We’re often asked, “what’s the difference between an alternating pressure cushion and a massage seat?” While both products may seem like they’re doing the same thing, they’re actually quite different. Not only do they differ in function, but they also have separate goals and outcomes.
Ever feel that tight knot in your neck or back? What you’re experiencing is muscle tension, likely due to stress. What’s the first thing we do when our muscles feel stiff? We normally try to work out the soreness by deeply rubbing that area.
That’s what a massage seat is trying to do- simulate the massage that you’d get from another person!
Alternating Pressure Cushions
Now, ever feel that pain in your leg or buttocks after sitting? Maybe you had a long day at your desk job or a lengthy commute. What you’re experiencing is built-up pressure- and this won't go away until it's removed. Generally, when someone is uncomfortable in their chair, you’ll see them constantly shift, sway, fidget, or stand. In essence, they are trying to take away the pain and discomfort by moving.
Really, that’s what an alternating pressure cushion is aiming to do- relieve pressure from your bottom that would only be achieved by moving!
How They Work
A massage seat works by using mechanical vibration, or a combination of gears and wheels that rotate and roll. The mechanisms may slide in a particular pattern (up and down, side to side) targeting tight muscles.
An alternating pressure cushion contains a foam seat surface, air bladders, and a pump. The pump creates patterned movements by inflating and deflating the bladders and allowing them to exchange air. This process helps prevent pain and discomfort while seated.
Occasionally you’ll see air bladders incorporated into the bottom surface of a massage seat. However, the downside is that these bladders are only located in a couple of spots. While this may help bring comfort to those particular areas it’s isolated, and will not effectively relieve sitting pressure.
Alternating pressure cushions, however, are designed to cover more area. The Ease Cushion utilizes a patented Horizontal Alternating Pressure Technology, covering the entire seat surface, resulting in effective weight distribution. The inflated bladders provide positional support while the deflated bladders provide pressure relief to the muscles and skin.
Massage seat users report feeling vibration, rolling, or kneading along the back and legs. As previously mentioned, these devices are designed to simulate a masseuse, so the parts continuously move back and forth, at a fairly quick pace.
As opposed to quick mechanical movement, an alternating pressure cushion is more cyclical. One will feel the bladders inflate and deflate, with periods of holding. The holding phase is critical because it allows just the right amount of pressure to build up against your bottom before melting away and transitioning to the next phase. Comments on user experience include “patterned air movement”, “light massaging sensation”, and “air bladders moving around to redistribute pressure”.
*Animation is accelerated to demonstrate phases.
If you’re sitting uncomfortably, feeling pain or pressure on your tailbone and other areas, an alternating pressure cushion is the best choice.
Check out our different options here to enhance your comfort!