Massage Therapy Tools of the Trade

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapists.

After completing a massage therapy diploma program, graduates may be interested in self-employment. Not only will self-employed massage therapist want to learn proper massage therapy techniques at a vocational college, but they will also want to learn about the tools and accessories that will make their massage therapy customers request repeat appointments. The massage therapy tools include the table and related accessories.

Massage Tables

Almost all of the massage tables that are sold are portable which are designed to fold in half and go with the massage therapist to off location appointments.  Make sure to purchase professional-grade equipment and tools for the clients’ comfort and safety.

The features of the massage table are important. Most massage tables will be configured differently by width, height, length, framing, padding and fabric. The massage table should suit the body of the massage therapist as they will be the ones using and carrying the massage table.

Massage Table Width – The width of the massage table will usually depend on the height of the massage therapist. A shorter massage therapist may want to buy a shorter width massage table as it is easier to carry. Having a wider table may cause the massage therapist to lose leverage as they may need to reach across the client’s body. However, any massage table too small will leave the client’s arms hanging of the sides and make them uncomfortable.

Massage Table Height – All massage tables have an adjustable height range. The optimal height of the massage table is determined by the height of the massage therapist, the type of massage, and the total mass of the client. A massage therapist should be able to touch the top of the massage table with a clinched fist and straight arm.

Massage Table Length – most massage tables are around 72 inches in length to accommodate a client that is over six feet table. For taller clients, the massage therapist can use bolsters under the knees to shorten the length of the client.

Massage Table Frame – most massage tables are made of wood or aluminum. Wood frames tend to be heavier than aluminum frames. An aluminum massage table will make transport easier.

Massage Table Padding – this is the part of the massage table that a client will remember. Selecting the right table padding is important and you must consider the density, thickness and durability of the padding.

  • Density – padding ranges from low, medium to high density. High-density foams typically have more memory. However, the higher density the foam, the heavier the massage table.
  • Thickness – thick padding is best for client comfort. Firm padding will also help the massage therapist regain energy when deep pressure is applied. Some massage tables have a single layer of foam and others multiple layers. The deeper the pressure, the thinner the foam should be to allow the massage therapist to focus on structure and movement. However, most massage therapist use multi-lawyer foam as it is more comfortable for the client.
  • Durability – when it comes to durability the massage therapist will want to consider what type of foam they are using and how many massages they tend to perform.

Massage Table Fabric – the most common fabric for massage tables is vinyl. Vinyl is long lasting and easy to clean. Keep the vinyl clean by wiping it down daily. Make sure to use a protective drape so the client’s body oils don’t come in contact with the vinyl massage table.

Massage Table Accessories

There are massage table tools and accessories that keep the client comfortable and safe. Accessories include the face cradle, arm shelf, side extensions, footrest, bolsters, linens and carrying case.

Face Cradle – The most common accessory is the face cradle that helps the client stay straight while lying prone. The face cradle will add up to 12 inches to the table’s length. The face cradle can be plastic, aluminum or metal. Metal and aluminum are more durable than plastic.

Arm Shelf – provides a place for arms to rest while the client is in the prone position. The different styles of arm shelf include a hinged shelf, a sling and a hanging shelf with adjustable straps.

Side Extensions – provides a place for arms to rest while the client is in the supine position.

Footrest – a padded platform that can increase the length of the massage table by up to 12 inches.

Bolsters – supportive devices that are used behind the neck, ankles and knees to offer the client increased relaxation. Bolsters come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Traditionally, bolsters are used under the ankles in prone position and the knees and neck in supine position.

Linens – the use of sheets, towels, and blankets can increase the comfort of the client and create an easier way to clean the massage table between clients. Massage table linens include a top and bottom sheet for the massage table, bolster covers, face rest cover, pillowcases, and arm shelf cover. For comfort and easy cleaning, many massage therapists use flannel.

Carrying Case – helps protect the fabric on the massage table while in transit. The carrying case also has a padded handle and strap for the massage therapist to easily carry from place to place.

Massage Chairs

A massage chair can be moved easier and takes up less space than a massage table. However, the cost of a massage chair is almost the same price as a massage table. The massage chair should be lightweight and easy to setup or breakdown. It should also be sturdy, so the client feels safe and comfortable.

Interested in learning more about massage therapy tools and how to offer a comfortable experience for your clients? Ready to become a massage therapist? Upon graduation, Massage Therapy Program students will receive diplomas and be qualified to seek entry-level positions as clinical, medical, or deep tissue massage therapists in wellness clinics and centers, spa environments including resorts and franchises, and self-employment.

Contact us to learn more about how you can become a massage therapist today.