Available as stationary, portable, adjustable or fixed heightWhile working on a bed or floor is possible, a purpose made massage table is ideal for your own health and ease of egress as well as being a good comfort option for clients. Tables which are portable and easy to carry are also a good option for anyone on the move or who does not have a room exclusive for massage. Portable tables fold up and the smaller ones can be carried like a suitcase as in the image right while the larger tables often come with a carry strap which can be placed over your shoulder.
Portable tables range in weight from about 12 to 20kgs depending on size and construction. This table to the left complete with accessories is about 18kg.
In terms of height and width, it depends to some degree on your style of massage and the person you are treating as well as your own stature and flexibility.
Ideally your table will have a height adjustment so when massaging a slim/small person you can set the table up higher and when massaging a big person, you can set it down lower. In terms of width, if you are short, a narrower table is better so you can reach over, however a 600mm wide table may mean that your clients arms will hang down and if you have a forward arm rest as in the table left, that's ok.
The standard table width is 700mm and many like an 800mm wide table which is sometimes better for stronger work or when you want to climb on the table.
In terms of height, the tables I use adjust from 620mm-880mm from the floor and as I am 6', I have my table set at a height of about 650mm for most people and 700mm for smaller clients.
The modern tables you see here have wooden legs with one part which can be adjusted by undoing the bolt and moving the leg up or down. It takes 2-3 minutes to adjust all 4 legs.
The table tops have a wooden frame with a plywood base. I suggest that if you get an 800mm wide table or if you plan on lots of heavy duty work on a 700mm wide table, have this upgraded to a thicker than standard ply as if a client slips, they can accidentally put their elbow though it.
A high density foam makes the surface more comfortable and for added comfort I prefer extra than standard thickness and most tables are covered with standard marine grade vinyl which is about as strong as you can get, however soft touch vinyl is another comfort bonus..
A head extension or a face hole in the table? If you have a space restriction, you need a face hole in the table. Older tables and the Cloud 9 tables in particular had a reputation for discomfort due to poor design and a lack of padding, however the latest Aurora tables have reduced this problem. The major drawback with the face hole is when the person turns over, the hole is in the way. You need to cover this hole either with the hole plug that comes with the table or a pillow. Or a smaller person may slide down a bit, but then their head may be out of reach as your come to that part of the massage, or they can slide up, but still the hole must be covered else a draft flows around their neck.
If limited space is a consideration, get a table with a face hole and a face extension.
An adjustable face extension is a must for any serious practitioner. The adjustment allows for better access to the neck as tilting it down a little elongates the clients neck.
Rounded corners; when you're busy, occasionally the square corners will catch your thigh as you move round and I recommend the rounded corners.
Using Your Table
As you see in the image above, set-up is very quick although if you're in a confined space, be careful you don't knock anything. When you have your table on its feet, check the wooden stays are straight and the table is set level. From here you can cover with sheets or towels ready for your client, or if you massage on the bare vinyl, sterilise the surface before and after use.
How you stand and use your body to affect the massage determines how you are during and after the massage. If your table is too high you will have problems, and if its too low you will have problems. A great many therapists have ended their careers due to the wrong table height, the wrong foot positions, over bending their back or overworking their arms and shoulders.Ideally as you stand beside your table, you stand near the middle with your table side leg back toward the foot of the table and your heel turned out. Your other leg is forward with the foot parallel to the table.
You move your entire body with each stroke so that you can lean your upper body weight into your arms and hands without using much arm and shoulder strength. Try bringing your weight forward as you effluerage from the hips to the shoulders - bend your forward knee and raise the heel on the back foot. To return simply straighten the forward leg and rest the heel down. You can come back further by bending your back leg and raising the ball of your front foot.