While it has long been known that the health benefits of massage chairs included relaxation of muscles for both top end athletes and the average office-goer returning from a hard day’s commute, recent research has proven that when proper techniques are applied, even muscles totally exhausted by strenuous exercise can be rejuvenated. Indeed, researchers at the McMaster University of Canada discovered in 2012 that following an exhaustive workout in the gym, when 11 men were provided with a special 10 minute massage, their muscles underwent a series of molecular reactions. These reactions led to reduced incidence of cytokine production and improved mitochondria generation, which together helped relax and rejuvenate the muscles. Interestingly, studies have found that such special massages can be replicated on massage chairs as well, if only some tips to relax your muscle using a massage chair are followed.
Swedish Massage at Slow, Moderate Setting
The researchers used Swedish massage specialists, and since then, various companies have attempted to improve the Swedish massage procedures of the machines to replicate such actions. Involving simple kneading and pressing of muscles, Swedish massage allows for better blood circulation, lowered muscle tension, rapid easing of muscle exhaustion (as evidenced by reduction of lactic acid proportions) and resetting of twisted or slightly damaged muscles to their normal positions. To reach the levels of precision achieved by the masseurs used in the experiment though, you need to:
- Initiate a low intensity massage for about five minutes, focusing especially on the back and the limbs, as these areas suffer most during any type of strenuous work.
- Once complete, pause for a minute and ensure that the muscles are relaxed.
- Most of the best massage chairs come with a “Swedish massage” option. Select it and set the stroke length to long and the pace to slow or medium.
- Undergo a 10-15 minute Swedish massage using these settings, ensuring that the entire back is covered. However, there is no need to initiate a parallel massage for the arms and legs, unless the attachments/components of the chair specifically support Swedish massage for the limbs.
- Pause for about a minute. If Swedish massage is not available for the arms and legs, select any low to medium intensity massage for these parts. If Swedish massage is available, there is no need to change the settings.
- Initiate another 10-15 minute massage session with both the back and limb massage systems in motion.
- Instead of undergoing a low intensity massage to complete the session, spend 5 minutes simply sitting and relaxing in the chair.
Deep Tissue Massage
Increasingly, masseurs and therapists around the world are using deep tissue massage to relieve strain, tension and pains in deep muscles. As the name suggests, this massage provides much needed blood circulation to the deeper tissues (including muscles) and this helps dispose of toxins and wastes, loosen tight muscle groups, reduce incidence of twisted muscles and adhesions and ensure proper transfer of energy to the muscle cells.
While some manufacturers, as our in-depth study of the BestMassage brand would suggest, have begun incorporating this type of massage, in most cases other types (even when they claim to be deep tissue massage) have to be modified to achieve the required results. To achieve deep tissue massage on your chair:
- Since this is a high intensity massage, it is ideal to undergo a 5-10 minute low intensity massage of any type before initiating deep tissue massage.
- The tips to relax your muscle using a massage chair may be open-ended on this issue, since multiple massage systems can be chosen. If deep tissue massage is available, extend the stroke length to maximum and the intensity and pressure to high to achieve the optimal massage level. If tapotement/percussion and/or compression massages are available, choose either percussion or compression and jack up the settings to high. If required, complement these settings with a medium intensity reflexology massage for the feet.
- Initiate a 10-15 minute session using these settings. Since the massage focuses on specific deep tissue areas, it is advisable to keep the spine centered on the massage chair and to avoid movement.
- Complete the massage session by carrying out a 5 minute low intensity massage at the end, similar to what you began your session with.
Note: While the tips to relax your muscle using a massage chair would definitely include a full 15 minute deep tissue massage, there may be situations where dermal problems or other health issues may cause the deep and intense massage to become uncomfortable. Stop the massage immediately in such circumstances and consult a doctor.
Sports massage is a combination of various massages, provided to athletes prior and immediately after a strenuous workout, and is meant to remove the tension and fatigue in the muscles, prevent muscle spasms and cramping, increase flexibility of muscles and facilitate rapid rejuvenation of muscles in a manner that allows for long-term extension of workouts without risk of injury. While professional athletes need highly qualified masseurs to cater to their special needs, the ideal sports massage for those suffering from symptoms of muscle stress can be successfully replicated using a massage chair if one is willing to modify some simple massage systems to achieve the required massage:
- Navigate through the control console to see if lomilomi/Hawaiian, stretch and tapotement massage systems are available. If so, first choose the less intense lomilomi and set it to medium intensity.
- Undergo a 15 minute Hawaiian massage session to loosen up the muscles.
- Proceed to stretch and tapotement. Carry out 10 minutes of stretch massage, followed by an equal duration of tapotement. Repeat once more if necessary.
- Complete the session with either low intensity stretch or lomilomi massage.
While tweaking settings excessively might lead to situations where one might have to consult our massage chair repairing guide with greater frequency, a good unit should be able to cope with these tips to relax your muscle using a massage chair without suffering repeated failures. Indeed, since muscles have a tendency of adjusting to a certain type of massage over time, it is ideal to try out all three types and then settle for the one that is most comfortable and beneficial. While this choice may depend on factors ranging from one’s age and fitness to the time available, it can be said with some certainty that the above modified techniques, aiming to achieve massages that were hitherto the sole domain of the sports or fitness masseur, should be able to reduce stress and improve the health of the musculature in the long run.