What is Chair Massage?

Massage therapist providing a chair massage to client

Interested in becoming a massage therapist? One of the main massage techniques is chair massage. It can be completed on clients in many different locations and settings. Chair massage is an accessible alternative to a traditional table massage because it allows a client to keep their clothes on and does not take very long to complete. Here we will take a look at what chair massage is, what it focuses on, the benefits of chair massage and where a massage therapist might be able to work at.

What is a Chair Massage?

Not to be confused with massage chairs (the vibrating chairs that you can sit in), chair massage is a method of relieving muscular tension through manual manipulation. This specific method utilizes a specially designed chair that provides forward leaning support for the client as they relax facing forward into the chair. Once the client is comfortably settled into the unique chair the massage therapist will then begin to concentrate different massage techniques on certain areas to target tension and discomfort. These are typically short massages ranging in time from around 15 to 30 minutes.

The History of the Chair Massage

The origins of chair massage aren’t exactly straightforward, as many techniques and equipment designs were arguably early versions of the practice. However, it was most notably and definitively established in 1968 by a man named David Palmer. The goal of using a chair during massage was so that the client could relax and remain somewhat upright and aligned in the seated position. This method also allowed for a more of a public atmosphere during the massage itself. Privacy is required in other forms of massage because items of clothing are typically removed to create accessibility to certain areas of the body. Since chair massage deals primarily with the upper extremities and limbs of the body the client’s clothes almost always stay on.

What Areas of the Body Does Chair Massage Deal With?

The answer to this question will vary depending on the client’s problem areas and any physical restrictions they may have. However, the parts of the body that become fatigued by daily activity are the primary focus of a chair massage. Activities such as prolonged typing, long periods of standing, extensive telecommunications work and uninterrupted sitting for lengthy periods of time can have destructive effects on the human body, especially over long periods of time.

Adverse physical effects such as muscle tension, tissue binding, and muscular knotting can lead to headaches and joint discomfort. The damage, if left unidentified and untreated, can cause long term effects. Prioritizing comfort and general health are a vital part of maintaining a high quality of life. There are a few areas of the body that chair massage specifically addresses because of their high impact.

Head Massage

Daily activities such as intensely focusing on a computer screen, staring down at notes, and using the phone can be contributing factors for tension headaches and stress or discomfort in the cranial region. Areas of the head are stimulated carefully during chair massage to help with pain relief.

Hand Massage

Typing, texting, writing and constant phone use can create tension in the hands that can cause joints to be misaligned. It can also create aching and binding in the hands. The health of the joints, muscles, and tissues in the fingers and hands is vitally important to one’s manual dexterity and fine motor skills. These are not only important for professional life, but for daily life, as well.

Arms/Shoulders Massage

Tasks such as typing and holding a phone receiver at the same time are frequent in many common careers. These kinds of activities can bind shoulders and cause them to ache. Movement can also be restricted. Consistent, continuous reaching can also have a serious effect on the arms and shoulders over time. Massage that focuses on the arms and shoulders can truly help improve upper body function.

Back Massage

Poor posture, bad seating and inadequate foot support are typically the most common culprits for back tension and pain. Back discomfort can lead to severely restricted mobility if it is left unaddressed. Bending often and lifting improperly increase the risk and intensity of these kinds of injuries.

In addition to combating the physical damage a career can have, chair massage also helps to address the damage brought on by high levels of personal and professional stress. So, while the physical relief from chair massage is significant, the mental health effects should not be minimized.

Where is a Professional Chair Massage Given?

Aside from a salon or spa that might offer these kinds of massages, it all depends on where the client lives and works. Chair massages are more readily accessible in some places and can be extremely difficult to find in others. For the most part, though, chair massages will generally pop up in one of a few different places.

The Office Chair Massage

There are employers who have chair massage readily available for their hard-working staff. Corporations and private businesses are beginning to recognize the upsides to investing in the well-being of the people who work with and for them. Aside from being a tremendous physical relief to people, the accessibility to chair massages in an office setting also provides the benefit of relieving anxious tension and emotional stress that can affect work productivity and office morale.

Chair Massage at Trade Shows and Festivals

Events where people are remaining seated for long presentations, standing in groups (concerts, performances, etc.) and/or wandering from booth to booth are the perfect places for massage therapists to set up for chair massages. Readily available massages that provide physical relief and aren’t time consuming allow people at trade shows and festivals to comfortably enjoy the festivities and events while also being conscious of their comfort and health.

As Part of Celebrations and Holiday Events

Not every company has the initiative or the budget to include chair massage into everyday office life. But many of them are making an effort in a way that requires less financial and time commitment. Springing for chair massage during the holidays or as an incentive toward a shared goal can help employers make their employees feel appreciated and cared for, even if it is in a more limited capacity.

Chair Massage at Malls and Other Retail Spaces

This sort of falls in with the same logic as utilizing massage at trade shows and festivals. If you are wandering an area for prolonged periods of time, or even sitting and waiting for someone for a while, that can create tension and discomfort in the body. Carrying bags while shopping can also lead to uneven wear and tear on muscles throughout the day.

What are the Benefits of Getting a Chair Massage?

There are more upsides to chair massage than one may initially see. Most people are aware that massage is a way to release tension and work out knotting in the muscles. However, the other benefits of indulging in a chair massage are not always as easy to identify. Let’s take a look at some of the other ways chair massage can improve one’s work and life.

Helps Improve Your Sleep

In general, when someone is more comfortable it is easier to relax. It is easy to see the correlation between a decrease in discomfort and higher quality of sleep.

Helps to Increases Circulation

The stimulation of skin, muscles and tissues helps to increase and improve circulation. Pushing and releasing certain kinds of pressure can help stimulate blood flow in veins which helps better deliver blood to the rest of the body. It also helps to remove lactic acid build up which further facilitates circulatory health.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Along with stimulating blood flow and supporting circulatory health, chair massage in certain areas of the body helps to stimulate the flow of lymph fluid. Lymph fluid helps carry toxins away from muscles. This decrease in toxicity along with the support of circulation health can lead to lower blood pressure.

Supports Immune Health

Recent studies have strongly suggested that massage therapy is beneficial to the immune system. Massage may help decrease cortisol, a harmful stress hormone, along with decreasing a hormone thought to play a significant role in aggressive behavior called vasopressin. Minimizing the build-up of these volatile hormones in the body can have a positive effect on cardiovascular and gut health.

Increases Physical Flexibility

The looser muscles and joints are, the easier it will be to move them. Unbinding muscles and tissues through chair massage can help increase range of motion and freedom of movement. The tighter muscles are, the harder they will be to move and articulate.

The damages done by daily life and general living are not immediately obvious. They happen slowly over time through repeated or sustained actions and in-actions. Even simply sitting can have an effect if done enough. The incremental wearing down of the body can seem inevitable, but it is not. Chair massage is a quick easy way to prioritize and invest in one’s health.

Want to Learn More?

Did this information about what a chair massage is interest you? If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed in as little as 5 months with full time enrollment*. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their clients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.

*Completion time for this program is defined by 35 hours per week.