Zero Gravity Medical Recliners
Medically Edited and Reviewed by Dr. Erin Zinkhan MD, BSBE
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 NASA engineers were able to take photographs of astronauts in zero-gravity. Nearly another ten years passed before technology developed enough to begin integrating NASA research into designing the perfect zero-gravity chairs, tools, and instruments.¹ These 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?
The zero-gravity position is also called a neutral body posture (NBP). The NBP was first observed by NASA scientists in the 1980s as the automatic position that the human body takes when in zero-gravity. Zero-gravity research has grown since then. We now know that there are small variations in NBP compared with what the NASA scientists first described, but the general position is the same. Zero-gravity chair makers have taken this research to create chairs that place the body into NBP. However, not all zero-gravity chairs are made the same.
Many companies claim that they are the only makers of a true
zero-gravity chair. However, a true zero-gravity position is unique to each person. We each have subtly different makeup to our joints, bones, and muscles that allows our body to settle in a slightly different way.² The only way to truly know what position is your own NBP 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 our bodies 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 won't have true zero-gravity massage chairs until they can make us float; however, reclining neutral body posture chairs or zero-gravity chairs are as close as we can get. Zero-gravity chairs are ergonomic and comfortable because they distribute the weight of your body more evenly than regular chairs. Massage chairs like the Luraco i7 with zero gravity positioning can enhance your relaxation experience and have some additional benefits that may not be realized through traditional massage therapy. The zero-gravity position can decompress your spine and relax your joints by supporting them in a comfortable position. Neutral body posture combined with massage may be even more relaxing and beneficial than traditional massages that don't place you in a neutral body posture.
Zero Gravity Keeps Your Body and Mind Afloat
During takeoff, astronauts are placed in the zero-gravity position to reduce injury to the body from extreme stress. Under extreme stress, injury or damage to the spine and back can occur. Being in the zero-gravity position reduces strain on the body. But we do not need to be on the launch pad to feel the strain. Our bodies are exposed to the stresses of gravity every day. Spending time in a neutral body posture massage chair like the Infinity IT 8500 will reduce the amount of strain on your back and make the massage more effective.
Zero-gravity massage chairs often place the body in a neutral body posture while reclining to optimize relaxation and the massage experience. There are many benefits of neutral body posture chairs. Neutral body posture has also been shown to increase focus, improve breathing, and improve digestion.³ Benefits of most zero-gravity massage chairs include:
- The ability to elevate your legs to promote circulation and reduce swelling and pain in the legs
- A more uniform pressure distribution across the body to eliminate pressure points
- A 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." Accessed 5/4/2016.
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.
3 NASA, NASA Consumer/Home/Recreation. NASA Spinoff. NASA Technology Transfer Program. "Ergonomic Chairs NASA Spinoff." Accessed 5/4/2016.