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Can A Massage Chair Hurt Your Back?

March 15, 2021 6 min read

Does your back still hurt even after getting a massage chair? The reason can be the massage chair itself. Read on to why a massage chair hurts your back. 

A massage manipulates your body’s soft tissues and heals them. It eases muscle tension and improves blood flow in the back, which improves nutrient and oxygen delivery to tissues. It reliefs the sensation of pain by releasing endorphins, which block pain receptors in the brain. It is the mechanism behind the use of a massage chair.


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To get rid of persistent back pain, a massage chair seems a great idea. You can get a massage at any time without the need to go massage spa. What an ideal solution! But many people complain that their back hurts by using a massage chair. Yes, it’s true. A massage chair can hurt you if not used properly. This article will discuss the reasons and tips to avoid back pain caused by a massage chair.

Read More : Are Massage Chairs Worth It?

Why does a massage chair hurt your back?

Ideally, massage chairs are designed to support your back and relieve the pain. Many studies suggest it’s effectiveness in relieving chronic back pain. But many users, especially beginners, experience back pain resulting from the usage of a massage chair. It can be due to the following reasons:

  1. Your body is not used to massage :

    Have you ever noticed our body aches when we first exercise? In the same way, pain and tiredness after the first massage therapy session are normal. Massage chair uses many tools like a roller to manipulate and kneed your body tissues. It can tear your connective tissues and muscles, cause inflammation and muscle soreness. It happens more frequently for muscles that stay inactive. It can also occur due to the accumulation of lactic acid in muscle. The phenomena is called delayed onset muscle soreness. The soreness in a particular area after the massage is also an indication that you carry tension in that area. But after two to three sessions, your body starts getting used to massage. And you no longer feel the perception of pain and sore muscles. In fact, it feels good and relaxing after sitting in a massage chair.

  2. Massage may aggravate your herniated disk:

    Soreness after the massage is normal. But if it’s persistent and not going away, it is something you should take seriously. Pain can result from a massage chair in case of an injured spine and slipped disc. In fact, despite healing, it can aggravate pain caused by a herniated disc. It’s essential to consult your physician if you feel persistent pain and soreness each time you sit in a massage chair.

  3. Excessive use of a massage chair may cause back pain

    If you bought a new massage chair, you might need to understand that it’s not a toy to play with. A massage chair is meant for the healing of the body. But, many people damage their muscle by excessive use of a massage chair. Excessive use of a massage chair may lead to bruises of tissue, muscle damage and inflammation.

  4. Operating massage chair on improper settings

    A Massage chair offers a varying amount of pressure and intensity. You can adjust pressure and area to focus as you wish. Seems cool? But an inexperienced person can set the wrong settings. High pressure and intensity are likely to cause damage to your muscles and skin. It is more common for those who have weak muscles and soft skin.

  5. Dehydration of body:

    Many massage therapists believe that massage increases toxins and metabolic waste, such as lactic acid, from the body. It’s true. There are many scientific studies out there that suggest massage improves blood flow. Improved blood flow removes the toxins from body tissues and muscles. The toxins are supposed to be then removed from your body through urination. If your body is dehydrated, kidneys will try to preserve water by not releasing urine. You will again build up toxins in your body, which causes soreness and pain all over the body.

  6. Your muscles are not warm up:

    Without warming up muscle, exercise can result in pain. It is so obvious. Warming up muscles result in a rise in temperature and increased blood flow to the skin. It makes the collagen fibres more elastic. It prepares your muscles to stretch and reduces muscle soreness and the risk of injury. Similarly, a warmup is essential prior to a massage, as it stretches your muscles. Warming up muscles soothes your tensed muscles, loosen them and increase flexibility.

  7. Certain medications may play a role in back pain:

    The primary purpose of a massage is to heal the body. But most people don’t rely only on massage; they take medicines as well. It leads to complications and false feedback. Let me give you an example for better understanding. If you are taking any pain killer, it will change your normal perception of pain. You may think that you can go for deeper pressure because it seems comfortable. But in actuality, by setting high pressure, you are making yourself prone to injury and bruises.


Tips to avoid back pain caused by massage chair

A massage chair can be heaven or hell, depending on how you use it. Follow the tips mention below to get the best results and avoid back pain:

  • Familiarize yourself with settings when you get a massage chair. Identify which pressure suits your needs.
  • Increase the usage of massage chairs with time when your body gets used to it.
  • Stay hydrated before and after a massage.
  • Don’t use a massage chair if your back pain results from injury or herniated disk.
  • Use a massage chair for 15 minutes 3 to 4 times a week. Don’t overuse it.
  • Sit still and rest your back against the chair. So, a massage chair can accurately sense your acupoints.

How does a massage chair help back pain?

Yes, it’s true that massage chairs were meant for healing back pain. But their incorrect usage reversed the function. However, if used correctly, it can do magic to heal back pain. It does that by following ways:

  1. Improves blood flow:

    Massage kneads and applies pressure to targeted parts of the body. It enhances blood flow, which results in increased oxygen and nutrient delivery to tissues with low oxygen concentration. The effect is especially beneficial in treating muscular spasms, which eases pain.

  2. Release Endorphins:

    Massage promotes the release of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine from the autonomic central nervous system. Endorphins are called happy feel hormones. They act on opiate receptors present in our brain and block the sensation of pain, thus relieving back pain. It shows that a massage chair is an effective way to treat back pain

  3. Reduces Inflammation and soreness:

    A scientific evidence supports the fact that massage may reduce the pain in the same way as NSAIDS do. They decrease the activity of inflammatory cytokines, which are associated with inflammation and pain. Moreover, massage may also increase the number of mitochondria in cells, which provide energy and help muscles recover.

  4. Reduces stress associated back pain :

    When we are stressed, our muscles are more likely to be tense particularly in areas of the neck, shoulder and down the spine. In short, stress is the common reason for back pain. Massage relieves stress by promoting the release of cortisols. It also relieves tension in muscles when they are stretched. This is how a massage chair can decrease back pain associated with stress

Read more : What is Percussive Therapy and How It Helps Your Muscle ?


A massage chair provides relaxation and reliefs pain. But it can be a reason for back pain, too, if not used appropriately. We recommend you consult your physician or physiotherapist to know if a massage chair suits your body needs. If you are on medication, be cautious to avoid any injury. Do your research before using a massage chair and use it correctly.

Read More : Massage Gun are good for back pain

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