If you are a mobile massage therapist then there is one primary piece of equipment that is fundamental to your success – the portable massage table. There are several items you must consider when selecting a portable massage table in the areas of functionality, ergonomics, and comfort. This article will address several items in these areas and hopefully give some helpful tips on this important purchase.
- Who is your client? Are your client’s women, men or children? What type of body style do your clients have – heavy set, tall, short etc. Are your clients athletes? Are your clients experiencing pain? Are they mostly pregnant women? Do they suffer from specific ailments? Or is your client base a mixture of all of these types? The answers to these questions are vital to the table you need to support your clients. There are specific massage table types and accessories that are designed for each of these clients. Heavy set clients require a table that has a weight rating typically over 500lbs. There are accessories made for women who are pregnant and for breast support. Athletes may be tall or large and require wider and longer tables.
- What type of massage do you practice? Do you practice deep tissue massage like Aston Patterning, Sport Massage, or Canadian Deep Muscle Massage? Do you practice a lighter technique like acupressure, hot stone massage or Reiki? Do you focus on a specific part of the body like Reflexology, Lymph System Massage, or Chi Nei Tsang? Or do you practice an integrative approach that incorporates different modalities depending on the client’s needs? Modalities that are deep tissue oriented require a portable massage table to be very sturdy and strong because of the pushing and pulling techniques. Having a stable and strong headrest is needed for massage modalities that are focused on the head. Massage modalities that focus on the body core and organs require a reinforced center area, usually thicker plywood and truss supports.
- Strength and Stability – Regardless of your client type and the type of massage you practice, having a strong and sturdy portable massage table is essential in making your clients feel comfortable and safe. If your clients are heavy set then you should consider a bariatric rated table which is reinforced to minimize the table’s movement and swaying. You want your table to be stable during patient positioning and when your client in getting on and getting off the table. High quality strong and sturdy portable massage tables are made from aluminum and hardwoods, with the aluminum tables providing the best combination of strength and less weight.
- Ergonomics for You the Practitioner – In massage school you learned the importance of self-care so that your career is long and fulfilling. Having the right portable massage table will give you comfortable access to your client without having to reach and strain. Having a table that is too wide can strain your body in positioning and working your client. A cheap portable massage table that does not support your clients will require you to do the supporting. The width of portable massage tables range from 27” to 32”, and some tables have accessories which allow you to increase the width with side arm bolsters. Length can also be increased up to 10” to better support your client and provide you comfortable access. Portable massage tables typically have telescoping legs for height adjustment which will help preserve your back and neck. Having the ability to adjust the table’s width will ensure you have comfortable relaxed access to your client.
- Client Comfort – Client comfort is a necessity for your success as a massage therapist. Entry level portable massage tables have less foam and a lower quality of foam. High density foam is the right choice for your clients comfort and for the long-term use of your table since this type of foam holds up better. This is not an area to short-cut. Foam thickness ranges from 1 ½” to 3”.
- Accessories – Your portable massage table should have the ability to accommodate different clientele and different practice modalities. Many portable massage tables offer accessories to be added to the table like adjustable head rests, table extenders, and arm rests. For client comfort and positioning a variety of bolsters are available, along with carrying cases and carts.
These are a few items for your to consider when purchasing your portable massage table. Source 1 Medical is a leading supplier of massage therapy equipment and supplies. Source 1 Medical is a distributor of Oakworks portable massage tables and Oakworks medical products.