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History of massage chairs - from the beginning to the present

In which country was the first massage chair invented?

The first massage chairs were invented in Japan in the early 1800s.

Designed to mimic the movements of a human hand, these armchairs used a system of rollers and levers to create a massaging effect.

Massage chairs grew in popularity in the early 1900s as people realized the benefits of massage.

However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that massage chairs became widely available. In the 1950s, companies like Panasonic and Sanyo began mass-producing massage chairs, making them more affordable and accessible to the general public.

How did the massage chair come about?

We are often asked how the massage chair actually came about and where the first models came from. In fact, there is no easy answer to the question. First of all, we should perhaps briefly find out where the massage itself comes from. Massage therapy goes back thousands of years. References can be found in various ancient scriptures around the world, including China, Japan, India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

massage chair history

When was massage invented? 

While massage chairs only emerged in the last century, massage has ancient roots that go back thousands of years. The first recorded use of massage was in India in 3000 BC. In India it was seen as a sacred means of healing that helped people to unite with those around them, relieve pain, and heal injuries and illnesses.

The practice of massage came in 2700 BC. From India to China and was included in the ancient text "The Yellow Emperor's Classic Book of Internal Medicine" which is still used today by massage therapy and alternative medicine professionals. The text covered topics such as acupuncture, acupressure and herbal medicine.

Around 2500 BC Massage therapy found its way to Egypt and was even depicted on tomb paintings. The Egyptians are credited with inventing reflexology, a component of massage.

The Chinese finally brought massage therapy around 1000 BC. To Japan, where one of the most popular massage techniques, Shiatsu, was developed. Old Japanese block prints show people having a massage.

Massage was used in these countries mainly because of its medicinal effects. It helped people achieve a state of relaxation and harmony that experts believed would keep infections and demons at bay. As a result, massage was used to heal all kinds of ailments and thus developed into a mainstay of healing practices.

Massage therapy is a form of alternative medicine that has many health benefits, such as pain relief, injury rehabilitation, stress relief, treating anxiety or depression, increasing relaxation, and lowering blood pressure. Science has also shown the benefits of endorphins on the system, and massages are great for stimulating your body to produce happiness hormones.

The beginnings of the massage chair as we know it

Massage has gone through different styles over the years, from acupressure to the various forms of reflexology, which aims to stimulate specific parts of the feet or hands to create a visceral effect on different organs and systems of the body. Originally it seems that Shiatsu was one of the oldest forms of massage.

Below is a sketch of an antique massage chair:

antique massage chair

Shiatsu tries to balance the body's energy in order to bring the body into a self-healing state. By using only the fingertips and sometimes the palms of the hands, Shiatsu uses this point pressure to regulate the natural flow of energy so that the body can heal itself.

From there, the knowledge of massage therapy traveled around the world to the USA. After traveling through Asia and learning about the health practices of other cultures, JH Kellogg, yes, the cereal inventor, brought massage therapy to America. After this information spread around the world, the innovation process began. Since then, new massage variants have been developed again and again and the massage recipients can choose from a number of different variants.

Invention of the electric massage chair

Mechanical massage chairs emerged in the 1950s and have kept pace with the rapid development of technology ever since. The first electric massage chair was designed by Nobuo Fujimoto in 1954. Fujimoto made several prototypes of the chair from scrap materials before he was satisfied with the final design of the chair.

Antique massage chair

The original massage chair only had a "kneading" massage function using a simple mechanism in which the massage balls move up and down by turning the handle on the side. Fujimoto's invention broke the traditional notion that massage can only be performed by tapping and kneading human hands or tools and became a revolutionary product.

Differentiation from traditional massage chairs

Unlike electric massage chairs, massage chairs are ergonomic and portable chairs that people sit on and then get massaged and treated by a physical therapist. The chair massage focuses on the head, neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands. Massage therapists are able to provide on-site massage in various types of settings thanks to the portability of the chair, and clients do not need to undress to receive such massage. 

Because of these two factors, chair massage is widely used in business premises, at events to pamper employees, trade shows, conferences, corporate events, etc.

The evolution of the electric massage chair

Over the years, the other variants received more and more technical and optical improvements. After the invention, it took another 10 years for a special massage chair for tapping massage to hit the market in 1967.

Almost another 10 years later, in 1975, the type and strength of the massage can be set with a button. The armchairs are also less clunky and cut a fine figure between the other pieces of furniture at home thanks to their noble upper materials such as leather or velor.

In the years 1980-2000, more and more functions were added. In addition to air cushions and the option of converting the armchair into a recliner, leg elements for special calf massage are now also becoming the new standard. 

The 2000s dawn of the age of a new technology. Massage chairs contain more and more relaxation functions and the massage area, which was previously more likely to be found on the back, is getting bigger and bigger.

Until today, in the year 2021, the luxurious massage assistants have been “screwed” more and more. Newer internal electronic motors and gears were installed that were specially developed to imitate a manual hand massage. Today massage chairs usually have a remote control with which you can set the type, location and intensity of the massage. 

Modern massage chairs are designed to look like lounge chairs. There are many different types and brands, including inexpensive, office-style armchairs that run on batteries. 

Today Japan is the largest consumer of massage chairs, with some surveys suggesting that over 20% of Japanese households actually own a massage chair. Funnily enough, the largest massage chair manufacturer is actually China.

Massage chairs differ significantly in price, style and intensity. Cheaper devices can often only vibrate while premium models have Shiatsu functions and different intensities.

The development of armchairs from simple wheel-crank systems, which move the massage rollers in the back, to computer-aided robotic massage roller systems, in which six or more different massage styles are preprogrammed, has come a long way. Massage chairs have constantly evolved and always adopted the latest technologies in order to offer the user an ever more human-like massage.

Now offer the latest innovations in massage chairs S / L track technologythat extends down to your glutes, as well as 3D and 4D rollers that can penetrate deep into your muscles and create a customized massage experience. There are now even armchairs that use Bluetooth, touchscreen, weightlessness and body scan technologies to offer incredible sound, control and personalized massage experiences. Thanks to the increasingly compact design, it is of course possible to set up the armchairs almost anywhere at home.

Modern massage chairs are an impressive fusion of the latest technology and new design features that are coordinated to help you relax and enjoy a soothing massage whenever you are in the mood.

For more information on all of the features available in massage chairs, see our Guides at. If you have specific questions about massage chairs, you can call or email us at reach. We are happy to help you find the perfect armchair for your individual needs.

You now know the history of the massage chair and, if you like, can use some of the most modern Products browse the market. Or read our review.

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