What's a Chair Massage?

Young woman getting massage in chair
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Chair massage is a style of seated massage that is typically short—10 minutes or 15 minutes maximum—and focuses on your back, shoulders and neck and arms. A chair massage has the participant sit face down away from the therapist, and the massage is given over clothing and doesn't require any massage oil.

What to Expect

For chair massage, you are seated in a special chair with your face resting in a cradle, looking down towards the floor, with support for your arms. Your back and neck completely relax while the therapist relieves muscle tension using Swedish massage moves like kneading and compression and tapotement, which don't require oil.

Airports and Trade Shows

Chair massages are offered at high-traffic locations like airports and trade shows. It's a great way to work out muscle tension before it turns into a full-blown spasm when on your feet for hours at a time. Make sure to keep an eye on your possessions or ask a trusted companion to hold your baggage while getting the service.

Office and Events

Chair massages are sometimes a free perk at a corporate party or event. Additionally, some enlightened employers bring therapists in to offer chair massage to their employees. Companies can pay the entire cost, split it with employees, or give employees the time and let them pay for the chair massage themselves.

Office massage schedules are run either scheduled and unscheduled. If chair massages are on a first come basis—you want to sign-up as soon as possible. Lines frequently form, and the therapist may have to cut-off the line at some point if there won't be enough time to cover all who want a turn.

If the chair massage is pre-scheduled, don't book any important meetings or call before your appointment, as if you are running late the therapist won't be able to add to your time with others waiting, so you'll just get a shorter massage.


A frequent question or concern about chair massages is the cleanliness factor for the chair—specifically the face area. Not to worry—therapists are meticulous in using disinfecting wipes, disposable paper covers for the face cradle, and even elastic bands for clients that have long hair to keep the entire work service free from germs.


A chair massage will only cost a fraction of a regular massage at a salon or spa, due to the truncated amount of time the therapist spends providing service. Often masseuses will only charge a dollar a minute when providing a chair massage.

Automatic Massage Chairs

Don't confuse a chair massage with a chair that can provide a massage. While the vibrating lounge chair may be the centerpiece in a few suburban rec rooms, the mechanical oscillation of a massage chair can't compare to the skills a human learns to provide an excellent physical massage.

Not that the automated chair can't be relaxing or help knead out tight muscles, it simply doesn't have the...human touch.

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