1Massage Store Blog - Posts Tagged ‘Massage Bolsters’

Massage Table Accessories Buyers Guide

Massage table accessories

Massage table accessories enhance client comfort and positioning.

If you’re just starting out as a massage therapist, purchasing a portable massage table is one of the first pieces of equipment you’ll need. Once you find the right table, you may want to invest in a few massage table accessories to enhance your clients’ comfort and positioning.

Which accessories do I need for my massage table?

Depending on how you like to position your clients on the massage table, you might find it helpful to have a few accessories. A headrest is the most common accessory—most therapists can’t imagine giving a massage without one. The headrest keeps the client’s body aligned on the table, prevents neck strain, and makes the client more comfortable when lying face down.

Some therapists also prefer to use a forward arm rest. Having the client’s arms resting forward provides better access to certain parts of the upper back and shoulders.

If your massage table is too narrow for some clients to fit comfortably, you can add side arm extenders. They either fit in holes at the side of your massage table (if your table has them) or strap around the body of the massage table. The client’s arms rest on the arm extenders so that they feel more secure on the table. At the same time, you can keep the table width narrow enough to maintain proper body mechanics.

Other optional accessories include massage bolster pillows for positioning your client comfortably on the table, fleece table covers or table warmers for extra padding and warmth, and a carry bag for transporting your portable massage table. If you move your massage table often, you may also want to invest in a table cart.

How do I make sure the accessories will fit my massage table?

Unless the accessory is designed specifically to fit your massage table model, it’s a good idea to measure for certain accessories before making a purchase. A massage table headrest is probably the most complex item to measure.

You’ll need to make sure that the distance between the rods will fit the distance between the headrest holes on your massage table, and you’ll need to make sure the rod circumference will fit neatly inside the holes. If the rods are much smaller than the holes, your headrest will not be as secure, and if the rods are too large, they won’t fit inside the holes.

What is the difference between different types of headrests?

Massage table headrests are available in two general categories: fixed and adjustable. Fixed headrests do not adjust up or down. Once you attach the headrest to the table, it’s fixed in position.

Adjustable headrests allow you to adjust the angle and height of the face cradle for each client. Most therapists prefer an adjustable headrest, since it allows them to position each client individually on the massage table, depending on their needs and how their body lies on the massage table.

Premium headrests are also available. Some come with an ergonomic design, a memory foam face pad, more flexible adjustment options, and other premium features.

Massage Table Accessories

Ready to outfit your new massage table? View our selection of massage table accessories for headrests, arm rests, bolsters, and carry bags to fit your needs and style.

Using Bolsters to Support Your Massage Clients

Bolster pillow

Use a bolster pillow to make your clients more comfortable.

When it comes to massage, the comfort of the client comes first. Massage bolsters are just one more way you can make sure your clients are comfortable on the massage table.

When to Use Bolsters

A tool is only as good as the person using it. The way that you use your bolster pillows (or don’t use them) should support and enhance the massage experience. If bolstering gets in the way of your technique or makes the client uncomfortable, don’t use them.

Some of your clients might prefer bolsters; others won’t. Tailor your style to fit the client’s needs. Ask your client what he or she prefers, and be flexible to their needs.

Special Circumstances

Clients with low back pain, pregnant women (pre- or post-pregnancy), and clients who are recovering from injury or surgery may require bolstering to feel comfortable on the massage table.

Without proper bolstering, these clients will find it difficult to relax and enjoy the massage.

Types of Bolsters

Here are some of the options you have for bolstering:

  • Pillows – Pillows are soft, comfortable, and easy to find in different thicknesses. You can fold them in half for extra lift. Another added bonus is that you can show your clients ways to use pillows at home for more comfortable sleeping positions.
  • BolstersMassage bolsters come with a vinyl cover for sanitary use. They provide firmer support than pillows and keep their shape easily. They are also made to be wider than a pillow. Bolsters are available in all shapes and sizes.
  • Rolled Towels – Rolling up a towel makes a good bolster in a pinch. Rolled towels are versatile and good for adding minimal support.

Massage Bolster Pillow Reviews

Massage bolster

"This bolster is larger than it appears and is very comfy behind knees." - Kimberly

Sometimes it’s the little things that count—like the hint of aromatherapy oil on a face cradle cover or a comfy bolster that takes the pressure off the client’s knees. Below are a few customer reviews for the OneTouch massage bolsters, available in half round and full round styles.

“Delivered on time and packaged well. This bolster is larger than it appears and is very comfy behind knees. Seems to be made very well too.”
- Kimberly B.

“Very pleased with purchase. This is a sturdy bolster pillow. It works wonders for easing stress on the back when placed under the knees.”
- Cindy D.

“Very good quality and the cover is sturdy, but the matte finish makes it even more comfortable than other vinyl covers.”
- Melissa B.

“Great price! Very helpful with making clients comfortable through their therapy massage session. Happy I purchased this item. Excellent price!”
- Ms. C.

“Love my bolster. So comfy!”
- Malinda A.

“This bolster is perfect for behind the knees. Very satisfied.”
- Lindsay A.

“The product is as I expected. Very comfortable and the dimensions are as described in the website. I like that there is a cover that you can remove to wash.”
- Juliana M.

Massage Bolster Pillows

A full round massage bolster pillows aids in positioning and comfort.

A full round massage bolster pillows aids in positioning and comfort.

Massage bolsters have three purposes: comfort for the client, access for the therapist, and safety for clients with certain medical conditions. Bolster pillows can alleviate pressure, improve body alignment, and make it easier for the client to breathe, among other benefits.

Although bed pillows may work in a pinch, you will have greater versatility and support if you use bolster pillows. Massage bolsters are specifically designed for the needs of bodywork therapists. They are firmer than regular bed pillows or decorative bolsters. They take less time to “settle,” and they provide more support and resistance for bodywork. Just as the table foam needs to provide a certain amount of resistance for deep strokes and therapeutic work, bolsters also need to provide a certain amount of resistance.

A half round bolster pillow is short enough to comfortably support the neck.

A half round bolster pillow provides half the height.

Massage bolsters are protected by a vinyl covering that makes them easier to clean and prevents contamination from body fluids, lubricants, and oils from the client’s skin. Bolster covers offer further protection, in the same way that table linens protect your table. Some therapists prefer to slip the bolster underneath the bottom sheet on the table. This saves on laundry and linen costs; however, it takes some finesse in order to position the bolster without messing up the sheets.

It’s a good idea to have several bolsters with different sizes on hand. A full round bolster can provide more support in areas such as under the knees, while a half round bolster, which provides only about half as much height, can support smaller areas such as under the neck in a supine position. Since each client is different, take the time to assess each client’s individual needs for bolstering, comfort, and positioning.

Bolstering Massage Clients

Half Round Massage Bolsters

Half-round bolsters help support the neck.

There are many ways to bolster clients in a way that provides comfort, support, and better access to a certain area of the body. Ultimately, the most important thing to consider is the client’s individual needs and preferences.

Bolstering Basics
Most massage therapists use these basic bolstering techniques in the following positions:

  • Prone
    The most common bolstering method for the prone position is a full massage bolster under the ankles, one under the pelvis, and, for some clients, under the upper chest area at the sternal notch.
  • Supine
    The most common bolstering method for the supine position includes a thin neck bolster, a bolster under the knees, and sometimes a pillow under the entire lower leg from knee to foot. If your client has trouble breathing in the supine position, elevate the head and shoulders more to allow for easier breathing. Likewise, if your client is experiencing congestion, he or she may appreciate an extra boost in elevation.
  • Side
    Bolstering is especially important in the side-lying position to support the client’s head and neck and to cushion the top leg and top arm. Most clients are comfortable with the top leg resting on a bolster and the top arm supported by a soft pillow they can hug to their chest. A bolster along the back can also provide extra support in the side-lying position and can be removed as needed for better access to the client’s back.

Ask for Feedback
Before bolstering, ask the client if there’s any need for extra bolstering, such as for an injury, sore spot, or painful area that might be irritated or eased through bolstering. After bolstering according to the client’s requests or your normal method, ask if the client is comfortable and adjust the bolsters as needed.

Give Yourself Options
Keep a variety of bolsters (round and half round), pillows, and rolled towels at hand to cover any bolstering needs you may come across. Each client is different, and what works for one client may not work for another.

How to Use Bolster Pillows for Massage at Home

Learn how to bolster your partner for a relaxing massage at home.

Massage Bolster PillowsUsing bolsters for massage at home can enhance the effectiveness of massage. Bolster pillows not only provide extra comfort for the partner on the table, but they also position the body in a natural alignment, which allows the muscles to fully relax.

Since the body doesn’t naturally lie flat, a massage table alone doesn’t provide proper support. Bolster cushions support the natural curvature of the body and encourage deeper relaxation. The muscles can tighten up without proper support. Invite the muscles to “let go” by aligning and supporting the body in a neutral position. The more relaxed your partner is, the more beneficial the massage will be. Using bolster pillows gives the home therapist easier access to deeper, thicker muscle tissue.

Here are some tips for using bolster pillows in the face up (supine), face down (prone), and side-lying positions.

Face Up:
Place a full round massage bolster under the knees. Then slide a half round bolster underneath the curve of the neck when your partner is lying face up. Instead of a half bolster, you can also remove the Velcro face cradle pad to use as a neck bolster. Elevating the head and neck is helpful for clients with asthma, allergies, or congestion in the chest or sinuses. Use a thicker bolster to lift the head higher if needed. Ask your partner if he or she is more comfortable with the massage bolsters or without. Adjust the bolsters as needed.

Face Down:
In the prone (face down) position, slide a full bolster pillow under the ankles. You can also slide a bolster under the hips or just above the chest area with the arms resting on the forward arm shelf. Each person may differ slightly in how they like to be positioned. Find a position that works for both partners.

Side:
With your partner lying on one side, slightly bend the top leg at the knee and rest it on top of a full massage bolster. Keep the bottom leg fairly straight in a relaxed position and aligned with the rest of the body. Give your partner a pillow to hug for arm support, and slide a pillow or bolster under the neck.

How you use your massage bolster pillows ultimately depends on the comfort of the partner on the table. Ask for feedback when positioning your partner, and use your own judgment to maximize the comfort of the massage.

Bolster Pillows

Massage Bolster Pillow

Bolster pillows are more than just a decorative, cylindrical-shaped throw pillow. Using a bolster pillow during massage is an easy way to enhance your client’s experience. There are three purposes to the use of a bolster pillow: comfort, safety, and to aid in body positioning for increased accessibility by the massage therapist.

Bolster pillows can be used for comfort mainly by relieving pressure on one part of the body. For instance, when a client is in the supine position (lying on their back), placing a bolster under the knees will relieve pressure on the lower back. A bolster pillow can also be placed under the ankles to avoid cramps in the calves.

Safety comes into play when certain medical conditions are present. Two examples are pregnancy and asthma. When a pregnant woman is in the supine position, it is important to keep her in a semi-reclining position. This can be achieved by using bolster pillows to cushion her back. Some clients that are asthmatic cannot lie totally flat. Bolstering is one way of helping them find a comfortable position while they are being massaged.

There are some muscles that are hard to access without the use of a bolster pillow. The posterior deltoids are a very good example of this. If a bolster is placed under the upper arm when the client is in the prone position, this will relax those muscles. This will also help with compression techniques and will make it easier to lift the arm.

The only problem is that every client is not the same. This means that using a bolster for one person may not be right for another, or that a differently shaped bolster pillow would be more appropriate for one client than another. Each client must be individually evaluated first to determine what will be the most effective use of a bolster pillow, if any. For this reason it is a good idea to have several bolsters on hand to aid in any situation that may present itself to you.