MASSAGE CHAIRS: What do they actually do for you & the science that proves it
The truth is, as with almost all things technology, massage chairs have come a very long way, and they’re also way more affordable than they used to be.
Massage therapy provides life-improving results, from increased flexibility & lower stress to more energy.
Here are the 5 biggest benefits of a modern massage chair.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress-related ailments account for over 75 percent of all physician office visits and complaints.
The Mayo Clinic, known for their research and ranked among the best medical systems, reports that stress is known to cause the following on your body, mood and behaviour:
Muscle Tension or pain
High blood pressure
Sex Drive Changes
Lack of motivation or focus
Irritability or Anger
Sadness or depression
Overeating or undereating
Higher risk of substance or alcohol abuse
On the list of ways to manage stress and minimize the listed symptoms, Mayo Clinic first lists physical activity, followed immediately by relaxation techniques, specifically identifying massages.
BUT DO MASSAGE CHAIRS WORK FOR STRESS?
Independent studies, linked here and here, measured the effects of massage chairs on blood pressure.
These studies concluded that massage therapy reduces stress significantly on physical and psychological levels. Measures of oxygen consumption, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol levels, for example, were all lower after a 10 to 15 minute chair massage.
ARE THE EFFECTS WORTH IT?
How much is a daily 15 minutes massage chair session worth? On the grand scale, stress accounts for $26B in medical and disability payments, and $95B in lost productivity per year.
But for you and your coworkers, that means lost time with your family to stressful work, $600 - $1000 in doctor bills this year and a couple vacation days now spent in bed.
So is a massage chair to keep stress at bay worth it? That depends on how much each person values their time and health, but from a dollar standpoint, absolutely. A massage chair is a simple on demand solution that literally helps you feel better, and spend your time better.
NOTE: NOT ALL MASSAGE CHAIRS ARE EQUAL
Let’s go back to the start of this article, back to the big bulky 5-dollar-to-have-your-back-stabbed massage chairs.
Do Not Even Think Of Getting One Of Those
There are so many better options. For most, a massage chair is an investment and, as with any investment, there is a point at which you can not compromise.
You don’t need to have the top of the line, can take you to the moon and back level chair, but you do need the following features or you’re just wasting your money.
Full body - Including your hands, feet and calves
Shiatsu Features - Chairs with airbags built in provide the best results because they most accurately mimic hand-applied shiatsu techniques.
Roller Features - Look for dynamic (or intelligent) rollers
Full body heating - Muscles are best manipulated and blood flow improved when heat is applied with massage pressure.
Vibration motors - Specifically throughout the back and glutes
Slabway's True Shiatsu Massage Chair has all of these qualities.
2. Relax and loosen sore muscles
The human body is a very smart machine. When you overwork your body beyond what is healthy for you, muscles stiffen and become sore. These are signals to the body designed to keep you in check.
A massage chair, especially one with heating, works to relax muscle fibres and allow your body minimize symptoms of sore muscles. Studies supporting the relief effect on overexerted muscles & injury prevention are found here.
Nowadays, chairs use a combination to methods loosen stiff, sore muscles and bring nutrients & energy to fatigued muscles, especially chairs with a Shiatsu mode.
3. Boost immune system
Did you know that a 45-minute massage increases the number of lymphocytes in the body?
Lymphocytes are white blood cells, and the different types comprise a major role of the body’s immune system, which fights disease and regulates the body in order to stay healthy.
Lymphocytes are responsible for the body’s immune response. When the body is able to increase its number of lymphocytes, it is better able to attack illness such as the common cold, & flu, all the way to severe diseases.
According to experts, just one massage is enough to produce and measure significant quantifiable changes to the body’s endocrine and immune response.
5. Mobilize lymphatic circulation
As shown in the study here, the body’s lymphatic system is as important as the body’s blood flow. It is the drainage network that keeps our body fluid in balance and defends the body against infections. One way to think of the lymphatic system is to consider it as the body’s sewer system as it collects the body’s waste by-products.
While blood has the heart to pump it all along the body, the lymphatic system has no such “pump” to force its movement. It is only able to move around the body when you breathe and contract muscles. Lymphatic systems with clogged decreased circulation often reveal itself in inflammation, like swollen feet.
Other signs include:
* Swelling in your fingers/rings fitting more tightly
* Brain fog
* Digestive issues
* Sinus infections
* Skin problems/dry and or itchy skin
* Enlarged lymph nodes
* Chronic fatigue
* Feeling sore or stiff when you wake up in the morning
* Unexplained injuries
* Excess weight
* Cold hands and feet
* Worsened allergies
* Food sensitivities
* Increased colds and flu
The massage action of massage chairs and the recline position help to move lymph fluid better across the body thus combating inflammation and disease.
4. Alleviate pain and headaches
Massage chairs have a proven track record of alleviating all sorts of pain including headaches, common body aches, chronic neck/shoulder/back pain and so on. Studies show that massage therapy decreased cortisol levels and increases serotonin by an average of 28%. Serotonin is one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, the body is better able to manage pain.
This holds true for chronic pain and a quality massage chair is often a cheaper solution or addition to traditional treatment.
5. Increased flexibility
Regular massage chair use correlates with increased flexibility, especially when paired with regular exercise regimens. Massage chairs help combat decreased flexibility caused by trigger points. A trigger point is a painful condition from overexertion and strenuous exercise that leads to sore muscles and a restricted range of motion.
People suffering from trigger points and spasm areas experience relief and restoration from regular massage therapy, while tense muscles and ‘knots’ are loosened over time.
Support for this benefit comes from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Ontario, which showed that regular massage significantly decreases inflammation associated with trigger points and decreased flexibility.