A professional massage therapist needs very little equipment, but a massage table is pretty vital unless you are also an expert at levitation or will be working on the floor (as some therapies require – the floor not the levitation.). The type of table one chooses will, to an extent be decided by whether or not you wish to have a portable table and the type of therapies you choose to do. Swedish massage for example does not require as strong a table as movement therapy would.
The best massage table is one that is strong and durable enough for your needs, yet cost-effective and if you are a traveling therapist – light weight. During my ten years working as a massage therapist I tried numerous tables and while teaching for the AMTA, used even more brands. My personal preference is for “Oakworks,” tables. They represent the best value for money, combined with durability and client comfort. These are what I consider to be the best massage tables available.
Best Portable Massage Table – Oakworks Nova
As far as I am concerned, this table is the best all round portable table on the market. I used one of these for seven years and my modalities were based around movement therapy (Trager) and deep tissue massage. This table took a beating 4-5 clients a day, five days a week for seven years. I carried it to clients homes, and it was in and out of the back of a car dozens of times.
It is easily adjustable, comes in a variety of sizes (27″, 29″ or 31″ wide) and is extremely well made. This is perfect for an individual massage therapist, but it is tough enough to make the grade in a fixed setting such as a spa. If you are not intending to carry it around, there are better alternatives, and if I have a criticism it is slightly too heavy for a smaller therapist to carry. They weigh around 35 lbs, and when you combine that with oils, towels, sheets etc, that is quite a load. I was happy with the extra weight for the strength.
Best Lightweight Massage Table – Oakworks Aurora
It is possible to get lighter tables than this, but they tend to have hollow metal legs and I personally would not buy a metal table. The natural feel and smell of wood is comforting to the client and creates a far more comfortable environment. This table is strong and I would recommend it if you are planning on doing all your work remotely and will therefore be carrying the table a lot. It weight between 25 and 29 lbs depending on the width– which might not seem much less than the Nova – but 7 pounds less is 7 pounds less to carry up three flights of stairs. Perhaps not quite as robust as the Nova, this is still an extremely good table and well worth the money.
Best static massage table – Oakworks Clinician
This is another Oakworks’ classic – solid, comfortable for the client and will take a beating. This is the table I suggest if you have no intention of carrying it anywhere, or are setting up a business employing other therapists either in a spa or wellness center. Seeing as it weighs about 150 pounds you will be needing more bodywork than you are giving if you try and carry it anywhere. The storage space under the table is convenient; it is made from hardwood – either maple or oak; and changes height easily. Having said that – it doesn’t change itself – you need to do that – and the table has really got to want to change – much like your clients.
Highly recommended – buy this table and I very much doubt you will ever need to buy another massage table. There are several options available – either with a storage cabinet built in – which I do not recommend unless you are going to be using the table other than as a massage therapist and several different options on top turning it into a general exam table.
The Ultimate Massage Table – Oakworks Celesta Performa – Lift
When I was in massage school, this is the table we all dreamed of owning. Adjustable height at the push of a button. If you are just starting out on your career as a massage therapist, you will understand why after you have adjusted the height of a few hundred tables. If you are long out of school you will probably have had the same dreams. The Celesta Performa I Lift silently lowers or raises at the touch of a foot switch – and there was many a time I wished I had three thousand dollars to spare after misjudging the height I would need my table at for a particular client’s needs. Bliss and almost certainly worth the money. This is the only table on the list I have not used, but if it is as well made as all the other Oakworks range – buy one of you have three grand to spare.
These tables do not come with a head rest – you will need to buy one separately and Oakworks have a range of high quality bolsters which are extremely useful for invalid or pregnant clients. If you are on a tight budget – forget the bolsters and use spare pillows instead. But for goodness’ sake – buy yourself a stool to sit on. Happy Massaging !