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Massage Tables vs. Massage Chairs

by Andrea Sparks

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Massage therapist standing next to her massage table

You've seen both massage tables and massage chairs, each offering the blissful relaxation of a professional massage. But how do you know which is right for you? Whether you're a massage therapist looking for the best massage tools for your practice or you're just looking for the right touch to quell your aches and pains, knowing the different options that massage tables and chairs offer can help you find your perfect fit.

Massage Tables vs. Chairs

  1. Positioning: A traditional massage table positions the client face down, with a horseshoe-shaped head rest to make breathing easy while lying face down. The therapist generally stands next to the client to apply massage. A massage chair positions the client in a forward-tilting seated position and is ergonomically designed to balance the body during the massage. A massage chair allows the massage therapist to stand or sit directly behind the client.

  2. Portability: Both massage chairs and tables are available in portable models, making it easy for the massage therapist to travel to a client's home. A portable massage table will typically fold in half and be placed inside a hard carrying case; they are easy to set up and take down. Massage chairs, on the other hand, either disassemble or fold up when it's time to move them. Massage chairs are usually smaller and lighter to move but may take more time to set up than a table.

  3. Venue: You may want to consider the venue when you choose between a massage table and a massage chair. A massage table offers a great, relaxing massage in a spa or home where there is plenty of space and the client is able to undress for the massage. Massage chairs do not require the client to undress, so they are a great choice for giving massages at a public event, the mall or in a corporate office.

  4. Type of massage: Just about any type of massage can be administered on a massage table. Massage tables allow the therapist access for full-body massages, as well as the correct positioning for hot stone, acupressure and deep-tissue massage. Although a massage chair does not allow for a full-body massage, it does give the massage therapist easier access to the places we get sore the most -- the back, neck and shoulders.

  5. Bottom line: Both massage tables and massage chairs offer benefits to both the massage therapist and the recipient. Determining which is right for you is simply a matter of what style of massage you prefer and need. Many massage therapists choose to invest in both a quality massage chair and massage table to meet the individual needs of their clients.

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