The Ergonomics of Massage Table Design
By Elline Eliasoff, CMT
Massage Therapy is one of the most exciting, flexible, low stress and rewarding professions! As a Massage Therapist, the most important investments you will make are: your education, your self-care, and your equipment. In this article I will discuss purchasing a massage table which is the largest single investment and the main tool of your practice.
It is important to have a good idea of the type of massage you want to practice before purchasing a table. Please consider the following:
- Where will you be practicing (office, home, field events, etc.)?
- Will you bring your table to client sites?
- Will your massage space be allocated for massage only? Will the space allow you the luxury of an electric or stationary table?
- Will you be doing any other adjunct therapies on the table? Is a spa table worthy investment?
- Do you need to position a chair under the table?
Purchasing your table
Client comfort is essential; however, more essential is the comfort of the therapist. All massage tables must be height adjustable. Maintaining good body mechanics by avoiding excessive bending or reaching is imperative for the longevity of your career. Reaching and bending may seem like minor inconveniences; however, the cumulative effects on your body can be devastating over time.
The width of the table is also a consideration for more petite therapists with shorter extremities. Massage tables can be found in widths starting at 25” all the way up to 32”. The average massage table is 30”, however, a smaller therapist may want to consider opting for the 28” width. (The 28” table will accommodate most clients without a problem).
The weight of the massage table is an important consideration if you are traveling with your table to client sites. Carrying the table, moving it in and out of a car, and negotiating stairs can be extremely taxing on your body if a table is heavy. There are a number of table manufacturers that sell lightweight massage tables with aluminum frames that substantially decrease the weight of the table. This is a worthwhile investment for a traveling practice!
A reiki panel or end plate is important if you plan to practice therapies that involve sitting. (Reiki, Reflexology, Cranial Sacral, etc.) The Reiki panel, or end plate, will allow you to get your legs under the table and sit in a neutral posture.
Electric and Hydraulic Stationary Tables are undeniably the most versatile for client comfort as well as positioning and table height for the therapist. The most desirable feature is the ability to adjust height during a treatment. They are typically designed so that chairs can fit comfortably underneath and seated therapies can be performed with good body mechanics.
Purchasing the “correct” Massage Table that enhances your professional skill set and your physical needs is the first step in a long and prosperous career as a Massage Therapist. Wishing you a long and successful practice!