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The Power of Networking with Your Local Medical Community

by Samantha Jenkins December 06, 2019

Looking over the shoulder of a male at a smiling male doctor wearing stethoscope

Networking is an important part of business for many professionals, but physical therapists and massage therapists often assume they only need to focus on meeting potential clients. This couldn’t be further from the truth and one reason why many of these small businesses fail. Building a network of health centres, doctors, nurses, holistic healers and other healthcare providers in your area, as well as general community involvement may be the key to getting a steady stream of new clients without much effort on your part. 


Facebook post from Lizz Pugh asking what types of medical professionals do other massage therapists network with successfully?


Massage Therapy as Part of a Vital Range of Medical Services

As a physical or massage therapist and being a small business, you know that there are many benefits to the service you provide. From helping chronic pain patients avoid reliance on potentially addictive medication to providing a relaxing service for those who’ve recently suffered a traumatic injury, your work is important and it’s usually connected to other healthcare services, hospitals and other health centres. You’re part of a medical community and you can use that to your advantage. Medical professionals, personal trainers, natural health practitioners and others in the healthcare field are all potential sources of new client referrals.


Facebook post from Susan M Hylton about working with a personal chef to find clients


Before you start trying to get your foot in the door with your local health care providers, though, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary credentials in place. Otherwise, a licensed physician or another high-level health care professional may not be able to use you as a referral even if they wanted to. Your practice may need to be focused on evidence-based modalities rather than simple spa-style relaxation. If you are licensed to practise physical therapy or massage therapy where you live and you have experience treating specific medical conditions, you’re in a great position to benefit from medical community networking.


Facebook post from Gloria Hoch Prater about specialising in prenatal massage and networking with medical professionals


Meeting Other Healthcare Professionals

So, how do you network with other healthcare professionals? There are a few routes you can take, and you should use the ones that make the most sense for you and your massage therapy business. One of the easiest ways to meet healthcare professionals is to operate your practice from a medical building in your community. You can also try to get a job working as a provider in a medical clinic. This way, you can naturally develop relationships with the practitioners who work nearby and get to know how they work so you can find out how to relate to them on a professional level. 


Facebook post from Kathy Hensley about getting referrals to her massage therapy business from a mental health counsellor


These organic networking opportunities may not always present themselves, though, so you may need to take more initiative. The next easiest step is to make friends with healthcare providers in your community and start hosting social gatherings for other people in the healthcare field. Meetups, happy hours and networking events are all great opportunities to meet people with a specific interest. If you don’t know of anything like this happening in your community, you can make it happen yourself.  

Planning successful meetups usually requires some social media skills, but you don’t need to be a Twitter master to get attention. Social networking sites such as that focus on networking with like-minded people are an easy way to get events going. You can also start a Facebook group for your community and you can even make it private so the group is invite-only. 

This gets at an important fact: networking doesn’t all have to be in person. Digital networking is important too, but you’ll want to make sure that the doctors at hospitals and other healthcare providers you’re talking to online are actually in your area so they can refer clients to you. Try following local medical professionals on social media and commenting on their posts to get a rapport going. Make sure your own online presence is in good shape so your identity will be clear. Simply striking up an online friendship can sometimes be enough to make healthcare providers think of you when it’s time to refer clients for massage or physical therapy. 


Staying Ready to Get Referrals

Networking isn’t always easy. While working as a massage therapist does require a certain degree of people skills, it doesn’t mean you’re jumping at the chance to approach strangers and promote your business. If the idea of networking gives you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, don’t worry. Very few people actually enjoy getting out there and networking. But you don’t have to enjoy networking to do a good job. Use these simple tips to make networking easier and more effective:
  • Always keep plenty of business cards and other physical promotional materials on hand. If you happen to meet a doctor or personal trainer at a party, for example, you can give them a small stack of cards to pass out to clients who need massage therapy services. 
  • Networking can be passive. Don’t miss out on other opportunities to hand out your marketing materials like community corkboards at local shops are also potential areas of growth. Never miss the chance to leave a card or leaflet for a potential future client to pick up.
  • Don’t be shy about discussing what you do for a living. You don’t have to get too specific, but if you have a certain philosophy or approach that you think is relevant for certain types of injuries or conditions, mention that when you talk about what you do. 
  • Stay up to date on continuing education and the latest research relating to your educational background. Striking up a conversation with a doctor, nurse or physical therapist gives you the opportunity to show off your impressive range of knowledge, which may be all it takes to convince a healthcare provider that you’re a good referral for their patients. 
  • Consider offering a referral discount for patients of a particular provider. This may be against official ethical rules where you live, so check to make sure this is allowed before going this route.
  • Say thank you and stay in touch when you get a referral from a specific healthcare provider. You may want to leave a space on your client intake forms so your new massage therapy patients can tell you if they were referred to you by a specific doctor or other healthcare provider. If you do get a referral, send that doctor or nurse a quick email or even a thank-you note in the mail to express your gratitude. You don’t need to overdo it, but make it clear that you appreciate the referral and you may get even more.

How do you use networking with medical professionals to grow your massage therapy business? Let us know in our Facebook thread

Samantha Jenkins
Samantha Jenkins


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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!