smart. So it’s always best to stop the massage after 15 minutes of use. The chair will come with advice from the manufacturer. Follow their guidance.
Q: How much does a good massage chair cost?
A good massage chair can cost as little as $200. But the best full-body massage chairs will usually run closer to $1,000. Zero-gravity chairs—the ones that look like futuristic cockpits—can cost more, so keep a close eye on your budget. Is a massage chair worth $1,000? If you want a great muscle massage in the comfort of your own home, it sure is. Consider how much a spa treatment costs and an at-home chair massage won’t seem so expensive. If you don’t want to spend that much, you can find cheaper options that do a good job at vibrating lower back pain away but won’t do much for necks, shoulders, and legs.
Final thoughts on the best massage chairs
These high-tech pieces of furniture offer powerful kneading, rubbing, and pulsating pressures to teach your muscles a lesson in relaxation. Some massage chairs will also use air cushions to massage calves and hips. And don’t forget the feet. A good massage chair should have dedicated rollers and vibrations to soothe weary feet. Look for a massage chair that hits the spot and won’t break your bank account. With the best massage chair, your home will become a sanctuary of tranquility.