As a massage therapist, physical strength and a certain amount of stamina can be required on a daily basis. One aspect that is taken into consideration less – perhaps through lack of awareness – is the effect your diet is having on your performance. Having worked in nutrition for many years and experimented extensively using my own body, I feel confident in saying that we really are what we eat. I also know from personal experience that what we eat affects us profoundly at such a deep level that we could attribute almost all of our issues – both physical and many of the psychological - to poor diet, and/or toxicity. We associate malnutrition with starvation, but malnutrition is a reality for many on a typical Western diet. There is a lot of debate over what constitutes a healthy diet, and for those that don’t know true vitality, all they have to go on is that they don’t feel bad. However, not feeling bad is certainly not an indication of great health.
Personally, I eat many raw foods. I realise that this choice is not for everyone, but I have been both vegan (on and off) and vegetarian since around 2011. Through experimentation, my diet has become both unusual and interesting over the years. I was unaware that there were so many delicious options available to the vegetarian with a bit of creativity and curiosity in their makeup. Things I either had never heard of or would never have dreamed of eating are now staple diet for me. I am not writing this to convince anyone to change over to any particular diet, to condemn anyone’s dietary choices or warn against food types. But it has to be said that there are food options and protocols in existence that I can only label as transformational. I do know that the conventional British diet of convenience foods, carbs, sugar and too much red meat is what caused me terrible problems for many years. Those things created high acidity in my body, a problem all too many of us have in the West. It led to a debilitating and persistent condition called Candidiasis, which adversely affected my work, depleted my energy levels and impaired my cognitive functions, mood and concentration. Not really a welcome state for most holistic therapists, I’m sure you would agree. While we are supposed to be around 70% alkaline and 30% acidic, for example, it is mainly the other way around. This is the fundamental issue for most with ill health, but fortunately there are many great ways you can change it. Believe it or not, it isn’t normal to have a cold, or a even a headache. We just accept it as so because it’s so common. All these things are your body’s way of telling you there is a problem – be it low immunity, infection or just poor lifestyle choices.
Awareness is key
So here is where awareness really pays. Not everyone realises that the soil our foods are grown in is so lacking in minerals and nutrients due to modern agricultural practices. On top of this, GM foods – in some places - are creeping in unlabeled and we thoughtlessly purchase food that has traveled across continents and has barely any vitamins left in it by the time it reaches us. It is always better to stick with locally grown, preferably organic and seasonal produce to get the best benefit. Then there is the pesticide issue – a nasty problem for us, but we don’t always give a lot of thought to it. Although it’s a sorry state of affairs that these are the most commonly available foods in supermarkets, when we buy the cheap ‘non-organic’ vegetables, we are inadvertently poisoning our bloodstream. There are measures you can take to combat this; for example, you can ozonate your food with an ozonator machine, wash it in bentonite clay, or even lemon juice. You can even buy a ready-made 'veggie wash'. But it is much more sensible in this day and age to fork out the extra cash to give your body that risk-free, extra nutritional boost. Besides, when it comes to the taste, there is no comparison. The meat is almost certainly going to have been injected with growth hormone, water, antibiotics and has probably led a very unpleasant life before it reached your plate, so even on an energetic level, it might pay to consider what you are consuming. Organic, free range is the only way if you are going to eat meat – everything else is going to deplete and drain you.
Fresh, raw foods and superfoods and a minimal intake of supplements, along with pure water are the best way to great health. Tap water is disturbingly toxic, full of heavy metals, bacteria and added chemicals which drain your cells of what they need, paving the way for disease to set in. There is so much information out there on what you should eat that it's migraine inducing trying to decide what to believe. There is no way around it but to test the water and see how you feel. Consistent consumption of additive laden convenience food, sugars and heavy meats builds up in the gut; the body can't break it all down properly or quickly enough so you end up with an overworked liver being attacked by the excess toxins that it hasn't been able to process, plus a layer of intestinal plaque which blocks absorption of nutrients, and in turn this compromises your immune system. Raw foods are still complete with enzymes as they have not been destroyed in cooking. Most people find that a raw food diet (or at least two thirds of the diet as raw) assists their liver function and absorption, and you won't get the nasty bloating and heaviness from undigested fermenting foods sticking around. Assisting your liver with the right foods and cleansing protocols is paramount. Only then will your supplements, vitamins and minerals will start to work more efficiently instead of adding to your liver's workload.
Make or break your day
As a massage therapist, the right nutrition can make or break your day, every single day. Many of us are healers, whether we realise it or not, but it’s a lot harder to heal someone else – if not impossible – when you are not in good shape yourself. For example, A Reiki healer should be energetically sound before they can process the energy of another, and there are many sick healers out there who may well be so because their immune systems were not strong enough to manage the negative energy outputs of other people. I once did a Reiki treatment on someone and feinted twice, because I wasn’t physically in the right place for it. We should be assessing our bodies with the same attitude as an athlete would have. Our work is physically and energetically demanding, so our input should at least equal our output.
We would like to hear your opinions and stories, if you have any. Do you notice a difference in your work performance when your diet changes? Can you notice a marked improvement when putting in healthy foods? Does your mood, and therefore your day, improve when you make this effort? What protocols do you follow in order to keep your strength up on a long working day?
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.