What is a Chair Massage?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2014
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Chair massage is massage which is carried out on a seated patron in a chair. Typically, the client is clothed during the massage, and the duration of the massage may be brief. Massage chairs can often be seen in malls or at corporate events for people who want a quick relaxing massage. Many massage therapists can offer chair massage, and there are a few special techniques which can make a chair massage more beneficial.

Several things make a chair massage uniquely challenging. The first is that it can be hard to get a client to relax in the chair without some adjustments to the chair, and people who receive chair massage are often stressed out or in a hurry, so it takes a few moments of work to get the client to settle down. In addition, the chair can obscure access to certain parts of the body, and the angle of the client can be awkward for the therapist. Clothed patrons are also challenging to massage; many therapists integrate acupressure, shiatsu, and similar techniques which can be used through clothing.


Some people call chair massage “corporate massage,” since it is such a fixture at corporate events. Massage chairs are also set up at airports, conventions, hotels, salons, and street fairs, with most therapists charging by the minute for chair massage services. Clients can specify the length of the massage desired, and they may also request work on a specific area, classically the upper back and neck since these regions often hold a great deal of tension.

During a chair massage, the client sits face down in a specially designed chair which is typically easy to fold up and pack away so that the therapist can travel with his or her chair. The chair usually includes a soft pad for the client to rest his or her face, and some massage therapists may use scented towels to wrap the face pad for an aromatherapeutic effect. The therapist massages the regions of the body which he or she can reach, integrating a variety of techniques for the best effect.

A talented massage therapist can make a chair massage extremely beneficial for the client by using techniques which target specific areas to release tension and locked muscles. A gentle touch can also just be relaxing and enjoyable for the client, especially if he or she is dealing with stressful situations like conference presentations or travel. Less skilled massage therapists can still deliver a pleasant massage which provides a respite in the client's busy day.


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