Are Massage Chairs Safe? | Safety | Injury Concerns

In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become a part of everyday life, and people are always looking for ways to relieve their stress and relax. Massage chairs are an excellent investment for those who want to enjoy the benefits of massage therapy in the comfort of their own homes. 

But, are massage chairs safe? Of course, they are.  But, it is possible to overdo it when you engage in long sessions and high-intensity settings. 

In this blog post, we will explore the safety of massage chairs and answer some of the most commonly asked questions about their safety.

We will discuss the benefits of the relaxing experience of using massage therapy chairs and why they are so popular. We will also delve into the different types of massage chairs available and how they work. Additionally, we will examine some of the safety features that the massage therapy chairs have to offer and the potential risks associated with their use.

So, if you are considering buying a massage chair, or you are simply curious about its safety, this blog post will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. 

Are massage chairs safe for your back?

A study published in the journal Medicine suggests that massage chairs are cost-effective ways of reducing pain and improving  the quality of life. It helps reduce pain and relieve physical stress on sore muscles and your spine, allowing you to feel better.

But if you’re using a massage chair and you’re experiencing physical symptoms such as back aches or muscle aches, then there might be something wrong. To cut through confusion about common symptoms, we have discussed the different reasons you might be feeling this inevitable and unwanted pain.

Mature man relaxing in home massage chair for pain relief in back and legs

5 reasons why a massage chair may hurt your back

Your body is not used to massage

While massage therapy is a beneficial treatment for relaxing tight muscles and body parts, reducing tension, and relieving pain, it can be painful for other people. If you’re feeling pain after a massage, it may be because your muscles and body are not used to the physical pressure and manipulation of the human body that comes with a massage. The muscles and tissues of your body can become stiff and sore due to inactivity, poor body posture, or injury.

The massage pressure from the massage chair can be targeted to these areas to release tension and promote healing. But if you’re not used to this type of stimulation, it can cause discomfort, pain and soreness, especially in the hours or days following the massage. In such cases, it is recommended to rest, hydrate, and gently stretch to alleviate the pain and discomfort.

The massage chair is too strong for you

Another reason why you’re having back pains after a massage is that the intensity of the massage is too strong. Some chairs have strong rollers or vibrations that may be too aggressive for some individuals, especially those with sensitive or injured backs. This is why you should carefully assess the chair before making a decision to buy.  

A good massage chair should have an ergonomic design and must have important features that suit your needs. The intensity level of the massage can usually be adjusted, and it’s important to choose a setting that feels comfortable and soothing, rather than painful or uncomfortable. We also recommend limiting the duration of each massage session and taking breaks to avoid overstimulation of the muscles.

You are dehydrated

Dehydration is another common cause of back pains after a massage as it can cause muscle cramps and stiffness. When you’re dehydrated, it can cause the discs between the vertebrae in the spine to become less hydrated and less flexible, leading to pain and discomfort. Additionally, dehydration can cause a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, which can also contribute to back pain.

To alleviate back pain caused by dehydration, it’s important to drink plenty of water and other hydrating fluids throughout the day. Make sure you do stretches before sitting on your massage chair for a session. Having a light exercise before a massage can help your body relieve stiffness and promote blood circulation to the targeted muscles.

Your muscles had no warmup

Lack of proper warm-up before a massage session can also cause back pains.  If you’re not used to a massage and you want to have a first time massage session or try having a massage chair, you should prepare your body for the transition. Warm up your muscles and body and have a light exercise to increase blood flow, flexibility, and range of motion in your muscles and joints.

Warming up also for stress relief reduces back pains as it stretches the muscles on your back. As soon as pressure is applied to the different parts of your back, your body’s tense muscles would be ready to receive it.

Operating a massage chair on improper settings

Every massage chair has different features. You must know your massage chair first before using it. Familiarize yourself with the settings and adjust the intensity according to what makes you comfortable.

Possible negative side effects of massage chairs

In general, massage chairs are very useful and helpful. Having a massage chair in the comfort of your home gives you easy access to a comforting massage anytime you want it. However, like many other things, it also comes with pros and cons. 

One possible negative side effect of massage chairs are backaches or body pains caused by different factors such as your age, the readiness of your body, and the massage chair itself. Picking out the best massage chair always matters in mitigating the negative effects of massage. 

That is why, when you’re shopping for a massage chair you don’t just look at the price. You need to find one that works for you, feels comfortable, and is safe to use. Massage chairs typically cost around $500 or more. Some massage chairs with amazing features cost more or less than $3000.

The following are the different side effects that you might experience from having the wrong chair.

Muscle soreness

You may experience muscle soreness if you’re not used to massaging or when you’ve bought the wrong massage chair. When buying a massage chair, you don’t just look at the exterior looks. You need to judge its features using objective criteria, including your age. For instance, seniors with certain health conditions may need to buy chairs with gentle settings only to prevent bone fractures and muscle soreness.

According to Theresa Marko, a doctor of physical therapy, and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist (OCS) as published in Forbes, seniors with osteoporosis and blood thinners, should take extra precautions when buying or using massage chairs. You must consult your doctor and the massage chair expert to recommend the best chair for you.


Prolonged use of a massage chair can lead to muscle fatigue, especially if you’ve set the intensity at a high level. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you could also still feel sore or fatigued after using a massage chair. Additionally, if you fall asleep in the chair, you may wake up feeling groggy or fatigued due to the relaxing effect of the massage.

To avoid fatigue from using a massage chair, you must limit the duration of each massage session, take breaks, and adjust the intensity level according to your personal comfort levels. It’s also important to stay hydrated and well-rested to prevent fatigue.


Some massage chairs have rough or abrasive materials that can cause friction against the skin, leading to redness, itching, or irritation. Additionally, if you have sensitive skin or are allergic to certain materials, the massage chair can exacerbate these conditions.

To avoid skin irritations from using a massage chair, it’s recommended to wear clothing that covers the skin or use a towel or blanket to provide a barrier between the skin and the chair. It’s also important to clean the chair regularly to prevent the accumulation of dust and bacteria that can cause irritation.

Muscle injury and spasms

You may experience muscle injury or muscle spasms, if you buy the wrong massage chair or set it in high-intensity massage mode.  To prevent muscle injury, you must check with your doctor for precautions prior to using the same. This is true if you have existing medical conditions or you’ve already been experiencing severe back pains for many months before the massage.

Medical condition complications

 If you have an existing medical condition, having a massage can also exacerbate your back pains. Certain medical conditions, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or osteoporosis, require careful consideration when using a massage chair. High intensity massages or improper positioning can cause further damage to the affected area, leading to pain or discomfort.

Additionally, using a massage chair may not be recommended if you have chronic back pain or have undergone recent surgery. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional before using a massage chair.

Gets very hot

Using a massage chair may make you feel like it’s very hot behind you. This happens if you’ve set the intensity of the massage too high or if you’ve sat on the chair for more than 2 hours. In general, you only need 15 to 30 minutes of massage at least 3 times a week. You can go for an hour but not several times a day. A massage pad can also help reduce the friction caused by the massage chair against your back.

Tips to reduce muscle soreness and backache caused by massage chairs

Adjust the intensity settings

Make sure you adjust the intensity settings according to your preferences. Start with a low setting and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable. Don’t go diving straight in to the highest setting, as this could cause discomfort or pain.

Five minutes of heat therapy

Most massage chairs come with a built-in heating feature. This feature can help to increase blood flow and relax your muscles. So, try to use this first before going onto the massage mode. We recommend having five minutes of heat per massage therapy session, to alleviate back pains after a massage.

Drink a lot of water and avoid sugar

Drink plenty of water before and after your massage. Avoid sugary drinks, as these can dehydrate you and counteract the benefits of the massage. It helps your body release toxins that can cause body pains.

Perform a little back-stretching

Before using a massage chair, perform a few gentle back stretches to warm up your muscles. This can help to increase the effectiveness of your massage and prevent injury.

Drink herbal tea

After your massage, relax with a cup of herbal tea. Chamomile, lavender, and peppermint tea can all help to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Ice therapy

If you experience any soreness or inflammation after your massage, use ice therapy to help with pain relief and reduce swelling. Apply a cold pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes at a time.

Rest with your legs elevated

After your massage, lie down and rest with your legs elevated. This can help to reduce swelling and promote blood flow to your legs.

Take it slow

Don’t rush your first massage session. Take your time and enjoy the benefits of the massage chair. If you feel uncomfortable or experience any pain, stop the massage and adjust the settings as needed.


Are massage chairs worth the investment?

Yes, massage chairs can be a great investment for those who want to enjoy the benefits of regular massages from the comfort of their home. Massage chairs can help to reduce stress, relieve muscle tension and relieve pain, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. While they can be expensive, the long-term benefits of using a massage chair can outweigh the cost.

Are massage chairs safe to use?

Yes, massage chairs are generally safe to use. However, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not use the chair for an extended or long period of time. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it’s recommended to consult with your doctor before using a massage chair.

Can massage chairs help with back pain?

Yes, massage chairs can be effective in relieving back pain but note that they may also cause back pains for several reasons. These reasons can include buying the wrong full body massage chair or having a pre-existing medical condition. Just follow the tips we have listed above to help you prevent and manage this symptom.

Final thoughts

Are massage chairs safe? Using a massage chair can be an effective way to relieve back pain and promote relaxation. The chair’s features, such as heat therapy and different massage settings, can help to reduce muscle tension and increase blood flow to the affected area. However, it’s important to use the massage chair correctly to avoid causing or exacerbating back pain. We recommend that you start with a low-intensity setting and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable.

While massage chairs can reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, you should also use them with caution. Try to talk to your doctor or ask the massage chair experts to help you find the best chair for you. 

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