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The Muscle Whisperer - Thoughtful Tips For Massage Therapists with Kate Browne

Award winning massage therapist Kate Browne runs a successful mobile massage business in the Cotswolds and took the top prize at 2019's National Massage Championships! 

Kate has partnered with Massage Warehouse's The Muscle Whisperer to share her top tips and techniques with massage therapists across the UK. If you have missed previous editions you can catch up on all episodes of The Muscle Whisperer - Thoughtful Tips for Massage Therapists with Kate Browne below! 

You can find the Songbird Relaxation Massage Wax Kate recommends here, plus enjoy 10% off any Songbird wax using the code thebestwax at checkout!

Songbird Massage Wax from Massage Warehouse

You can find the 100% Brushed Cotton Sheet Kate uses for draping her clients in a range of different colours here.


100% Brushed Cotton Sheet from Massage Warehouse

You can find the Half Round Bolster Kate uses to support her clients here

Half Round Bolster from Massage Warehouse

Episode 1. Soft Tissue Release

In the first episode Kate shares top tips for Soft Tissue Release! This is a myofascial techniques that can be applied to muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments to break down adhesions and improve muscle flexibility and function. 

Episode 2. ITB - Iliotibial Band

In the second episode Kate shares her techniques for mobilising the ITB or Iliotibial Band! Injuries and pain in the ITB are very common in runners but also in people who are tied to their desk all day!  


Episode 3. Self Care For Neck And Shoulders

In the third episode Kate shares her self care techniques for the neck and shoulders! Great for a bit of self care or for sharing with clients, these are perfect for those of us who spend a bit too much time hunched over our phones or computers!

Episode 4. Side Lying Effleurage

In episode 4 Kate shares some techniques for Side Lying Effleurage for the back. A great way to bring rhythm into spreading oil across the back, utilising a  side lying position can also be beneficial for a range of clients!

Episode 5. Opening Up The Chest And Shoulders 

In episode 5 Kate shares a fantastic posterior stretch, perfect for helping clients open up their chest and shoulders which can carry a lot of stress and tension. 

Episode 6. Working with the Adductors 

In the sixth episode Kate shares her techniques for working with the adductors! These muscles are weakened by sitting more and by sitting with crossed legs and in time can cause problems walking and sleeping. I bet there are lots of clients out there struggling after having to adapt to home offices so lets all get showing off our knowledge about the adductors!


Episode 7. 3 Ways To Traction The Shoulder  

In the 7th episode of Thoughtful Tips for Therapists from award winning therapist Kate Browne we are sharing 3 separate ways to traction the shoulder!

With so many aches and pains out there from hunching against the cold or trying to work from home the more techniques we have to help our clients the better! 

Episode 8. Accessing Tibialis Posterior

In episode 8 Kate is tackling the tricky tibialis posterior! A difficult muscle to access, Kate shares her award winning tips for helping client alleviate the tension held in this area.

Great for athletes, runners or any clients trying to get fit and healthy this could be especially handy around the New Year as clients tackle their resolutions! 

Episode 9. Muscle Energy Technique for the Iliopsoas 

In episode 9 of her Thoughtful Tips for Therapists series Kate shares her tips for alleviating pain in the Iliopsoas. Often overlooked, these muscles can hold a lot of tension that is associated with lower back pain which is becoming an increasingly common complaint as we can't move as freely during lockdown! Worth sharing with your clients to let them know you can't wait to help them with their achy Iliopsoas! 

Episode 10. Stretch for Quadratus Lumborum

Kate is back for episode 10 and this time she is sharing a soothing stretch for the Quadratus Lumborum! One of the prime culprits for lower back pain and poor posture this technique is a great way to use gravity to assist us in stretching out the muscles! I bet as we spend more time chained to desks many of us will feel the need for this one! 

Episode 11. Tips For Draping

In the 11th episode Kate shares a host of tips and techniques for draping! As well as covering the basics of how to make your client feel secure and comfortable Kate also shares 3 ways for beginning treatments over covers to aid in relaxation and get things started at a lovely pace!

Episode 12. Working The Upper Trapezius

In the 12th episode Kate shares a host of tips for working with the Upper Trapezius! An area of the body that holds tonnes of tension you are bound to work on these muscles in nearly every treatment!

These techniques will not just be super relaxing and soothing for your clients but also protect your body from strain as a massage therapist!


Episode.13 Locating the Piriformis

In the 13th episode Kate shares a host of tips for locating and providing relief to the Piriformis! Located under the Gluteus Maximus the Piriformis can be a tricky muscle to work with but can provide lots of relief for the lower back!

Episode 14 Tips for Bolstering 

In the 14th episode Kate shares a host of tips for bolstering. With techniques for supporting clients in prone, side lying and supine positions Kate also covers how to use bolstering when working with clients with lower back pain or who are expecting!

You can find the Half Round Bolster Kate uses in a range of different colours here and you can find the Full Round Bolster Kate uses in a range of different colours here.

Episode 15 Massaging the Glutes.

In the 15th episode Kate shares a host of tips for Massaging the Glutes! An area of the body which stores tonnes of tension, the benefits of massaging the glutes can be felt all over the body but especially in the lower back! Perfect for all your clients who have been a bit sitting around a lot more than usual during lockdown! 

You can find the 100% Brushed Cotton Sheet Kate uses for draping her clients in a range of different colours here and you can find the Songbird Massage Wax Kate uses here, plus enjoy 10% off any Songbird wax using the code thebestwax at checkout!

Episode 16 Starting Over Drapes

In the 16th episode we are sharing a section of Kate's draping tutorial that we thought deserved its own episode! In this edition Kate shares some beautiful techniques for starting your treatment over drapes. With tensions running so high for everyone these soothing tips might be just what your massage clients need right now!

Episode 17 Prioritising Treatment

In the 17th episode Kate shares her tips for structuring your treatments when working with clients who come in with multiple issues! A key skill to master, knowing how to prioritise your treatments will help you demonstrate your knowledge, skills and value to your clients!

Episode 18 Types of Muscle Contraction

Do you know your isometric from your isotonic contractions! Brush up in just 4 minutes in the 18th episode of Thoughtful Tips for Therapists! In this edition Kate breaks down the different types of muscle contraction and shares easy to remember examples so you will never get them confused again!

Episode 19 Treating TFL

The Tensor Fasciae Latae or TFL is a fantastic muscle to work with. Often linked to knee pain it is a great chance to really show off your knowledge to your clients!

Episode 20 Landmarks of The Scapula

In this episode Kate breaks down the bony landmarks of the scapula and how these relate to the muscles we treat as massage therapists with some great anatomy body painting! Understanding where the bony landmarks are, what they're called and what they relate to can really improve your understanding of what you're doing in a treatment!   

Episode 21 What to look for in a massage oil 

In this episode Kate breaks down what makes a good massage oil for treatments! Kate shares what factors she looks out for and what she avoids as a massage therapist when selecting a massage oil and why she uses the Melrose H2Oil for her award winning treatments.

Episode 22 Massagin Pectoralis Major

In this episode Kate breaks down some techniques for massaging the Pectoralis Major! An important area of the body for massage, treating the Pectoralis Major and helping this muscle to relax can help alleviate protracted shoulder tension!

Episode 23 Quality of Touch

In this episode Kate breaks down quality of touch and the difference between pushing and sinking into the tissues! These concepts are important both for your clients but also for the longevity of your career as a massage therapist!

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!