a girl enjoying massaging her back

Which Is Better: Massage Therapist Versus Massage Chair


Massage chairs may be mechanically operated, but they have truly changed the game of how people receive massages. Back in the day, you could only indulge in a good massage if you have carved time out of your day and spent the extra money to visit a massage therapy place or a spa and booked a session with a massage therapist.

Then specialized massage chairs emerged and made this process a lot easier, quicker, and less expensive.

Even though these chairs are mechanical, they operate so well that health organizations such as the American Massage Therapy Association have given them a strong seal of approval.

The real question, however, is whether these devices can really perform a massage as well as a certified therapist could. To find the answer, let’s take a look at the differences between a great massage chair vs a massage therapist.

Human Touch by a Professional Therapist Can Be Healing

Massage chairs are almost as good as massage therapists themselves, but there are some things that they simply cannot replicate. The magic that comes from real human touch is one of those things. Many health and wellness experts continue to urge people to see a real massage therapist because they can offer the human touch that a chair can't.

massaging the shoulder for a man

There is science proving that human touch has healing properties. Take a big hug for instance; when you get hugged it can take away a lot of discomfort and stress.

The same thing happens when a massage therapist touches an aching muscle. It can send feelings of relaxation, comfort, and happiness to the brain which in turn triggers the brain to release hormones that reduce stress and allows the body to heal! (1)

A massage chair can use sophisticated devices to rub those same sore muscles and joints which creates a temporary sensation of relaxation and helps soothe the pain away for a short while.


However, it cannot trigger the same stress and tension relieving hormones that human touch can which makes it more of a short-term option. While the chair can perform incredibly similar movements to those that a therapist makes, it is just not the same thing as an actual massage.


You Can't Form an Emotional Connection with A Chair

A big reason that you go to a massage therapist is the feeling that apart from the physical needs all your emotional needs will be met by having someone listen to you and make a connection with you.

A massage chair can give you a massage like the one that a therapist would give, but you can't have the same emotional connection or be listened to by a chair like you can by a therapist.

This simple human connection can trigger healing and relaxing feelings within the body that isn't possible to get when you are sitting in a chair.


Massage Chairs Can't Listen to Your Needs and Customize A Massage to Your Body

A massage chair is a great option when you just want to sit down for a bit and get a relaxing massage. However, you cannot walk up to a massage chair and tell it exactly where it hurts and what technique feels better than another.

The chairs do have remotes that can control what type of massage techniques you get like kneads and knocks, and you can control how intense the massage is, and what location you would like it to focus on. However, it is just a piece of technology and it has its limits. It can only go as far as its software program will allow it to go and no further.

A human, on the other hand, can listen to your body's cues as well as your feedback and customize your massage to your preferences. You can tell a therapist where it hurts the most and where you feel the most discomfort and they can put most of the work in that area.

If they begin doing your massage and you want them to knead deeper or rub harder or more gently, all it takes is a word from you and the massage changes instantly. A massage therapist can continue to come up with ideas to make your massage better adjusted for your body, and they can deliver instantly based on how the client responds.

When you walk into a session with your massage therapist, they can walk you through some great techniques that will help you the most. Before your session begins you can speak with your therapist about the area(s) that hurts, any conditions you have, and they can give you their expert advice on the type of massage you should get. 

This type of advice often leads to you getting more out of your therapy session so that you can walk away feeling restored, healed, and relaxed.


Do You Want A Consistent Massage Every Time?

If you are looking to get the same massage every single time you get one, a massage chair is going to be what delivers a consistent massage every single time. They are a machine run by software which only allows it to repeat itself over and over depending on what setting you put it on. Once you have found a favorite program, you can expect it to be performed the same way over and over, any time you want it.

a gil sitting on the portable massage chair while enjoying therapist

On the other hand, if you get a massage done by a massage therapist, you are going to get a slightly different variation of the same massage every single time you go - even if you tell them exactly what you want or need out of your massage. Humans vary in their techniques from person to person and a single person is going to be slightly different every time you go because they are human.

The differences may be major especially if you go from therapist to therapist, or it may be subtle enough to barely even notice. A massage chair, however, is programmed to give the same massage time and time again. Some chairs are even designed to remember what setting you prefer so you don't have to do a single thing when you sit down!


How Often Do You Want A Massage?

When trying to choose between a massage chair and a massage therapist, you need to consider how often you want a massage or even require one for your health. Health issues such as chronic migraines, sciatica, and some injuries can be managed by going to see a massage therapist on a weekly basis, though you may need to go more often or less depending on how your body feels.

a woman doing back massage for a man

You may run into an instance where you need to get a massage on a particular day, but your therapist has no appointments available. However, if you have access to a massage chair you can get a massage as often as you want one or need one. If you have a busy schedule, making an appointment could be tricky, but that is not a problem with a massage chair!


Consider the Financial Costs

The cost of getting a massage can get expensive whether you are buying a chair or going to a therapist. The massage chair will be a one-time upfront cost, while you will have to pay a service fee every time you make a visit to the spa. Depending on your needs, one may be better than the other, you simply have to weigh the pros and cons between the massage chair vs massage therapist!

Grant Moore
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