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Massage Table Buyers Guide

Updated on October 7, 2011

Purchasing a massage table is the most important investment you will need to make during your massage career, aside from your professional training. There are so many options to choose from, but if you don’t know what you are looking for, it is quite possible to buy the wrong massage table for your needs.

This article will tell you what you need to consider before making that big purchase, and teach you how to choose the perfect massage table for your practice and style of therapeutic massage.

Professional massage tables come in various sizes, made from varied materials and for different types of body work. How do you pick the right one? Here are the major points to consider:

What type of massage and bodywork do you practice?

Taking into consideration the style of massage you use primarily will help you decide the thickness and type of foam padding you will need for your massage table. Additionally, massage tables built with any type of metal, although they are usually practical and lightweight massage tables, they are not recommended for energy work. Deep tissue massage would require an extremely sturdy table with thick layered foam.

Oakworks massage table
Oakworks massage table
  • If you specialize in deep tissue massage, Rolfing, trigger point massage or sports massage look for a wood table with a thick , firm foam padding.
  • If you are primarily an energy worker practicing reiki, therapeutic touch, cranio-sacral therapy or even reflexology, avoid tables built with metal. You will need less padding to work comfortably, but thick foam is more comfortable for your client.
  • If you practice shiatsu, Thai massage or any other traditional eastern massage that is practiced ideally on the floor, you will want to look into a more versatile massage table with a shiatsu option. This type of massage table will have folding legs that allow you to place the entire table flat on the floor. There is an Oakworks Massage Table that is perfect for this purpose.
  • If you will be doing prenatal massage, spa treatments, or facials, you will want to take a look at stationary spa massage tables. **Please note: you can easily practice prenatal massage without buying a special massage table by using pillows, or you can look into buying a massage table package that includes cushions specially designed to support a pregnant client.


Stronglite massage table
Stronglite massage table

Where will you be practicing?

Does your table need to be portable? This is my personal advice, unless you are absolutely sure that you will not need to bring your table with you anywhere, I would highly recommend buying a portable massage table (or folding massage table). It will allow you to easily bring it with you if you need to. For example, if you are a sports massage therapist and would like to promote yourself at a local 5 k race, bring your table and some business brochures and offer free 10 minute warm ups to the runners. Please only do this if you are certified in sports massage! Athletes have special needs, particularly right before a race! My point is, you never know when there will be an opportunity for you to promote your business, so even if you plan on setting up an office and staying put for the most part, portable massage tables still provide a definite advantage.

Do you need an adjustable face cradle?

I know that some therapists choose to work without face cradles entirely, but it is really in your client’s best interest to keep their neck safe. Most quality massage tables come standard with a well padded adjustable face cradle. It is far more comfortable for your client, allows easier access to the neck and shoulder muscels and can be removed when your client is in the supine position.

Table height

I have a rule about this! Unless you fall right in the average height range and plan on practicing only Swedish massage, you must buy a massage table that has an excellent ability to adjust! Your table should be capable of adjusting to your height and your needs. Working with a table at the wrong height can be devastating to your health! Many therapists suffer needlessly simply because their table is too high – they end up with back pain, shoulder pain and wrist problems. Proper table height is as essential as the proper training in how to prevent therapist injury through proper use of your body weight when working.

A review of the Earthlite Massage Table

My pick for best Massage Table:

This is just my personal favorite. I bought an Earthlite massage table close to 15 years ago and it is still with me, and in terrific shape after years of use. The only problem? My cats found it very comfortable and one caught a claw in the cover once. That’s it. I bought it before I entered massage school, it was their least expensive model (I was a poor student at the time) and it has held up to much abuse – including being thrown in and out of the trunk of the car (it’s a lightweight massage table), being lugged around to events and just general regular use.

Additionally,they are an eco-friendly, green company, and always have been.

Just to be fair, I have had very positive experiences using Oakworks massage tables as well, and have worked on them at various spas and wellness centers where I was on staff. They are also known for their top quality.

Good luck in choosing your massage table and let me know what your experiences were with different brands by leaving a comment below!

Amy is a Connecticut Licensed Massage Therapist with specialty training in Neuromuscular Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, reflexology, sports and prenatal massage. Additionally, she was a Reiki master / teacher for over ten years.


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    • profile image

      AlicesWonderland 3 years ago

      Thank you for the information, as a business owner starting up with no bank backing its helpful to know which cheaper priced tables will work well and still last. I always get caught up in the salesmanship of buying products for work and in the end it never seems worth the extra features i pay for but rarely if ever use.

      I was curious, im interested in shiatsu massage but its harder to find a lightweight table within my budget that offers the release cable system for this. If i buy a regular table that folds the legs in while being "open" would it damage the integrity of the table to lay flat for shiatsu should i venture into this massage practice in the future?

    • profile image

      Javier 6 years ago

      Thank you very much for your article.

      I am forming a new company of massage

      And we are looking for the necessary items, so thank you for your experience.

      Sorry for my poor English.

    • restrelax profile image

      restrelax 6 years ago from Los angeles CA

      Very nice hub.

    • profile image

      massages chatswood 7 years ago

      I'm glad i found your hub, i really do appreciate your work here. Thanks for sharing table massage.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 7 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks massagebusiness, I agree, it's an important decision and buyers need to be well informed and have a clear idea of what type of massage table they will need for their own practice.

    • profile image

      massage business 7 years ago

      Great overview on an important topic for massage therapists. Getting the right table is key.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi Mike - thanks for the compliment! Being a massage therapist can be absolutely exhausting! I took special training to learn to balance my body while working so that I wouldn't hurt myself.

      Earthlite tables really are terrific. I hate to see those cheap imitations at discount stores! It is unlikely that they will last for a long time.

      Rolfing is the most intense (and effective) massage therapy you can get - but not for the person who is hoping to relax! Thanks again!

    • MikeNV profile image

      MikeNV 8 years ago from Henderson, NV

      PS: It's nice to read a hub written by someone who really knows what they are talking about.

    • MikeNV profile image

      MikeNV 8 years ago from Henderson, NV

      I bought a Earthlite Portable but I bought it for home use. My therapist uses an Oakworks table... but it's huge. I really didn't consider much of what you have covered here because I was not worried about clients. I just wanted the best table I could get for myself. I looked at some really junky tables at costco, talked to my massage therapist - a couple of them actually, then just decided to dive in and buy. Been very happy with the Earthlite product. I sometimes wonder how any massage therapist doing any kind of medical related massage could work on more than a handful of clients in a day. I've had rolfing sessions and it worked me over pretty good, and I must imagine you get pretty worn out working on clients with all the akward postions.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Pramod!

    • profile image

      Pramod 8 years ago

      Hi amy,

      ur doing a fantastic job. I loved to hear that.

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Philipo! This is an easy topic for me because I worked in the therapeutic massage industry for years before becoming a mom. It is a great field to get into!

    • Philipo profile image

      Philipo 8 years ago from Nigeria

      This is very inforamtive hub. It must have taken a lot of time to write. Thanks.