How do massage chairs work?

Sit down and get comfy. It’s time to learn about massage chairs

(Image credit: Home Quality)

Relaxing after a long day of school or work can be tough. But with some smart tech, massage chairs help to alleviate the stresses of each day by relaxing your body, without a human massage therapist in sight. The tech inside these chairs is actually simpler than you think, and while different manufacturers use different designs and mechanisms, there are some that are the standard across most chairs. 

The simplest massage chairs work using vibration motors, similar to those found in smartphones and video game controllers. These motors have a weighted wheel or gear and when it spins it creates a vibration, which helps to provide a massage to your muscles.

However, this isn’t the only way to give a massage. Other chairs use rollers that move in defined patterns within the chair’s frame. These rollers are designed to simulate the movement of human hands on different muscles. In some more advanced chairs, these rollers can move in multiple directions or even in circles. These rollers are usually applied only to the person’s back, as they are designed to run along predefined paths.

Other techniques include airbags stored in the arms and other motors that tap or press into specific parts of the body. The airbags inflate and deflate to squeeze the arms and legs gently, while the motors can create a tapping sensation similar to the ‘karate chop’ massage technique. Bring all of these technologies together, and allow them to be controlled with a handset, and you have your very own robotic masseur.

Inside a robotic massage chair

This article was originally published in How It Works issue 98, written by Stephen Ashby

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