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30 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j a n u a r y / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 5 CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education Your Massage Equipment: A Primer By Anne Williams Each piece of equipment in your practice represents an investment in your business and in your clients. When you purchase your equipment, do so carefully, after researching brands, understanding available options, and comparing products. Homemade or poorly made equipment may be unsafe and fail during a massage, causing injury to the client or therapist, while quality massage equipment undergoes extensive researching and testing. It's up to you to choose wisely. THE MASSAGE TABLE: OUR BREAD & BUTTER Clearly, as MTs, our most important piece of equipment is our table. And many different manufacturers offer many different features and options. Tables may be stationary, hydraulically lifted, electrically lifted, or portable. They might include arm shelves, side extenders, sit-up features, and have standard to very plush padding. Arm Shelf. An arm shelf can be attached to the front of the table to provide a place for clients in the prone position to rest their arms. This is useful because it allows you easy access to the sides of the client's body. When the client is in the supine position, side extenders can be placed on each side of the table to widen the table and provide more space for the client's arms. Sit-Up Feature. Some massage tables allow the therapist to place the client in a sitting position. This is a nice feature if you plan to work with pregnant clients, if you offer reflexology, or if you are also an esthetician and offer facials. A cushion is often needed to support the client's lower back because the steep angle of the upper portion of the table tends to create a gap. Padding and Cover. The padding on massage tables varies from a single layer to multiple-layer systems. Multiple-layer systems are typically more comfortable because the deeper foam layers are firm, giving support, while the upper foam layer is softer and conforms to the client's body. Padding comes in 1- to 4-inch thicknesses. Therapists who offer deep-tissue techniques sometimes prefer firm table padding (1½ to 2½ inches) because the client doesn't sink away from the stroke. Therapists who offer energy work or relaxation massage sometimes prefer plush padding because the table feels more comfortable and nurturing. The table cover should be durable and easy to clean. Oils and creams can break down the vinyl, so the table must be cleaned to ensure that it lasts. Wipe the table down with a suitable cleaning product between clients, and use diluted bleach solutions only if the table comes into contact with body fluids. Some therapists use antibacterial wipes to give the table a quick cleaning.

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