Ever been curious about the chair massage area at the mall? Or wondered why your company offers massages in the conference room on certain days? Does it seem strange people want to get massages in an odd-looking chair during a busy workday? Well, maybe they’re on to something. In fact, a small investment in a chair massage session can lead to a significant pay-off.
Chair massage–also called seated or on-site massage–provides a host of benefits, including reducing stress, improving mental clarity, and enhancing work performance. And the time investment is minimal: short five-, ten- or fifteen-minute sessions can often do the trick.
In a study done at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, researchers found that when participants got a fifteen-minute chair massage just twice a week, their anxiety levels were lower, their brain waves proved they were more relaxed and alert, and their stress levels were measurably reduced. The study also showed improved speed and accuracy on math computations.
During the Work Day: In short, this study shows what chair massage enthusiasts have known for some time: even a short massage can help relax tight muscles and remind the body to breathe. Although full-body massages are optimal, taking time out for one in the middle of the workday can lull you to sleep, and it can be difficult to schedule it into your day. On the other hand, a chair massage during an afternoon break may be a better alternative, particularly when you need to be energized, so you can better focus for late-day meetings or evening responsibilities. Besides, the short massage session time–often the same as your coffee break–keeps you from stressing about being away from work too long.
You don’t have to undress, you don’t need the privacy of a table massage, and you’re ready to get back to work feeling refreshed.
Chair massage can also be a great introduction into the world of bodywork. If you’ve always wondered why some people are adamant about getting massages, or if you’ve been trying to explain to a friend or coworker why bodywork is so wonderful, chair massage is an excellent way to get a sampling.
The Massage Chair: The key to comfort for on-site massages is the specially tailored chair. It’s important you feel fully supported and at ease so you can relax for your session. With pads to support your face, chest, arms, pelvis, and knees, a massage chair is surprisingly comfortable. And the chair’s design puts you in a position that relieves tension even before the therapist starts working.
Massage chairs are fully adjustable so your practitioner can tailor the chair specifically to your body with just the release of a few levers. The unique design allows your therapist to easily access areas on your body–such as the neck, shoulders, and back–that may be the tightest.
Is It Effective? You may wonder how a massage can be effective when the practitioner works through your clothes and without oils.
Chair massage has its roots in a centuries-old Japanese massage technique called amma. A predecessor to the better-known shiatsu, amma is done while seated, and therapists are trained to work specifically on the body’s pressure points. Pressure point work, especially on the areas made accessible by the position of the massage chair, can free muscles and relieve stress and tight tissues without working directly on the skin. Therapists are skilled at palpating and working through clothes. In minutes, you feel relaxed, alert, and comfortable as your tension melts away. And, since no oils or lotions are used for chair massage, you can go right back to your day without feeling like you need to shower.
Your Trouble Spots: Once you decide how long you want your chair massage session to last, your therapist will adjust the routine for maximum effectiveness. These sessions can be very beneficial in treating work-related issues, such as repetitive stress conditions and muscle tightness caused from sitting in front of a computer.
Be sure to tell your massage therapist of specific concerns you have, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or shoulder or neck stiffness. Your practitioner may suggest a longer session for your next visit to fully address your needs.