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A Helpful Guide to Massage Chair Terminology

Here is a helpful guide of terms you may come across when searching for the best relaxing massage chair. Learn about the different massage techniques and what to expect from a new luxurious chair.

Acupoint is short for acupressure point and is any of various points on the body that lie directly on a line of energy (also called a meridian). Many massage chairs target acupoints to give healthful benefits in releasing tension and promoting overall relaxation.

A massage chair technique that applies extremely precise pressure on certain acupoints on the body. The Shiatsu technique is closely related.

Adaptive Massage Comfort Control:
Also known as the AMC2 feature, the Adaptive Massage Control gives you the ability to adjust the distance between you and the massage rollers imbedded in the backrest. Use this feature to vary your massage from soft to very aggressive.

Air Massage System:
A technique where bags work together, pressing and squeezing tired muscles, to relax multiple parts of the body. As they simultaneously inflate and deflate in varying patterns and speeds, the tension in your seat, hips, thighs, calves, shins and feet melts away.

This technique uses a firm rubbing motion alongside the spine, and inward toward the spine itself, to improve your mobility and posture.

A gentle but deep tissue massage technique used on large muscles. It imitates taking the muscle between the thumb and fingers and alternating over the same region, with the thumbs stationary and close to each other.

Optical Body Scanning:
A technology that some massage chairs feature that scans a user's body and finds exact acupressure points. This feature will memorize a user's body physique and provide a truly personalized massage.

Emulates the feeling of fists tapping on the back and shoulder muscles. It is a deep tissue muscle therapy popular in sports medicine. It helps flex spinal joints, relieve pressure, and invigorate the entire back.

Program Memorization:
Some chairs offer the ability to memorize programs that individual users create. Through the remote, users can create a personalized massage using desired techniques at desired speeds and save the program. This program is then set and can be used at any time.

Feels like gentle hands pressing firmly on one side of your spine and then the other. Rolling massages stretch the spine to temporarily relieve pressure on the discs in your back. It relieves tension and loosens the muscles to prepare your back for a deeper massage.

An oriental-based massage technique that includes strong deep-tissue pressure and stretching on points along acupuncture (meridian) which stimulate invisible channels of energy flow in the body.

A massage technique that combines different massage styles and stretching. This approach includes a series of long strokes, kneading and friction on both the muscles and the joint

See percussion.

Also known as the trembling technique. Similar to friction, but with a rhythmic feel; the vibration method can vary in deepness.

Rolling Stroke:
The actual rolling stoke is the hand measured length the back massage rollers travel from the top position around the neck, to the bottom position around the tail bone. The actual rolling stroke of a massage chair is often substantially different from the advertised rolling stroke. The longer the rolling stroke the more accomodating the massage will be for a wider range of people.

Dual Action:
Kneading and tapping patterns are used together in specific sequences to provide an intense massage that works the entire back. Surface tensions and deep knots are released simultaneously.

Mechanical Rolling Foot Massage:
The leg and foot massage features are probably the most varied among massage chairs. Some offer air only, others a mechanical hand like massage and others a combination or variation of both. The air massage feature is similar to a blood pressure cuff, inflating and deflating with a squishing type function. The mechanical massage function is supplied by a motor that simulates the rolling and kneading motion of an actual hand.

Air massage in the foot and leg:
This feature now called "compression massage" inflates and deflates balloon like bladders squeezing your foot and leg. Chairs offering air only provide little in the way of actual massage benefits. Massage is meant to stimulate blood flow, not restrict it. If you think of a blood pressure cuff it is designed to restrict blood flow to that area and then deflate to return the flow.

Variable roller width adjustment:
Variable roller width adjustment is the ability of the user to adjust the width of the back massage rollers from a narrow stroke on either side of the spine out to a wide stroke that massages the muscles and tissue and the widest part of the waist, back and shoulder area.

Removable back pad:
What may seem an insignificant feature is really quite important. A removable back pad can be adjusted to accommodate a thinner or thicker distance between the massage rollers and your back. A thicker pad will give a more gentle massage where removing the pad altogether will allow the rollers direct contact with your muscles providing a very deep tissue massage.