Massage Chair Parts and Their Functions – A Closer Look

Massage Chair Parts

Table of Contents

Massage chairs have become increasingly popular for providing relaxation and relief from muscle tension and stress. However, like any mechanical device, massage chairs contain various moving parts that wear down over time with use. In this article, we will explore the main massage chair parts, how they function, common issues that arise, and tips for maintenance and replacement. A basic understanding of the internal components can help massage chair owners perform simple repairs, troubleshoot problems, and keep their chairs running smoothly for years to come.

Main Mechanisms of Massage Chair

Let’s start with an overview of the core mechanisms that bring a massage chair to life. These components work together to deliver various massage techniques:


The frame is essentially the skeleton of the massage chair. It provides the structure and support for all of the moving parts and mechanisms. Massage chair frames are made from durable lightweight materials like aluminum or steel. Over time, the frame can develop cracks or joints may become loose if the chair receives heavy use. Check the frame periodically and tighten any loose bolts. Frame issues are usually only a concern after several years of usage.


Actuators are the electronic motors inside the chair that power all the massage movements and techniques. There are typically multiple actuators located in the backrest, seat, and leg sections. Actuators can become worn out over many years of use and may need replacement. Signs it’s time for new actuators include weak or inconsistent movements during massage sessions. Actuator replacement usually requires a technician.

Linkage Bars

Linkage bars are the movable mechanical arms inside the chair that are attached to the actuators. They transfer the motion from the actuators to various parts of the chair to perform kneading, tapping, rolling, and other massage movements. Linkage bars can become loose or warped with heavy usage. Loose or damaged bars may impact the effectiveness and quality of massages.

Massage Chair Parts

Roller Mechanism

Many modern massage chairs include a roller mechanism – usually along the backrest – that glides up and down the spine. The rollers are spherical attachments on the ends of short linkage bars. Over time roller bearings can wear out, causing noise or inconsistent movement. Roller mechanisms are more complex to replace than other parts.

Remote Control

The remote control allows you to power on the chair, select massage programs, customize settings, and control various functions. Remotes can develop glitches over years of use. Check that all buttons work properly and the remote communicates correctly with the chair’s receiver. If not, the remote may need new batteries or a full replacement depending on the issue.

Massage Chair Parts

Massage Chair Parts

A few more key massage chair parts we’ll cover include the backrest, seat, legrest, motors/pumps, covers and more. Keep reading to learn about the inspection and maintenance of these important components. Proper care will ensure your chair continues providing years of comfort.

Related: How Long Do Massage Chairs Last? A Complete Guide to Their Lifespan

Backrest Section

The backrest section is one of the primary massage areas on any chair. It contains several important internal parts that require occasional inspection and may need service over time.


The padding and foam layers in the backrest cushion are what provides comfort and contouring to the user’s back during massages. Over years of repetitive compressions, the foam can begin to break down and lose its shape/supportiveness. Test it periodically by pushing your hand firmly into the cushion – if it no longer pops back into shape, it’s time to replace the foam.

Massage Chair Parts

Heat Therapy Insert

Many high-end chairs include a thin heating insert sandwiched between the padding layers. This helps relax sore muscles during massage treatments. Unfortunately, heating elements can fail after extended use. If the heat function stops working, the insert likely needs replacement.

Vinyl/Fabric Cover

The protective, easily removed cover on the backrest and other chair sections will show normal wear over time from repeated laundering. Check for frays, pulls or loose seams that could tear further. Replace the cover before it becomes damaged.


Small DC motors or pneumatic air pumps inside the backrest provide vibrations, compression, and various unique massage movements. These mechanical parts have moving/wearing components. Listen for abnormal noises that could indicate pumps/motors need servicing or replacement.


Lubricated plastic sliders or metal rollers inside the backrest allow it to adjust angles and change positions during use. Over the years the lubrication can dry up causing the mechanisms to stick or function sluggishly. Apply a lubricant as needed.

As long as all these backrest components remain in good working order, you’ll continue enjoying relaxing massages for years to come. But do proper periodic inspections for potential issues.

Seat Section

Like the backrest, the seat section of a massage chair contains internal parts that require regular checking as well. Here are a few of the key components:

Foam Padding

As with the backrest, repeated compressions can degrade the density and supportiveness of the seat foam over time. Test periodically by pressing firmly – it should spring back into shape.

Heating Insert

Higher-end chairs may include a heating layer in the seat too. Check it operates with the backrest heating for whole-body heat therapy relief.

Air Bladders

Select massage chairs deliver targeted compression treatments through small internal pneumatic air bladders positioned in the seat. These can develop leaks needing repair/service.


Some chairs utilize independent motors specifically for the seating area to perform unique massaging techniques like punching or kneading movements. Listen for any unusual noises from these motors.

Linkage Bars

Flexible linkage bars attached to seat motors allow compression rolls, taps and other movements. Inspect for cracks, bends or loose joints that could impact function.


The protective, removable outer cover will show normal wear over many cleaning cycles. Check for tears or pulls that could worsen with further use. Replace as a preventative measure.

Slide Mechanism

Enables the seat to adjust angles, recline or slide forward/backward. Lubricate tracks if the movement feels sticky or restricted.

With proper care and monitoring, high-traffic components like the seat section can deliver many comfortable treatments before needing service from a professional. Don’t neglect periodic inspections.

Legrest Section

The remote-controlled legrest on many full-body massage chairs provides important benefits too. With its own set of moving internal parts, here’s what you should check periodically:

Foam Padding

The soft, contouring padding in the legrest takes abuse like other areas. Test for proper support/springiness with hand presses.

Heating Layer

Higher-end models may feature a heating layer for targeted lower-body therapy in addition to the back/seat heat. Check functionality.

Massage Chair Parts


Independent legrest motors power unique upward rolling motions, mimicking a real masseuse’s touch. Listen and feel for performance issues here.

Linkage Bars

Flexible bars allow the rolling motion. Look for cracks or bends that could negatively impact massages over that area.


The removable, washable legrest cover will show inevitable wear over time with repeated laundering cycles. Check for pulls or loose seams that require cover replacement.

Slide Mechanism

This allows the legrest to smoothly extend, retract or adjust angles as needed during use. Apply a lubricant if the movement feels restricted.


Lubricated bearings inside rollers and moving pivot joints require occasional oiling to keep everything running smoothly. Apply as directions indicate.

A well-maintained legrest allows full-body relaxation from head to toe. Conduct checks like the backrest/seat to ensure optimal function in this area too for coming massage sessions.

Additional Massage Chair Parts & Maintenance

A few other vital components contribute to a massage chair’s long useful life when properly maintained:

  • Upholstery/Covers – The durable, easy-to-remove and washable upholstery/covers that encase the critical padding layers in all chair sections take the most abuse. Check regularly for frays, pulls or seam separates that could tear further with continued normal use. Replace proactively when showing signs of deterioration to prevent flaking shredded vinyl or fabric pieces inside the chair over time.
  • Remote Control Battery Compartment – The battery compartment in the hand-held remote control will accumulate dirt/debris from normal everyday use causing intermittent connectivity issues between the remote and receiver over time. Carefully remove the back battery door and clean out built-up dirt every 6-12 months with compressed air or a gently used small paintbrush. Check battery terminals for signs of corrosion as well from dirty compartments.
  • Receiver Box – The small receiver box that plugs into the electrical outlet to power the massage chair and pairs with the remote control is located under the chair. Over several years of accumulated dust, debris and worn components, the receiver can experience connectivity issues with the remote requiring a professional service or replacement. For those comfortable working with electronics, the receiver box cover can be carefully removed and the interior cleaned with compressed air every 1-2 years.
  • Screws & Fasteners – All of the various section covers, motors and mechanisms within the chair are held together and mounted via numerous small screws and fasteners. Inspect these periodically for looseness, stripping or rust that could cause detachments with further vibrations over time. Tighten or replace as needed using matching screw sizes.
  • Bearings & Rollers – The many internal bearings and smooth plastic rollers that guide mechanical movements will eventually experience wear and friction over extended periods of heavy use. Apply a light lubricant such as 3-in-1 oil every 6-12 months to keep things freely sliding.
  • Power Cord – Inspect the durable yet flexible power cord for cuts, cracks, exposed wiring or fraying/peeling near the plug ends which could create shock hazards. Replace immediately if damaged or frayed for safety. Consider upgrading to a heavy-duty cord cover for further protection from pets/foot traffic.
  • Instruction Manual – Retain the original owner’s manual and programming guide for your massage chair model. The detailed maintenance sections provide valuable routine care schedules and proper lubricant/part replacement recommendations by a manufacturer expert. Refer to it for questions.

Final Thoughts

By following a periodic inspection and light maintenance routine of just a few key massage chair parts as outlined, you can keep your investment working smoothly and safely for many enjoyable treatment sessions to come. Don’t hesitate to contact a qualified technician when any parts require professional services. With proper care, a high-quality massage chair can deliver comfort for 10 years or more. I hope this informative overview of massage chair parts and maintenance has helped you better understand how to care for your relaxation device.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some common FAQs about massage chair parts with answers:

Q: How often should the massage chair be cleaned?

It’s recommended to clean your massage chair once a week or after every 5-7 uses. Use a mild soap and warm water to spot clean any dirt or oils that may have accumulated. You can also spot-clean the removable covers in the washing machine.

Q: Can kids use a massage chair?

Most massage chairs are designed for adult use only since they have strong vibrations and movements. However, some chairs have specific kids/family modes with lighter intensity that may be safe for older kids over 12. Always supervise young children.

Q: How to replace the remote-control batteries?

To replace the batteries, turn the chair over or find the battery compartment on the back of the remote. Use a coin or screwdriver to gently pry open the slotted door. Remove the old batteries and insert new ones, matching the + and – ends shown in the compartment. Replace the battery door.

Q: What’s the difference between shiatsu and kneading massage?

Shiatsu massage uses thumb-like projections that apply deeper pressure to mimic thumb pressure. Kneading uses a rolling wheel or knuckle-like protrusions to squeeze and roll muscles like a real massage. Shiatsu is typically deeper, while kneading is a lighter surface massage.

Q: How do I turn off the auto power-off function?

Most chairs have an auto power-off safety feature to save energy. To turn it off, check your manual or press and hold the power button for 3-5 seconds during operation. The chair will beep and indicator lights will change confirming auto power is disabled.

Q: Can massage chairs hurt your back?

Generally no, massage chairs are designed to be very safe when used as directed. However, if you have any serious medical issues like osteoporosis or herniated or degenerating discs, you should consult a doctor before use. Always start at the lowest intensity and listen to your body’s feedback.

Q: How long do massage chairs last?

High-quality massage chairs, with regular cleaning and basic maintenance as directed, can easily provide 10+ years of regular home use. Heavier commercial use models may last 5-7 years. Following proper care will maximize the lifespan of your investment.

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