While many people have never had a massage before most of us have seen a chair massage setup at some point. Often you will see them in a mall, at a fair or festival, or an airport. I worked at Massage Bar, Inc. inside the Seatac International Airport in Washington state for approximately 3 years in total. Our primary focus was chair massage. They were great, heavy-duty chairs that could accommodate most people. I’ve probably massaged over 1,000 people in
my short time there.
One of the questions I asked in my verbal intake was “have you had a massage before?” I would say that over half of the people who said “yes” went on to say “I’ve only had a real massage though, not one of these.” Even other massage therapists who came in would often make a statement that chair massage isn’t “real” massage. My question to other therapists was always “why?” and they could never seem to come up with an answer.
Chair massage is just as “real” as table-top massage. There are many kinds of massage out there, sports, Ashiatsu, chair, hot stone, Thai, Swedish, Watsu, and many more. Not all of these are performed the same, they all have various layers of (un)dress. I can say, as someone who provides many of the above, that chair massage is no less real. There are things a chair massage can offer that others cannot. It’s a tool when used appropriately it will get the job done. Chair massage is fantastic for shoulder work. Though side-lying may be one of the best ways to work on low-back and hips, I can get great work done in a chair.
Chair massage is also a great way to introduce people to massage. It’s a low-risk, clothed option that can be given in short or long times and lets people get a feel for the massage therapists touch. If you have never had one, I highly recommend seeking out a licensed massage therapist who provides chair massage as part of their regular services.