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How much break time do massage therapists need between clients to avoid burnout?

by Samantha Jenkins July 14, 2019

Pretty young blonde woman having a massage from a female massage therapist

When running your own massage therapy business it can be tempting to you over schedule yourself in attempts to please clients and to make hay whilst the sun shines.

However back to back massages will take their toll on your body and your wellbeing.

AND be under no illusion ..... your clients will be able to tell!  


Which in turn can lead to more work and more stress when you are trying to repair a bad reputation. 

So how much time should you allow for breaks without your schedule turning into a massage marathon?

There is much debate so we took a range of responses to try and come up with a solution! 


Facebook post from Brian Wah about delivering treatments back to back



A big thanks to Brian for sharing this story. I must admit this sounds like a pretty stressful environment both for the therapist and the client! This conveyor belt system might work for franchises but for independent massage therapists not having the time to connect with clients can't be good for business. Also working so relentlessly can only lead to some serious aches and eventually a big case of burnout. 


 Facebook post from Danielle Hall about sneaking in short breaks between massages


Similarly, it is far from ideal to have to rush around, feeling unable to take a bathroom break and tearing around to prepare the room! Clients will no doubt pick up on this hectic energy and it will no doubt leave massage therapists feeling burnt out sooner! 


Facebook post from Jackie James about 15 minute breaks between massage treatments being just enough time to clean the room


Jackie raises another valid point, opting for 15 minutes realistically gives you little time to change towels, reset your music or refill an aromatherapy diffuser before your next client is knocking on the door! 


Facebook post from Bethany Stanley about taking a half an hour break between massages


There is nothing worse than rushing a client out the door and neglecting to take the time to book them in for their next appointment whilst they are feeling the benefits of your work! 

It is definitely worth factoring in a buffer for clients arriving early and for the previous client to reschedule, especially if you don't have the benefit of a receptionist to handle this part of the process. That being said leaving too long an amount of time and you could be tempted to chat and chat.... 



Facebook post from Amarah Parks about leaving an hour free between treatments


Amarah has time to take lovely long breaks meaning clients feel completely pampered with a tailor-made treatment and she can continue into her next appointment stress-free. Whilst this is valuable in the right doses it may be difficult for other therapists to replicate especially if they have children or other commitments or for those of us who could fall into the trap of clients crossing emotional boundaries by oversharing details of their personal lives.  


Most massage therapists try to cap themselves to delivering 5 massage treatments a day. This enables therapists to deliver amazing treatments without compromising on their self-care. You shouldn't be afraid to take this slower pace, in fact, it will benefit your massage therapy business long term as you avoid burn out. If you need to earn more money you can always charge more by finding yourself a niche and promoting yourself as a specialist! 


After baring this in mind and looking at all the responses, we felt that a 40-minute break was a good amount of time to rest between massage treatments. 


Breakdown of how Massage Warehouse would recommend massage therapists use their breaks


Working on this system a massage therapist could start around 9 am, deliver 5 treatments with time for 1 hour and 20 minutes for lunch and still finish before 6pm in time to spend quality time with family and friends or veg out in front of the TV!


As you can see rather than recommending using the 40 minutes for other tasks like marketing or chasing up clients we have suggested using this time to fully recuperate between appointments. If you need to chase clients, make calls or tend to your social media, put aside 15 minutes during lunch to do these tasks. That way you still have time to eat, rest and disconnect throughout the day and more importantly between clients your are taking the time to practice some self-care! 


Taking time to complete some self-care exercises will massively pay off when you don't have to cancel treatments due to aches and pains caused by not taking care of yourself.  


Below is just one example of quick exercises you can incorporate into your day.  



Check out our comprehensive list of exercises to cure the most common aches and pains experienced by massage therapists. These exercises don't require loads of time or expensive bulky equipment so there really is no excuse! 


Last but not least Danyelle raises a great point. 


Facebook post from A Danyelle Allen about a wind down routine after treatments


When you are done for the day wherever possible take a shower to get rid of any nasty germs you might have picked up along the way and practice one last exercise of self-care before heading home! 


Do you agree with us or do you have a different way of scheduling your day? Let us know what works for you in this Facebook thread!  

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!