There are so many options when purchasing a massage table. It can be a daunting experience. I’ve purchased a few over the years, and learnt the hard way that it is pretty hard to get a genuine bargain. At the end of the day – you do get what you pay for.
Here’s some tips to keep in mind when buying a portable table.
Type of frame.
Personally, I prefer the adjustment mechanism on the aluminium tables. These are the push button ones and I find them easier and quicker to use.
Wooden ones tend to have the twisting adjustment knobs that I find, take longer to alter the height.
Be aware that many of the cheap tables that you may get online may look the same as the more expensive ones but they will be made from cheaper and poorer quality materials and will not be able to support the weight of larger clients.
Weight of the table:
If you are going to provide mobile services, it’s amazing how much difference a few kilos has when you are carrying your table from car to room several times a day.
There are so many things that can contribute to the weight of the table. Just because it is light does not mean that it will be good to use. When I first started massaging, I purchased a table because it was super light. It was also super narrow which was uncomfortable for clients and had very little stability so I would have to hold it in place to stop it from tipping over when the client sat up.
If you are buying online, check the measurements and even cut out a template to see what the actual size will be.
Tables that have the facility to lift the backrest up tend to be heavier. If you are doing just massage, do not bother with this optional extra. You will never use it and it adds extra weight.
I think this is possibly one of the most important things to look at when buying a table. Working weight is the total amount of weight that a table can support. This includes the weight of the client and the weight of the pressure you apply with your techniques. Some of the cheaper tables I have seen have a working weight of only 150 kg. If you think of a large client in the 120-130kg weight range having deep tissue or remedial massage you could be asking for trouble. Most of the instances I have heard of tables breaking occur when the client is first hopping on or off the table, where the weight is concentrated in one spot. That is when the hinges or the wood can break. If you can afford it, go for a table with a 200-250 kg working weight. For the sake of $50-$100 dollars it is worth it for piece of mind.
You would not think that the cable system under the table would have much effect but it does. I find tables with the double cable underneath tend to be a lot sturdier.
The cables provide more stability, strength and allow for a higher working weight on the table. The cables are something you should check regularly though. I have had them look like they were screwed in but they do tend to work loose over time and need tightening.
Foam and upholstery
This is basically a client comfort factor. Nice thick foam will obviously make it more comfortable to lie on for the client. If possible, always lie on the table before purchasing. Some tables have foam that looks really thick, but it is not very dense. Basically it is full of air and it will depress and imprint really easily. It will look luxurious but actually be quite uncomfortable. It goes without saying that the table must be covered in a fabric that is durable and easy to wipe down and disinfect. Generally, this will be either PVC (on cheaper tables) or PU Leather which is still a synthetic material but a lot softer. Given that most of us use towelling covers and towels, I really do not have a major preference for one over the other.
What I would look for in my perfect table:
· Working weight – should be minimum 200kg
· Weight of table – 13-15 kg is ideal for mobile work.
· Shape – Not really a consideration for me, but some therapists like contour shape for shoulder/neck work
· Headrest fitting is also not a big concern for me. Some clients like it and it does add extra length but it is not a critical factor for me.
· Cable - I prefer the double diagonal bracing system for stability.
· Carry bag – is necessary if your table is going into and out of the boot of your car all the time. A carry bag with wheels would be an added bonus.
· Push button height adjustment mechanism.