1. Back Massage Functions
The most beneficial massage functions in a backrest are kneading, rolling and tapping/percussion. Most high-end massage chairs include each of these massage functions, along with a combination option, where each of these massage functions are applied at the same time.
2. Air Massage
Air massage is a capability typically found in the most luxurious massage chairs on the market. It consists of air bags inflating and deflating, creating the sensation of a massage therapist applying and releasing pressure and rolling their hands along your muscles.
The best massage chairs on the market offer a variety of adjustments to allow you to tailor the massage to your specific needs and preferences. The most important adjustment capabilities include width & height adjustments, and speed/intensity adjustments.
4. Comfort / Padding
Many of even the best massage chairs on the market ignore comfort. They may give a good massage, but are not comfortable for just lounging. In many cases, the padding is minimal.
5. Removable Layers of Padding
Most massage chairs do not offer removable layers of padding. Detachable cushions allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds between massage intensity and comfort. When you need or want a strong massage, you can remove the extra pads. Then, you can add them when you would like to lounge in comfort.
The most important qualities for the controller concern the display and its ease of use. The best displays are LCD screens that show which massage is being performed, and at what location on the body.
Massage chairs can include a variety of "extra" or "bonus" features not found on the typical massage chair. This can include heat, or even a telephone or speaker hook up. Such features are generally not critical, or relevant to the massage capability of the chair, but can be nice to have.