Zero Gravity Medical Recliners
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
Updated: December 30, 2021
Zero-Gravity is not Just for Astronauts Anymore
When NASA first started the space program safety was the main concern. It took nearly ten years before they were able to take photographs of astronauts in zero-gravity and almost another ten years before they began integrating their research into designing the perfect zero gravity chairs, tools and instruments.¹ Their studies led to the innovation of what massage chair manufacturers call the zero-gravity position or a zero gravity chair.
Are You Really in Zero Gravity?
Zero gravity position is also called neutral body posture (NBP) and was first observed by NASA as the automatic position that the human body takes when in zero-gravity. This research has grown since the 1980's and we now know that there is some small variation in NBP but the basic position is the same. Chair makers have taken this research to create chairs using this position but not all chairs are made the same.
Many companies claim they make the only true zero gravity chairs while denying that title to others. But, a true zero gravity position is unique to each individual. We all have different designs to our joints, bones and muscles that encourage our body to settle in a different way.² The only way to truly know what position works for you is to be in zero gravity and see how your body naturally settles. However, NASA's research has discovered that there is an average angle around which every body will relax. Most massage chairs are designed around this average and will provide an ideal level of comfort without requiring a trip to the International Space Station. Vitality Medical carries several zero gravity chairs like the Skyline Recliner.
Zero Gravity Chairs at Home
We will not have true zero gravity massage chairs until they can make us float, but if you have a reclining neutral body posture chair you probably have a zero gravity chair too. Zero gravity chairs are not only ergonomic but they are comfortable because they distribute the weight of your body more evenly than any other position. These hairs can greatly enhance your relaxation experience and also have some additional medical benefits that may not be realized through traditional massage therapy. The position can decompress your spine and relax your joints by supporting them in a comfortable position. When this is combined with massage the benefit can be even better than traditional massages that don't utilize a neutral body posture.
Zero Gravity Keeps Your Body and Mind Afloat
Astronauts use the zero gravity position because during takeoff the body is exposed to extreme stresses. In the wrong position, strain on the back can be compounded and injury or damage to the spine can occur. If someone already has an injury being in this position greatly reduces strain on the body. Our bodies are exposed to the stresses of gravity every day as well, we don't need to be on the launch pad to feel the strain.
There are many benefits from neutral body posture chairs. While in a massage chair the neutral body posture is typically reclined to get the best relaxation and massage experience. Neutral body posture has also been shown to increase focus, improve breathing and improve digestion.³
Zero-gravity Massage Chair Benefits
- Elevated legs which promote circulation and reduce swelling and pain in the legs
- A more uniform pressure distribution across the body to eliminate pressure points
- An optimal, natural and relaxed position for the whole body
- A more relaxing massage
1 NASA, NASA Technology/Transportation. NASA Spinoff. NASA Technology Transfer Program. "NASA Standards Inform Comfortable Car Seats." (Last Accessed December 30, 2021)
2 Mount, Frances E., Mihriban Whitmore, and Sheryl L. Stealey. "Evaluation of Neutral Body Posture on Shuttle Mission STS-57 (SPACEHAB-1)." NASA technical memorandum (2003): 2003-104805. (Last Accessed December 30, 2021)
3 NASA, NASA Consumer/Home/Recreation. NASA Spinoff. NASA Technology Transfer Program. "Ergonomic Chairs NASA Spinoff." (Last Accessed December 30, 2021)