The 5 Simple Steps To Choosing Your Massage Table

So you now have a migraine from wading through 30 different massage tables, 5 different websites and god knows how many guides and articles!!

And you still can't decide which massage table is best for you!!

Well, fret no more. Answer these few simple questions to help you narrow down the selection.


1) Do you need a lifting back rest on your massage table?

    This is the first and most important question to ask yourself. Portable massage tables either have 3 sections or 2 sections. On the 3 section massage tables, the third section raises up as a back support so clients can be seated for all or some of the treatment, instead of remaining flat. The back rest can be handy for certain treatments like reflexology, acupuncture, head massage, sports leg treatments, beauty treatments and when you want to prop clients up at the end of the treatment to let them catch themselves before getting up of the table.
    Back rests are great, unless you need to carry the massage table to mobile treatments. This is because the 2 hinge supports that hold a back rest up normally weight around 3kg. 3kg on it's own isn't much but when it accounts for 20-25% of the entire weight of the massage table then it makes a massive difference! If you are in doubt or do not know, then you probably do not need a back rest.
    If you won't be doing any mobile work and your treatment room will be fixed, then by all means get a massage table with a back rest, even if you don't need one. If you like a certain treatment table but it has a backrest you may never use, go ahead and choose it. You may even take on some additional therapists in the future where it may come in handy.
    We normally advise mobile therapists and those therapists in doubt to choose a table without a lifting back rest. For some mobile therapists, a lifting back rest is essential. In these cases, there are 3 solutions or workarounds to solve the problem.

    a) Add a Wedge Back Rest Cushion to lay on top of your lightweight massage table:
    If a mobile therapist has 10 mobile treatments in a week and they know that for maybe 3-4 of the treatments, the client would benefit from being raised for some or all of the treatment. Instead of the therapist having to buy a table with a lifting back rest and carry it to all 10 treatments, the therapist can buy a very nice lightweight massage table such as the Porta-lite Delta I or II and carry that to all 10 treatments. Then for the 3-4 treatments where the therapist needs a back rest, they can bring an also very lightweight wedge back rest cushion to just those 3-4 treatments. This saves the therapist carrying a heavier massage table to the other 6-7 treatments that do not require it. It saves a lot of stress on the body.

    b) Add a massage table Transporter/Cart:
    If you are a mobile therapist and you decide to choose a massage table with a lifting back rest you can make life a lot easier by also getting a massage table cart. You can wheel the table alongside you and use easily on public transport. A lot of our customers still buy this solution even when they have the lightest portable tables as it simply makes life easier. Watch the video to get an idea of how it helps:

    2) How often will you be carrying the massage table to treatments in client's homes?

        Once you have ruled out the back rest option above, you have narrowed the selection of massage tables available to you by around 50%. Good Job!!! So you have less to choose from which should alleviate that migraine a little!!  Next decision is the carrying weight.  If you will be carrying the table a lot we advise you to get the carrying weight down to a minimum. We consider a table to be mobile if it is under 14kg. Anything over that and you will find it more difficult to carry. We highly recommend the Porta-lite Delta I or II. They are superb massage tables with the highest quality components and they are by far the lowest weight of any professional table on the market. Aluminium tables are a little harder to manufacture than wooden massage tables so the lower the price of the table the lower the build quality. If you are on a budget the Advantage I table is also very light but nowhere near the quality of the Porta-lite Delta models.

        If you decided to stick with a lifting back rest, the Earthworks Perform is the lightest full dimension table on the market with a back rest.  We recommend combining this with a wheeled transport solution for mobile treatments.

        If you will not be mobile then ignore the weight of the massage table and go with whatever table's features suit you best or what you like the look of.


        3) How tall are you?

        To recap, you have now decided on a lifting back rest or not and have decided on what carrying weight the table should be. Now you should choose the width of the table based on your height and the size of the clients you work with.

        Our staff here, who are all therapists or have been in the past, range in height from 5'2" to 6'4". We've been helping customers choose the most suitable massage table for their needs since 1999. Based on the above, all our standard massage tables will fit anyone in the height range 5'2"-6'4". Outside of this we need to offer more unique advice and we have stocked some very low height massage tables for shorter therapists and for therapists taller than 6'4" most of our tables will still suit but we need you to take some body measurements to make sure.

        For therapists 5'5" to 6'2", as a general rule of thumb you should go for a 28 inch wide table. Most can even go for a 30 inch wide table if desired.

        Exceptions to choosing a 28 or 30 inch wide table:

        • You have very bad back problems and want to have a narrower table so you don't have to lean over as much.
        • You are a very mobile therapist and as such you are willing to choose a narrower table because it is lighter (due to reduces size) and it is your preference to sacrifice some client comfort in exchange for reduced carrying weight.

        For therapists under 5'5", you can choose any table as long as you are confident your posture is good enough to lean over the table. However, some therapists under 5'5" might like to choose a 25 inch width model. They are easier to lean over and also when carried on your shoulder take up a few inches less in length.

        For therapistsunder 5'2", you can choose any table as long as you are confident your posture is good enough to lean over the table with the client on it but you may wish to consider either a narrow table (25 inches or under) or a lower height massage table. We have had therapist under 5'2" buy the Porta-lite Delta II 30 inch width as they wanted to offer their clients greater comfort but they were sure of their posture and have previously been using wider tables. But most shorter therapist do definitely choose a 25 inch wide table or go for the smaller and lower tables such as the Porta-lite Mini and Low height table.

        If you are in a situation where you either have posture or back pain problems or you are short and need to choose a narrow width table but are disappointed because you would like to offer you clients a normal to wide size table for their comfort then we have a solution for that. We have a number of models that are hour glass shaped. They offer the client the width in the shoulder and feet area where it is most needed but the table tapers in the middle where you do most of your work. The hardest part of the body to lean over for you as a therapist if the lower back and thoracic area. The table is narrower in this area. It doesn't affect the client, as they mostly need the width in the shoulder and arm area. This design has been a lifesaver for many of our customers and provides the perfect solution for many therapist stuck in between categories.


        4) What body size is your client base?

        I think it is always best, for client comfort, to choose as wide a table as possible. However, it sometimes isn't possible when the carrying weight is important or when the therapist is short and/or has back problems.

        Over the years I have spoken to hundreds of thousands of therapists. A lot of female therapists commonly have a mostly female client base and therefore when they are on the fence between choosing the width of the table, they can often get away choosing a narrow table. But many therapists treat the general population as a whole and we come in all shapes and sizes. I have regular massage treatments and the therapist comes to my home where I already have a 30 inch Porta-lite Delta II and the extra width is very nice for me. But I went to Cardiff for some acupuncture recently to a new therapist. He had a 25 inch bed and I felt so uncomfortable. I admit acupuncture isn't supposed to be a relaxing treatment as such but I should at leas be able to relax! I was on the bed for an hour and my shoulders and arms were tense because I had to keep them in place, as the bed was not wide enough for me. I would never go back to him as a result. The right sized bed and the right level of comfort can keep your clients coming back for more.

        The width of the bed and the resulting comfort provided to your client is so important so please try and go for the widest bed possible but I appreciate some therapists simply cannot!

        5) What is your budget?

          Let's ignore massage tables for a second! Pretend you are going to buy a new sofa for your living room. You want it to be comfortable to relax on and you want it to last a long time. You can go and buy a cheap sofa for £200-£300 where the upholstery feels plasticky and the foam squashes easily. 6 months down the line the cushions have a permanent bum imprint because of the low density foam and instead of being fluffy and robust, the cushions are looking a bit bent and squashed. The arm rest is starting to look worn and you hear creaks here and there when you move around. Or you can go and buy a £1,000+ sofa with real or high end PU leather, high density foam that will last a lifetime and be easier to clean and maintain. Trends and decoration aside, you would probably end up replacing the cheaper couch many times over, possibly costing you equal or more over the same period but the experience during all that time would have been far less comfortable. 

          Anyone can give and receive a massage on any table no matter what the cost. But the experience for both you and the client will definitely be very different across price and quality levels. The price of a massage table accounts for every single detail from the quality of the screws and hinges used all the way to the quality of the wood/aluminium, foam and upholstery. Also the built quality i.e. the time taken and how skilfully the table is put together is so so important.

          Like everything in life, the higher the price, the better the quality. If you are a professional therapist, do yourself and your clients a favour and get the best table you can afford. 

          One of my favourite quotes it, "Measure twice, cut once". Applying this to your massage table investment, know what you want/need and what will serve your clients best, get the right advice and your massage table should last you and your business for years to come.


          Check out the Decision Tree Diagram which narrows the selection for you based on your answers above.

          Have any questions or comments about anything above? Please let us know in the comments below!