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Tell me everything you know about massage tables and chairs!

We need your input for the next issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine:

What do you think are the most important things to consider when looking at purchasing a massage table or chair for your practice?

How does the type of bodywork you do affect your decision-making process?

For somebody just starting out as an MT, what would you tell them to look for when they're wanting to purchase their first table or chair?

What are your reasons for choosing to go with either a massage table or a massage chair? What are the benefits and drawbacks to each?

Post your answers here or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and you just might see yourself in the next issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine!

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When I got started 4 1/2 years ago I was most concerned about two things - portability and ease of adjustment. I knew I was going to be doing outcalls, so weight was definitely a factor.  My massage school instructor told us about Astra-Lite tables, how light they are but specifically how easy the legs are to adjust.  As a result of her comments and a lot of research I bought an Astra-Lite table and have been very happy with it.  I've had several people comment on how light it is.  Because of how easy it is to adjust the legs (just a little button you push in and let pop out through whatever hole is appropriate), I can easily use multiple modalities in one session that require different table heights.  It's also very easy to go back and forth from using body cushions to a flat table and adjust the table accordingly for each client.  I don't do outcalls any more but I still very much appreciate having that table.  Astra-Lite tables are more expensive than most (definitely a drawback), but well worth the investment.

For chair massage, I have an EarthLite Avila II and it's great.  I bought it based on weight, ease of adjustment and overall ease of set-up.  I haven't been disappointed in it.  It's comfortable for everyone who sits in it and I can just about carry it one-handed if I need to (I'm not very big).  It also has wheels built in, which really makes a big difference when moving it around.  One drawback is definitely how challenging it can be to get the cover on it; it's not that easy.

For someone just starting out, it's important to consider what you want to do.  Work in an office, do outcalls, or both?  Will you be doing multiple modalities at some point or are you going to specialize in one?  For example, I do massage, myofascial release and CranioSacral Therapy.  I use different table heights for each as well as adjust for client size.  

Another consideration is the quality of the equipment.  It's tempting to buy inexpensive equipment when you are just starting out but remember that clients will notice - especially how it feels when they are on the table or in the chair.  It's possible for clients to create an opinion of your professionalism based on your equipment.

    This guy makes good tables..   Solid.. Not a squeak.

Massage tables and chairs have come down in price and there are so many varieties and brands out there now - it makes it more challenging to know when you're making the "right" purchase.  I've been in this field for almost 30 years and in full time practice since 1989 - the first table I got as an apprentice student was a kit - which had the purchaser do most of the assembly!  Things have come a long way since then.  My main considerations for tables are:  where are you using it, and what type of bodywork are you doing?  I think it is important to get the highest quality and lightest portable table you can if you are just getting ONE table for all or most of your needs - and then consider a second "less portable" one if you need a stationary situation - from there, graduate up to a stationary table - and if you can afford it, an electric lift one.  Massage tables used to really hold their value - now there are so many imported inexpensive ones that someone can buy a new table for less than the price of a good used one.  Personally, I have one or two extra portable tables all the time - good for a couples massage class or CEU class where tables are needed.  As important, even more important than the table, for me, is the bodyCushion Body Support system - which I use with virtually all my clients - and makes even a so-so table into a totally adjustable, comfortable bodywork environment.  I would highly recommend the bodyCushion for new grads and "old hands" - clients love it, and it makes my work more integrative.

I love the bodyCushions!  I've only been using them since September 2011 but right away I was impressed.  My clients love them (although not all of them - some have trouble with them for different reasons).  I also have the Breast Protector chest pad and it's amazing for my larger breasted clients.  They are actually comfortable while prone!  And the cushions are very helpful for side-lying positions.  Additionally, I have access to more muscle groups than when the clients are on the flat table.  I've been taking them with me when I go to get massages and Raindrop therapies!

My #1 advice?

Go on Craigslist.  This industry has a very high attrition rate, people are ALWAYS looking to get rid of their  unused tables and chairs.  Find a good, quality one and pay half price.  

Mark, I recently added a 2" memory foam topper to my table.  My clients love it!  So do I when I get to be on my own table!  It's important to get good quality memory foam, though.  The cheap stuff is just that.

Thanks everyone, we got some great input for the article! Stay tuned, you just might see your comments in the next issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine!

Thanks again,

Abram Herman, Social Media Coordinator at ABMP

When considering a table or chair it is important to consider what direction you want to take your practice. There are always two people using the table, You and the Client. Be sure height and adjustments allow you good body mechanics. Next that it is comfortable for the client receiving the massage/therapy.

If you do Asian Bodywork you will want a face hole in the table rather than a face cradle that can't support as well. If you do chair massage for the elderly you want easy leg pass through in front of the seat which eliminates many brands.

I would recommend a table with 2.5" to 3 inch firm multilayer foam and the higher grade leatherette coverings. Square or rounded corners should be decided by how you work and space. Larger people need larger tables but keep in mind your body mechanics when you are reaching over. Consider the height range carefully many don't go low enough to do deep tissue on a large person.

My preference is for a table that can drop at least to 22". As I mentioned it must have 2.5" to 3" foam and not more. You can always add one of the many available pads and heaters. I would not use memory foam because it is so difficult for the disabled to turn and increase the work you do positioning, oscillating, and would eliminate any under body work like lomi lomi. As for cost they have come down although some of the older more expensive models will give better stability (this gives your client a better sense of security). Luckily we are in a profession which requires little in equipment to begin and the investment is quickly recovered.

Good suggestions Daniel!

I use arm bolsters for my larger clients; that way I can have a narrower table (I think it's 29" wide) for most of my clients and add the bolsters for the ones that need more arm room.  It works out well!  The bolsters I have add 4" on each side, and the straps reach under and clip to each other under the table.  

I chose my table because I could have it built for me ( Living Earth Crafts Table).  It was important to have a sturdy table for my deep tissue but adjustable enough to keep my own body mechanics correct.  It also needed to have an adjustable head cradle so I could adjust the clients head to access the neck.   The table also needs to be portable to do out calls and sadly this table is a little heavy, .  I had extra thick padding built in and adjustable legs.  All I can say table choice is critical for my health and the clients comfort.


I considered the Living Earth Crafts Sonoma flat top table when I was looking for our last table. Unfortunately the low leg height of 25" was too high for most of us to work at. Luckily I thought to call Golden Ratio which has been out of business for awhile. He still had the parts to put together the table we needed and I am so glad. It is one of the best tables I've ever been on and met all of our requirements. Sadly that is probably the last Golden Ratio to be built. Don't know what I'll get next replacement. You just have to look around, speak with the companies and know your needs.

Massage furniture is one of the very important elements of any kind of massage centre or spa. Whether you believe it or not, a comfortable massage table or chair may bring your clients come back to you. So the decision about massage furniture must be taken very carefully.   

According to my view, the very first thing is the space of your massage parlor. You need to check out how much space is available for the chairs & tables. Sometimes, the suitable equipment could be massage chairs, massage couch or massage table.

Then according to your requirements, you can choose the best massage equipment. As an example, there are different options such as stationary massage tables and portable massage tables! Choosing the right model is in your hand.

Also when choosing them, you have to pay your special attention for the types of massage services you are serving. What kind of massage you serve, whether it is Swedish massage or hot stone Massage, every massage has unique features. So for the first time buyer, the most important facts are your services & available space!

If your question is massage table or massage chair, I would like to say that it depends on your client’s satisfaction. Some clients like to have chair massages but some doesn’t like it. So according to your client, you have to choose suitable furniture. But if your massage centre is fully equipped you can easily grab more clients.



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