How to Use a Massage Chair

Having bought your first massage chair, you are naturally excited and wish to see just how your product can make a difference to your health. You (or you and a technician) assemble the chair and you start going through the user manual to see just how to use a massage chair. To your surprise, you find that the manual contains every technical detail, but no guide on the usage. In such circumstances, most users decide to try out the chair based on what they have seen or used in commercial massage chairs. Unfortunately, if you haven’t got the settings and positioning right, you may not only cause harm to your machine, it may harm your body as well. To help you avoid such a situation, we have compiled for you a simple and short guide that will allow you to use virtually any massage chair with comparative ease.

Know Your Body Well

Some of the older models worked only through back rollers and hence did not come with shoulder, hip or lower limb airbags. This allowed virtually anybody, of whatever body height or girth, to fit in without any problems. Sadly, such chairs are increasingly being superseded by products that give far better massages, and going for one of the older products just because you’re not sure whether you will fit or not would be equivalent throwing your money away. What you can do instead is measure out

  1. Shoulder length with shoulders relaxed and head erect
  2. Distance between neck and buttocks
  3. Weight

To be honest however, not all people need to run such extensive measurements. Most massage chairs are large enough to fit people having a height between 5’5” and 6’2”. The shoulder length should be between 14” and 21”. If you satisfy these criteria, simply settle into the chair and see if the airbags at the shoulders and waist are snug (but not crushed back). If they are, you body is well suited for the machine. If not, you may want to consider making some minor adjustments (like additional airbags or shifting of the airbag distance if that is possible) to make the product more amenable to your physique.

Finally, you will have to consider whether your weight falls within the prescribed range. Each product has a specific maximum body weight (given in pounds) so choose according to your needs.

Sitting In The Massage Chair

Before you figure out how to use a massage chair via its controls, you must seat yourself properly. While sitting down, ensure

  • The back of the body is pressed firmly against the seat cushions.
  • The head rests gently but firmly against the headrest.
  • The legs are not cramped. In case of leg cramping, you may want to extend the leg ottoman slightly.
  • Muscles are relaxed. Avoid drinking, eating, talking or even moving your neck during the massage, as this might cause the massage to lose its efficacy.
  • Arms are resting along the armrests at an relaxed angle. Moving the arm causes the shoulder muscles to work too, so once you have keyed in the massage preferences, keep the arm relaxed and straight.

How To Use a Massage Chair Settings

When you are satisfied that you are ready, press down on the power/on-off button on the console/remote and wait for the screen to appear. Most of the best massage chairs offer a whole range of massage techniques like shiatsu, kneading, rolling, percussion, etc, which have been set to their automatic levels depending on the advice of qualified medical professionals.

It is advised that at least for the first few times, you can start out with one of the preset methods. To do this, input the following into the console or remote, preferably with the head in a reclined angle:

  1. Search for buttons that have the names of automatic modes listed on them. You may consult your manual if you are unsure of what the abbreviated button headings mean.
  2. Once you are satisfied with the massage system, hit start. Some advanced massage chairs, like the Inada massage chairs, ensure offer optimal default settings which should not be tinkered with. Other massage chairs may require you to enter the time limit for the massage and a couple of other settings before it begins the massage.
  3. Once you have hit the start button, the massage chair will most likely begin reclining the back of the chair and raising the leg ottoman so as to raise your body into a semi-horizontal position. The most popular of these reclined positions is the zero gravity position which offers a range of health benefits and has been approved by NASA.
  4. The rollers and sensory system will now begin searching for the body parts – head, shoulder, upper and lower waist, hips and buttocks and legs. It is imperative that you keep all body parts firmly aligned along the seat surface, or the chair might miss one and skip the massage for that body part. As the parts are detected, confirmation messages flash on the screen on some models.
  5. Once the scan is complete, a gentle whirring sound will alert you about the start of the massage. Enjoy your massage and once it is complete, decide if you wish to go again.
  6. Once you’re done, turn off the machine using the power button and exit it.

Manual Settings

Once you are thorough with all massage techniques (in automatic mode), you can try to adjust the settings to allow for a more desirable massage procedure. Doing this is similar to using an automatic system, except that you will have to select “Function” or a similar button on the console and then cycle through

  1. Speed
  2. Intensity
  3. Massage Points
  4. Duration
  5. Massage Type
  6. Music Sync (syncs massage with music being played by onboard music player)

Though it would take too long to explain how to use a massage chair with each of these manual settings, you are at liberty to try out certain variations and see which works for you.


As the above guide shows, while the best massage chairs may offer excellent relaxation and health benefits using NASA science, they are not exactly the hardest to figure out. Considering that each massage chair has its own system, there are likely to be variations. For instance, the remote run massage chairs may have no console display, while the type of display may vary from very basic to highly sophisticated ones that actually show animations of the ongoing massage. However, this simple guide should be your answer to the question how to use a massage chair and once you have started off without a problem, the huge range of methods and settings awaits you.