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by Lisa Rose January 08, 2016 0 Comments

January is not usually the most esteemed month of the year for various reasons. The usual associations are empty bank accounts, weight loss and detox, and unfortunately for many: sickness. The sickness is often down to overconsumption of toxins and foods with a low nutritional value; immune systems buckle under the heavy workload.

When feeling at a low ebb, whatever the reason, it’s a natural desire to want to pamper oneself; to lay down and rest while our woes are eased by an external party. What better way to do that than massage?  Actually, massage may not be as restful as you think. You will certainly feel inactive, but the changes in the body triggered by the massage mean your body has to work to maintain its stability. As a massage therapist you may already be well aware that massage while sick can divert the body’s attention from fighting an infection, but your massage client may not be. Even if they are, there is a good chance they will overlook their concerns in that regard in favour of a pampering session!

The experience is likely to disappoint

Another aspect your client may not have considered when booking a massage with you was that they are not likely to be anywhere near as comfortable as they normally would be. In theory it probably sounds wonderful, but the reality is that laying face down on a massage table with the lymphatic system working harder than normal can result in temporary sinus congestion. When coupled with a cold, this could lead to a very unpleasant experience, leaving your client feeling headachy, and generally more ill than they did when they arrived. A sinus-draining facial massage could be one solution to this, but the chances are still high that your client is still not going to feel as bright and breezy as they’d anticipated.

Then of course, there is the obvious – you as a massage therapist are in a vulnerable position working with the general public at such close proximity. If you are booking in fluey clients then there is a realistic chance that their germs are going to find their way into your body one way or another; in which case you may find that the profits you made from that initial massage will be swallowed up by the losses of the week of treatments you need to cancel while you yourself recover.

If your client feels only marginally ill with a bit of a cough or runny nose, they may not think to cancel and you may not notice it until the client is ready for their massage. This is a tricky situation to avoid, but you would still be within your rights to cancel the massage for the sake of your own health. It is the client’s responsibility not to put others at risk when they are sick, so booking in for an appointment with you while under the weather is a relatively uncompassionate endeavour! It might be worth putting a notice up on your website or in your reception to remind customers that it isn’t appropriate to book while sick. That way they can’t say they weren’t warned.

When to refuse to massage 

If a client turns up with any symptoms of, or complaining that they have recently been suffering from nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, it is the right thing to do to insist they rebook their massage for a later date. Likewise, if they have any fever, chills or fatigue potentially relating to cold or flu, it isn’t appropriate to massage them for either of your sakes. Even allergies may make the experience so uncomfortable for the client that it is not worth either of your time.

Ultimately it is often down to the therapist to enforce the rules when it comes to this kind of thing, and nobody likes to turn down work – especially if they need the money after Christmas excess! Regardless, it is the most responsible – and the least risky – thing to do for everyone involved. Your client will respect you for it once they get over their initial disappointment, especially when it occurs to them that if you didn’t have those policies you may not even be around to book them in in the first place!

Lisa Rose
Lisa Rose


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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!