In traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine, shiatsu massage was believed to be not just good for muscles and joints but for major illnesses as well. While modern science has not produced any evidence that shiatsu massage can treat cancer or arthritis, it has shown many other benefits.

Through finger manipulations, shiatsu massage stimulates blood flow, improves nerve function and provides both physical and psychological relaxation.

These benefits can be especially helpful for the elderly. Regular shiatsu massage reduces chronic pain, improves mobility and helps with the management of symptoms of conditions like arthritis.

But instead of paying for a professional massage, a shiatsu massage chair is more convenient and cheaper. It also allows you to decide exactly what kind of shiatsu massage you want and the areas you want to focus on (e.g. upper back or lower back).

With a shiatsu massage chair you can enjoy a relaxing massage at any time from the comfort of your home.

Using a Shiatsu Massage Chair

Shiatsu massage chairs are generally easy to use. They are designed for a quick 1-minute setup with no need for special tools or extra accessories.

You can set one up just about anywhere there is a chair. You can strap it around a sofa cushion, a dining room chair, a lounge chair, an office chair or even a car seat.

Most have settings for heat therapy, massage intensity and spot massage. So you can choose exactly how you want your massage.

Best Shiatsu Massage Chair reviews

To help you find the right massage chair for your needs, we compared dozens of brands and models available online. Here are the best ones.

1. HoMedics Shiatsu Max 2.0 Back and Shoulder Massager

This premium massage chair comes with several massage modes including shiatsu massage for pain relief and reducing stiffness, spot massage for focusing on specific areas and rolling massage for relaxation. It also has vibration and heat.

The chair is really comfortable to seat on and works well for users of different heights. You can adjust the height and width of the massage rollers as well as the position of the headrest.

The controller is easy to use with all the settings and functions well laid out. You can use different modes – e.g. vibration + shiatsu – at the same time or independently. There is a demo button that will take you through all the settings and massage modes, ideal for the first time you use the chair. Read our full review.

What we like about it:

  • Adjustable height, width and headrest.
  • Multiple massage modes.
  • Quick to set up and easy to use.
  • Good value for money

2. Beurer MG295 HD 3D Black Shiatsu Neck and Back Massager

The Beurer chair massager provides deeply relaxing 3D shiatsu massage. The massage heads rotate and roll in pairs around your back. They stimulate blood flow, reduce pain and aches and aid in relaxation.

It comes with neck massage and a spot massage mode which you can use to focus on a certain problematic area. There is also a rolling massage mode which is perfect when you need a soothing massage rather than the more intense 3D shiatsu massage. For even more relaxation or pain relief, turn on the heat function.

Setting up the chair takes just a couple of minutes. Use the flexible straps to secure it to a chair and then plug it in. You can adjust the height of the massage rollers to get a perfect fit.

It has a hanging hook for easy storage when not in use. Read our full review.

What we like about it:

  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Multiple massage modes for your neck and back.
  • Adjustable height.
  • Removable and washable cover.

3. Medisana Back Massager Chair Cushion

Even before you fire up the Medisana massage chair, it already feels relaxing. The padded seats and inclined sides create a snugly cocooned feel.

When you turn it on, pairs of rollers rotate around your back, kneading your muscles and increasing blood flow.

Users describe the experience as surprisingly intensive. It’s almost like there are human hands massaging you.

There is a spot mode where you can focus on a specific area and a less intense rolling mode for gentle massages. You can adjust the height and width of the massage heads depending on your body physique and size.

Using the attached remote controller, it’s easy to activate the extra heat and vibrate features. Read our full review.

What we like about it:

  • Comfortable seat.
  • Intense pain-relieving and muscle-relaxing shiatsu massage.
  • Removable and washable cover.
  • Includes heat and vibration functions.

4. INTEY Shiatsu Massage Chair

INTEY Shiatsu Massage Chair Pad Back Massage Chair Review

The Intey Shiatsu massage chair comes with 3 massage modes. There is the shiatsu massage mode which provides intense kneading for muscles on your back and neck. It comes with a vibration mode with three intensity levels. There is also a heat feature which uses infrared heat to boost relaxation and pain relief.

You can set the chair to massage your neck, upper back, lower back or full back. For the perfect massage, you can set the massage rollers to move further up or down. The neck massager can be adjusted to rotate in one direction or in multiple directions.

As with most other massage chairs, it’s easy to set up. Use the included strap to secure it on a chair and then plug it in. Read our full review.

What we like about it:

  • Adjustable settings.
  • Includes heat and vibration functions.
  • Easy to setup and use.

5. Sable Shiatsu Back Massager

This massager imitates the firm hands of a professional masseuse. Four massage nodes work on your back, relaxing your muscles and eliminating any aches. There are also extra nodes for your neck to help with stiffness and pain.

Using the remote control, it’s easy to adjust the massage nodes up or down depending on your height. You can also target a specific spot on your back or set the nodes to work on just your lower back, upper back or full back.

A heating function soothes your back and neck. It can be especially beneficial for those with chronic joint and muscle pain. For help with blood circulation and mobility improvement, activate the vibration feature which targets the upper thighs. There are three vibration intensities to choose from. Read our full review.

What we like about it:

  • Deeply relaxing human-like massage.
  • Adjustable massage nodes and vibration settings.
  • Easy to set up and use.

Key considerations when buying a Shiatsu Massage Chair

Here are the most important things to keep in mind when shopping for a new shiatsu massage chair.

1. Your needs

What do you need most from a massage chair? Knowing this will help you buy a massage chair with the right features.

All shiatsu massage chairs will have shiatsu massage as a basic feature. Most also have rolling massage, which is less intense than shiatsu massage and perfect for relaxing.

But not all have vibration massage. If you think vibration therapy can help you relax more, increase mobility and reduce pain, then find a massage chair with this feature.

Same goes for heat therapy. Not all shiatsu massage chairs have it, though most do. If you’d like heat along with your regular shiatsu massage, make sure it’s present in the massage chair you are about to buy.

If you need both vibration and heat massage, check that both are present.

Another thing to check is whether the massage chair only targets your back or extends to your buttocks and thighs. If you have aches or chronic pain around your upper thighs, I recommend a massage chair that stretches further down beyond your back.

The best ones are those that have shiatsu massage for your back and neck and vibration massage for your thighs and buttocks.

2. Size

If you have a tall physique or a broad back, check that the massage chair’s fit can be adjusted. This is usually done by changing the position of the massage nodes. Using the remote controller, you can set the nodes to travel higher (if you are tall) or lower (if you are short).

Some chairs also give you the ability to increase the width between the nodes, which is helpful for those with a broad back.

In most cases up/down adjustability is enough for many users. But being able to change the width is a nice feature. It provides a better fit for those with a broad back and allows you to set a wider reach to target different problem areas on your back.

3. Your health

Most shiatsu massage chairs come with a warning that they are not to be used by pregnant women, those taking medication that reduces reaction times and those with reduced or no pain sensation.

Furthermore, manufacturers advice those with conditions like diabetes, heart disease and thrombosis to ask their doctor for advice before using the product.

So it’s important to consider your health when buying any massage chair. Even if you have a health condition not mentioned on the warning label, it’s still a good idea to consult your doctor.

4. Your budget

Most shiatsu massage chairs cost between £100 and £200. The more features a massage chair has the more it’s going to cost. A chair with just shiatsu massage (no vibration or heat) will be closer to £100 and sometimes even less than £100.

Add vibration and heat and the price gets closer to £200. Some premium chairs with added features and settings can cost over £200.

Consider your needs and then find the right massage chair that is within your budget.

5. Extra features

Here are some extra features to look out for.

  • Adjustable headrest.
  • Adjustable massage intensity levels.
  • Hanging hook or loop for easier storage.
  • Removable and washable back cover. Makes it easy to keep the chair hygienic.
  • Easy to wipe seat cover. Massage chair with leather-like seat covers are ideal.
  • Auto shut-off. This comes handy in case you fall asleep. It ensures you don’t use the massage chair for more than the usually recommended 15 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does shiatsu massage help elderly persons?

It increases blood flow, which quickens healing, improves mobility and reduces inflammation. It also helps reduce chronic pain associated with conditions like arthritis, nerve damage and low back pain.

Shiatsu massage has also been found to improve overall wellbeing by helping your body and mind relax. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and even helps you sleep better. Just 15-30 minutes of shiatsu massage everyday can make an enormous difference in your health and wellbeing.

If you can get a shiatsu massage chair with vibration and heat as well, even better. The added features help with pain relief, relaxation, blood flow and mobility.

Q: For how long should I use a shiatsu massage chair?

Most manufacturers recommend 15 minutes once or twice a day. That’s why some chairs have a 15-minute auto shutoff feature.

Too much stimulation from the heat, vibration and massage can be uncomfortable and even cause adverse health effects. 15 minutes is the sweet spot where the positive effects – relaxation, less pain etc. – last for hours. If you go beyond 15-30 minutes depending on the intensity of the massage, you could actually start experiencing more pain.

Q: Is a shiatsu massage chair safe for everyone?

No. Read the product description from the manufacturer to see health warnings. Usually, they’ll advice against use for those with thrombosis, spinal problems and pregnant women. For people with certain health conditions like diabetes or heart disease, they advise caution and recommend talking to a doctor first.

Q: Where can I use a shiatsu massage chairs?

Shiatsu massage chairs are designed to be affixed onto any chair that has sufficient depth and a high enough backing. Essentially most chairs at home and the office. You can strap it around the sofa cushion, put it on the car seat (don’t use it when driving) or use it in an office chair.