Although massage chairs continue to be a popular option among massage therapists, massage tables are the standard operating tool. Not only are they the most comfortable surface for clients, but they offer a massage therapist a greater range of movement and grant access to almost all the major muscle groups.
Types of Massage Tables
Most massage tables are designed to accommodate different tuina massage techniques. Adjustable and removable parts (typically in the upper torso region for sitting up, the leg region for creating a recliner-like seat, or in the abdomen area to make room for pregnant clients) are offered in a variety of combinations, depending on which model is used. For example, if you often perform leg and foot massages, you might benefit from a table with a lowered foot rest, which will allow you to be seated while you work.
Other massage table options include:
o “Wet” massage tables, which can undergo heavy humidity or even water treatments for spa use.
o Facial massage tables, with raised platform to grant massage therapists easy access to the head area.
o Flat-top massage tables, which are typically sturdy in structure and add a visual appeal to a spa or parlor.
o Shiatsu massage tables, with an additional expandable platform for the massage therapist to kneel.
o Portable massage tables, which fold up much like massage chairs for easy transportation.
Most massage therapists only need to invest in one type of massage table depending on their primary focus. For example, a pregnancy massage specialist can use prenatal massage table with removable panels. In this way, the table provides a flat surface for regular clients, but the panels can be removed for use with expectant mothers. Because the table will be covered with a sheet during use, most clients will never even know the difference.
How to Choose the Right Massage Table
When choosing a massage table, it is important to keep an eye to your unique business. Do you work at a single facility, or will you be traveling to client locations? Do you need a specialty table for your particular type of massage therapy, or will a standard table be sufficient? How you run your business will be the primary influence on the choice you make.
Another quality to consider in a massage table includes the thickness of the padding you want to use. Plush padding feels great for clients, but it typically has to be replaced more often and is not used for sports massage. Thick, more durable foam will stand up to wear and tear, but it may come at the sacrifice of comfort.
The composition of the table’s base is a consideration, as well. Hard woods (like maple) tend to hold more weight and are very durable, but they are also more costly. You might be able to get away with an eco-friendly bamboo frame or a lightweight aluminum, but excessive force on your part or a heavier client might reduce its overall strength.
Additional Massage Table Considerations
Although clients’ shapes and sizes vary, most tables are able to accommodate just about everyone. However, as with most things, there are few exceptions to this. For example, portable tables, which are typically composed of a lightweight metal, may have weight and/or height restrictions. To get around this, it is best to look for tables that have “cable-lock” systems to provide additional weight support as well as the ability to withstand rocking or excessive movement.
In addition to client size, massage therapist size is also a factor. Most massage tables come in a variety of widths. While wider tables typically provide more comfort to clients, a massage therapist who is shorter than 5’4″ might have a difficult time reaching all the way across a 32-inch table. As a general rule, the height of the table should never exceed the massage therapist’s hip area. A table that can be raised or lowered with hydraulics or an electric component might provide an ideal solution for massage offices with more than one practitioner.
Keeping Massage Tables Clean
No matter what kind of massage table you use, the primary concern for most clients and massage therapists is how to keep a massage table sanitary for repeated use. Most of the time, tables should be cleaned with some sort of mild, non-abrasive solution that doesn’t contain any harsh additives or allergens. Specialty massage table cleaners are often best, since they remove any massage oils from the surface and provide great hygiene without adding any chemicals that might not be beneficial to clients with sensitive skin.