I got to try a massage chair for the first time. Here are all the reasons why you should too

The emergence of massage chairs is a real game changer.

For illustrative purposes

We currently live in the machine era where everything is gradually being replaced by technology.

Now, we can pound yam without actually having to use a mortar and pestle, wash clothes without physically washing them and get great full body massages without the usual hands-on experience.

I recently got to try out the latter at a mall in Sangotedo, Lagos state. I went into the store with a few reservations about how well a machine would work compared to the 'real' thing.

The place offered three options - 10 minutes for N2,000, 20 minutes for N3,000 and 30 minutes for N5,000. I decided to play it safe by going with the cheapest one.

Once I paid, I was taken to my seat. Feeling like a lamb taken to the slaughterhouse, I was asked to remove my shoes which were replaced with a pair of socks. I was also asked to take off my wristwatch.

Seated with my hands placed properly on the armrest and my feet placed in the right place, the attendant warned me to expect a warmness during the experience. Next, he turned it on and left me to my devices.

Here's how my first time went

It started off slow with me cracking jokes with a friend about weird I felt submitting my body to a machine. The laughter quickly stopped when the chair begin to locate specific areas on my body and massage accordingly. This happened within the first few minutes.

It went from my neck to my shoulders down to the rest of my body. It felt like someone was dissembling and rearranging my body in the best way possible. It was like the machine knew exactly what muscle groups to target and the specific treatment required.

I later found out that this is done by rollers and nodes designed to mimic the masseuse's hands and fingers. The larger ones are used for more general muscle relaxation, while smaller rollers and nodes are used to simulate areas like the soles, your arms, and other more specific parts.

I felt the warmness I had been warned about midway into the massage. Despite making me feel like I had wet myself, it actually felt good, like I was using a hot balm or something.

It wasn't long before I found myself completely relaxing and letting the machine stretch me in ways I didn't even know I needed. The 10-minute session ended with me wanting more. I also noticed that the headache I went in with had reduced drastically afterwards.

So, massage chair vs massage therapist?

Hands-on massages are great but they have a few cons. Not everyone likes to be touched by strangers, no matter how skilled they might be. Some people do not like to take off their clothes in public. There is also the worry of being touched inappropriately by handsy people.

This is one major advantage the chairs have over massage therapists. With chairs, you get what you want without having to take off any major clothing or worry about getting sexually harassed. 

Another great thing about these machines is how they can be adjusted to suit each person. A human massage therapist is trained to give you the right amount of pressure based but this is not always the case. Sometimes, you could be at the mercy of a heavy-handed technician or one whose touch is too light. Either way, you don't get the massage your body needs.

With a massage chair, you can choose exactly what you want. With the press of a few buttons, the chair could give the right massage pressure every time. You can totally get your money's worth.

Decent massage chairs come with a computer-based adjustment feature that allows them to adjust to match the user's weight, height and width. This way, it can effectively locate and massage various parts of the body simultaneously. This is unlike the human experience where the hands can only work on one section of the body at a time.

Pricewise, the chair wins. A quick online search showed that massages range from N3,000 to N20,000. Chairs are only pricey if you want to get yours.

However, there is one thing that the chair lacks and that's the natural touch of a human. No matter how great a chair is, it simply can not give you that extra thing that you get a massage from a talented human therapist. It simply can not compete with the feeling of human hands or the skills a well-trained therapist.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. Regardless, you get to enjoy the amazing benefits of massages.

Machines are great but….

Sitting in that chair really made me appreciate technology. Having access to a chair that is designed to consider variabilities and offer a wider range of massages is simply exceptional.

Still, I could not help but think of the billions of jobs that are currently at risk from automation. ONS defines this as 'tasks currently carried out by workers being replaced with technology.'

According to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, the rapid evolution of AI and robots could eliminate 73 million American jobs by 2030.

In England, 1.5 million jobs are at the mercy of automation. Waiters and waitresses face the highest risk while physiotherapists (whose training include massaging) face a lower risk.

No one can deny that the growing emergence of technology could cost humans all over the world millions of jobs.

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