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Best Massage Table Buying Guide

The massage therapy is a form of healing going back to thousands of years, part of religious and healing powers in so many cultures. The word “massage” is French, meaning “friction,” and the Arabic word for "feel or touch.” Massage therapy has been traced back to ancient China and its medicinal ways. In modern times, it came abroad as part of common practice in the 1950s. Today, messages have become a highly popular way to relax and dump the stress; some will buy massage chairs for their home, but it isn’t like the actual physical touch from a professional. There are different forms of therapy, but all take place on the massage table.

A massage table is a comfortable section for clients to receive different types of massages for various back, neck, and shoulder ailments. They are produced for permanent positioning or for portable use. Massage tables can be straight or be angled in a way to improve massaging the muscles needed to help the person lie comfortably. Customizable one can be produced to feature a powered center, repositioning armrests, and adjustable headrests for better body movements for clients. The most popular service is the portable massage because it is taken to your home instead of driving over to their location. For professional massage therapists, it is a perfect way to expand the business without the need for a new office. The massage is something universal because everybody will suffer some serious pain and stiffness along their body, so it is always sought out.

Here are things you must consider and concerns you may have when purchasing the right massage table and possibly learning more of other options to consider. But first:

There are three common mistakes in buying a massage table, so let’s get them out of the way before telling about the right way with all the factors in buying one. The first mistake is buying a table with a backrest despite that almost all massages don’t require a backrest since it’s the back being massaged. The second mistake is ignoring the size of the table because, as you will read, width and length are quite important. The third mistake is trying to cut corners and buy a cheap massage table which has to be replaced in a short time anyway, as well as deficiencies that affect you and the client.

 

The Table Itself

So, how do you know what table to buy? Consider these characteristics: size, length, height, weight, frame, foam, and upholstery. Size shows how large a person can lay on it safely, as well as how easily (or difficult) it could be moved around. The larger it is, the more space a person who is big can lie on top, even with the difficulty of transporting it. Of course, we are talking about accommodating bigger, taller people, and thus length is important. It shows how tall someone can be while enjoying a massage comfortably. The legs and feet could be hanging outside if it is too short to lie on.

The standard size is usually 73-inches which is over 6-feet. It gives the balance between quantity and maneuverability and can be expanded to 82-inches with the purchase of a face cradle. This is where the person lies face down to keep them comfortable and to breathe. Anything lighter than 73-inches makes even more movable and the face cradle extends it by four extra inches. Anything longer than 73-inches is obvious much heavy but only is necessary for the one client who is a tall figure. Then, there’s the width which is usually 28-inches and allows masseurs to each over with no problem and can have added armed wing expansions if needed. Anything shorter or larger than 28-inches is for similar reasons to buying that length certain length for slim or large people.

There is also a special feature that should also be considered in the table. We’ve said about adjusted length and width, but there’s also adjusted height. Look at the table’s legs and find the holes that allow users to make the height better for people to lay more upright. With wooden massage tables, the adjustment is done with two twist knobs. With aluminum tables, there is a telescope for the need to alter the height of the legs by pressing and releasing the button. The leg adjustment system could come in the cradle-lock system or the strut-leg design. Cradle-lock is when the legs open up when the table opens up too, and the strut-leg is four legs from the center of the table that extends to opposite ends. Having mentioned aluminum and wooden massage tables, here’s the difference between the two.

 

Wood, Aluminum, And The Third Way

Wooden massage frames look good with its classical design and are durable and stable. The downside is that they are heavy and difficult to fold and make adjustments with, and can be noisy with heavier people lying on them. With aluminum, it is expensive, doesn’t have the pleasing look, and can easily weaken over time, especially with cheaper versions of aluminum. You want the high-quality kind, but that really costs money. However, it is lighter, durable, stronger, and easy to set up compared to wooden frames.

The third way is really an electric massage table, or with hydraulics. Why? These tables are for people who are disabled. Like stationary and wooden tables, they are built to be sturdy and last long. It is built to be adjusted the easiest way, which helps for those who may be paralyzed on the table. Now, the downside is that, even with some Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) tax credits, it is costly, especially when the motor is on the fritz. Also, it is a stationary table compared to portable tables. But, when working with disabled clients in a parlor, this is very helpful. Plus, it helps weight wise with heavyset clients, holding up to 600 pounds.

Table Shape

There are different shapes to also consider, something people would never think of until you really see it in person and when you touch it. First, there is the rectangle shaped table with square corners, the regular shape of a massage table and the most common, like a desk. Then, there’s the rectangle shape with rounded corners which does not affect its function but is smoother with a slightly more appealing look. Next, the Hourglass shape with a gradual gradient is a more modern table because it takes out the question of width in the middle of the table where the abdominal portion is of the person. The table is obviously wide at the ends, but the middle portion gives space and does not cut into the comfort someone has lying down. The hourglass shape also helps with more slimmer people as the masseur can get in closer, especially if they are slim themselves. Finally, there is the oval shape, with no corners, something chosen for two reasons. One, the look of the table is a whole lot better than carrying and lying on a flat table with its corners. Two, it is easier to move around because there is no corners which have to be sidestepped in tight spaces.

The Table

There are the comfort and security features also built in the massage table. Foam is important because the amount in it gives comfort to all clients lying down like bedding, as well as how long it stays put to keep the table functioning in the long run. For example, the low foam will shrink within a matter of week of use to where the person could feel the other side of the table. High foam is not as soft as low foam, but won’t wear down over time and not lose its shape. A third kind, small cell foam, is also a form of high foam that is very comfortable and soft like a pillow. Regularly, the thickness old is two inches but can be as high as 2.75 inches. Rule of thumb should be the foam be 2 inches, but if you can afford it, go for 3 inches thick and be semi-firm. The density of the foam is important to the person lying on top doesn’t immediately sink in even though it feels soft. Too firm, and it feels like a rock.

The upholstery comes in either PVC vinyl leather and PU leather. With PVC, it’s like leather couches that are thick, waterproof, and durable for low maintenance. PU leather is a lot like natural leather, very soft, but not waterproof; it is oil resistant, which means it won’t get stained easily. Upholstery isn’t so much of a big factor to consider in a massage table. The support cable system should be considered more than upholstery. Top-notch steel or aluminum increases the strength of the massage table, preventing it from moving around when in use. Get a table that has these cable built in.

Table weight is another important factor because it’s produced in different weights. This goes back to the size and type of frame listed earlier. How much weight can a masseuse carry? Can you stick in your car and can it be transported upstairs or easily in the elevator. It won’t matter obviously in your own parlor. Their two weights to note. First, working weight is the maximum weight one table can hold and this isn’t just the person lying on them itself. When leaning on the table, the masseuse’s weight goes on top and adds to what the table can hold. Plus, when turning over, the knees and elbows distribute the weight to four places simultaneously. Then, there’s static weight, which is how much the table could withstand based on the manufacturer’s labeling.  But how they tested it isn’t the same as with human testing in certain situations. Lightweight tables usually weight less than 30 pounds.

For Certain Massage Types

Getting the best massage table is based on the type of practice. For example, for those who work in sports massage need a table that’s stable and supports a heavier working weight than regular tables because most athletes are big and tall. For the Reflexology Massage, a lightweight massage table is fitting enough. In Thai Massage, some masseurs prefer a mat, but for those want a table, it is preferred for those with the highest working weight. A Shiatsu massage is better for tables with a high working weight as well; remember, it has to accumulate both persons involved in the message. The deep tissue massage table is good with standard size; Aromatherapy messages need a highly comfortable table, so the small cell foam is perfect. And finally, the Swedish massage requires a table with a higher working weight and extended width and length.

Lastly, look at the price because the table should be in your budget and fits your skill level. On the cheap end, tables could cost around $120 and works well for those who are practicing their massage technique. For early level professional massage therapists or more advanced masseurs, tables from $150 to $300 will do well. The top line massage tables that all the long-time professionals buy cost more than $300. Regardless, any table should not bypass the safety and comfort features for clients just to save some money. The price will also vary with the variety of colors and headrest combos to pick from for the massage table. The quality of the massage table should be based on massage efficiency.

 

Note: Always make sure that a satisfaction guarantee comes with the massage table. Set it up and test it before being comfortable that it is the right table for you. Also, most have warranties for them, so be sure that the massage table comes with a warranty on various areas, including the frame and upholstery, preferably 1-5 years. Try to get a good warranty on the fabric and foam of a massage table is tougher, although you could get one for the vinyl coating if it rubs off or becomes grainy and if the foam tears inside. This where you and clients will be touching most of when massaging.

Stepping out from tables for a moment, think about who will be on them. Pros will tell you to think about the type of people they will work with, what environment they are working in, and what accessories they use. Clients can tell you what width, padding, and size of the frame they want.

Cleaning The Massage Table

Professional massage therapists know that the massage table is a major investment that is center of their work as part of a calming environment for clients. Keeping the table in great condition allows it to last for a long time. When talking about the surface of your table, leather is considered the best in part because of its durability and the easiness to clean. Regardless of the surface, people should know how and how often they should clean their table.

Cleaning the table regularly, in between sessions, reduces the spread of germs person to person. Some masseurs use a table warmer to kill the germs, but others clean manually with some mild soapy water, no alcohol, to wipe the oil and bodily grime. If using vinyl, make sure you clean off after using fleece pads and memory foam toppers; even put on a moisture barrier which can be disposable and replaced in between clients and prevent residue from sticking on the table. These barriers are almost invisible underneath and easy to rip out.

Also, take good care of the table by preventing damage and keeping it safe from any unnecessary harm to others. Check out regularly if the massage table is still in perfect shape while cleaning by looking at the frame, brace, legs, and connections. Nothing can be wobbly, so tighten everything and keep an eye for any cracks in the table. Have the massage table covered and stores safely as exposing it can risk spills or something damaging it, such as scratching it or leaving a dent from a heavy object falling on it. Don’t leave the table in the car outside to either high or low temperatures and affect the upholstery.

Bonus: The Massage Chair

Yes, there is an alternative to the table. Some prefer the chair rather lying down flat. Traditional massage chairs are quite popular because they have direct access to the head, shoulders, and back instead of the person physically turning around. First made in the 1950s, the massage chair is portable where the person sits reverse to the chair’s direction and lies forward into the face cradle. There is padding that holds the chest, arms, knees, and buttocks when sitting. A huge plus is that people don’t have to disrobe because people do get a little self-conscious about showing their bare back and chest. But, it is a point-blank space for the message to make contact on the back, shoulders, and neck. That’s why they are found virtually everywhere: airports, conference halls, hotels, and corporate events.

Then, there’s the robotic version, where people just sit in and they press a remote to control their location and intensity of the message. This includes an incliner, as well as a massage section for the feet and calf. Massage chairs are made to copy the hand motions of a human massage therapist, mixing rollers and airbags along with certain parts of the body. Robotic massage chairs were first designed in Japan and sold after the Second World War. Not surprisingly, Japan is the largest buyers for these type of chairs, but they are popular in North America as well. It’s very relaxing, it’s timed, and can help reduce blood pressure.

Summary

In any type of massage, the massage table is very important. The comfort of clients is guaranteed when choosing the right massage table, and when picking, you should choose on the type of message being given with the services being given. Of course, massage tables that are very durable and affordable have a top preference. For those who go door-to-door, selecting a portable, lightweight massage makes it easier to carry, giving convenience to everyone. With plenty of styles to buy today, picking the best massage table isn’t easy. Particularly when you consider the amount of mileage these tables get, a massage therapist’s table is their most important tool and needs to fit all of their needs.

As a new massage therapist or one who has been a professional for quite a long time, picking the perfect massage table isn’t easy. For massage tables, there is no one-all model that fits for everyone. Each type of table has its own pros and cons, so it's up to the masseuse to decide which table meets their demands and gives the best comfort for clients. The model must accompany the type of people they work with, the type of massage, and for themselves in reaching out to people. Comfort and safety mean everything and taking care of the table provides longevity and commitment to the two. Do research, try the tables out, and invest in the one model that will be your main tool in the massage experience.

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