Next to your massage therapy education, buying a massage table is likely one of the biggest purchases you’ll make during your career. Here are the top three tips for buying a massage table that fits both your needs and your budget.
1. Know what you're looking for. “First, you must determine how you will be using the table,” says Angie Patrick, director of corporate sales and business development for Massage Warehouse. Sounds simple enough, but Patrick advises massage therapists to go beyond the obvious. Do you plan on being mobile at all? Are you a home-based or practice-based business where travel will be infrequent? What is the size of the space you’ll be working in? “If you plan on being a mobile therapist, you need to look for a table built with ease of operation and set up,” Patrick explains. “If you plan on a home-based business with little travel, you might look at a stationary or lift table.”
2. Keep ergonomics in mind. For portable tables, Ed Mohr, a massage therapist who is also a retired certified ergonomics professional, advises massage therapists to remember they’re going to need to carry the table to various locations, so weight should be a top consideration from an ergonomics perspective. “You also want a table that’s compact enough to fit in your vehicle,” he adds. “Narrower is better for going to a client’s home or business, as work space may be limited.”
When buying a stationary table, Mohr believes hydraulic or electric height adjustability tops the ergonomic list, when possible. “Since hydraulic requires pumping action by the therapist, electric is preferred,” he adds. The table should be wide enough to accommodate the majority of clients you’re going to be working on, according to Mohr, but not too wide that you’ll have to overreach when applying pressure to the centerline of the body.
3. Consider price. Patrick advises massage therapists to buy the best possible table they can fit in their budget. “But remember, high-priced does not always equal high quality,” Patrick says. “You are looking for a strong, professional-grade table complete with a warranty, which can range anywhere from approximately $200 for portables to as much as $3,000 and more for lifts.”
Though you might be tempted to buy the cheapest table you can find, shop on a sale site or purchase your table used, Patrick warns against all of these scenarios. “What feels like a bargain now may cost more in the long run,” she says. “The problem with buying used is that you have no idea how the table was cared for—if parts are worn, weakened or damaged. More importantly, you have no protection if the table fails. There’s no warranty that applies to a secondhand table, and unless you are the first owner, many manufacturers will be unable to help you.”
Want more tips? Read the full story in the Winter 2016 issue of Massage Therapy Journal.