We are really pleased to launch Tales from the Table written by Sports and Holistic Massage and Reflexology Practitioner Andrew Stevenson! Tales from the Table are short stories designed to be a little pick me up! To make you smile, chuckle or ponder the crazy world of working in massage therapy!
You can learn a little more about Andrew at the bottom of this post but let's jump in to the first edition where Andrew shares a tale of working as a pitch side therapist and how a poor choice of footwear almost had catastrophic consequences!
I have always been involved with sport when I was younger as a player and in later life with the jobs I had.
However I need to start this story with a disclaimer. I am not a qualified physiotherapist, language has changed over the years and in my day they were called Trainers.
Back in the day when football was played in all weathers, I was playing in a game in mid February. The temperature was below zero and it was snowing hard when I received a hard tackle of a player who racked his studs up the inside of my thigh to my groin.
As I lay on the frozen ground in agony and bleeding, the trainer ran on to the pitch, put down the bucket he was carrying and punched through the ice to get to a sponge that bobbed inside.
Seeing this and knowing the part of the body he was going to apply this to, I jumped up absolutely fine! From here we get the saying “Magic Sponge”
But I digress.
Later I was working as the club “physio” for a semi professional football team. It was a warmish September afternoon but the clouds were building.
In my opinion the referee could only see one colour and needed his eyes tested! I had made my displeasure known to him several times and had received a warning for my impassioned pleas, but fortunately for me the “physio” according to the laws of the game can not be sent off.
With five minutes to go the heavens opened and a heavy downpour was accompanied by the boom of distant thunder.
The clock ticked down and we were in added time defending a 1-0 lead and they were throwing everything at us including a very heavy tackle leaving one of our players on the floor.
The referee was standing over the injured player and signalled for the “physio” to come on.
I ran on to the pitch which was now very slippery. As I got to them I tried to stop but I was wearing trainers and my feet slid out from under me and sent me crashing into the back of the referees legs.
He flew up into the air. His foot connected with the captain of the other team's face, he in turn landed heavily on top of the injured player causing him to yell out in more pain.
This then escalated into a pushing and shoving match between the two teams.
The two assistant referees managed to bring the situation back under control but the referee could not continue.
The game finished with us winning 1-0.
A few days after the game I was charged by the F.A. for violent conduct towards a match official. The charges were dropped on the statements of the assistant referees report who explained it was just an accident with no intent. But I learnt a valuable lesson from my footwear faux pas! When working as a therapist or physio choosing the correct footwear can save you a lot of hassle!
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Tales from the Table is written by Andrew Stevenson - Sports and Holistic Massage and Reflexology Practitioner (Husband, Dad, Granddad, Chief cook and Bottle Washer)
I started my working life as an Engineer in the armed forces and I have spent many years participating in a wide range of sports at high levels both locally, nationally and internationally. My body was always in good condition and everyone called me “Peter Pan” as I was always up for a new challenge. However as my age increased so did the injuries, the severity and the recovery times. It was recommended by a friend that I try reflexology and massage to be honest I was very sceptical to point where I said “if jabbing things in your feet makes you better I will just walk around outside on the gravel with no shoes on and save myself a few quid”
My life changed in my 30’s when I had a particularly bad back injury and was given a choice to give up playing sport (Football as a goalkeeper) or give up walking. Having two young children at the time I can still remember my wife’s words "I can’t push the children around in the pushchair and you in a wheelchair so no more football"
At that point I thought my life was over and the world was going to end.
So I tried both reflexology and going for a massage. The older one amongst us will remember the old advert at Christmas for Remington shavers. “I was so impressed I bought the company”. I found the benefits astonishing not only to my physical wellbeing but also my mental wellbeing so in 2005 I qualified as a reflexologist and massage therapist through the AoR (Association of Reflexologists) and started my journey of helping others, working with clients, local sports teams and professional athletes.
Since qualifying as a therapist I have become a qualified football coach, manager, and club “physio” only retiring from the game in 2020. I have driven rally cars, played cricket and still play golf and compete at both field and target archery. My experiences have taught me first hand to always remember the body is just like any other piece of machinery - if it is not properly maintained then it will fail!
You can follow Andrew on Twitter here!
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.