We are really pleased to share the second in our Tales from the Table series written by Sports and Holistic Massage and Reflexology Practitioner Andrew Stevenson! You can learn a little more about Andrew at the bottom of this post but let's jump in and hear Andrew's tale of an awkward mistaken identity that still makes one physiotherapist blush to this day!
Disclaimer: The person in this tale wishes to remain anonymous and the names of the clients have also been changed to Albert and Marlene (which I have borrowed from 'Only fools and horses' as this happened in the London area)
This story was told to me by a fellow professional who spent many years working as a physiotherapist in both the NHS and in private practice. He has now retired after a very fulfilling career but the memory of this day still haunts him....
This story happened a very long time ago, in the 1970’s. Until this time physiotherapists could only treat people by referral however the law on this had recently changed. “Mr Physio” was an forward thinking chap and set up his own private practice outside the NHS and the practice had not been open for very long when this happened.
As Mr Physio walked out into his new waiting room and sitting there was a man (Albert) in his late 60’s and a lady (Marlene) who was a few years younger.
Mr Physio went in and said “Good Morning would you like to come through”
Both Albert and Marlene stood up and followed him into the treatment room.
How can I help? Albert then proceeded to tell Mr Physio about the problem he had with his shoulder caused through many years working in the construction trade as a plasterer.
Mr Physio asked Albert to remove his shirt and sit on the bed and carried out a full and extensive examination and then treatment to the shoulder.
After the session was over Mr Physio realised he had not spoken to Marlene who was sitting there and had not said a word so he turned to her and said;
“So Marlene when you get Albert home I want you to make sure he does the exercises I have given him and if you want to give his shoulder a little rub and maybe put a hot water bottle on it before you go to bed, it will ease the pain and help him to get a good night’s sleep”
Marlene stared at him with a puzzled look and replied “ I am sorry but I don’t think I can do that”
Mr Physio looked at her and asked what the problem was. Did she understand how to do the exercises and would she like him to show how to do them again?
Marlene looked puzzled and said “No” there was a pause “I don’t know where he lives”
It was at this point Mr Physio's heart sank he broke out in a cold sweat and in his words he got that sick feeling in the pit of his stomach you get when you know something is very wrong.
Mr Physio dreading the answer he was about to receive, So Marlene, Can I ask, how do you know Albert?
Marlene replied “ I don’t know him, I have never met him before.
Confused, Mr physio asked can I ask why you are here with him?
Marlene replied “I am not with him, I have an appointment to see you later on and the bus timetable wasn’t right so I had to catch an early bus so I wasn’t late”
You can just imagine the picture of horror and embarrassment on his face.
He has never lived this down and never made the same mistake again!
So the moral of this story is never assume as it makes an ass (of) u (and) me!
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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.