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by Samantha Jenkins June 20, 2019 0 Comments

A career as a massage therapist can take its toll, both on our bodies and our minds. So how can you keep yourself healthy and reduce the strain on your body whilst still delivering fantastic treatments? And when you're completely worn out how can you stay in the industry? Below we share 9 tips to extend your career in massage therapy and keep doing what you love for longer! 


1. Opt for clothed treatments.


If you are struggling with pain in your fingers, switch to clothes on treatments. Ideal for more modest clients as well, they can wear a t-shirt and jogging bottoms.




Not only does this technique requires way less pressure from you to deliver a deep tissue massage, creating fewer repetitive strain injuries, it also increases client mobility and creates a more clinical atmosphere to your treatments, ideal for sports massage therapists looking to demonstrate their value to clients. Best of all, removing the need for oil saves money on equipment and time as you don’t have as much clean up between treatments!


2. Choose pull over push.


Massage is a constant balance between pushing and pulling. As therapist when working in the prone or supine positions we tend to be using a lot more push which can be damaging to our hands.

When working on clients constantly challenge yourself to think of ways you can use a pulling technique rather than a pushing one. For example when clients are in a side-lying position brace a hand on your client’s leg to create an opposing pressure whilst using your other hand in a pulling motion to work on a variety of muscle groups.

Which leads us nicely to….


3. Switch to side lying.


By making the switch to giving clothed massage treatments you also open up the possibility of working on clients in a side-lying position. Removing the need to constantly strain yourself stretching over clients in a prone or supine position, you will be working from a place of proper posture and can massage arms and legs with greater ease. Make sure you keep your clients comfy with pillows and bolsters!



4. Grab a seat.


Many clients will come into your massage therapy clinic with a particular condition they want treating and will ask you as their therapists to focus on specific areas for most of their session. Whenever possible, give your back and feet a break when working on specific areas of the body by grabbing a rolling stoolGreat for your posture, it will stop you from stooping over your client and reduce the amount of time standing on your feet which over time can lead to aches and pains like plantar fasciitis. Removing these uncomfortable distractions will help you focus on delivering a kick-ass treatment!  


5. Protect your thumbs.


We all have those clients who seem to always want a lot of pressure regardless of whether this is what is best for them!


Facebook comment about clients wanting deep tissue massage


Whilst it always our job as massage therapists to listen to the needs of our clients and offer the best course of treatment, if over time the amount of pressure you are able to give reduces dramatically you will no doubt lose clients who cannot reap the benefits of a more rigorous form of massage.


The good news is this can be avoided with this inexpensive tool. Deceptively simple, the value it provides cannot be underestimated! It eases the strain on your thumb whilst still enabling you to deliver a deeper treatment. Ergonomically shaped it is particularly useful for trigger point therapy and working away on those tricky knots!


6. Did you do your homework?


How often do your clients do their homework? Getting clients to do their exercises between sessions can feel like an impossible task but use your own health as another motivator to get this working for you. At the end of the day if clients are working on their tissue issues at home you will have less tension to work out in your next massage treatment, leaving them feeling even more fabulous and causing less strain on your body.

When providing exercises to clients ask them how much time a day they can spare to fix this issue. For most clients, suggesting a whole regime is unlikely to fit with their busy schedules so keep any exercises short in hopes they will be more likely to get done!

During their next session, be proactive and create a connection with an empathetic ear. Don’t be afraid to ask your clients directly “I know it can be hard to find time but did you find the exercises I gave you useful?” Most people will be honest and say if they didn’t which will give you another opportunity to show off your knowledge and prove your value with some alternatives!


7. Introduce quick exercises into your daily routine.


We all know our calling takes a toll on our bodies! As well as encouraging your clients to take care of themselves between sessions, make sure you are taking time to stretch out any aches and pains between treatments.


Facebook post from Lea Phan about experiencing pain as a massage therapist 

There are many common ailments that can be faced by massage therapists as their career progresses but the good news is there are quick and simple exercises that can help reduce the symptoms or prevent them entirely! With no need for expensive equipment, put the time between treatments to good use with these easy exercises to cure what ails you and extend your career as a massage therapist!


8. Pick a strategic specialism.


For therapists on the verge of quitting, there can be a way forward without leaving the industry!


Facebook post from Beth Fessenden about pain cause by working as a massage therapist


It may seem counterintuitive, but by picking a niche and reducing the number of massage treatments you give each week you can actually earn you more money! The key lies in promoting yourself as a specialist. As you earn yourself a solid reputation you will be able to charge more for your treatments, promising a solid solution to your clients’ ailments.

Work smarter not harder and pick a specialism which allows you to focus on areas of the body which put less stress on you as a therapist. For example focus on promoting yourself as a specialist for headaches, migraines, RSI or carpal tunnel syndrome or temporomandibular disorder. Get yourself established in your local community by networking with GP’s and dentists, asking to put flyers up in surgeries and working out a discounted rate for referrals. Learn why your massage therapy business needs a niche and how to implement one in our in-depth blog post.


9. Hire some help


As therapists, we all have a desire to help people and having to pass on our clients never feels great. If your aches and pain have become too much to work through it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to step out of the game altogether.

Instead, hire other therapists to deliver the treatments and focus on creating an incredible atmosphere in your clinic. Spend your days' networking with health professionals, community groups and local businesses to bring in more clients and introduce more people to the benefits of massage! Find a niche or an ailment you are particularly passionate about helping clients to resolve and become a specialist treatment centre. Create support groups online and give back to the community, posting helpful articles and discount offers on treatments.


Have you tried any of these methods to help extend your career as a massage therapist? Let us know what worked for you and what didn't in the comments below! 

Samantha Jenkins
Samantha Jenkins


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Massage Table Size Guide

Massage tables comes in many different shapes and size. It can be confusing for you, the customer, to choose the right one but we are here to help!

A lot of customers call us up after they have bought the wrong size massage table elsewhere and we would like to help you avoid this mistake. It normally goes something like this; they like the look of a picture of a massage table on a website, they like the low price and then they check the carrying weight is ok. If the carrying weight fits their needs they click add to cart and the new massage table turns up at their doorstep in a few days. They unfortunately assume all massage tables are pretty much the same width and size.

The standard size of a massage table is 28 inches wide (71cms) and 73 inches (185cms) long. One of the reasons many "lightweight" budget massage tables are so cheap is because

  1.  They are smaller in size (normally around 61cms wide) and as such have less materials
  2. They are sold by specialist retailers who also sell anything else they can import and turn a profit on. As such they just buy the cheapest massage tables they can find in China. They go for smaller sizes as they are cheaper.

Make sure the massage table is the right size for you and your clients as the narrow massage tables at 61cms can be very uncomfortable for anyone who isn't petite and many clients cannot relax with their shoulders and arms unsupported.


The Width of the Massage Table:

Almost all therapists choose the standard 28 inch wide massage table. All our massage tables are the same length so it is only the width and shape our customers need to decide on.

Your massage table should be wide enough to cater for the wide variety of shapes and sizes of your clients. It needs to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your treatment style, while being narrow enough to ensure you don’t have to strain your own back during treatments.

Each therapist's postural training and ability is different, so only you will know what massage table width you can handle. We have spoken to therapists who are five feet tall and get the wider 30 inch massage tables, and we speak to six foot therapists who have back problems and go for a 25 inch wide massage table. Everyone is different.

Generally speaking, if you are of smaller stature, you may do better with one of the narrower 25-inch massage tables. If you're quite tall, or are particularly keen to offer your clients a very spacious experience, a 30-inch massage table might be more suitable.

If you are in doubt, see if you can go into your local training college and see whether the massage tables there suit you. However, there is another way to get a feel for what will work of you don’t have access to a couch when you are deciding:

Cut out a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of both sizes you are deciding between. Put it on top of the kitchen table and lean over it. Visualise a client lying there, and see which width will suit you and your client best.

measuring the width of a massage table

Make sure you can get close enough to the table that you can pivot at the waist and have your shoulders squared to the clients hips, with your hands parallel to the clients' spine. Working in this position will ensure an injury-free career, so it's an important factor in your decision.

The most popular massage table widths are 28 and 30 inches. We sell 25-inch massage tables but you should really only choose this width if you are shorter in height and having a wider massage table might put your own back at risk over the course of your career.

You can also choose the 25-inch if you want to have the lightest massage table possible. By reducing the width of the massage table, the weight is also reduced. Now, this can mean a trade-off of some client comfort, but this trade is often worthwhile if you are a fully mobile therapist and use public transport frequently, where saving a kilogram or two will make a difference to you over time.


The Height Of the Massage Table

Nowadays, almost all portable massage tables come with height adjustable legs. Whichever massage table you choose should come with a large height range to accommodate you, and to cater for a broad range of therapies.

A common height range of massage tables is between 60 to 80cm, and this height range should cater for everyone. To check which height you need your massage table to be at follow this rule of thumb:

1. Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Clench your fists.
2. Measure the distance between the floor and your knuckles
3. This distance should equal the height of your massage table.
4. Add a few inches in height to allow for the body of the patient on the massage table.

The height of a massage table is usually only adjusted when different therapists are using the same massage table, or if you have a client that is outside the average size you normally treat. So for example, if someone with a lot of body depth comes for a treatment after an average size person, you may need to adjust the height a notch or two.

You should be able to adjust the height of a massage table in just 2-3 minutes. Even though you mightn't adjust the height very often, the faster the better when you do have to!

There are 2 types of height adjustment mechanisms found on modern massage tables.

1) Twisting knobs (found only on wooden massage tables):

If you are working with a wooden massage table, it is better to have two knobs on each of the four legs for greater strength and reliability. When buying online, make sure to check how many knobs are on the legs. Cheap massage tables often only have one knob, and when you raise the legs to the highest heights they are less stable and have been known to snap.

2) Telescopic push-buttons (found only on aluminium massage tables):

The mechanism to adjust the height of an aluminium massage table is much the same as the push-button method on aluminium crutches. It only takes a few seconds to adjust each leg, and the mechanism is very reliable. Check out the video to see how it’s done.


Massage Table Shape:

The following are the different shapes of massage tables on the market.

1. Rectangle shaped with square corners 

This is the traditional shape of a massage table and the one you are probably familiar with seeing. Our Combi-lite 3 in 1 and Affinity Portaflex are shaped like this.

2. Rectangle shaped with rounded corners

Same as no 1 above in every way except the corners are rounded. Does not affect function in any way, just a different design/look.


3. Hour glass shaped with gradual gradient 

A fabulous massage table innovation in recent years, which solves a lot of the problems around choosing the correct width is the hourglass shaped massage table.

This style of massage table is wider at the ends, and tapers somewhat at the middle. This provide a spacious and comfortable experience for your client (as the shoulder and feet area are 30 inches wide) without compromising your own posture and health, as the middle of the couch where you lean over is a much narrower 26 inches wide.Having recently upgraded to one of these hourglass massage tables myself, I can vouch that my working days are much more comfortable, and many of my clients have commented on the extra comfort from the wider shoulder area.


4. Hour glass shaped with sharp gradient
Same as point above but instead of the it gradually going from wide to narrow, the massage table changes quickly from normal width to narrow width so people of very short stature can get in close.
5. Oval Shaped

 The name says it all! There are no corners on the massage table. Therapists normally choose this for one of two reasons. They simply like the look of this massage table and it is aesthetically more pleasing in their treatment room and/or they find it easier to move around the massage table during the treatment without having to side step the corners. This is particularly handy when space is limited in your treatment room.

oval massage table


Have any questions or comments about anything above? Please let us know in the comments below!