In this Massage Chair Dictionary you will find a complete listing of massage chair terminology and a description of features. You can use this glossary as a reference for commonly used massage chair terms and phrases. Defined terms are listed in alphabetical order with some offering links to pages with more in-depth information.
The Massage Chair Glossary of Terms
Airbags – Pockets of air that inflate to apply pressure to the body. Airbags are commonly used for the shoulder region, arms, and calves. Used as a form of compression therapy. More on Shoulder Airbags.
Body Scanning Technology – Maps out the contour of your back, shoulder, neck, hips, arms, and legs to give a personalized massage that is tailored to your body. Body Scanning Technology creates a database that stores information collected about the shape and form of your body.
Deep Tissue Massage – According to Massage Envy, “deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focu sis on the deepest layers of muscle, tissue, tendons, and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones, and joints).
Ergonomics – According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ergonomics is “a science that deals with designing and arranging things so that people can use them easily and safely.” Ergonomic designs promote functionality and ease of operation.
Heated Pad – A feature that adds a heating element to your massage chair. Learn about the benefits of Heat Massage.
Inversion – A position wherein the body is rotated past the point of being parallel to the ground or even to the point that you are completely upside down. The inversion feature decompresses the spine and relieves chronic back pain.
Kneading – Kneading is a movement that involves a circular motion, working outward away from a central location. The name is taken from the baking practice of kneading dough into flat pieces. Used to massage sore muscles.
One Touch – One touch is a feature that means that your massage chair will proceed with a given function with a single press of the button. This is in contrast to massage chairs that require you to press and hold a button under the desired effect is achieved. Commonly used in reference to reclined positions.
Ottoman – The housing unit for massage features that target the lower extremities. Types of ottomans vary from those including retractable ottomans that can be flipped so that they are hidden. This way you can enjoy an upper body massage without foot and calf functions. Some ottomans can also extend and contract to adjust to taller individuals.
Quad Rollers – Massage chair roller tracks that have a set of 4 rollers. In the early days, massage chairs typically only had 2 rollers.
Roller Track – The roller track is a railway that guides massage chair rollers up and down your back. The length of these roller tracks is indicative of stroke length and is particularly important for taller individuals. See Massage Chairs for Tall People.
S-Shape Roller Track – S Shape Roller tracks are railway guides that are designed in an S-Shape (when looking at a sideview of the chair). S-Shape roller tracks are the technology behind 3D Massage.
Shiatsu – Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese Massage technique based on the same philosophy and medical theory of acupuncture. Energy channels are stimulated by applying pressure with the finger and can be self-applied. Learn more about Shiatsu Massage.
Stretch Function – Active stretching of the hip, pelvis, hip flexor, calf, and ankle. The massage chair will pull the body in alternate directions. The stretch function varies between massage chairs, each having its own unique process.
Thai Stretch – According to the Anitra Brown from Spas.About.com, “Thai massage uses passive stretching and gentle pressure along the body’s energy lines to increase flexibility, relieve muscle and joint tension, and balance the body’s energy systems.”
Three Dimensional Massage – Massage chair feature that allows rollers to penetrate into your back. 3D Massage rollers travel up and down, and in and out to provide a deeper and more invigorating massage.
Trigger Point – Localized areas formed by buildup and deposits from chemicals that aid muscle recovery. Can cause severe pain and even headaches. Learn more about Trigger Points.
Vibration Massage – Vibration massage is, essentially, the gentle trembling movement of tissues (manipulated by hand) within a small, focused area. This makes it very different from a shaking massage, which is more vigorous and less localized, or a kneading massage, which is deeper but also much slower and long-ranged. More on Vibration Massage.
Zero Gravity – Zero Gravity occurs when your legs are placed higher than your torso at a 120 degree angle. This differs from complete inversion. Zero Gravity Massage Chairs eliminate the gravitational forces being exerted upon your body. Learn more about Zero Gravity.
More Massage Chair Resources:
- Massage Chair Comparison Chart
- Massage Chair Features to Pay Attention To
- The Best Massage Chair Under $3000
About the Author
Jelani Burton is a former multi-sport athlete who enjoys living an active lifestyle. He has experience with chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, and various other sports medicine treatments.