1Massage Store Blog - Posts Tagged ‘Massage Table Height’

Massage Therapist Self-Care: Creating an Ergonomic Treatment Room

Massage treatment room

The size of your treatment room and the height and width of your massage table have an impact on your body mechanics.

Because of the risks of chronic hand, wrist, forearm, and low back injuries that many massage therapists experience, ergonomics is important for saving your hands and saving your practice. Improper body mechanics can result in injuries that can end your career as a massage therapist. With the right ergonomic work area and body mechanics, however, you can look forward to a long and healthy career in massage and bodywork.

Work Area

In a best case scenario, your massage table should have at least 3 feet of open space on all sides. With adequate space on all sides of the table, you will be more likely to use proper body mechanics and natural alignment. The more cramped the room is, the more cramped your movements are likely to be.

Unfortunately, the size of your treatment room may not allow for adequate spacing. To make the most of the space that you have available, try angling the table to give yourself more room at the sides and ends of the massage table.

Massage Table Width

Although you can’t change the width of your current massage table, now is the time to evaluate the width of your table and how it affects your posture. A massage table that is too wide encourages reaching across the client and compromising your body mechanics. Although a wider table may be more comfortable for some of your clients, a narrower table provides better access for you as a therapist. Taller therapists can work on wide or narrow massage tables, while shorter therapists will find it easier to maintain proper body mechanics on a narrow table.

Side arm extenders

Side arm extenders make larger clients feel more secure on the table.

Consider a compromise on your next massage table purchase by choosing a narrower massage table and adding side arm extensions for your larger clients. You may also want to consider a massage table that is wider at the shoulders and feet and narrower at the center. This will give you better access to the hips and lower back while providing adequate support and width for your clients’ shoulder and arms.

Massage Table Height

Do you keep your massage table at the same height for every client and modality? Although changing the table height takes a few minutes between clients, the extra time is worth the effort. Don’t compromise your body mechanics by working on a table that is too tall or too short. If you are working on a “thick” client, lower the table even further than usual. Deep tissue massage is also easier with a lower table height.

Although the rule of thumb is to adjust the table height so that it just brushes your first set of knuckles, don’t be afraid to experiment with other table heights to find the right height for you. Your standard table height may change depending on the client, the type of treatment, and other factors.

How to Adjust Height for a Massage Table

Here the massage table height is 2 inches lower than the base knuckles. The table height should be raised 2 notches.

Here the massage table height is 2 inches lower than the base knuckles. The table height should be raised 2 notches.

Finding the correct height for your massage table is an important part of therapist self-care and body mechanics. Although the best table height will vary for each individual, there is a basic rule of thumb that will help you adjust the table to the right height for you, or at least get you close.

Rule of Thumb:

Stand beside the massage table with your arms relaxed at your sides. Your base knuckles should just barely brush the top of the massage table.

Remember that this is merely a general rule of thumb. The most ergonomic height for you might be higher or lower than your base knuckles.

Other factors that affect table height are client size, positioning, and modality. If the client is heavy, you may need to lower the table a notch to compensate. Similarly, if the client is in the side-lying position or requests a modality such as deep tissue, you will also need to lower the table.

Most therapists eventually find their optimal massage table height by trial and error. Setting the table height comparable to your own height is a good place to start, but if you find that a higher or lower height feels more comfortable than the recommended standard for your height, choose the table height that will be easiest on your body. Ergonomics is a vital factor in preventing injury and taking care of yourself while you care for your clients!

For a visual demonstration, watch our video on adjusting massage table height.

Massage Table Length, Width, and Height: Buying a Massage Table Series

Summary:
  • For taller clients and for using the face portal, choose a longer table. For shorter clients and lighter weight, you may be able to get by with a shorter length.
  • The best width depends on the size and comfort of both therapist and client. Typical width ranges from 27 to 32 inches.
  • The best height is adjustable, usually within a 10-inch range. Choose a height range based on your own height.
Length
Massage Table with 77 Inch Extended Length

Massage Table with 77 Inch Extended Length

The industry standard for length is currently 73 inches. However, if you work with tall clients or clients of varying height and size, you may appreciate a massage table that is longer than the industry standard. With a massage table length of 77 inches, you will be able to accommodate almost any client.

If you use a face portal instead of a face cradle, you may need a longer table to comfortably accommodate your clients. Extended length is also helpful for sports massage, where many of your clients may be tall athletes.

If you are looking for a lightweight portable table for mobile massage, a shorter length can help cut back on overall weight. The face cradle adds up to 12 inches in length to your table, so if you always use the face cradle for your clients, you may not need any extra length.

Width

The width you need depends on your size and body mechanics. The industry standard is about 30 inches wide, but the average width can range anywhere from 27 to 32 inches. Taller therapists sometimes prefer a wider width, while shorter therapists usually prefer a narrow or standard width. The more narrow the width, the easier it will be for the therapist to reach the client, but the table must be wide enough to fully support the client and provide the right amount of comfort.

If only a few of your clients require a wide width, consider adding side arm extenders to make your larger clients comfortable without sacrificing your back and legs. Don’t sacrifice your posture and ergonomics with a table that is too wide. You can only provide healing for your clients if you care for your own health and well-being first.

Height

Most massage tables can adjust to a range of different heights. The range is typically includes a 10-inch span, such as 24 to 34 inches. Make sure the table you buy will adjust to the right height for your working comfort. Give yourself a little extra room for error, as well. For example, if you set your table height at 28 inches, choose a massage table that adjusts to as low as 26 or 27 inches.

Related Posts

For more information on massage table features, see the Buying a Massage Table Series.

For an explanation on how to adjust your massage table to the correct height, see the post on How to Adjust Height for a Massage Table or watch our video on How to Set Up Your Massage Table.

Injury Prevention for Massage and Bodywork Practitioners

Proper table height can help prevent common musculoskeletal injuries in massage therapy workers.

Adjusting the height of your massage table is a critical element in massage therapy injury prevention. Working on a table that is too high can lead to injuries in the wrists and hands; working on a table that is too low can cause injuries in the lower back. Most massage therapists tend to err on the side of setting the table too high.

Three key factors to consider when adjusting the height of your massage table:

1. Your own height in relation to the table height
One recommended method for determining table height is to adjust the height so that when you stand with your closed fist hanging straight down, your fist barely touches the top of the table. However, the best way to find the right massage table height for you is to experiment. What works best for you may not correspond to the standard method of finding the correct height.

2. The type of massage given
As a general rule of thumb, the deeper the massage or bodywork, the lower the table should be. For example, if the client requests a deep tissue massage, you may want to lower the table an extra notch. This allows you to focus on using your body weight for leverage rather than relying too heavily on the hands and wrists.

3. The position and size of the client
If the client will be lying on his or her side, the table should be set much lower than if the client is lying prone or supine. A client with a more solid build may also require a lower table height.

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Working with proper posture helps to prevent injuries and prolongs the career of a massage therapist. Taking the time to adjust the table height before a massage is a simple way to prevent injuries and ensure that you can continue to provide for the well-being of your clients. Caring for yourself first allows you to provide the best care for others.

After adjusting the height of the massage table for a new client, simply jot down the table height for next time so that you can adjust the table height before the client arrives. You can use the time that you are adjusting the table for a new client to establish a relationship with the client through casual conversation.

If you find changing the massage table height for new clients a distraction or inconvenience, keep the table at your standard height and note down on the client’s chart if the table needs to be lowered or raised for the client’s next session.