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What changes or improvements would you like to see in the massage therapy industry? (Ask the Muscle Whisperer Series)

by Samantha Jenkins December 27, 2019

Anatomy image made up of the names of muscles

We are really excited to share with you the next installment of our "Ask The Muscle Whisperer" series. This month we have asked the industry's top leaders what would they like to see change in our industry and how can we, as massage therapists, all work towards making these changes.  

Ask the Muscle Whisperer Question 2 - What changes or improvements would you like to see in the massage therapy industry? And what can individual therapists around the country do to help bring about these changes or improvements for the good of everyone?

You can watch the full video with all the specialist's answers compiled together here.... or watch each specialist's answer individually in shorter snippets below underneath their name! 

    Susan Findlay Icon for Ask The Muscle Whisperer
    As an individual it can feel like your input alone may not have any influence. However, there are a number of things that you, as a therapist, can do within our community that will make a real difference. 
    One of the challenges we face as soft tissue therapists is the isolation of our job, often our contact is limited to our one to one relationships with clients and, more often than not, if we do get to converse with fellow colleagues, it is infrequently.
    We know that there needs to be a clearer understanding of what we offer, the depth of knowledge and the differences between one skill to another. Generally we can see what needs to change, and it is often associated with the misperception of what we do, that are held by many in the medical profession and the general public.

    So what can you do to bring about a change?

    Who can be your voice, who has the opportunity, who is well connected? Unless you are actively involved in, and sit on boards that can make policy changes, you may feel that you struggle to have a voice. One way to change this is to volunteer your time, become involved and sit on a panel that is dedicated to changing things, or invest in a professional association to do this for you. 

    I am aware that it is not uncommon for therapists to wonder what their professional associations do for them. Many therapists do not hold these associations in high regard. I frequently hear therapists questioning why they are paying their fees for each year, as they do not think that they are getting anything for their money.  What they fail to recognize is what they are investing in is not tangible. However, with your support and trust, your professional association can play an active role in changing the market, changing the current perception about what you do, making those connections that will elevate your status as the professional you deserve to be regarded as. When choosing the right association, you might want to see if they belong to GCMT (The General Council for Massage Therapists). This is the council for soft tissue therapies, and is the only forum in which other PAs and educators come together to discuss and resolve industry issues.

    Another option is the NMC, (the National Massage Championships). These competitions have been held at Olympia for the past 2 years. They are judged by those who have been involved in the industry for decades. Having been involved myself with the competition, the feedback I received is that everyone believes that these competitions can do a lot for our industry. They are good for the therapists involved as they offer space for connecting and networking, and also demonstrate to the general public, the very high level of skill that is out there. They educated the public about what they could expect from a well-trained and practiced therapist and what all the various forms of massage entail. Education such as this is vital if we are to change the historical perceptions that massage is a dark and seedy industry, and demonstrate its importance within the health and wellbeing fields.

    Being involved in the NMC myself, as well as the pride I felt from watching the incredibly talented and professional therapists, I was also able to use the opportunity to discuss with other judges the premise of this article: what changes and improvements we’d like to see within the industry. The judges at the event were some of the industry’s top professionals hailing from all around the world. Being able to analyse and evaluate our industry with these figureheads was incredibly insightful. I think the main conclusion that we all reached was that in order for these competitions to truly reach their full potential, and work as a beacon of professionalism and education for our industry, we need to form a committee. A committee would establish formal protocol and regulations for competitions the world over and give us all common criteria and standards to aim for.

    Finally I should mention the internet. The internet has made a big difference in the massage therapy world, just as it has everywhere. Thanks to the power of the internet and social media, as therapists we have access to more information than we ever have before. However, while some of this information is excellent and really beneficial, we also need to be wary of the misinformation out there.

    A great thing about the internet is that we have access to a community of therapists. On social media, there are groups and forums we can use to post questions, have discussions and share information. The best way to avoid misinformation is seek advice from other therapists you know and trust about which groups and forums to use. The more you use the internet, the more savvy you will become about what is genuinely useful information, and what isn’t.

    In conclusion, I think the most beneficial way we can all bring about change within our industry is by uniting together. Using our joint voices to be heard. I started off this article saying that as an individual perhaps we struggle to be heard, however although most of us work alone, we are not alone in our mission to elevate the massage therapy profession within the health and wellbeing world. We have a community of other professionals that we can access through our professional associations, through the events like the NMC, and through the multitude of forums and online communities. Therefore, I think the biggest change that I would like to see is that we start to view other professionals in the industry, not as competition, but as team mates, united together in our shared goal to raise professionalism in the industry, and change perceptions both within the medical fields and the general public. We understand how beneficial massage is for health and wellbeing, and by working together, we can also ensure that the world does too.

    Watch Susan answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!

    To find out more about Susan's courses and sign up for her great Massage Monday series click on the image below or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

    Susan Findlay logo

    Susan Findlay
    Emma Gilmore
    Earle Abrahamson
    Jane Langston
    Sue Bailey

    Rachel and Meghan from JING would like to see the standard of education for massage in the UK reflect the levels that already exist in the USA and Canada where therapists are required to complete a degree level of training. Rachel and Meghan believe this would radically change the perception of our services amongst the public and elevate the massage industry to the level already seen in similar complementary therapies such as physiotherapy. Not only would this provide a much needed confidence boost for massage therapists, it would also have tangible benefits to massage therapy businesses, with more referrals coming through from GP's and doctors as well as the opportunity to charge more as bodywork finally receives the recognition it deserves! Massage Therapists can help support the campaign for these changes by joining organisations such as the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC)







    Watch Rachel and Megan answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!



    To see JING's upcoming training courses please click on the image below or follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.  

     JING Advanced Massage Training  

    Susan Findlay
    Emma Gilmore
    Earle Abrahamson
    Jane Langston
    Sue Bailey
    Emma Gilmore profile for Ask The Muscle Whisperer
    For Emma there are 3 changes she would love to see within the massage industry; standards, self development and supervision. As we know currently there is no standardisation of the qualifications required to practice as a massage therapist - a change that Emma, like many therapists, would welcome. However, as Emma points out, we can all raise the profile of the industry by committing to our own ways of raising standards by focusing on self development and participating in supervision. 

    By taking a few CPD courses each year and making sure our clients know about them we are demonstrating the depth of our knowledge as massage therapists and elevating the industry in the public's perception.

    Emma also believes self development can bring about crucial changes in the massage industry when therapists commit to taking care of themselves with activities like yoga, meditation or even spending time in nature. Taking time for this kind of self development will enable therapists to hold a healing space for their clients. Providing this kind of nurturing experience is critical to how clients view massage as a whole.

    Always remember clients are coming to us in their time of need. When people are vulnerable in this way visiting a stressed out therapist providing a rushed massage treatment with no individual attention is not only going to negatively affect a therapists' individual massage  business, but also the perception of the industry as a whole.

    Finally for Emma committing to regular supervision is a great way that therapists to help bring about change in the massage industry.

    Establishing a supervisor who you can talk to on a monthly basis about any difficult clients is common in other health practices and creates an ethical and professional forum for working through this issues that protects both you as a therapist and your client. 


    Watch Emma answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!


    You can see the latest courses on offer at School of Bodywork by clicking the image below! You can also follow on Facebook and Instagram.

    School of Bodywork logo

    Susan Findlay
    Emma Gilmore
    Earle Abrahamson
    Jane Langston
    Sue Bailey
    Earle Abrahamson profile for Ask The Muscle Whisperer
    Earle would like to see massage therapy move away from its position within the beauty industry to sit more firmly within the health and wellness sector. 

    Crucial to making this shift is the way that evidence is used to demonstrate 

    the decisions, actions and outcomes of each massage treatment. As well as being best practice, this helps to position massage therapy within the healthcare system. Extending this into marketing and promotional material will also help to shift public perception and increase the public's awareness of our skill and expertise. 









    Watch Earle answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below! 

    You can find more details on Earle's latest book 'Muscle Testing – A Concise Manual' by clicking the images below or find out more details on the next Hands On Training courses by clicking here.



      • Making Sense of Human Anatomy and Physiology - Lotus Publishers 2016


        • Concise Manual of Muscle Testing - Handspring Publishers. Due out October 2019 
      Susan Findlay
      Emma Gilmore
      Earle Abrahamson
      Jane Langston
      Sue Bailey
      Jane Langston profile for Ask The Muscle Whisperer
      Jane would love to see more properly funded and designed clinical trials to help shift the perception of massage as a luxurious treat to being the go to solution for aches and pains. Integrating massage into the NHS and other healthcare provider would be a big step and for Jane this could be achieved by upping the levels of education of anatomy, physiology and pathology. 

      An increase in knowledge would doubtless give massage therapists more confidence in knowing when to treat and when to refer, a practice that would help solidify massage and soft tissue work's place within the healthcare system. Individual massage therapists can raise the profile of our industry by committing to regular CPD, keeping up to date with the latest developments in pain science and by undertaking good record keeping, conducting clinical assessments at the start of a treatment and recording change at the end of the session. Not only will this impress clients, but it will also assist therapists to choose appropriate techniques rather than falling into the trap of performing a set routine. 




      Watch Jane answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!

      Click here to order Jane's latest book 'Muscle Testing – A Concise Manual' written in collaboration with Earle Abrahamson or click on the image below to join the next Muscle Testing and Human Anatomy & Physiology Workshop with Learn Anatomy Ltd.

      Learn Anatomy LTD

      Susan Findlay
      Emma Gilmore
      Earle Abrahamson
      Jane Langston
      Sue Bailey
      Sue Bailey profile for Ask The Muscle Whisperer For Sue and her team of tutors, a better level of legislation is needed within the massage industry. They would all welcome laws to limit the number of daily clients for therapists working within spas and to formalise the education required to be in line with the licensing seen in the United States and Canada. 

      Their team would also like to see more funding provided to support therapists emotionally both when working with clients with complex health  conditions and with personal issues that they might share during their massage treatments. More self care should also be encouraged with employees of massage therapists providing access to training for no hands techniques and regular treatments from fellow therapists. Wellness and well-being are common buzz words being used by companies to promote their services but they need to reflect this in their own practice and support their workers to have long, healthy careers. 







      Watch Sue answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!


      To see the latest courses on offer at Gateway workshops click on the image below or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

      Gateway Workshops

      Susan Findlay
      Emma Gilmore
      Earle Abrahamson
      Jane Langston
      Sue Bailey

    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!