Can a Massage Chair Replicate a Thai Massage?

One of the favourite modes on any massage chair is the Thai massage mode, but does it actually replicate a Thai massage that you might experience in a massage spa, or massage parlour?

Today, I’ll go over some of the main parts of the massage, and highlight whether or not a Thai massage can be replicated in a massage chair, and how good it feels.

TLDR: A massage chair can replicate the Thai massage style. The main difference between an actual Thai massage and a massage chair’s Thai massage is the lack of a thigh massage.

But there’s a bit more than just this explanation, so let me break down what goes into the Thai massage, how a massage chair replicates it, and the differences between the two.

Now, let’s get to explaining what a Thai massage is supposed to look like.

How Does a Thai Massage Massage You?

To start this section, I’ll link a really good video by OneHowTo on YouTube who goes through how a Thai massage works step by step.

The video highlights three main parts of the massage, which includes lower body, upper body, and feet. As the man in the video massages the lady, the two main things I pay attention to are the massage style, and the pressure used.

When going through the Thai massage, the man almost always uses his palms, backed with the force of his body weight, to press down into her body, then push along, which helps the muscle slide from its position. This is done repeatedly across the body on all areas.

Obviously, as there is only one person massaging her at this time, it means that the massage experience will be one that relies on the speed of the masseuse, and how fast he can work his way up the body with the massage.

Now that we understand how a Thai massage works, let’s go through how a massage chair would aim to replicate this massage.

How Does a Massage Chair Do a Thai Massage?

Different massage chairs have different ways of performing the Thai massage, today we’re going to look at how the OGAWA Cosmo-X and the OGAWA Master Drive Plus work to deliver a Thai massage.

On both massage chairs, the Thai massage is listed as a firmer massage, which focuses on the pulling of the legs, while stretching the back mid-massage.

To illustrate, I’ll compare the two massage chairs doing the leg pull at the same time.

Massage Chair Thai Massage Stretch OGAWA Cosmo-X
Massage chair Thai massage stretch body OGAWA Master Drive Plus

The first thing we notice between these massage chairs is that both lift the legs, then pull them down after engaging the leg and feet airbags, which hold onto the lower half firmly. As the legs are pulled down, your calves and quads should feel a stretch.

Simultaneously, the massage chair also massages upwards from the back, as it rolls upwards, and pushes your body forwards, achieving a pressing effect along your back.

As most massage chairs can, the foot roller can be activated or deactivated at any time, giving you the option to choose whether you need a foot massage during this leg stretch.

This process is repeated multiple times over the time frame that is set on the massage chair, working to give you multiple light stretches which feels more soothing over time.

What Gives a Better Thai Massage, a Masseuse or a Massage Chair?

This depends a lot on what you personally prefer, and look for in a Thai massage. Personally, I find that having a good leg stretch is very comfortable, so I’d be looking for which stretches my legs better.

So to answer which gives a Thai massage better, let’s break down each part of the massage, and rank each accordingly.

Foot Massage:

Starting from the bottom, the feet are often pulled, and rubbed in during a Thai massage. As this style of massage relies mostly on pressing, both a masseuse and a massage chair can both perform this.

Both the massage chair and masseuse can also adjust the intensity of the foot massage, meaning that the last aspect we should consider is how long this lasts for.

Because a masseuse can only massage one part of the body at one time, the massage chair wins this category, as you can choose how long you want the foot massage for, meaning that you could potentially have a foot massage the entire time.

As such, I would be inclined to think that a massage chair gives a better Thai foot massage than a normal masseuse would.


Both the masseuse and massage chair can massage your calves with pressing styles. A masseuse would use their palms while a massage chair would use airbags, or the calf pressure bump.

As above, we should also compare how long this can be massaged for. A masseuse is unable to massage multiple parts of the body at the same time, however a massage chair can.

In this situation, I’ll also give the calf part of the Thai massage to the massage chair.


This is the one part where a massage chair cannot massage, and as such, a masseuse would perform this part of the massage much better.

However, what the massage chair can do is stretch the legs down, and pull the quads, which is the front muscle of your thighs.

If you are able to find a masseuse who can also massage your quads, then a masseuse is ultimately much better at massaging your thighs than a massage chair, otherwise, the difference in massage ability isn’t that large.

Full Back:

The same argument can be made for the calves and the foot massage, where both a masseuse and a massage chair can deliver a massage which is adjustable to the way you want it. However because the massage chair can massage your back while doing other massages at the same time, the massage chair can ultimately massage your back better than a masseuse.


In the video, we noted that the masseuse did not massage the lady’s neck during the Thai massage, which is naturally a part of this mode. However, our massage chairs can massage the neck, while also maintaining the rest of the Thai massage.

If you find that you need the neck massage during your Thai massage, then a massage chair would definitely be the better choice.

Conclusion: A Massage Chair Can Replicate a Thai Massage Pretty Well

After comparing all aspects of the massage chair, it’s quite clear that a massage chair can do the Thai massage, and sometimes do even better than an actual masseuse.

Don’t believe me?
I’ve actually gone even deeper into this exact topic, talking about how a massage chair can be better than a masseuse, depending on what you need.

If you’re interested, go and check it out!

1 thoughts on “Can a Massage Chair Replicate a Thai Massage?

  1. Casper says:

    I tried the thai massage function on the OGAWA master drive ai and I was so surprised at how a massage chair can perform such intense stretches. It feels like a human is holding onto your arms and legs and stretching your entire body. Felt super relaxed after the session!

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