What Is Onsite Chair Massage?

Chair Massage

Onsite chair massage first appeared in the workplace in the late 1980s, introduced by David Palmer, who developed the first specialized massage chair.

Studies have found that chair (or seated) massage reduces stress and increases energy levels among employees. The massage also helps relieve neck, shoulder, and arm tension that contribute to repetitive stress injuries among workers. Companies benefit in the form of increased productivity, lower absenteeism, and higher morale.

But this type of massage isn't limited to the workplace. You'll find massage kiosks set up in malls and airports and at trade shows, conventions, or sporting events. A portable massage chair can go almost anyplace!

The advantages of seated massage are that it's convenient (you keep your clothes on), fast (from 5 to 30 minutes long), and affordable. The massage typically focuses on relieving tension in your back, neck, shoulders, and arms.

Seated Massage Techniques

The techniques for a seated massage are different from typical massage therapy techniques. Traditional Swedish massage techniques don't translate well to massage in a chair because Swedish techniques largely consist of gliding strokes that don't work well over clothing. Common techniques for massage in a chair include:

  • Compression techniques, including acupressure, are most commonly used. David Palmer was trained in Amma massage, an ancient system of acupressure techniques, and many massage therapists have trained in his system.
  • Squeezing techniques are often done on large muscle groups and muscles that are not firmly attached to underlying structures.
  • Kneading techniques are circular movements.
  • Percussion (or tapotement) are stimulating techniques are what many people call karate chops.

Different Approaches To Chair Massage

Palmer advocates a standard massage routine and discourages treatment during seated massage, while massage therapist Raymond Blaylock disagrees, stating that "a massage chair is a great tool for rehabilitation." Blaylock worked with a chair as part of a physical therapy team and found using a chair better than using a table for upper body massage. (Source)

So, like all massage therapy, seated massage offers a variety of opportunities for both the massage therapist and the client. 

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Photo courtesy Massage Nerd.

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