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Choosing A Massage Table

Feb 2, 2008
If you're a massage student looking to by your first massage table, it can be overwhelming when you see all the choices you have available to you. Now that you're taking your massage class, you're itching to get your first massage table so you can start practicing on your friends and family!

The question becomes what exactly is the right table for you and your needs? There are different things to think about when choosing your table, and below I've highlighted some things you'll want to think about. While most tables look similar, there are actually some differences that may look small, but can make a huge difference in the table you choose.

For instance, tables can be found in a standard size, or you can order them wide or narrow. If you're a shorter person with shorter arms, you may find a more narrow table would work better for you.

You'll also have to make decisions like if you'll want a table that is portable or stationary. If you're going to bring your table with you, this is an important decision! You may even want to consider a massage chair!

With many companies to choose from, you'll come across brands such as Oakworks, Earthlite, Master, Astra Lite, Nautilus, Earthgear, StrongLite and Custom Craftworks just to name a few! With a little time and research, you'll find the perfect massage table for your needs.

One of the things you'll want to look at is the padding on the table. This is something you'll want to think about based on the modalities that you'll be practicing. If you're doing deeper work, you won't want as much padding as someone who does primarily Swedish massage. Also, consider your client will be on the table from 30 to 90 minutes. You can also buy a separate pad at a later date if you choose to add more. I personally would recommend to buy the best padding you can afford. Don't forget to specify if you want medium or high density foam.

One thing that many people get caught up on is the color of their massage table. A gentle reminder that sheets will be on your table, may help you realize that it's really not as important as you make it out to be. While you may love a purple, blue or yellow table, you won't be seeing that table except for a quick change of sheets!

It's exciting to pick out your first massage table. Before jumping in though, consider that if you're in school, your school may have a discount program, so check with them. You can also find channels online for a large choice of tables, as well as checking places like eBay. My biggest recommendation though would be to go to a showroom and try them out, if you have one near by. Get up on the table and see how it feels.

When looking at the table size, consider that the standard length runs 73". You can also order tables that range in length from 65" to 85". Width is another place where you can find different sizes. Most massage tables range from 25 to 32 inches wide.

When choosing a cradle or headrest, there are different types once again. One is fixed, that you remove by pulling it out when not using it, while the other is adjustable and collapses when it's not in use. Which will you want?

Another option is looking at end plates. Based on the modality you'll want to decide if you want open end plates or closed. If you will be practicing Reiki, you'll want open end plates. This way you can place your legs under the table while practicing.

Will you be doing Shiatsu massage with clients? You'll want to look for a table that allows you to fold the legs beneath the table, so that you can place it on the floor.

Sometimes you'll see the letters UL when a table is described. What that means is that the table you're looking at has been through an independent test, and it passed criteria such as weight bearing. Look for these letters when selecting your table.
About the Author
Deborah has a resource guide, information and tips at Massage Mix for students, massage therapists and even for consumers who are looking to do massage at home with their partners. There are two entries, one for massage therapists, and one for consumers.
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