Many massage chairs look like regular recliners and offer a compact design that blends in with most living rooms. They typically offer basic massage modes that vibrate or lightly knead the back.
However, they can also recline to a flat position. This feature mimics the posture astronauts assume at liftoff on space missions to help them withstand sudden increases in gravity.
The Zero-Gravity Position is a neutral body posture originally developed by NASA to help astronauts withstand the force of space travel. It involves laying flat on your back and raising both the head and feet, positioning them so they are at (approximately) a 120-degree angle with your body.
This position is good for those suffering from neck or back pain. By elongating your spine, the zero-gravity position takes pressure off the vertebrae in your back. It also relieves tension in your hips, taking the weight off your lower back. And the elevated legs help with circulation, reducing the risk of swollen ankles and feet (known as peripheral edema).
Another benefit of sleeping in the zero-gravity position is that it can ease insomnia. Those who suffer from sleep disturbances will find that the position helps them fall asleep faster and more deeply, allowing them to get the rest they need.
The Zero-Gravity position can also improve breathing problems, such as GERD or acid reflux and respiratory conditions like asthma and allergies. The raised head and torso of this position open up the airways, allowing you to breathe more easily. This can also alleviate snoring, making it easier to get a good night’s rest. For those with issues like these, the Zero-Gravity position on an adjustable bed is a great solution.
The Full Recline Position stretches the back muscles without straining them, relieves compression on the spine and alleviates pressure to the legs and feet. It also increases sleepiness and is better for the neck and head compared to other positions. However, open-ended questions revealed that some participants experienced discomfort in the arms/hands and legs/feet areas.
To reach the reclining position, first locate and loosen the back bolts on either side of the chair frame or mechanism. These can usually be found beneath the seat and should have a thumb wheel or wing nut on the right and left sides of the underside. Then, rotate the mechanism and wing nuts clockwise to increase tension or counterclockwise to decrease it. Afterwards, tighten the bolts securely with a wrench or power ratchet.