I don’t know the exact history of zero gravity massage chairs (also known as “anti-gravity”), but I will take a stab at it based on my own experience with massage chairs over the last 8-9 years, mingled with a little therapeutic angle based on my 19 years in the chiropractic profession.
Zero-gravity has become a fairly loose term in the massage chair industry as of late. Everyone seems to think that their chairs are zero gravity. When I look at the chairs that claim this feature, I am a little surprised at what is considered zero gravity and wonder if it is nothing but false advertising to get the zero gravity “crowd” to buy into a particular model since it has become such a catch phrase amongst shoppers.
History of Zero Gravity Massage Chairs
The whole concept of zero gravity was introduced by NASA for their space program. Human Touch, which is the largest US manufacturer of massage chairs, adapted the zero-gravity concept to household chair design, first displayed in their Perfect Chair line of chairs. According to Human Touch’s website…
Inspired by the Neutral Body Posture studied by NASA during the Skylab program, the [Perfect Chair] zero gravity recliner places the body in a virtually weightless position to provide relaxation and minimum muscle tension. In this therapist-recommended position, the spine, hips, and knee joints are on or close to the balanced midpoint of the muscles.
The idea behind the zero gravity positioning is to take pressure off the joints of the body where strain tends to occur as a result of the gravitational pull, i.e. low back, hips, upper back, neck, knees, etc. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but gravity is one of the most punishing forces of nature on the human body. If your body is not perfectly aligned and balanced, gravity will make your body pay.
For example, if you have a forward head carriage and slouched shoulder posture, gravity is having a hay-day on your spine. You will feel more fatigued because your body is fighting the effects of the gravitational “pull”, not to mention the fact that your joints will wear out prematurely, leading to degenerative arthritis and other fun musculo-skeletal conditions.