For thousands of years, massage therapy has been practised in civilizations around the world as a means of natural healing. Some of the earliest evidence of massage therapy in practice comes from India and is believed to date back to 3000 BCE. Since its beginnings, the ancient treatment has evolved significantly with the advancement of society and technology.

New techniques have been developed over the years as massage therapy has grown in popularity: now, those seeking relief from muscle aches and tension can access a range of massage treatments and tools designed to target specific problems or areas of concern. With the invention of the massage chair and its later widespread commercial availability, massage treatments at home have become more accessible. Massage chairs have grown increasingly sophisticated in their use of technology, with luxury models offering intensive pre-programmed treatments and high-tech rollers to emulate the movement of human hands during a session.

While many people like using a massage chair simply to relax, the other positive effects of massage therapy can be far-reaching and wide-ranging. In this article, we’ll discuss who can benefit from using a massage chair.

People with back or neck pain

Aches in the back or neck can be caused by a number of factors, including stress, injury, and sitting for extended periods of time. Massage therapy may help boost circulation, allowing blood to carry more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. This process supports muscle repair and can soothe inflammation and pain in the affected area. 

A 2014 study examined the use of massage therapy to treat patients with chronic neck pain and found that participants who underwent two or three 60-minute treatment sessions each week reported reductions in pain severity and neck dysfunction. Another study from 2017 which focused on primary care patients with chronic lower back pain signalled that massage therapy was effective in helping manage pain levels.

A massage chair can help individuals with back or neck pain ease symptoms from the comfort of home. If your back or neck pain is persistent or severe, it’s important to seek guidance and treatment from your healthcare provider.

People who experience tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. These headaches are often caused by stress or muscle tension and typically present as a steady ache on both sides of the head. They don’t normally result in nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. There are many steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms of a tension headache, including eating regular meals, exercising, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.  

Research from 2002 suggests that massage therapy can also be effective in reducing the frequency of tension headaches. The study was conducted with participants who experienced chronic tension headaches: researchers monitored the results of massage treatments that targeted the neck and shoulder muscles and found that headache frequency was significantly reduced within the first week of treatment. Furthermore, the reduction of headache frequency continued for the rest of the study and participants’ headaches tended to last for less time during a massage session.

Tension headaches are usually mild to moderate in pain severity, and they can generally be treated at home. If you’re experiencing frequent or chronic tension headaches, consult your doctor for guidance.

People who have difficulty sleeping

Problems with sleep are far from uncommon. Findings from the 2020 Canadian Community Health Study show that 25% of Canadian adults have trouble sleeping most or all of the time. Stress is a common obstacle to sleep, and there are many health conditions — related both directly and indirectly to sleep — that might make it more difficult for someone to drift off at night.

A 2014 study asked its participants, who were postmenopausal women, to fill out self-report questionnaires following the completion of a series of massage treatments. The purpose of the study was to explore the effects of massage therapy on the symptoms of menopause, one of which is insomnia. Participants reported improvements in sleep pattern and quality of life after receiving massage therapy, suggesting massage can be helpful to those seeking more good-quality rest.

People who have blood circulation issues

Individuals with blood circulation issues may have symptoms such as pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs, hands, fingers, feet, or toes. Good circulation is essential to our overall well being: when the circulatory system is working to the best of its ability, blood and oxygen can flow freely throughout the body, helping each organ to function properly.

Massage therapy may be beneficial to people with poor circulation. When different massage techniques are used with varying levels of intensity, the pressure applied can help move blood through congested areas and allow new blood to travel in. People looking to improve their circulation may enjoy a massage chair that provides the option to hone in on affected areas (such as the legs or feet).

Frequent exercisers

During exercise — especially in strength training — our muscle fibres contract and expand repeatedly. This causes microscopic tears in the fabric of the muscle, which is a normal part of the muscle-building process. It is these tiny tears that lead to muscle soreness the day after exercise. As we rest, the tears heal and new muscle protein strands are formed that increase the size and strength of the muscle. Individuals who exercise frequently or are physically active at work may find a massage chair useful in treating aching muscles and supporting the body’s recovery after a workout.

Using a massage chair can help address a number of concerns related to the body, but massage treatments at home can also help calm your mind and make it easier to unwind at the end of the day. It’s important to consult with your doctor if you have a health condition (such as osteoporosis, hypertension, or heart disease) that might prevent you from using a massage chair safely.