Apart from massage oil the most common accessory is a fitted cover or sheet. These are generally manufactured from cotton, terry towelling or flannel, and have elastic sides together with a cut out for the face hole. They help protect the surface of the table from body oils and excess massage oil. A fitted cover portrays a professional image and makes a massage table appear inviting and appealing. It is also neater in appearance, doesn’t slip like loose towels do, and also reduces the number of towels that are needed. The fitted cover also provides friction for the towel on top so it does not slip when the patient turns over. High quality fitted covers are made from bath robe quality pure cotton (ultra absorbent), they are double overlocked stitched, and have a draped section which extends into the inside of the table face hole to protect it from contamination by massage or body oils.
Used correctly the fitted cover would be used with two full-size towels plus a small towel or cushion for the face hole or (face cradle). One towel would be used full length under the mid-section of the patient, another for covering the parts of the patients body not being massaged, and the small towel folded in around the face hole to make it more comfortable and to absorb body oils and perspiration. In recent years a very well designed face hole cushion (see prone pillow below), has been introduced and this has largely obviated the need for a rolled or folded towel for the face hole.
Face cradles are designed to improve comfort and add usable length to a table, however they also add weight and complexity. One of the disadvantages of a portable table is that the face hole, no matter how well it is designed, can become uncomfortable if the patient is lying in the prone position for a long period of time. Face cradles attempt to overcome this problem and improve access to the head and neck area. They can vary considerably, from a simple extension horseshoe at the end of the table, to a more complicated device that can move in a number of planes. The better quality ones are generally lighter, easier to adjust and a little more expensive. They are usually installed at the end of the table opposite the face hole, and can be retrofitted to most tables if required.
A cheaper alternative to the face cradle, which is gaining in popularity, is the prone pillow. This is a very simple and light towelling covered foam support that fits under the head and upper thoracic area over the face hole. By raising the sternum and minimizing forehead lift, it provides a high degree of comfort when used in conjunction with the normal face hole. It is simple, inexpensive, and light to carry (it will store inside the folded table). It will dramatically improve the comfort of any table no matter what the size or shape of the face hole. For hygiene reasons they are supplied with washable towelling covers and/or disposable covers.
Face hole Plugs: Face hole plugs are a padded in-fill which fits into the face hole recess to provide a flatter surface for the patient to lie on in the supine position, or for added versatility, used in conjunction with a face cradle at the opposite end of the table. They also provide additional support when a pillow is being used, but are somewhat redundant when a separate headpiece is in use, because headpieces have their own in-fill plug for the face hole. They are designed in such a way that they can't slip through the face hole.
Patient bolsters are vinyl covered pieces of foam, generally either circular or half-moon shaped, that are fitted under the patients knees in the supine position, or under the instep in the prone position. They help to make the patient more comfortable, and to relax the muscles and tendons (particularly the hamstrings), in the adjoining limbs. A pillow can be used for the same purpose however it is likely to be soiled by massage and body oils. There are also rectangular bolsters (head blocks), used to support the head and provide better access to the cervical area. Some practitioners also like to use triangular bolsters for certain techniques (particularly chiropractors).
Carry bags protect your investment and assist you in transporting your table. Protective covers for massage tables come in a number of forms. These range from a simple cardboard carton to protect the table during transportation or delivery from the manufacturer, to more elaborate padded bags made from vinyl or nylon, with or without carrying shoulder straps. The main consideration is the degree of protection required, and the added weight of the protective cover (if you plan to carry the table around yourself with the protective cover on it). Good carry bags usually have additional pockets built in to the side of the bag for carrying oils and accessories (e.g. fitted sheets), and use high quality fittings. Quality differences between carrying bags are usually fairly obvious when they are compared side by side. Obviously a higher degree of protection is required if a transport company or airline is moving the table around, rather than in the situation where the only person handling the table is the practitioner who owns it. In the latter case probably all that is required is a lightweight, sealable bag, that protects the vinyl of the table from accidental scuffing or nicking. As a general rule protective covers that incorporate a shoulder strap are much easier to use than those that only use the handle of the table itself, (or separate carrying handles). This is particularly true for the shorter stature practitioner.
These come in such a large range of types, sizes and qualities that a separate booklet could be written on this topic alone. Oils also vary considerably in price depending on the raw materials used in their manufacture. The most expensive are the cold-pressed vegetable oils combined with essential aromatherapy essences and also higher quality water soluble oils. At the other end of the scale are the straight mineral oils, however these can also vary in price depending on the way they are made. Reputable manufacturers list all the ingredients in their oils and will give advice on their suitability for specific applications. There are also oils for super sensitive skins, and oils without any added aromas, essences or flavourings. Although many practitioners avoid using mineral oils it is true to say that the better quality mineral oils are often superior to poorer quality vegetable oils. Another factor to consider is shelf life. Vegetable oils without preservatives or those that have been extracted using heat, can go rancid fairly quickly after opening. A suggestion is to try small quantities of a number of different types of oil until you find one that has the right combination of qualities for you. Consider viscosity, aroma, availability, shelf life and price. Last, but not least, don’t forget to be aware of the ease with which the oil is removed from your patient after the massage, and the ease of washing the oil out of your linen. Cold pressed vegetable oils and water soluble oils tend to be the highest quality, and easiest to work with. There are many reliable suppliers of massage oils (including many of the table manufacturers), however many practitioners like to add an extra personal touch by making up their own oil mixture, with their own combination of essential oil additives.
Some years ago the Occupational Health and Safety, National Code of Practice recommended a maximum lifting weight for females of 15 kilograms. Since then the specific weight recommendation has been changed to reflect individual differences, and to be non-gender specific. For most practitioners we strongly recommend that 13 kg be the maximum table weight considered if the table is to be regularly transported. It is fair to generalize and state that most people (male and female) have difficulty carrying any more than 13 kilograms, for more than a short distance without discomfort. Of course the ease with which a table can be carried depends not only on its weight, but also on the width of the table (refer discussion concerning width in previous answer), and the way in which it is carried, e.g. with a shoulder strap, or shoulder carry bag, or by its handle.
From the above it follows that weight is an extremely important but often overlooked factor in choosing a table. If the table is not going to be moved around much then of course weight is of much less significance. However, all things being equal, every practitioner appreciates the benefits of a lighter portable table. For most people of average build and stature, a table weighing more than 13 kg is going to be a problem that will more than likely take away a lot of the enjoyment of using the table. There are many tables on the market particularly the “cheaper” ones, that weigh from 14-20 kgs.
This weight is a significant percentage of many practitioners’ own body weight and is almost impossible to carry any distance without discomfort, even for a young and fit person. It is an unbearable strain for the not so fit, and the not so young. Think very carefully before purchasing one of these heavier tables unless you are absolutely sure you can manage the weight. Buying a table that is too heavy is the biggest mistake most people make. It is no good having the "best" portable table in the world if it is too heavy for you to move it.
At the other end of the weight scale there are some super-lightweight tables on the market that weigh approximately 10 kilograms. These tables can be handled easily by almost anyone, including the less physically endowed practitioner. This type of table has generally made some tradeoffs between lightness, size, strength and stability, which may not suit all practitioners. However, for the practitioner who would not otherwise be physically capable of carrying a portable massage table, the choice is obvious.
If you have purchased a table that is too heavy for you to manage, there are a couple of tips that may assist you. The first is to purchase a shoulder carry bag or a large luggage shoulder strap that goes right around the perimeter of the table, so with the strap on your shoulder the table is carried under the arm. This will move the weight of the table closer to the centre of the body spreading the weight, and it will appear to feel lighter. The second tip is, if you don’t have a carry bag or shoulder strap, and have to carry the table up stairs, then by using a two-handed grip, with one hand in the face hole, and the other on the carrying handle - you can hold the table close to your chest and help spread the weight across both sides of your body. This method is recommended when going up stairs even if the table is not to too heavy for you. (You are also less likely to damage the table by contact with the stairs).
Looking after your back when carrying your portable table, use a carry bag or the two handed grip
When you are comparing electric power driven treatment tables an important factor is the drive system, i.e. the actuator that lifts the table, or as commonly referred to as the table motor.
There are different types, speed and lifting capacities, qualities and of course countries of origin.
Athlegen Prolift Motor Benefits
(1) We use a larger more powerful actuator 10,000n, compared with 6000n actuators used on most competing products. Almost twice as powerful.
(2) Our actuators are
While both A.C. and D.C. motors serve the same function of converting electrical energy into mechanical energy, they are powered, constructed and controlled differently. The most basic difference is the power source. A.C. motors are powered by alternating current (A.C.) typically the power grid 240 Volts, while D.C. motors are powered from direct current (D.C.), such D.C. power supplies or an AC-to-DC power converter.
The major benefit of an AC motor over DC motors is its lifting speed.
(3) An A.C. motor’s speed is constant regardless of the weight on the table.
An Athlegen Pro-Lift motor's height adjustment speed is the same with or without a patient on the table; whereas the more weight that is on a table driven by a DC motor the
(4) Speed Comparision with a patient weighing 150KG
Athlegen Prolift (Hanning AC motor): 12mm per second, i.e. a height adjustment of 48.1cm in just 13 seconds
Competitor (Linak DC motor): 37mm per second, i.e. or a height adjustment of 48.1cm in 40 seconds
Waste less time waiting for table movements, most DC motors on competing products are painfully slow and this can interrupt the treatment flow.
An Athlegen Pro-lift table provides you with fast, super responsive table height adjustments; allowing you to be more efficient - To do more in less time.
Every Chiro Model features Dunlop Ultra Firm Adjustment Foam - designed for Chiropractic work.
A Treatment model to suit every medical or first-aid treatment room or any multi-modality practice
Venus tables are available in three versions; Bronze, Silver and Gold
Every Osteo Model features Dunlop Firm Adjustment Foam - designed for Osteopathic work.
Every Access model (Standard, RMS and ABR) is available in three versions; Bronze, Silver and Gold
Every Chiro Model features Dunlop Ultra Firm Adjustment Foam - designed for Chiropractic work.
Full production capabilities provide Athlegen with the ability to manufacture, to continually create, improve and develop innovative products which benefit practitioners and clients. Athlegen production processes are at the cutting edge of technology, our computer controlled equipment guarantees precision and a consistently
The modern Athlegen production facility in Ballarat has the potential to greatly increase output as demand increases. Athlegen has the ability to manufacture very large and unexpected orders. Complete design and engineering capabilities allow Athlegen to satisfy requests for special purpose products that suit our customers’ particular requirements. Over the years Athlegen has more than tripled the size of its production facilities and has the capacity for further expansion at the existing location.
As part of
All components used by Athlegen are purchased with the environment in mind. All packaging for portable tables
All Athlegen’s activities comply with Australian environmental laws, principles and commitments. As part of
(1) Australian Designer and Manufacturer.
• Athlegen is an Australian specialist designer and manufacturer of superior treatment tables for massage, alternative health, beauty therapy, chiropractic, osteopathic, physiotherapy and medical professionals.
• Designed by our engineers and market tested, Athlegen Prolift power driven tables are proprietary registered designs, manufactured in our factory in Ballarat, using our in-house tooling and state of the art robotic welding equipment.
(2) 15-year Structural Warranty
(3) In house-Research and Development
• Athlegen has its own Research and Development Department committed to ongoing product development, and it uses extensive consultation with practitioners, therapists and professional associations to refine products and determine industry needs.
• A continuous improvement manufacturing program ensures that Athlegen products are built to perform flawlessly; the differences are obvious when you compare Athlegen tables side by side with competing products.
(4) Customize to suit your specific requirements
• We offer an unrivalled choice - from a comprehensive selection of standard products or let us customize a table to suit your requirements.
As a discerning customer, you need to know you’re buying the best, both for yourself and your clientele. Find out here why Athlegen have the resources, skills and knowledge to design and produce the exact treatment table or chair you require.
Your ideal table might be part of our standard range of carefully engineered, purpose built products, or it might be one we’ve created after consulting with you. In any case, you will not be disappointed with end result, it’s quality, how it looks, feels and operates. Here’s why:
REASON 1: You are choosing the best, a product you can depend on. Each table is 100% Australian, manufactured using Australian steel, produced in our Ballarat plant, and designed by experts with 30 years experience in creating treatment and consultation tables for an enormous range of clients. Whether custom built or one of our range of standard models each is a stylish, comfortable and functional piece of equipment you will happily rely on for years.
No matter what your query or special request, we can accommodate, delivering you superior service and products, which will enhance your business and the treatments you offer your clients.
REASON 2: Used and requested by the best. Athlegen have supplied the Australia’s Olympic team with treatment tables for more than 25 years, most recently providing all treatment tables for Australian Team at the Winter Olympics at Soichi in Russia. Athlegen are chosen time and again by professionals and elite sporting bodies for our consistently superior products, custom capabilities and exceptional customer service. Our tables are endorsed by numerous professional associations. We are proud to support our Olympic Team, and eager to share with you the same quality of service for your business, school or practice.
REASON 3: Each Athlegen table represents extraordinary value for money. Every table is a design showpiece, exhibiting beauty, functionality and carefully calibrated ergonomics. Made to last, constructed from only the finest materials, some created to be versatile, whilst others to precisely suit their specific purpose. Our Pro-Lift tables are hardy and long lasting – and supported with a ten year structural warranty. The tables are designed to look great and provide customer comfort and flawless operation regardless of age or frequency of use. We also offer leasing as an alternative to outright purchase.
REASON 4:Our tables add up to more than the sum of their parts. Barely audible motors allow for undisturbed height adjustments and easy access for less mobile clientele. Laser cut precision components mean no squeaking, catching or misalignment of moving parts. Robotic welding makes for a treatment table capable of standing up to the most hefty of customers, time and time again. Each element has been chosen, refined, tested, re-tested and proven over 30 years of commercial use, to provide you with the ultimate product for your practice.
REASON 5: As a practitioner you will enjoy using your Athlegen treatment table or chair every day. The quality and luxury of the finishes and cushioning mean your table looks great and makes a statement while still being 100% up to the job. Work around it with ease, knowing it’s strong enough for the most active of manipulations or adjustments, keeping your health and that of your team a priority along with the comfort of your clients.
REASON 6: You’re dealing with a seasoned and experienced company, not here today, gone tomorrow, equally capable of providing one customised table for a specialised client or a bulk order for a school or multiple practice rooms. We will consult with you on design specifics, make suggestions on enhancements, and add our considerable experience to your decision making process, allowing you to make an unpressured, informed and educated choice you won’t regret. This is the exact opposite of being forced to choose an off the shelf imported product where you have no contact with the manufacturer.
As stated in the previous answers, portable tables can accommodate almost all bodywork requirements. Nevertheless, stationary tables are generally even stronger and much more rigid, i.e. less prone to flexing. Non-portable tables other than electrically operated models normally have safe-working loads at least double those of the equivalent portable model. Stationary tables do not have to make as many compromises in their design parameters as portable tables and are therefore inherently superior in function, and usually more expensive.
The use of a portable table in a full-time clinic situation where the table will be in constant use will mean regular servicing to keep it in a reliable and safe working condition.
Stationary tables, made by reputable manufacturers require very little servicing if any, and are built to last many years with minimum maintenance other than cleaning. In the long run these factors make a stationary table a cost effective choice in a full-time practice.
Stationary tables also lend an aura of permanence and professionalism to any practice. This is the reason that heavy use applications, such as sporting clubs and massage clinics are best served by stationary tables. In the end unless the need for portability or to fold away after use is paramount, a stationary table will always be a better solution. The fact that portable tables dominate sales of massage tables is, to a large extent, a reflection of this perceived need for portability by trainee or newly qualified practitioners, together with considerations of cost and the availability of the space to leave a stationary table permanently in position.
A table is well engineered if it does its job simply and efficiently without developing any problems. One of the most common problems with portable massage tables is that they are rickety or squeak. When people talk about strength, they are usually referring to the weight the table will support. Most portable tables will support a static load far in excess of the levels they are subjected to in normal use. Equally important is how rigid the table is when it is pushed longitudinally or laterally, and how rigid it will be a year or so from the purchase date. Flex is also an important consideration in some modalities, e.g. chiropractic.
Some of the other factors affecting the engineering quality of a table are listed below.
Hinges also vary considerably in quality. Many manufacturers use cheap, low quality imported hinges that are not very stiff, and quite often squeak from the day the table is purchased. These hinges can often be identified because they only have three sections joining them. The better quality, stiffer hinges, generally have four sections joining them and are made from heavier gauge steel. If hinges are fitted to a metal framed table they should always be fastened into receptor fittings, never directly in to the metal.
Frames can be made from aluminium, timber or steel, with aluminium being the lightest, and steel the heaviest. If the frame is made from timber it should use a lightweight hardwood such as Pacific maple, or a plywood composite; not softwood such as pine, that is not as strong, and often comes with knots, which further reduces its strength. Timber frames should be both glued and fastened to the plinth so they can never work loose and squeak. Avoid frames that are attached solely with a nail gun for cheapness and convenience. Metal frames should be riveted, bolted or screwed to the plinth, and if made of steel it should be treated or powder-coated to reduce future problems with rust. Aluminium framed tables never suffer from rust problems.
The plinth is designed to increase the strength of some table frames and/or as a support for the foam in the upholstered top. Plywood is generally regarded as the best material for plinths on portable tables because of its strength and light weight. However there are many different types of ply, ranging from cheap and nasty, to very high quality marine grade. The thickness of the ply also impacts its suitability. The type that is used depends to a large extent on the type of frame. Steel and aluminium framed tables can use a variety of ply’s. The lightest tables use an aluminium frame with a very thin, high quality ply plinth fastened to the frame (either riveted, bolted or fastened with special screws). The suitability of the ply depends more on the way it is fastened to the frame than on the thickness or inherent strength of the ply. Timber framed tables rely more on the strength of the ply, and the better quality tables use at least 6.0 mm thick ply that is glued to the table frame. Lesser quality tables use 3.6-4.0 mm. A plinth that has been properly glued on to a timber frame is permanently attached, and can never come loose or squeak.
Another indication of a better-engineered table that cannot be seen after the table is completed, is the finish on the edge of the ply. A manufacturer, who is concerned with more than the superficial appearance of his product, will round off the edge of the ply so there is no sharp edge to dig into the arms when they are hanging over the edges of the table. This is important even if the table has foam around the edge, because a sharp edge can eventually cut into the foam and reduce its effectiveness.
Some tables are manufactured with a material mesh plinth instead of a plywood plinth. Tables with a mesh plinth are not suitable for many types of modalities, especially deep tissue and remedial massage and certainly not chiropractic or osteopathic treatments. The mesh is stretched like a drum skin and does not offer the same stiffness and support as a plywood frame base.
Generally speaking frames with a mesh base are narrower (61cm) and shorter* (85cm) than standard table frames (66cm x 92cm) because of the smaller table dimensions they are light in weight but they are also a compromise in table size and suitable for only very light massage work.
*Note these tables are often sold with a face cradle and the dimension of the table quoted includes the length of the face cradle
Vinyls vary in quality and price by up to a 10 factor. Some cheaper vinyls on imported tables will have the colour wash out of them when they are cleaned and will not stand up to the rigors of professional use and Australian climatic conditions. Vinyls also vary in surface texture and pattern. There are also some high quality imported vinyls available. These usually come from the U.S.A. or Italy, and are generally more expensive than the local vinyls although they may offer some special features not available with the local products, e.g. able to be cleaned with disinfectants, extra softness, etc.
The quality of the foam used in a table is the critical ingredient in the comfort of your patient. It is important to understand a little about the types of foam used in treatment tables in order to make an informed choice.
The quality and price of foam can vary enormously. The price difference can be as much as a factor of 4 or 5 from the lowest grade foams, to the highest. There are many different types of foam (over 30 grades) ranging from low density, through normal, standard, and high density grades, and from low resilient through to the very best high resilient (HR). The foam on some tables initially feels comfortable (as in some car seats) but after you have been on it for some time you find it does not give you adequate support. Cheaper foams also tend to sag prematurely and lose their shape. Look to the length of the manufacturer’s guarantee as the definitive guide to the quality of foam used. Foam with a long guarantee to keep its shape is obviously a better quality than foam with a short or no guarantee.
A quality table is an investment in comfort and appearance. Carefully check the "feel" of the foam by pushing your hand into it and also by lying on it. Cheaper foams "bottom-out" and have very little spring back. Better quality foam will spring back to its original shape. When gauging the quality of foam in a table be sure to lie on the table as well as feel it with your hand. This is because the pressure exerted by a body on a table is quite different to the pressure exerted by the hand. In fact the pressure exerted by the hand is much greater, and this can give a false impression of the comfort of the table if not followed up by actually lying on the table. Thicker quality high resilient foams will increase the weight of your table, so unless the table is very light weight to start off with, then these enhanced comfort features are best applied to tables where weight is not an issue, e.g. in a clinic situation where the table is unlikely to be carried around very much.
As an added bonus, high quality foams are manufactured without the use of ozone-depleting CFC’s, while many poorer quality foams are still manufactured with CFC’s. To be sure, you should ask the table manufacturer what type and grade of foam is used in the table.
A thinner cross section of better quality foam will actually provide more comfort, support and durability than a thicker cross section of poorer quality foam. From this it follows that the thickness of the foam padding by itself is not necessarily a good guide to the quality of the table. Some manufacturers use "profiled " foam that is shaped like the inside of an egg carton. This allows them to state they are using a thicker (but lighter) layer of foam, although durability will be less than a thinner layer of solid foam of the same grade.
Foam layers can be very useful in achieving a plethora of working surfaces. Progressive changes of density can give enhanced comfort, softness and support. Extra layers can improve on the comfort of even the best single layer foams. Softer foams can be placed over firmer foams to achieve the desired cushioning.
Unfortunately multi layers of foam can also be used to cut costs. Some manufacturers use one or more layers of low cost "fillers" in their layered construction. Relatively good quality foam is used on the top layer to give a good "feel" to the table while the underlying layers are of poor quality.
Make sure to check the quality and density of the layers of foam. A manufacturer who simply states that a table has many layers of foam gives the purchaser no indication of the comfort or quality of the foam. Foam durability is governed by the weakest link, so unless all the layers are of the same quality, such a multi layer foam table may not last as long, or give the same level of comfort, as another table with a single layer of higher quality foam. Again the overall warranty on the foam is a good guide to its quality.
Different modalities have different foam requirements. Generally speaking the longer the treatment the more comfort is required. Sports and remedial massage therapists prefer a firmer working surface than say a practitioner in the relaxation field, where treatments can last an hour or more. Thicker, softer foams are best suited for these relaxation treatments. Chiropractors and osteopaths who perform adjustments and manipulations require very high-density foams - a very firm working surface (also popular with Alexander technique, and Feldenkrais practitioners). There are many other modalities with special requirements. A reputable manufacturer will supply a large range of foam types to suit individual practitioner needs.
If you look carefully at the upholstery on a table it is usually fairly obvious if a professional upholsterer, or only a semi-skilled person has done it.
A quality table will have professionally finished upholstery work that is quite obvious in a table-by-table comparison with a lesser quality table. Look at the corners of the tabletop; examine the way the upholstery is done. Some tables have roughly folded corners that are simply pinned into position. These can easily snag, providing areas for dirt and grime to lodge, and are unattractive. Only a qualified upholsterer will be proficient enough to provide a professional looking finish to a table while the work of unskilled upholsters is usually fairly obvious even to the untrained eye.
There are some additional considerations that should be taken into account if the table has adjustable legs. An earlier question considered the range of height adjustments and their suitability for the practitioner. With adjustable height tables it is also important to look at the actual adjustment mechanism on each of the table legs to see how simple and positive it is to operate. Adjustable height tables normally have a different type of stay to fixed height tables, and this should also be checked for positive and simple operation as well as freedom from rattles.
Adjustable height tables normally have a steel tension cable that is the critical component in keeping the table erect. You should enquire about the breaking strain on the cable and also examine the swages used to fasten it to the table legs. The minimum breaking strain should be at least 500 kilograms. Because there are no centre legs on this type of table, the hinges joining the two halves of the table and how they are fitted are of critical importance; they should be extremely strong and well made. Also of importance is the degree of flex in the middle, and the overall stability. Finally check that the table does not rattle, particularly around the section where the leg extensions fit into the legs proper.
Another important factor to consider with adjustable height tables is the ease of erecting and dismantling. Generally speaking tables that have press button locking systems for the struts will tend to become noisier over time and also require an additional action to dismantle (pushing the button on the strut). Aluminium strutted tables with a single centre strut tend to have more sideways torque (or twisting motion) when weight is applied to the outer edge of a table as in deep tissue or chiropractic work.
Some adjustable height tables make up for their lack of real engineering by having very complex under carriage arrangements e.g. double strutted multi cable systems must always have a lower cross brace (to support the struts) and this often gets in the way of a practitioner’s knees.
The most elegant solution to this quandary is probably the design registered double triangular strut system. It is extremely strong and light (two triangles back to back), folds and erects without buttons, minimises the number of cables required, and yet still provides practitioner knee access when seated.
In selecting the correct table width there are three main issues you need to consider: patient comfort, practitioner working comfort, and ease of transportation. Table width in portable tables is a compromise between these sometimes conflicting requirements.
From the patient viewpoint the wider the table, generally the more comfortable it is. Most people who have had a massage have had the experience of lying on a narrow table and having to tuck their hands under their buttocks to avoid them slipping off the sides of the table.
From the practitioner viewpoint, the narrower the table, the easier it is to work on, (less bending is required to reach the centre of the table). A table that is too wide for you will give you a sore back from having to lean too far across a patient. A taller practitioner can manage a wider table without having to bend as much as a shorter practitioner on the same width table.
Table width and table size when folded are directly related. When folded, the table’s width is its height. The narrower the table therefore the easier (and lighter), it is to carry.
Obviously a compromise must be reached. Consider how often the table will be moved around. If the table is being used for home visits on a regular basis then it is important for the practitioner to be able to carry the table comfortably. It is much harder to carry a table with a bent elbow, than with a straight arm.
The following table can be used as a guide so you can comfortably carry your table by the handle, with a straight arm, and without it dragging on the ground. Remember that the handle on the table extends its width (that is height off the ground when folded) by an extra 5-10cm when its been carried. The practitioner physical height guide to table height and width given left, is sometimes useful if you are purchasing the table as a surprise gift for someone else and you don’t want to signal your intentions by actually measuring the recipient as described on page 21.
If the table is not being moved around very much then many practitioners like to move up one width on what would be comfortable for them to carry. This approach moves the compromise equation in the patient’s favour. It means a little more leaning for the practitioner while working, but this is offset by a more comfortable table for the patient. A wider width is also indicated if the practitioner’s technique includes straddling, kneeling, or sitting alongside the patient.
In recent years there is a trend towards wider tables in Australia and 68 cm width seems to be overtaking 66 cm as the most popular width. In some overseas countries even wider tables are the most common e.g. USA.
One of the most important factors influencing table width, which is often overlooked, is the finish on the edge of the table. The edge finish alters the effective width of the table and brings into consideration the difference between nominal and effective width. There are two basic types:
The foam is compressed by the vinyl covering. It stands to reason that a table with a rounded edge finish will lose some of its effective width because it slopes away at the edges. This is most noticeable when a patient is lying in the supine position with arms by the side. If the table is narrow, and has rounded edges, the arms will tend to slide off the table. In this way some tables with very rounded edges can lose 10-15 cm of their effective width. Choose a design with minimal edge rounding.
This is where a gusset is sewn in to the sides of the vinyl making a square edge like a mattress so the table can have a flat top. This type of edge finish has an effective width that is the same as its nominal width. Consider the mattress you sleep on - most people would steer clear of a mattress with a rounded edge that effectively reduced the space available to sleep on.
The practical result of choosing a sewn edge finish is that a person of shorter stature, who would find it difficult to carry a wider table, can get the benefit of a wider table by choosing the sewn edge finish. Of course the benefit is not limited to the narrower tables, so anyone looking to get maximum effective width from a given nominal width should consider this type of edge finish.
The only reason for the dominance of the tapered edge finish in Australia is that it is a cheaper method of upholstery for the manufacturer, and does not require work from professional upholsterers, unlike the more complicated sewn edge finish. Having said all this, a minority of practitioners still prefer the appearance of the tapered edge finish despite its comfort limitations.
In recent years some high quality tables have achieved a compromise of less taper at the edge of the table (and therefore a flatter, more usable top), without having to incorporate the sewn edge gusset. This is done by carefully layering the foam at the edge of the table to reduce the rounding effect.
Remember that for any table, the wider it is, the heavier it is, so the person of smaller stature should always consider the weight they can comfortably carry, as well as the width. This is where a table with a flatter top finish comes into its own.
Another factor to consider when determining table width is the shape of the table. Comfortable carrying capacity does not alter with different shapes, however a shaped top access table which enables the practitioner to stand closer to the patient (less bending), generally enables the practitioner to move up one size in width without unduly affecting working comfort. There is actually less bending by the practitioner required on a 66 cm- wide shaped top table than on a 61cm-wide rectangular table.
Show a Genesis table here Rectangular table
Because you stand much closer to the centre of the table on a shaped top table than on a rectangular table there is less bending required to reach the centre of the table and therefore the centre of your patient's back.
This achieves a more comfortable working position without a compromise in patient comfort.
Having said all that, currently the most popular width for professional massage tables is 68-70 cm (27-28 in), and most standard massage tables are 1.84 m (6 ft) long. Tables can of course be manufactured to any width and any length, and sometimes these two factors are interdependent, e.g. an extra high table may need to be extra wide in order to provide stability.
Like most things in life, with massage tables you generally get what you pay for. You can purchase portable massage tables ranging in price from under $200 to over $600. All of these tables would meet the general description of being covered in vinyl, with padding, a face hole or cradle, and folding in two with a carrying handle. Having said that, there is an enormous variation of qualities and styles within that general description. It is a little like saying all motor cars have four wheels, a steering wheel and doors which open and close, and they are used for personal transportation. Within the range of motor cars you have everything from the cheapest eastern European or Korean model to a Mercedes Benz. Again, you generally get what you pay for. It is the same for massage tables. Many cheap tables will not stand up to even one year of professional use and I am personally aware of many tables purchased on eBay that have not even lasted one day!
The next question and answer tells you what to look for, and each of the factors mentioned will have an impact on the price. One of the most important factors (as with motor cars, or any other product for that matter) is the reputation of the manufacturer and the length of time they have been in business.
Let us end this answer by giving a very general rule of thumb guide to price.
Under $200 - at best suitable for home use (beware of backyard manufacturers).
$200 - $300 - home use, or light professional use.
$300 - starting point for a very basic professional table, check warranty and manufacturer.
$350 - starting point for a more fully featured professional table.
$500 - starting point for specialized portable tables,such as adjustable headrest, feldenkrais, etc. better quality adjustable height tables.
$600 plus - quality and comfort should be unquestioned, long guarantee, lifetime investment!
PVC vinyl is by nature a stiff product that is made soft and pliable by the addition of plasticisers. These plasticisers can migrate out of the vinyl due to a number of factors. If the vinyl does not have sufficient UV inhibitors, then the harsh Australian sunlight can rapidly dry out the plasticisers and cause the vinyl to crack. Quality
The other main factor causing vinyl to crack is lack of attention to cleaning the table after use. Body oils, perspiration, and massage oil residues will all draw the plasticisers out of the vinyl if they are allowed to dry on it. The damage may be imperceptible at first, but with time the vinyl will be irreparably damaged. There are also certain chemicals and solvents that damage vinyl,
The answer to cracked vinyl is to firstly ensure that you purchase a quality table that is manufactured with vinyl suited to Australia’s climate, and secondly to ensure that the vinyl is cleaned properly and regularly. The simple cleaning instruction is to use a pH neutral cleaning product such as the yellow laundry soaps, e.g. Sunlight, Velvet or
Remember the vinyl is normally the only part of the table not covered by the table manufacturer’s warranty, so it pays to look after it. Clean it regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions and never use your table for any modality without the protection of a quality towelling cover (or at least thick bath towels that fully cover the table). Don’t assume that because you work in a modality where no massage oil is used (e.g. medical practitioner, reiki, chiropractic or shiatsu, etc.) that your table does not require regular cleaning or the use of a cover. Human body oils, perspiration, etc. are still deposited on the table, and will eventually cause vinyl degradation if the table is not protected and cleaned regularly.
Portable tables are not really recommended for treatments involving patient and practitioner on the one table. Stationary tables are far more suited to this purpose. The following tips will help extend the life of your portable table.
Portable tables perform best when the weight load is evenly distributed. Do not concentrate weight on a small area, avoid using the table as a seat, and do not use on a soft surface, or a surface that is not level, such as sand or turf.
On most portables, the plywood base can flex. Do not apply body weight on a small area e.g. a patient getting on or off your table with all their body weight on a knee or elbow because you risk over flexing the ply and cracking it. This is not a manufacturing fault and not covered under warranty.
Very heavy large patients are often not very
Ensure the table is set up correctly before anyone gets on the table.
Service the table to keep it in good working condition.
Do not allow your table to be used by anyone who has not received instructions in its safe use and care.
No matter how you look at a portable table, in the end, its design is a compromise, based on solving the conflicting problems of strength, portability, lightness, price and functionality
You do not need a backrest to get the benefits of a saddle seat. However, leaning into a backrest can be helpful to control the seat as you move around your workspace. The backrest can also be used as a stretch support i.e. handy to occasionally lean into and stretch when sitting for long periods.
Once you have set the saddle seat to the correct height - so that your spine is in a natural "S" curve - simply adjust the backrest so that it fits snug into your spines natural lumbar curve. This is very different to a backrest support on a traditional office chair where generally your spine is in a "C" curve and the lumbar support is used to force the spine into the more natural "S" curve.
|Amazone||Jumper||Sit with knees closer together||Larger seat size|
|Women (dress size)||
14 or less
14 or more
|Men (pants size)||
34 or less
34 or more
The optimum sitting position on a saddle chair is when a 110 to 135-degree angle is created between the thighs and the upper body. This will automatically position your spine in a natural healthy "S" curve. To achieve the optimum spine curvature you will require the right saddle seat for your physical height. Simply follow the guide above to select the correct chair height.
Well-made portable massage tables require very little regular maintenance other than the regular cleaning detailed in the previous answer. Manufacturers who care for their products will provide "care cards", or other simple maintenance instructions, which will assist you in properly maintaining your table. Some manufacturers go so far as to provide free service (at their premises) for the life of the warranty.
Service only becomes an issue when you need it. Obviously it is much more convenient to be able to drop your table in to the manufacturer’s premises and have it serviced on the spot while you wait, than to have to pack your table up, and send it a long way to be serviced. Apart from the cost, which may or may not be covered under warranty, there is the inconvenience of having to do without your table for a length of time. Unfortunately, it is often not until you have a problem that you find out what the real attitude of the manufacturer is towards service. It is likely that the longer established better-known manufacturers have got to that position by providing good service. Check around. You will normally find that the quality manufacturers are well known for their good service, and their positive attitude is reflected in all their business dealings. Trust your instincts, but also carefully check the warranty to see what is included and what is not. Be wary of generalisations that are bandied about without giving specific details.
Do not do unauthorised repairs or modifications as this could void your warranty. What may seem a simple modification or addition may have unforeseen adverse effects on other important components. Always check with the manufacturer before any attempt at modifications is made.
The longer established the manufacturer, the more likely they will be around to honour any guarantee. When looking at a guarantee, check how long it lasts and what it actually covers. Most table warranties cover material and workmanship but exclude fair wear and tear, and accidental damage. Most warranties also specifically exclude the vinyl - which is normally covered by a separate vinyl manufacturer’s warranty. You should also check if the cost of packing, shipping, and return shipping from the manufacturer’s factory is covered, particularly if the manufacturer is some distance from you. Massage tables are large bulky items and they can be very expensive to transport, particularly on a one-off basis. You should also ask the normal turn around time if your table does need service.