Your massage table is a vital part of your practice — it’s the backbone of every treatment.
You spent plenty of time wondering "which massage table is right for me?”, and logged the hours researching all the massage tables on the market to make sure you picked a good one.
After all the time and money you invested, you’ll want to make sure your table stays in excellent condition for as long as possible.
Here are a few tips on how to care for your massage table so it lasts for years on end.
Looking after the upholstery:
To begin with, make sure you use good-quality sheets. Ideally, your sheets will be made of brushed cotton — not only is it comfortable for your client, but brushed cotton is durable, washable, and should prevent massage oil and natural body oils from seeping into the leather or vinyl upholstery.
Always make sure you use fitted sheets on your massage table. This ensures that massage oil and body oils do not come into direct contact with the upholstery. The fibres in leather and vinyl begin to degrade when in regular contact with oil, which can shorten the life of your massage table significantly.
If you are using sharp objects during your practice, such as acupuncture needles, make sure you have a protective layer over the table. Lay a towel or blanket beneath your fitted sheet to prevent any scratching or puncturing of the upholstery.
Finally, avoid cleaning your massage table with heavy-duty industrial cleaners. These will wear the upholstery out with their heavy chemical load (and you’re better off not touching them either!).
These heavy cleaning agents will harden the upholstery, and can cause cracking and wrinkling. Wash your massage table with warm water and a mild soap, then wipe it off with soap-free warm water and pat it dry.
Maintaining the legs and base:
If you have an aluminium table, there’s very little you need to do to maintain your massage table’s frame. The sheer strength and durability of aluminium will protect your practice for years.
However, if you have a wooden table, it’s important to take good care of the wood. You don’t want it to crack in a few years’ time.
Firstly, make sure you check the screws every couple of months, particularly if you don’t adjust the height very often. The screws should always be firmly tightened, so that there is no risk of the leg buckling as a client gets on the table.
When you do this, it’s wise to check that all the joints and leg supports are also still in good working condition.
If you notice that your table has unsightly scuffs or scratches from being lugged all over town, you can fix this up very easily. Simply take a walnut and rub it into the affected area. The fats in the walnut will smooth over the damage and return it to its previous glossy appearance.
Maintaining the foam:
Keeping the foam in your massage table from thinning out or getting indents in it will help extend the use you get from the table, as well as providing your customers with a more comfortable experience.
In the past, many massage tables were non-adjustable — the headrest or breath hole was fixed at one end, leading to faster wear on the foam.
These days, however, many massage tables have thicker foam and allow the headrest to be attached to both ends. This lets you switch ends between treatments, slowing the rate of wear on the foam.
We hope you have all been enjoying our "Ask The Muscle Whisperer" series. This month we asked the UK massage industry's top thought leaders to share key tips for massage therapists to help their massage therapy businesses navigate the changes in our industry brought about by Covid-19 and come back stronger in 2021!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.