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A peek inside the first ever National Massage Championships

by Samantha Jenkins March 08, 2019

A peek inside the first ever National Massage Championships

Photo credit: National Massage Championship

At the end of September last year, massage therapists gathered excitedly under the vast glass panes of the Olympia exhibition centre in West London to test their skills in the first National Massage Championships.

With 6 distinct categories, the competitors had an hour to impress the judges with their treatment techniques in the following styles of massage.

  • Swedish / Deep Tissue Massage

  • Eastern Massage

  • Chair Massage

  • Freestyle Massage

  • Spa / Wellness Massage

  • Advanced Massage

Massage therapists compete with different styles at the National Massage Championships

Photo credit: National Massage Championship

Set up for massage therapists, by massage therapists, The National Massage Championships were designed to inspire therapists to learn new techniques and to have a deep sense of pride in their work, in an industry which can often be overlooked and it was this shared ethos that made the team here at Massage Warehouse want to provide our tables to sponsor the event.

Massage therapist competing in the National Massage Championships

Photo credit: National Massage Championship 

The judges were a panel of carefully selected experts, from an international pool of candidates.

  • Pauline Baxter - the director and owner of the Academy of On-Site Massage.

  • Sunita Passi - the founder of Tri-Dosha, an Ayurvedic training centre.

  • Ruth Duncan - 2014 winner of the Camexpo Outstanding Achievement Award and author of ‘A Hands-on Guide to Myofascial Release’.

  • Jeppe Tengbjerg - CEO of the International Massage Association and host of the World Championships in Massage in Denmark.

  • Susan Findlay - a specialist in Oncology Massage and author of Sports Massage for Therapists’.

  • Earle Abrahamson - the chair of the Massage Training Institute, Vice-Chair of the General Council for Sports Tissue Therapists and member of the board for soft tissue therapy at the Complementary and Natural Health Care Council.

  • Lynn Vereenooghe - the founder of The Middlesex School of Complementary Medicine.

  • Meghan Mari - the Co-Director and Founder of Jing Advanced Massage Training.

  • Mary Dalgleish - the current Vice President of the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT)

So how did it go on the day…

Whilst nerves were definitely high throughout the day, all the competitors we spoke to really enjoyed the chance to come out of their treatment room and test themselves. 

Check out our highlights video from last years' event to hear from the competitors and the judges.

Many therapists commented that as an industry we are so often working alone with little chance to check in with colleagues and that over time this can leave therapists feeling isolated and unsure of their skills. Everyone agreed that events like the National Massage Championships are an amazing opportunity to check in, learn something new and network with other massage therapists. 

There was a great turnout with massage therapists experienced in a wide range of styles, eagerly watching each round to pick up new techniques and see how others operate! As the day went on, it was clear all the competitors had felt a boost in their confidence and there was lots of positive energy and support for one another. 

Members of the public also added to the buzz as they gathered around, smartphones in hand, intrigued by the competition and impressed by the standards they saw. By the last round of the competition, the finalists were greeted with paparazzi levels of attention whilst they posed for group shots, celebrating their hard work and success with big smiles!  

Award handed to the Winner of the National Massage Championships Mário De Sousa

Photo credit: National Massage Championship

This perhaps was the competitions greatest success. Day to day we are all struggling to prove to the public that massage is not a one-off luxury but a fundamental practice to take care of the body. The professionalism and passion of the competitors shone through and the therapeutic benefits of the treatments on display were clear for all to see.

By allowing our industry to take centre stage whilst crowds of the public visited the latest crazes in the beauty industry at Olympia Beauty, the National Massage Championships worked to dispels the myths around massage and prove what a talented and hardworking bunch we are! 

How can you compete next year?

Next year the competition will be held on the 28th and 29th of September. Each round costs £109 to enter with the exception of chair massage which can be entered at a reduced rate of £69. If you enter into two rounds there is a reduced rate of £149 (or £109 if entering the chair massage competition) and at the moment if you register before the 22nd of April you can take advantage of a 20% discount. All entrants receive a certificate and goody bag of gifts worth £75. In addition to the admiration and good publicity for your massage therapy business winners receive a trophy and exclusive prizes from leading massage therapy brands.

All qualified therapists are welcome and even newly qualified therapists can surprise themselves and take home one of the top prizes, just like Tamer Morsey last year! 

 Testimonial from Tamer Morsy about the experience of competing in the National Massage Championships

Photo credit: National Massage Championship


We would love to hear your thoughts on what events like the National Massage Championships bring to our industry and please let us know in the comments below if you are planning to sign up for next year's competition!  

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!