Check out our newsletter signup box to hear about 2 promotions we're running to help you save on massage tables!

Top ten free online courses for massage therapists

by Samantha Jenkins August 02, 2019

Top ten free online courses for massage therapists

There is lots to learn throughout your career as a massage therapist and refreshing your knowledge or learning new skills can quickly rack up a large bill! 

Below we have outlined our top ten online courses you can access for free to boost your knowledge of anatomy, business or take on a new challenge! If you a massage therapist based in the UK you can enrol in these programs easily just by creating a free account with the platforms which host them!


Master anatomy 


1. Musculoskeletal Cases - Harvard University 


Sneak behind the scenes in the clinical faculty at Harvard Medical School to learn about several musculoskeletal injuries commonly seen by surgeons. Follow each case from initial examination through to insights in a virtual operating room to observe surgeries narrated by experts in their field. A word of warning this course contains images and videos of cadaver dissection, that some people may find difficult to watch. 


2. Anatomy: Human Neuroanatomy - University of Michigan 


Get to grips with the central and peripheral nervous systems in this great course from the University of Michigan. With a commitment of just 3 hours a week over 8 weeks, you will learn about basic neuroanatomy, sensory pathways, motor pathways and the autonomic nervous system. Understand how the brain and spinal cord control the muscles, how sensory information enters the brain and study the names and functions of the cranial nerves all through an interactive system of lecture videos and quizzes.  


3. Preventing Chronic Pain: A Human Systems Approach - University of Minnesota 


This in-depth look at chronic pain covers the scope and impact of chronic pain and will enable students to recognise the characteristics and underlying causes of several common chronic pain conditions. As well as gaining a comprehensive understanding, the course also provides specific strategies which can be integrated into daily life to prevent chronic pain and enhance wellbeing


4. Managing Your Health: The Role of Physical Therapy and Exercise - University of Toronto 


This introduction is great for therapists who are interested in possibly branching out into sports massage or for therapists interested in helping patients with cancer or arthritis. Over six weeks participants will look at the role exercise plays in Cardiovascular Disease, Osteoporosis, Cancer, Common Sports Injuries and Arthritis and gives useful tips for improving wellbeing whilst living with these conditions. 


5. Introduction to Health and Wellness - Arizona State University


Making sure you can take care of yourself as you build your career as a massage therapist is vital. Over 8 weeks participants on this course can develop healthy habits tackling the following topics:  


  • Assess your personal health
  • Introduction to population health as well as national and global health targets
  • Nutrition for lifelong health
  • Improving fitness
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Assessing health information
  • Handling stress
  • Healthy sleep patterns
  • Lowering the risk of infectious illness
  • Reducing risk of chronic disease 



Build your business 


1. Marketing Fundamentals - Babson


Get to grips with the basics of marketing with this great short course from the Babson. Identify who your target audience is and learn how you can accurately respond to their needs. First, read how you can earn more money for fewer treatments by focusing on a specific group and marketing yourself as a specialist. Contemplate what niche you would like to tackle and then create your marketing strategy with this quick online course. 



2. How to Start Your Own Business - Michigan State University


Do you know the basics of business but never seem to get new ideas off the ground? Perfect if you are looking to explore a new niche or starting out in a new town this step-by-step guide will walk through everything you need to actually get your idea off the ground! From defining your idea, planning a strategy and taking action! 


3. The Science of Happiness at Work - Berkley University

This short course from Berkley University lays out the scientific benefits of a happy organisation and is great for bosses who want to learn how to test their businesses' happiness levels. With strategies to help build better professional relationships and resilience to stress, this a worthwhile exercise even for self-employed massage therapists. 



Taking on a niche 


We have spoken about the importance of establishing yourself as a specialist to prolong your career as a massage therapist and for your massage therapy business to work smarter and not harder. You can check out our full list of suggestions which include working with conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia and mental health here. The courses below can help you feel confident in taking on these niches and be confident in knowing you can serve your community by delivering amazing massage treatments! 


1. CARE: Promotion of Healthy Ageing - Karolinska Institute 


Those wanting to help older clients can feel confident when approaching GPs and other health professionals after taking this short course. Learn more about the factors needed to assist people in healthy ageing and the cognitive, emotional and social support that can make a huge difference. This course also includes some information regarding the latest trends in dementia prevention and how to help clients build healthy habits.  


2. Mental Health - Open Learn


With as many as one in four adults experiencing a mental health challenge at some point in their lives, this can be a really rewarding niche to explore. Massage can really assist people living with conditions like anxiety and depression, reducing cortisol and helping clients with other techniques to connect them with their bodies. This short course takes only 2 hours to complete and afterwards as well as feeling assured their work is having a positive impact massage therapists can feel confident in their understanding of mental health, the stigma that surrounds it and how to be an advocate for change. 


Are there any online courses we didn't mention that you found useful as you developed your career as a massage therapist? Let us know on our Facebook thread

Samantha Jenkins
Samantha Jenkins


Also in Massage Warehouse Blog

Massage therapist marking the date of the 15th with a pencil on a blank calendar with date squares as a reminder of an important day or to schedule an appointment
Increase the income of your massage therapy business with this simple scheduling trick

by Samantha Jenkins September 12, 2019 0 Comments

Do you find yourself with weeks where you are rushing around like a headless chicken with tonnes of appointments and then the next week, nothing, its a desert and you are sat around for hours in between appointments? Working to this kind of schedule is a sure fire way to make yourself miserable. The stress of an empty schedule and then being overstretched can serious undercut your confidence and can lead to burnout through stress which might see you quitting the industry all together! 

Continue Reading

Woman grabbing door knob opening brown wooden door
Nightmare massage client? Here's when you need to fire them.

by Samantha Jenkins September 05, 2019 0 Comments

Building up your massage therapy business takes hard work, determination and dedication. Filling up your books with clients is no easy task and so when we encounter a nightmare client we can feel reluctant to fire them but if the massage client you dread seeing ticks any of these boxes, it's time to give them the boot.

Continue Reading

Do male massage therapists have it tougher?
Do male massage therapists have it tougher?

by Samantha Jenkins August 30, 2019 0 Comments

Studies have shown that our industry is dominated by female therapists, outnumbering male massage therapists by 4 to 1. Many male therapists talk about struggling to find clients and dealing with people's misconceptions and preferences for female therapists but do male massage therapists really have it tougher?

Continue Reading

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!