November 23, 2020 4 min read
When looking at massage chairs, what is on the inside really matters. If you have been researching what chair is right for you, you have probably come across a few specific terms to describe the different massage technologies happening under the surface.
One of the most common questions we are asked is about S-Track vs. L-Track designs. When choosing a massage chair, you should be sure of which roller track will work best for you.
Inside every massage chair, you will find rollers in two places: on a long track in the back and short tracks in the footrests. We will be focusing on just the back rollers since that is where most of the massage work really happens.
Massage chairs usually have long roller tracks that start at the head and move down to the lower back. There are some models that have rollers that go down to the buttocks and the hamstrings. In massage chairs that operate mechanically, these rollers to do most of the massaging work. This massage is focused primarily on the spinal areas of the body. The rollers that travel along the track move in a vertical and a lateral direction in order to mimic the touch of a human massage therapist, making tapping and kneading possible. There are two types of track shapes, the S-track and the L-track.
Typically massage chairs offer a variety of massage techniques — like kneading, shiatsu, tapping and knocking — that are carried out through the rollers. The scope and area that the rollers travel down your back is determined by the type of track in the massage chair, and the intensity and movement is determined by the technology.
Today, many massage chairs are S-track chairs that simply follow the shape of the spine. Based on the S-track's sinusoidal shape, the rollers move up and down along the back and follow the natural curvature of the spine. The roller beings at the top of the neck in a forward position, and once it reaches the mid back it retracts a bit and then moves forward again. The result in a very natural massage sensation for the chair user. Roller tracks are not designed in straight line because the spine itself has a natural curvature; if roll tracks were in one straight line, the neck and the back would be strained rather than relaxed. Many of the earliest versions of massage chairs had straight-line roller rather than a curved one, resulting in an inferior massage
The “S” in S track refers to the actual shape of the roller track, and the rollers travel up and down this track to provide massage. It has a slight S curve to it that mimics the shape of the spinal curve. This lets the rollers to follow your spine more precisely than if the track was straight.
S-Track chairs run from the back of the head, neck, and shoulders and move all the way down to the tailbone. The track stops there, and then the rollers travel back up to the top of the track. This type of massage chair is good if you enjoy a good stretch, as most S track chairs provide a good stretch because of the ability to recline and lengthen the spine.
L-Track massage chairs are relatively new on the market and have only been around for several of years. The first prototype of the L-track roller was on display in Las Vegas where it had rollers that went under the seat. Although the prototype was not called an ‘L-track' roller, it soon got its name from the path that the rollers follow. Later, the first similar model formally called an ‘L-track’ hit the market.
The L-track roller is may also be referred to as the extended roller track. It is an extension of S-track rollers with an additional path that goes below the lower back and extends down to the buttocks and hamstrings. The L-track continuously moves down from the head to the hamstrings, which creates the sensation of a full body massage. Additionally, many massage chair models have areas for a foot massage and feature heat. If you have been suffering from sore backside or hamstring muscles, the L-track massage chair could be a very beneficial addition to your living room. These massage chairs are also ideal for those who suffer from sciatica near the pelvic muscles or conditions such as the piriformis syndrome.
It may be obvious, but L track chairs have a track that is shaped like an "L". These type of massage chairs are great because they offer more coverage using the roller for a massage from the back of the head, neck, and shoulders all the way under the seat for additional massage. They are particularly helpful if you have lower back or sciatic pain, as the chair can stretch the muscles that connect the spine to the hips, legs, and feet.
L Track massage chairs work similarly to S-tracks, but they extend further down the body. An S-track massage chair only goes as far down as your lower back, but an L Track can travel down to your glutes or hamstrings.
The L-track massage chair is really just an extension of the S-track and can massage more areas of your body. Massage chairs with S-track designs may be a bit lower in price, but they do not give you as much coverage. If you are looking for a massage chair to help your lower back, hamstrings or glutes, you will want to go with an L-track.
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