It is the same across the board; in all industries and services we aspire to have the best quality products. It’s common sense to a certain extent. We all want to get the highest quality products at the cheapest possible price. But as always, you get what you pay for. Of course there are exceptions, bargains to be had, and when you are starting up a new business and need supplies, there is more often than not a budget to be adhered to. However, cutting corners in the massage industry simply means cutting profits. Anyone who has been for a massage before knows that quality is paramount. If you don’t make a proper investment in your equipment then it may not bring you the return you are hoping for.
If a customer goes to one massage therapist and is put on an extremely comfortable massage table that is the right width and with the right accessories to enhance the experience, as well as high quality accompanying products (e.g. massage oils and couch covers) then they are obviously going to view the experience as preferable to one where their massage therapist laid them on a too-slim table that smelled strange, felt unstable when they climbed on and had flattened foam or splits in the upholstery. Potent smelling, cheap massage lotions and oils might also put them off, or worse – give them an unpleasant skin reaction or dragging feeling on the skin during the therapy. We really can’t afford to cut corners with this kind of thing if we want to provide an efficient service. It is certainly not all about the massage therapy skills under your belt – the whole experience has various facets to consider.
Navigate the nonsense
When parting with your hard earned cash, it is wise to apply your critical thinking skills. There are people out there who are either extremely trusting or plain naïve – usually because they themselves are good natured – so they take things at face value and don’t like to think they’re going to be conned. It isn’t necessarily that sellers are out to con anybody, but of course it makes good business sense to talk a good game. The highlights will always be highlighted, and anything less will likely be brushed under the carpet. So if everybody is talking up their products and burying any weaknesses or flaws that could put you off, how are you to be sure that the product is what you want it to be?
It isn’t so difficult really. Cutting through the hype and find out what is really going on with the products we are interested in is as simple as finding out about the company’s reputation. Again, it’s common sense, but when we are excited and like the look of a product, we all too often forget to do any digging. We want to believe that what we see in front of us is exactly what we were looking for.
Find out who and what you are dealing with
Reviews are there for a reason, so look for them. Customers aren’t going to over-exaggerate their experience of the product – why would they? If the majority of them are telling you it’s not worth it, the chances are it isn’t. If you want genuine quality, you will need to make a some degree of investment; so it pays to be sure that what you are investing in is going to live up to your expectations. It’s not just the product reviews you should be reading about either – what are customers saying about the company itself? Did they appreciate the customer service? Were any complaints handled to their satisfaction?
Any reputable company will make it easy for you to find out what customers are saying about them, so look around the websites. If there are a lot of happy customers then the company will probably be going out of their way to show them off. The products should have clear ratings and sections for customers to give full information about their experience with it. Not only will this give you a clear idea of the quality, but it might highlight issues or benefits that you’d not even considered. Check the warranties too - good products will always have reasonable warranty periods. This is the company’s way of saying ‘we believe in our products and so can you.’ Of course if you look after it well, you can probably expect it to last well past this period.
Choosing budget products is merely postponing the costs
If you buy a cheap massage table on Ebay, the photograph isn’t going to give the game away. What’s more, customers are asked to leave feedback very early on, so the 100% score you see is not necessarily relating to the product quality itself, but the fact that it arrived quickly and in one piece without any obvious signs of poor quality. The issues tend to manifest in under a year with such massage tables. If they don’t smell of chemicals or feel like cheap plastic in the first place, that’s fortunate. What you won’t have been prepared for is when splinters or cracks appear in the wood, aluminium or metal tables start to squeak, buttons can snap off, the table can start to move around when you apply any pressure during the massage, the foam can flatten and the customers can feel the wood underneath… this list is not exhaustive – we have heard more than enough stories of tables collapsing mid massage! As a company that speaks to many customers about their previous experiences every day, we are confident in saying that these are common problems. The warranties will not be in place to cover issues like this, so once you’ve hit the payment button you’ve probably said goodbye to your money if something goes wrong.
Your customer is the person best placed to evaluate the quality of your massage therapy equipment as they are the ones making the closest contact with it. However, they are probably not going to complain about the equipment or products unless you ask them for honest feedback. At this point, though, the damage is done to your wallet and your credibility as a massage therapist. It would surely make more sense to have invested in something reputable, comfortable and reliable – your customers will assume that you are a serious therapist and feel more comfortable giving you their repeat business. Have you ever had an uncomfortable massage due to poor quality equipment? Have you made mistakes in the past as a new therapist, unaware of the pitfalls? What is your view on the importance of quality and have you found that you’ve ended up spending more after taking risks with massage products? Please share your experiences with us.
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.