Why does my Back Hurt after Using a Massage Chair

6 min read
Updated: 15.06.2022

Oftentimes, people use massage chairs to relieve back pain.

However, it is common for some people to experience additional back pain after using a massage chair

If done unprofessionally, a massage can manipulate your body in a way that may lead to misalignment and muscular imbalances.

The cause of back pain after using the massage chair could be the chair itself, but more likely, it’s how you set up and use the massage chair

Massage Chair and Back Pain

Why does a Massage Chair Hurt your Back

Massage chairs are intended to support your back while also relieving pain.

Massage Chairs - Back Pain

Although It has been shown in numerous studies that using a massage chair could be harmful, it hypothetically should be beneficial in the treatment of persistent back pain.

According to a recent study, “the massage chair is a promising treatment for pain control and quality of life modification.”

Massage Chairs - Back Pain

Users, especially beginners, might experience back pain if they:

  • Using the massage chair with the pre-programmed settings,
  • Not accustomed to being massaged,
  • Dehydrated,
  • Having an underlying health condition such as herniated disc,
  • Using a massage chair excessively,
  • Not stretch their muscles before and after,
  • Have an injury or underlying condition,
  • Have poor posture while sitting in the massage chair.
  • Not doing necessary massage chair repairs and maintenance.

How Intense a Massage Chair Therapy Should Be

Massage chairs are intended to support your back while also one of the most common questions we’ve been asked is, “How intense should a massage chair session be?” 

This question allows us to help customize each individual’s experience.

Three factors determine how intense a massage chair period should be: time, frequency, and pressure.

These are all critical factors to consider when determining how intense your massage chair experience should be. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Time

Time is about how long you should use a massage chair. This is really up to you and how you feel.

Age, gender, medical conditions, and physical reaction to electrical stimuli are all crucial factors to consider. 

Experts recommend starting with shorter sessions (5-10 minutes) and then increasing the time as you become more comfortable with the item you have.

But still, try to keep the session duration less than 30 minutes.

It’s also important to listen to your body and stop the session if you start to feel any discomfort.

Frequency 

It is about how often you should use a massage chair. Again, this is an individual standard and up to how you feel. 

It is commonly guided to use a massage chair 2-3 times per week and give some time to your muscles to recover.

But some people may need to use it more or less depending on their condition.

According to one study, a group of elderly aged 50 and 75 used the massage chair twice daily for six months.

Even though it’s above the suggested frequency, the study group significantly improved their physical and mental health levels. 

And lastly, 

Pressure 

It is about finding the right amount of force for you.

You can adjust the pressure of the massage chair based on your experience with the specific massage brand and model. 

But experts recommend starting with a lower intensity level and then increasing the pressure as needed.

Finding a tension that feels good for you and doesn’t cause any discomfort is essential.

Massage Chair Basics

To reduce the pressure, you can;

  • Use massage chair settings (try to use in tapping or kneading setting rather than knocking or shiatsu)
  • Use manual massage settings to stop some rollers (such as one focusing on the pain-causing part of the body)
  • Use an extra layer, such as a thick blanket between your body and the massage chair. It will decrease the effects of the rollers.
  • Use the chair as vertical as possible (try to avoid the effects of gravity as much as possible)

Can You Sit in a Massage Chair too Much

Yes, it is possible to overdo it with a massage chair. 

As with anything, moderation is key. It’s vital to listen to your body and stop the session if you start to feel any pain. 

It’s also critical to give your body a break between sessions (1-2 days) to allow your muscles to recover.

If you use a massage chair too much, you may experience:

  • Back pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

These are all signs that you are overdoing it with the massage chair and need to take a break.

If you experience any of these symptoms, we recommend intercepting the session and taking a break for at least two days to recover.

Also, please be aware that the massage chairs are electrical devices.

Even though engineering prevents electrical currents from reaching your body directly, electricity has other effects on the human body, such as magnetic and heating effects. 

Just like other electronic devices, you should limit your usage accordingly.

Can Regular Massage Chair Use Cause Permanent Damage to Nerves

We know it’s pretty concerning when you experience persistent pain, but no, regular massage chair use will not cause permanent damage to nerves, muscles, or joints.

Massage chairs are practical in treating many conditions such as back pain, neck pain, and even anxiety.

However, you may encounter temporary discomfort after using a massage chair, primarily if you are not used to the sensation. 

This is usually because your muscles don’t experience this sort of manipulation before, and it may take some time to adjust. 

How to Set and Use a Massage Chair for an Effective Massage Therapy

A massage chair can be a great way to get massage therapy at home, but it is critical to set it up correctly and use it properly to get the most benefit.

Here are some tips on how to set the basic features:

1- Place the massage chair on a flat surface in a well-ventilated room,

Massage Chair Body Scanning

2- Adjust the settings on the massage chair to suit your needs,

  • Consider the elevation, massage type, time, frequency, and pressure level altogether,
  • First, adjust the feet and backrest separately to find the perfect balance for you (like adjusting a bicycle seat),
  • Second, ensure you are seated in the chair correctly, and your head, neck, back, feet, and arms are adequately supported (the chair starts to scan your body to implement the right amount of pressure to touch points),
  • Then, adjust the heating to make your muscles more elastic and massage deeper,
  • Finally, please start with the lighter massage; in most cases, it’s the relax mode (the name could be different)

3- Always start with shorter massage sessions and gradually increase the time and intensity as you become more comfortable with the sensation.

4- Listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.

Ways to Reduce the Back Pain after a Massage Chair Therapy

Approximately 1/5 of the American population has a recent experience of back pain.

Almost 16 million adults have chronic back pain, which is the number one reason for work-loss days, and the sixth most money spending illness in the United States.

If you suffer from back pain after using a massage chair, there are several things you can do to reduce the distress.

  • Stretch your back before and after using the massage chair,
  • Again stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after your massage,
  • Apply heat or ice to your back as needed,
  • Rest and relax on a flat, hard surface as much as possible after your massage.
  • Stay active, don’t spend too much time inactive
  • Have a hot bath (or benefit from sunshine and swimming if you’re lucky)
  • Consult your doctor if the pain persists or is severe and spreading to your legs.

Conclusion

A massage chair can cause back pain because the massage strokes could be too deep to handle for your body, you’re not used to the sensation, or you have an underlying health issue. 

Always listen to your body and stop the massage if you start to feel any ache or tension. 

If the pain persists, always seek medical help.

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