Massage cushion or massage chair? Which one to choose?


They alleviate pain and reduce tension, relax and unwind, help you fall asleep and provide support in the battle against omnipresent stress — we are talking about massage devices. So today we are going to take a closer look at the most popular of these, the massage chair and the massage cushion . Although massage chairs can offer an advanced massage with airbags or massage rollers, massage cushion is often, not quite fittingly, regarded as a cheaper alternative.

Massage cushion — range and mode of operation

A massage cushion is a special type of pad, usually equipped with a vibrating mechanism or balls and rollers that are “theoretically” capable of performing a shiatsu massage. It is placed on the back of a chair, armchair or even a car seat. The cushion usually offers massage in the range covering around 80 cm, so the back, buttocks and sometimes the upper part of the thighs are massaged. Most cushions offer several massage programmes, usually customisable. Alongside these, there are also chairs available on the market which have such a pad fitted into a frame, rather than relying on massaging arms, as is the case with professional massage chairs available in our assortment.

One additional feature of said cushion can also come in the increasingly popular heating. The pad pleasantly warms up the muscles using balls or rollers made of jade. The small size of the device is also an advantage, making it possible to take it with you and enjoy a massage when travelling, for example. Both the variety and the price range of massage pads available on the market are huge. Choosing the best one can therefore turn out to be quite a challenge. But is it worth it?

The massage chair, an all-round treatment for body and mind

The possibilities offered by a massage chair are much greater than those of a massage pad. The massage itself is more comprehensive. Most importantly, the massage chair relies on massaging arms that, as the technology develops, more and more closely mimic the movement of the human hand. As a result, the massage is relaxing, effective and very much like the one performed by a human. It is this mechanism that distinguishes a massage chair from a massage cushion — massage pads simply don’t have a mechanism with massaging arms. In the same way, popular ‘massaging’ chairs with an overlay in the form of a massage cushion will not produce the same results as a real massage chair equipped with massaging arms.

A session in the chair usually begins with a scan, which maps the shape of the spine or, in more basic models, the user’s height, and adjusts the massage accordingly. This prevents the arms from massaging the head and makes the massage more precise. In the most basic models, the massage range has to be set manually, although this is becoming increasingly rare.

There are also numerous automatic programmes and manual techniques at your disposal when using the massage chair. Most of the body can benefit from massage. Depending on the model, forearms, shoulders, hands, calves and feet can all be massaged. The operation of the massaging arms is complemented by airbags, which are excellent at relieving tension, as well as foot massage rollers. The massage chair offers massage with advanced technologies, too, including the most comfortable Zero Gravity or SL-shape position and even artificial intelligence algorithms, which are not present in any massage cushion.

An in-depth comparison of the massage chair and the massage cushion

In addition to the range and method of massage, the chair and pad also vary in many other parameters than just the inclusion of massaging arms. Attention should be drawn to the dimensions. The massage chair requires a space of approximately 1×2 metres. It is a piece of furniture that, once purchased, will become a permanent fixture in the interior. On the other hand, we do not need additional space to use the cushion. We can use the pad on top of the furniture we already have. It needs to be noted that it is precisely because of its size that the chair will be appropriate for a wider population. Thanks to the scanning, it can be used by people varying in height. Nearly all models with a foot massager can be additionally fitted with a footrest — taller people will find it more comfortable. What’s more, for people who weigh more, a massage chair might be a better option. The chair can handle a heavier load and still be able to massage tense muscles.

One absolute sensation of recent years that continues to evolve is the use of multi-dimensional massage technologies in massage chairs, such as: 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D. As far as the 2D massage option is concerned, the movement of the massager takes place in two planes – up and down and to the right and left; thanks to this mechanism, the balls around the massaging arms move and precisely adhere to the back. The 3D option allows for a more sophisticated massage, as it’s already in three planes. The massaging arms, running along the entire length of the spine, guide the massage up and down and to the right and left, and additionally front to back, precisely taking into account the shape of the spine, aligning with its natural curvature. Furthermore, in massage chairs with the 3D massage function it’s possible to adjust the strength of the massaging arms’ pressure. In addition to being able to work in three planes, the chair with the 4D technology allows the arms to move at different speeds. It has been enhanced with the right combination of acceleration in the massager movement. The pace acts here as the fourth dimension of massage. As of now, a considerable number of available models have replaced this technology with the 5D massage function, which relies on artificial intelligence. Its job is not only to regulate the speed of the massage, but also to take care of its intensity in real time. An algorithm reads the current muscle tension and adjusts the appropriate intensity of the massaging arms to it.

Some chairs also feature the groundbreaking Health Detection function. It measures selected body parameters and, based on these, selects the optimal massage programme, so as to reduce fatigue levels effectively. An increasing number of massage chairs offer additional features not directly related to the massage, such as Bluetooth speakers, which allow you to play your favourite music. And to ensure that the relaxing tunes accompany the entire massage session, the chairs are equipped with a wireless charging function and/or a USB port.

Although created with the same purpose in mind, a massage chair and a massage cushion/pad are significantly different. They represent completely different categories of massage equipment. When making a purchase decision, it’s certainly worth weighing up all the pros and cons and deciding on a top-quality product that you will enjoy for years to come.

If you have any doubts or additional questions after reading this article, feel free to contact us.

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Published: 2023.01.12

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