What Is a 2D, 3D and 4D Massage Chair?

by Mary Lou | Last Updated: June 16, 2019 When you buy something using the links on our posts, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

If you’re shopping around for a massage chair, you might have come across the terms 2D, 3D, and 4D along with a lot of other terms that are usually used for massage chairs. It can be quite confusing so we’ll help you along with the below easy and short explanations.

2D, 3D, and 4D Rollers Explained

What are rollers? How do they work?

Inside the chair are parts that look like spinning knobs. They are mounted on a track in the chair that allows them to go across your body. The type of movement they do depends on what type of massage rollers your chair has — whether it’s 2D, 3D, or 4D.


What is a 2D Massage Chair?

The D in 2D refers to dimension. If you still remember your basic Math classes (won’t blame you if you don’t), 2D is a flat surface. It only has length and height.


The same goes for a 2D massage chair. The rollers go UP and DOWN. Then they can also go LEFT and RIGHT. This way, the rollers are able to go up and down the length of your spine while still massaging the width of your back and shoulders by going side to side.

what is 2d massage chair

You can customize your massage by changing the speed that the rollers move across the track. These 2D massage chairs are also able to offer tapping and kneading massage techniques.

Movements: left/right, wide/narrow, fast/slow

Recommended for: Budget shoppers who want a basic massage

Best Examples: Real Relax 03, Ootori N500, Osaki OS 400T, Kahuna LM 6800

What is a 3D Massage Chair?

If 2D is a flat surface, then 3D is an object that’s got depth. A 2D shape has height and length, while a 3D shape has height, length, AND width. For example, a triangle is 2D and a pyramid is 3D.

Applying that to massage chairs, 3D rollers are rollers that not only go up and down, and left to right. They can also go IN and OUT thus allowing your chair to give you a deeper massage.

what is 3d massage chair

Body scan technology came hand in hand with 3D technology. To maximize the potential of 3D rollers, designers and manufacturers gave massage chairs the ability to scan the body shape of each new user. This allowed a more custom massage to be tailored for each person.

Imagine a tall person using the chair followed by a short person. After a body scan, the rollers would then be guided where exactly to retract and push in. The neck and waist areas, for example, would be located in different heights for a short person versus a tall person.

Another level of customization you can get from 3D rollers is the ability to control the depth of the massage. Whether you want a soft or deep massage, you will be able to control the range of the rollers. Roller depth can push forward as much as 5 inches.

Movements: left/right, wide/narrow, fast/slow, in/out, shallow/deep

Recommended for: Shoppers with a thousand bucks or more to spend on high quality massage; ideal for pain sufferers

Best Examples: Ootori A-600, Panasonic EP-MA73, Luraco Legend, Osaki OS-3D Cyber Pro, Human Touch Bali

What is a 4D Massage Chair?

A 4D massage chair has rollers whose spinning speed and timing can be controlled and modified to perform a wider range of massage techniques.

The 4th dimension refers to time, and while massage chairs obviously can’t travel in time like Dr. Who’s telephone box, the 4D tag is a reference to how the rollers’s speed and intensity can be controlled to replicate a professional massage therapist’s hands.

what is 4d massage chair

Do you remember how your massage therapists would massage away your painful knots by doing circular motions with their thumbs? They also alternate between fast and slow in order to get rid of the tension knots in your back. The 4D rollers can mimic these movements exactly by simultaneously following a circular pattern AND adjusting the speed of the rotation around a knot.

Movements: left/right, wide/narrow, fast/slow, in/out, shallow/deep, speed up/slow down during circular motions

Recommended for: People who want the latest in massage chair technology; ideal for people suffering from sore back and shoulder muscles

Best Examples: Tsukino JP316, Osaki OS-Pro Maestro (reviews coming soon!)

No Math parallelism? That’s because in order to explain 4D in mathematical and scientific terms, we’d have to delve into the subject of tessaracts, and that might just be a bit too much?

Understanding 4D -- The Tesseract

Didn’t understand that? That’s fine. Neither did we. We can just watch the Captain Marvel movie or read A Wrinkle In Time.

While shopping for what best fits your budget, consider that as you go up from the scale from 2D to 3D to 4D, the price tag goes up accordingly as well due to the increasing complexity of the mechanisms involved.

3 Types of Massages You Can Get From A Massage Chair

If you’re looking for the best massage chair you can buy with your money, you should know the different types of massage you can get from a massage chair. There are three ways that a massage chair can give a massage.

Vibrating Massage

White circles show vibrating areas.

In vibrating massage, there are motors in the chair that give off a dull vibration. You can find vibrating massage in cheaper massage chairs that only offer this type of massage, and in more expensive massage chairs that offer two or more types of the massages above. The Esright recliner is an example of the first. It’s a basic massage chair that offers vibrating massage only without air cell or roller massage.

Air Cell Massage

Blue pockets show air bags.

Air cell massage, on the other hand, is made possible by air bags distributed strategically across the chair. Instead of vibration, air bags inflate and deflate thus giving you a massage. The Ootori N500, for example, has 30 air bags that massage the shoulder, arms, buttocks, and leg areas. It supplements the roller massage that is the back bone of the chair.

Roller Massage

Finally, we get to roller massage. All the full massage chairs have roller massage. In the case of the Real Relax 03, it’s a massage chair with rollers that also has air cell and vibrating massage as bonuses. (And with a surprisingly affordable price tag, too.)

Summing Up

There are many things to consider when buying a massage chair and one of the major aspects are price, features, and the type of massage you can get from your appliance, whether it’s 2D, 3D, or even 4D.

If you are budget-strapped and only need a massage chair for relaxation, you can get the 2D. If you suffer from chronic pain, you would need a robust massage chair with rich features and that’s usually a 3D chair. The in and out motion of the rollers will give you a fuller massage experience than a 2D massage chair can.

Now 4D massage chairs are, as of writing, still a newcomer to the market. Some experts are saying they’re some kind of marketing hype since there is no 4D massage chair in the real sense of the word. So, just keep in mind that a 4D is basically a 3D massage chair that has the extra feature of the rollers being more customizable in terms of speed and timing. To be fair though, out of all the massage chair types, it can mimic a massage therapist’s hands the most.

Here are other things to consider apart from the roller types:

Don’t forget to check out our list of the Top Massage Chairs You Can Buy.

Author: Mary Lou
In the Before Times, Maru spent vacations traveling and making stops at showrooms to test the latest massage chair models. Nowadays, she’s hunkered down in her small sunlit home dotted with her ever-growing collection of fiddle fig trees, indoor plants, and Himalayan salt lamps. Find her at LinkedIn.