Understanding Portable Massage Table Features
Ready to buy a new portable massage table? Read this article to be informed about your choices and the options that are available on portable massage tables for sale from nearly every professional massage table manufacturer. The massage industry as a whole is always changing to keep current with the latest in massage and latest innovation. Each manufacturer is tweaking their design and features. It's our job at Massage King to help you stay on that cutting-edge to get the best massage table for your needs and your budget.
Massage Table Endplates
Found at the head and foot of the massage table, this structural support adds stability to the table and prevents the massage table from shaking during a massage. It also keeps the legs from wanting to spread apart under load. Customers often think that end plates can be swapped out from one table to another but because they are a structural part of the table, endplates are permanent and can not be replaced. Although end plates for different portable massage tables look quite different, there are three main types: Standard endplates and Reiki endplates which are both very common, and low endplates which are less common and rarely used. Sometimes manufacturers will offer a combination of endplates, called hi/low plates.
Types of Endplates: Reiki vs. Standard.
Standard endplates can be from several inches to a foot tall, usually about an 1/8" thick, and are mounted on the legs of the massage table at about knee level. They add support and stability to a table; however, their placement limits access for some types of massage. Some therapists while using a massage stool need to get their knees under the massage table to get closer than normal to a client. Obviously, having a wooden plate between the legs of the table at knee level makes this difficult.
Reiki endplates - a few inches tall and about 3/8 inch thick. Reiki endplates are generally in the shape of an upside down U, so that the part of the plate that crosses between the legs is at the very top of the legs of the massage table, out of the way of the Massage Therapist's knees when seated on a stool. This allows for more access to the client, especially for Reiki techniques. The plate is sometimes two to three times thicker than a normal end plate to make up for the structural integrity that is lost by not having the plate in the optimal location and having the part be narrower that spans the gap between the left and right legs. Although this option is perfectly strong and safe, we suggest normal end plates unless you need this particular option.
Low Endplates A new, and very strong, option is low endplates. Some smart person decided it would be better to move the plate near the bottom of the legs than to move the plate to the top just under the frame. This is superior structurally, and it is still thicker than a normal endplate. A massage therapist can get their legs under the table. Their ankles will be resting on the low bar, but this has not been reported to be a problem. Types of Endplates: The High / Low option High / Low plates is a new method. It includes the support of the low endplate on one side of the massage table (generally the foot of the massage table) and reiki plates at the other (usually the head) end of the table. (Some tables have holes on both sides, so the whole head / foot thing is generally a mute point.) Types of Endplates: Further Considerations One further consideration is that if you find yourself needing reiki plates, consider the cable system of the table. The pin-lock cable system makes it difficult to get your knees under the massage table from the side in some spots, whereas the Golden Ratio center-lock system (where almost all of the wiring and structural parts run down the middle of the table) will accommodate reiki and similar modalities with more ease.
Massage Table Foam
Obviously, the quality of your massage table's foam will directly affect your client's comfort. Two important factors involved in foam comfort are Density & Thickness. Foam Density Memory - Have you seen commercials for foam mattress pads, where the woman with the attractive hand presses it into the bed, and an impression is left of her hand in the mattress? The impression slowly disappears. We call this the memory property of foam. Massage Tables with a low memory will not show an impression after pressed upon, while those with a strong memory property will take a while to return to their original form. Generally, the High Density Foam will perform best. Because it is firm, this type of foam has less "memory" - that is, the foam reshapes itself well after being pressed down and, over time, is less likely than medium density foam to form "ruts." However, a massage table with this type of foam is not as comfortable as some other options. Medium Density Foam - less firm than high-density foam, making it much more comfortable for clients. Because it is not as dense, a massage table with medium-density foam will have more of a memory property than high density foam. The increased memory of these tables means that tables will reshape themselves more slowly after the client gets up and, over time, ruts are more likely to form with heavy use. Low Density Foam - Massage Tables usually do not come with low density foam, but MassageKing does offer a memory-foam pad designed to sit on top of a massage table that is both low-density and has a low memory property. This is extremly comfortable for clients. Many report that they feel like they are "floating." Multiple Density Foam - professional Massage Therapists who are torn between high and medium density foam will be much more satisfied with multi-layered, multi-density foam systems. Having several layers with different densities provides us with the best of both worlds - the massage tables with this multi-layered foam combination are often much more comfortable than high or medium density foams, and table life is substantially increased over either type of foam individually. Clearly, multi-density foam is the correct choice when purchasing a table that will be used often, or when the table is expected to last for many, many years. Foam thickness is an important factor in your massage table's comfort level, but should be considered only after deciding on a single or multi-density foam. A 2 1/2 inch multi-density foam is going to be far superior to a 3 inch single density layer. Be skeptical of manufacturers who claim that a table has more than 3 1/2 inches of foam. This is extremly uncommon. Obviously, the thicker the foam, the more padding between the client and the hard frame of the table, and so the more comfortable the client will be. While considering the thickness of your foam, of course you should always keep in mind foam density as well, since those two factors work hand-in-hand. Massage table thickness ranges from 2 ¼ inches to 3 ½ inches.
The word portable can be a misleading one in the Massage Industry. This is because portability depends on personal perspective. A strapping gentleman of 6'3" will have no problems carrying a 40 lbs. massage table, plus a headrest, holster, carry case, massage oils, lotions, etc., around town with him; however, a petite woman of 5'1" may not feel comfortable with a 30 pound table without extras. It is important to recognize your personal needs when it comes to the weight of your massage table. Generally speaking, massage table weight is related most directly to the type of materials used in the design and manufacturing of the table. Because manufacturers are not willing to sacrifice the stability of the massage table for its weight, they are forced into a situation with limited possibilities. These possibilities include using wood, which is typically a lower cost but yields a heavier table, using aluminum, which of increases cost, but can often drastically reduce the weight of a massage table, or decreasing the overall size of the table to decrease weight, or finally some mixture of any or all three. Also, you should know that weights reported for massage tables, even if the weight is reported for a massage table package including carry case and headrest, is the weight of just the massage table. This is an industry standard and is designed to help you compare apples to apples. Material Wood - Wood has become a staple in the creation of massage tables, especially portable massage tables. Wood has earned a reputation for being reliable, stable, replenisable, and typically cost effective. The only downfall of this seemingly flawless material is its weight. If you are looking for the lightest possible weight in your massage table, then wood is not the best choice for you -- but be prepared to pay for more costly materials. Also, try to find out what kind of wood is used to create your table. Look for American hardwoods such as birch or maple. Oriental wood, even wood described as "oriental hardwood" is generally not going to have the quality of American hardwood. With that in mind, some oriental hardwoods have very good qualities. One of our most popular tables, the Dreamlite, is made of Ramin, an oriental hardwood. American Oak is going to be the strongest, but its wood makes it impractical. It weighs too much to be portable. Canadian maple is probably the best combination of strength to weight, but other woods are acceptable. Aluminum - Conversely, aluminum, a man-made material which is not as widely used by the industry because of its cost, can offer all the strength of wood at a fraction of the weight. While not outrageously priced, aluminum is, generally, more expensive than its wood counterpart. Reducing the Area of the Table - smaller dimensions. Sure, trimming an inch or two away from both the length and height of the massage table and maybe decreasing the foam thickness will decrease table weight, but is it worth it? Should your clients suffer on an undersized table because carrying your full-size massage table is similar to carrying a mid-size sedan on your shoulder? Alternately, some sports therapists like the smaller size because their clients are smaller in stature and space is often tight. If you do decide to choose a smaller table, be sure you consider the ultimate dimensions. Mixing it Up As with most things, finding a happy medium may be the best solution. By combining wood and aluminum, a well designed massage table can become both reasonable in weight and price, making your shoulders and wallet both very happy.
The width, length and height of your massage table should be determined by the needs of the massage therapist and the typical client. Length Standard 73" - the current industry standard length for most massage tables is 73". This accommodates average and slightly above-average individuals, especially after adding an additional 10" to 12" with a headrest. When you are unsure of what is best for you, the industry standard 73" is probably best. Keep in mind that, as with table weight, table dimensions of a massage table are typically reported without the headrest, but some manufacturers will claim that their tables are 85 inches long, including the headrest, to try to give their products an edge. This adds confusion to the buying process. We try to avoid such inaccuracies on our website. Shorter 65" - Although 73" is by far the industry standard, the 65" table accommodates therapists who want a lighter table and have clients of average or slightly below-average in stature. And remember, you get an extra 10" with the addition of a headrest.
Width: Popular massage table widths range from 27" to 32", although both smaller and larger widths are available. Currently, the massage industry standard width is 30". Typically, the width of a table is important when considering your height and overall table weight. Taller therapists may consider a table width at or slightly above the industry standard, depending on the type of massage intended for the table and your personally acceptable weight of the table. Shorter therapist should consider tables at or below the industry standard. Another important factor to keep in mind is your clientele. Football players are, in general, bulky and wide, and will need the maximum width available. While elderly, children, and other small-statured individuals may easily fit on a smaller massage table.
Not all headrests are created the same. This is especially true in recent years because some manufacturers have created massage table headrests where the platform itself flexes and bends, or has independent pressure points. The same holds true for the face rest cushions. If you have not decided upon a manufacturer for your massage talbe, you may want to look at each manufacturer's headrest in terms of functionality and how many hands you have to use to adjust the headrest. Some can be adjusted with one hand, others require both hands. Crescent Headrest - The most basic of headrests is not adjustable. The headrests is attached to two dowels which slide in to round holes on the end of the massage table. From that point, the headrest is fixed in position and can not be moved. Although it is the least expensive, it is also the least popular option. Adjustable Headrest - The second most popular headrest, the deluxe headrest slides in to the table and then can pivot on a single axis, tilting up and down. This helps the therapist adjust for client facial sizes and personal comfort. The adjustable headrest is far more popular than the crescent headrest, which does not adjust at all. Deluxe Adjustable Headrest - This is our most popular headrest, and is included with nearly every massage table package we ship. Although different designs have been used to achieve tthe pivot mechanism, this headrest pivots and can be raised and lowered, for maximum client comfort. Different manufacturers have different names and designs for this headrest, but the principle of tilt and raise/lower is standard throughout the massage table industry. UPDATE: Some manufacturers such as Earthlite and Oakworks and developed highly flexible head or face rests. We encourage you to check these out when deciding on headrests and massage tables.
The design of the legs, supports, and cables that all work together to support the massage table are commonly referred to as the "cable system." There are several popular types of cable systems, each with benefits and detrements. Cradle Lock Cable System - The Cradle Lock system is a very popular design featuring a quick setup . It is superior to previous designs because there are no poles or cables to connect or disconnect when opening the table. Reiki Option - The Reiki option is available with many, but not all, cable systems. Shiatsu Release - another popular option is shiatsu release. A Shiatsu massage requires the massage table to be completely on the floor, so if this is a therapy you currently perform or are interested in, keep in mind the shiatsu release option when deciding on which table is right for you.