Panasonic EP-MA73: See why people are so passionate about this chair

The Panasonic brand has been associated with massage chairs for decades. It was one of the original Japanese manufacturers of massage chairs. Panasonic have always strived for further improvement. They put a lot of time and effort into studying the different massage styles with the intention of replicating them.

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Massage therapists and chiropractors were also consulted during the design and testing phase. This has enabled their chairs to give a more realistic massage. Over this time, they have built up an excellent reputation. Quite a lot of people have remained loyal to the brand especially when the time came to upgrade. You only have to look at the customer reviews to confirm this.

First Impressions

The chair looks just like an upmarket recliner. It is covered with synthetic leather making it easy to clean. The tops of the armrests have a nice polished wood finish. Panasonic have resisted the medical spaceship type look.

They have designed the ottoman so that the foot wells rotate up and down. You can hide the foot wells and instead have a flat platform on the bottom. When you need a massage you simply fold it back up.

The armrests hide the airbags for the arm and hand. Simply lift them up when using it as a massage chair. This totally disguises the chair and makes it look like a normal recliner. A true dual purpose recliner perfect for relaxing in whilst watching the tv.

It is a very compact looking chair compared to some of the others on the market. Oh before I forget I did notice it had a removable master key to turn the power on and off. A useful feature if you have inquisitive children that are prone to wrecking things.

Maximum User Height – 6’ 2’’ Maximum User Weight – 264 lbs

Where Is It Manufactured?

Panasonic massage chairs were originally manufactured in Japan. This is why they gained a reputation for quality long lasting products. All of their manufacturing was moved to China in 2012.They have retained their design and quality control in Japan.

Panasonic are satisfied that the Chinese factories are continually meeting their own previous high quality manufacturing standards. Panasonic stand by their products and have revised the warranty to reassure any doubts customers may have.

How Hard Is It To Assemble?

Assembly of the massage chair seems relatively easy. You shall need two people to lift it out of the box. The chair at this stage weighs approximately 187 lbs (85 kg).

After this you then have to attach the controller stand (four Allen head screws), arm rests (two Allen head screws one each side), connect the air lines and attach the control unit to the stand.

Then you connect the power lead and clip the control unit lead to the chair. This keeps it out of harm’s way. Then it is just a case of adding the pillow(Velcro) and comfort cushion(zipper). This is just a rough outline of the steps.

How Much Space Does the Chair Require?

I would allow about 4 inches minimum clearance behind the back rest when fully reclined. Having a mat (minimum 48 in x 28 in) under the chair to protect the surface underneath would also be a good idea. The chair dimensions are as follows –

  • Upright length – 48 in (122 cm)
  • Max reclined length – 79.5 in (202 cm)
  • Max width at the widest part (controller included) – 35.5 in (90cm)
  • Width at floor 25.5 in (64cm)

The Features

The Panasonic EP-MA 73 has a multitude of interesting and highly effective massage modes and features. Here I shall try to explain some of them.

The Control Unit

layout is simple, easy to read and very user-friendly nothing complicated here. There are four main sections they are automatic massage, manual massage, stretch and air massage.

You then have various buttons to help you customize your massage. Once you have created your perfect massage you can then store it in one of the three memory settings.

Positioned in the centre is a screen that shows you exactly what is happening at all times. There is also a voice guidance feature that tells you what is happening. The volume can be adjusted and it can be turned off if need be.

Getting Started

Easy after pressing the on button, just sit back relax make yourself comfortable. Choose a program from the six buttons. Then let the chair work its magic. It will then scan and take measurements of your spine and body after which the massage will start.

Automatic Programs

There are six very effective programs all with variable intensity settings –

  • Swedish
  • Deep
  • Shiatsu
  • Stretch
  • Neck/Shoulder
  • Lower Back

Manual Programs

This is where it gets interesting. You get the choice of selecting your problem area. Be it neck, shoulder, middle back, lower back or the full back. Your choice of massage styles are Roll, Shiatsu, Swedish, Knead, and Ultra Knead.

Ultra Knead

This is based is based on a Japanese massage technique known as Junentsu. The roller heads replicate the feeling of a thumb kneading in a circular motion with pressure. This is by far the best way to free up a stiff neck.

The Rollers

3D type rollers travel along a 31-inch S track. These rollers are able to travel up and down, side to side as well as in and out. Massage intensity can be adjusted.

Heated Roller Heads

Heat can play an essential part in a massage. It helps to loosen muscles and increase blood flow which in turn helps with the healing process. Quite a lot of massage chairs have some form of heating either partial, usually lower back or full body.

Quite a lot of massage chairs have some form of heating either partial, usually lower back or full body. Heating pads can sometimes can make a person feel overheated and sweaty resulting in an uncomfortable massage.

Panasonic’s answer to this problem was to develop and employ the use of heated rollers. This has the added advantage of concentrating the heat where it is most needed. The sensation is very similar to a hot stone massage that you would get from a massage therapist.

They do this type of massage for a reason, it puts the heat exactly where it is needed. Stubborn muscles can then easily be manipulated. It is also extremely relaxing for the patient. This feature can be turned off if need be.

Air Bag Massage

The chair has a total of 33 airbags. Intensity can be altered (3 levels). They allow the user to experience a compression style massage to the legs, thighs, shoulders, calves, and feet.

The Foot Massage

The soles of the feet receive a good workout. There is a single airbag on each side under the sole of the foot. When inflated it pushes these nodules into the acupressure points of the foot.

Whilst this is happening two airbags push the foot from side to side giving a rubbing effect. This felt exactly like a massage therapist working on my feet. Heating is available with high and low settings or it can be turned off. Lift out washable segments ensure it never gets too smelly down there

The Calves

Four airbags each side supply a compression effect as well as moving the lower part of the leg from side to side.This gives the calves a comfortable and highly effective workout, perfect after are hard day walking.

Hands and Arms

First of all, lift up the armrests and slide your arm Inside. Hands and arms are then subjected to a very nice kneading action from airbags above and below. The armrests also slide back and forth maintaining the position of your arm within them. As the chair reclines, the armrests slide back. When the chair moves to the upright position the armrests slide forward.

Stretching

Ah yes nothing like a good stretch. This chair can comfortably stretch your neck, chest, hips, and legs. If you don’t already know stretching is good for you. It promotes blood flow to the muscles which aids repair. Range of motion and elasticity of the muscles can also be improved over time by stretching.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a whisper quiet massage this chair may not be for you. Although not very loud you can hear the air solenoids working occasionally along with a few other sounds. None of this bothered me. I was too relaxed to care. All of this is normal according to the manufacturer.

Most chairs, including this one will give you a relaxing massage. This chair seems different it’s more focused on the repair of the body. Perhaps this is why it is certified by the American Chiropractic Association. if you are looking for a nice firm therapeutic massage, then this may be the chair for you.

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