Massage Therapist Chairs: Learn to Embrace the Curve
The very first thing that sets massage chairs apart from their massage table counterparts is that, except in very specific applications, a massage therapist is practicing on a client that is in a seated position rather than laying down flat.
Another important difference to keep in mind is that while day-one students or private individuals may take immediate advantage of the benefits of using a massage table, a massage chair is used in a very specific way that requires a massage therapist to have specialized training in its use.
While many of the same Swedish Massage, Shiatsu Massage, and even some Deep Tissue Massage techniques are used in seated massage, their application and placement can be quite different compared to how those same techniques are administered while the client is lying down.
Technique Determines Form
Massage Chair Styles
Traditional Massage Chair
Dynamic Massage Chair
Pro Dolphin II Portable Massage Chair by Pisces Massage Supplies
This style is the perfect example of the “very specific applications” we mentioned earlier. Massage chairs of this nature allow for a range of positions from seated to being in a fully prone position.
Desktop Massage Aid
TravelMate Desktop by Earthlite Massage Tables
The ultimate in compact portability, as the name implies, this isn’t actually a massage chair at all. Essentially just a chest and face rest, this style is simply placed on top of a table or desk while the client sits in a normal chair or stool.
Spa Massage Chairs
Medical and Spa Procedure Chair - 100 Series by Oakworks Massage Equipment
These massage chairs settle into a rather grey area as far as the massage chairs we’ve mentioned above are concerned; both a broader and more narrow functionality. Few massage therapists outside of a brick-and-morter establishment such as a spa, medical office, or clinic will need to consider this style.
Things to Consider
The major benefit of learning to practice seated massage is that a majority of massage chairs are also inherently portable massage chairs.
Many massage therapists - 59%, according to a 2014 American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) survey - spend at least a portion of their time practicing in private residences and business environments. Being able to perform on-site massage using a massage chair can be both convenient and efficient - especially if the massage therapists is anticipating multiple clients.
Unlike table massage, chair massage is usually between 15 - 30 minutes in length rather than an hour or more. This is an important thing to consider as far as how a massage therapist should choose their techniques as well as how to properly pace the entire message so that the client doesn’t feel incomplete once the massage is over.
It’s especially important when using a massage chair to ensure that the client is of suitable stature and health before attempting to work with them.
While there is often an impressive level of adjustability for massage chairs to allow for client customization, massage chairs are very compact. Individuals who are on either extreme of the height spectrum or have a larger frame may not be able to be correctly positioned on a massage chair even if they technically fit.
Clients with joint and / or circulation issues may find sitting on a massage chair very uncomfortable so it is vital that the massage therapist and client are aware of this.
One of our founding goals is to provide the tools you need to practice your skills to the highest degree of your skills. We also know that tools are more than just physical apparatus. This is why we offer our Buyers Guide to you as a brief overview of the differences between portable massage tables and stationary massage tables as a touchstone to help you select the tools that will benefit you and your clients the most. Our regularly updated collection of articles is another intangable tool we are proud to offer. Another fantastic resource we are proud to offer is a wonderful Customer Service Team that is always happy to offer suggestions, hear your feed back, and any questions you may have.