Whether you’re a new massage therapist who is just setting up shop or you’ve been practicing in the field for decades with hundreds, or even thousands of massages under your belt, selecting the perfect massage table isn’t always an easy task.
With so many to choose from, how can you be sure you’re going to be happy with the one you pick out for years to come?
To help you answer that question, we’ve reached out to massage professionals and asked them what they look for when choosing the perfect massage table. This is what they told us.
Think About Your Clients and Services
Jessica O’Brien, corporate director of massage therapy at Bella Sante Spas in Boston, Wellesley, and Lexington, Massachusetts says that purchasing the right table is important because it is a key component of success as an effective massage therapist.
Specifically, “it will allow for proper body mechanics and your clients level of comfort,” says O’Brien.
What type of table fits this bill?
“My advice for a massage therapist looking into tables is to first think about what type of population they will be working with, what environment they envision for themselves and what type of modalities they generally use,” says O’Brien. “This can determine whether a portable, fixed or hydraulic table is best.”
O’Brien goes on to say that deciding these three factors up front also makes it easier for you to determine other table-based considerations before making the buy.
For instance, the people you intend to serve can tell you what width you need in your table, what padding will be best, the type and size of frame and any other accessories that may be necessary for that particular population.
Fixed Table Considerations
If you’re going to offer your services at one location only, you can do what Bella Sante Spas does, and that is to use fixed tables, except for one of their locations, which has hydraulic tables.
It is important to realize, though, that fixed tables tend to be more expensive than portable tables because of these factors.
Hydraulic tables offer the benefit of allowing for adjustment of the table during the massage,” says O’Brien. “This is important when working with certain populations or when using certain modalities. They are also nice in a spa setting where there are a number of massage therapists working, varying in height and approach to massage, as well as a varying range of massage clientele with different goals for their session.”
Factors to Consider if the Table Will be Portable
If you’re looking to buy a portable table, other considerations will likely come into play.
“For my personal massage table, it was most important that it was a good quality portable table,” says O’Brien. “After massage school, I knew one direction I wanted to be able to go was with home visits. I knew I would be carrying the table up and down stairs in and out of the car. As a result, the weight of the table was of importance, but I did not want to sacrifice my client comfort so width of table and high-density foam padding were also important.”
O’Brien adds that arm extensions were also a consideration because she thought it would be nice in case she had a larger client on the table. “I had several friends who were body builders and wanted to make sure they were comfortable,” she says
She also wished that she had purchased a more adjustable face cradle. “I realized after what a difference in comfort this makes,” says O’Brien.
Additional Factors to Keep in Mind
Retired massage therapist Becky Blanton, spent her career at both her own practice and also working for a sports rehab facility. She says that the “must have” features for her massage tables included: being easy to adjust by just one person; having a sturdy and heavy duty construction; a strong height adjusting system; comfortable, high-density foam padding; and having an easily cleanable surface, such as vinyl.
Additionally, the one feature Blanton says she didn’t get on her table that she wished she had was “holes for side extensions I could add for larger, wider clients to extend the table when needed.”
She also suggested that, while the cost of the table is definitely a consideration, don’t let it be the determining factor. “You’ll just end up with a poorly constructed table and will have to buy another one,” says Blanton.
When shopping for a portable table, Blanton suggests that you test drive the table.
In other words, “actually climb on it and wiggle around to see if it sways,” says Blanton. Set one up and take it down. How easy is it to handle? The salesperson has a lot of experience doing this and makes it look easy, but you should be able to lift it and open and close it easily yourself.
Also, you want to buy your massage table from a “legitimate manufacturer,” says Blanton, “not Costco or other stores unless they’re carrying a brand name.”
Speaking of manufacturers, take the time to check them out and see how long they’ve been in business. You want to know that, should you need replacement parts or repairs in the future, they’ll still be open and able to help.
Buying a massage table is a big expense and although you may be able to write it off as a business expense, it’s still a purchase that you shouldn’t enter into lightly.
If you follow these suggestions, you’re more likely to find the perfect massage table for both you and your clients. When you’re both happy with your purchase, that’s when you know you have the right one.
Christina DeBusk is a freelance writer dedicated to providing readers relevant, research-backed content related to health and wellness, personal development, safety, and small business ownership.
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