December 11, 2016 0 Comments

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word touch as "the action or an act of touching (with the hand, finger, or other part of the body); exercise of the faculty of feeling upon a material object." There is a very big clue as to the power of touch here, when you consider that the word ‘feeling’ is used. Touch itself is not considered to be an emotion, but it provides feedback to the brain, which results in the generation of emotion, so in this way physical sensation and emotions are intrinsically linked. We do not naturally try to intellectually interpret touch or analyze the sensations or emotions that arise; nevertheless the end result is emotional stimulation. The kinds of emotions we experience as a result of touch are no doubt subjective and based on previous experiences, especially of the maternal kind.

When we describe the feeling of being emotionally ‘moved’ in a positive way by something we have perceived, it is normal for us to use the word ‘touched’ to describe the feeling. The word ‘touchy’ is used to describe a person who reacts in an overly sensitive manner. There are many clues within language that we take for granted due to familiarity. If we stopped to consider the ways in which we use these words, it may well reinforce the concepts the words were originally intended to convey.

How an infant is handled from birth and how much maternal care it receives has been linked to the development of its healthy psychology in adult life. Children who do not receive this basic human need do not develop in a normal way. Another interesting thing to note is that differences have been reported between those born by Caesarian section and those naturally. Breastfeeding is also commonly thought to be a factor in both healthy development and intelligence. If in the initial five months a child is alive it does not receive enough physical stimulation, its physical and mental development can be seriously affected. In the early 1900s Johns Hopkins University examined infant mortality rates within orphanages because they were so high that it was obviously abnormal. They found that because staff members were so busy, these children were starved of touch, only receiving the most basic care. At this point mortality rates were 9 in 10, a significantly high number; this proved that lack of touch was in fact fatal at this early stage. As staffing levels were raised and infants received more physical attention the rates turned around completely, to 1 in 10.

Deficiencies arise through starvation of touch

Touch is as important as food, water and oxygen. Infants have been known to die without it, regardless of receiving other basic needs, and in experiments where adults were deprived of touch they were seen to become mentally off-balance. The skin is an organ itself – the body’s largest - and can be considered to be the surface of our brains. With no stimulation of the skin, it seems that a deficiency of sorts arises within the brain, negatively affecting our psychological state. Simply put, the messages that the brain receives from the skin supremely affect our growth as human beings.

As any massage therapist probably knows, the skin provides immunity in that it prevents bacteria from entering the organism, it regulates temperature and its sensory receptors send information about the external environment to the brain. Touch is the most powerful of the senses and our work as massage therapists is mainly based on the sensory pleasures that our clients receive. This sensory benefit is seen in all species of mammals, and they uninhibitedly and demonstrably enjoy touch. Babies cuddle up to their mothers and siblings and we can see that domesticated pets love to be stroked; dogs can’t get enough of it and cats are even more demonstrative, pressing themselves against us and purring.

Massage therapists may be interested in a book by Ashley Montagu, "Touching - The Human Significance of the Skin". It addresses the importance of touch and its role in our healthy development during the various stages of life.




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!