When you begin your search for a shiatsu massage chair, you'll find yourself bombarded with information and claims from various retailers and manufacturers. While many of these claims are grounded in truth - and at USM, we take extra care to offer realistic assessments of massage chair benefits that are based on solid evidence and sound science - a few are exaggerations, and some are just outright untrue. One myth about shiatsu massage chairs that has been cultivated over time is that the more motors the chair uses to drive its internal massage components, the better the quality of the massage. While it's true that having additional motors in the chair can allow for a greater variation in the motions and functions, this doesn't really dictate the quality of the massage treatment you'll get from the chair.
For starters, any machine enthusiast or engineer can tell you one simple rule about a given machine's complexity: the more parts it has, the more likely it is to malfunction. Guns are a very good example of this principle. The amount of time needed to clean and service a simple six-chamber revolver is much shorter than the time you'd put into cleaning and maintaining an AR-15 rifle. More variables means that the inherent possibility of a machine error is naturally higher - it's a simple matter of mathematics.
Secondly, in a shiatsu massage chair, motors take up space and weigh more. The more of these components that a chair's design incorporates, the heavier the unit becomes - and hence, the chair is more expensive to ship. Those shipping costs get passed on to the consumer in the form of a higher overall price. And the more motors you cram into the chair's body, the less room you have available for other essential components, which means your rollers and massage surfaces must necessarily be smaller, and maybe thinner. Thin components are more likely to warp or break.
Okay, you say, so there are some downsides to a massage chair that has more parts in it - but is the tradeoff worth it if the quality of the massage is better? Unfortunately, that usually isn't the case. The majority of shiatsu massage chairs on the market are operated by three internal motors. One motor moves a roller unit vertically beneath the back of the chair, and two other motors on the roller control the functions of kneading and tapping. Occasionally, you'll find that a chair uses five motors, with one pair each being synchronized on either side of the chair for kneading and tapping. Theoretically, this should more evenly distribute the motions across the back of the chair. However, consumer reports and surveys show time after time that most users don't notice a significant difference between these two configurations. Simply put, more isn't better from a practical standpoint.
Another thing to consider before you buy a chair just on the basis of it having lots of motors is that if that chair is comparably priced to a model with less motors in it, the motor units used to build the chair are probably lower-quality components made with cheap parts. Often parts will change completely during different production runs, which makes these parts more difficult to replace - some might not even be made any more by the time you need to replace them. Lower-quality motors will also break down more often, which equates to less time you'll spend relaxing and more stress you'll build up trying to find a repair specialist to get your shiatsu massage chair working again.