Massage Table Buying Guide

Giving and receiving the perfect massage begins with the perfect massage table. This massage table buying guide outlines the various types and features to consider.

Massage Tables 101

Whether you’re looking to benefit from regular massages at home, or want to launch your own business, a massage table can be a very worthwhile investment. From reducing stress and soothing sore muscles to relieving headaches and promoting sleep, the benefits of regular massage therapy are well documented. Your ideal table should offer a combination of pampering and practicality. Safety is important too, so choose a table that features good quality materials and sturdy construction.

Types of Massage Tables


Fixed Massage Tables

Fixed massage tables are intended for installation in dedicated spaces such as home gyms and home spas. They're typically made from heavyweight materials like wood or steel, making them a good choice for intense massages such as shiatsu and sports massages. Fixed massage tables are constructed to a fixed height and sometimes include built-in cabinets for storing linens, oils and other supplies. Before buying, look for high-quality materials such as layered, small-cell foam padding for maximum comfort.

Portable Massage Tables

If you need to transport your massage table from place to place, either within your home or as part of a mobile business, choose the lightest table that will meet all your needs. Portable massage tables offer much of the strength of fixed massage tables but are typically smaller, narrower and made of lightweight materials like aluminum. When it's time to move the table, simply fold it up and carry it to the next room or out to the car. When folded, a portable massage table is also easy to store in a closet or under a bed. If you’re choosing a portable table, you may also want to invest in a tensor cable support system, which prevents the table from rocking and provides extra strength and stability.

Massage Chairs

Massage chairs use simulated wrist movements and various massage modes to work on different muscles. Typically designed for people of average size, they come with a variety of convenient features, including programmable controls and adjustable intensity and duration. Consider your space: massage chairs are more compact than tables, but still require a fair amount of room when fully reclined.

Hydraulic Massage Tables

Hydraulic massage tables are stationary tables with a hydraulic lift to raise or lower the table bed. These tables are especially well suited to people with mobility issues or special needs, including those who are pregnant, obese or have physical handicaps. Hydraulic massage tables allow for more effective massage because the masseuse can adjust the table to a preferred height for delivering a particular massage technique. They also reduce the risk of injury to the masseuse and allow the masseuse to work longer without tiring because there's no need to stand on tiptoes or bend over when delivering a massage.

Massage Tables with Elevating Sections

Massage tables with elevating sections facilitate multiple positions (seated, reclined, and foot-elevated) that are required for certain massage techniques, such as acupressure. These tables can also be used to help make the massage experience more comfortable and convenient for people with special needs, such as those who are pregnant, obese or have limited mobility. Like hydraulic massage tables, they allow the therapist to work on different parts of the body easily and conveniently without overstretching or bending.

Matching Massage to Table


Acupuncture Massage

In acupuncture massage, needles are applied to specific points on the body to trigger the release of endorphins. This helps to relieve pain, promote healing and increase circulation. For this particular type of massage, look for a comfortable, wide massage table with thick padding for optimal comfort and relaxation.

Acupressure Massage

Acupressure massage involves putting pressure on specific points of the body to stimulate the body’s natural healing ability. This is best served by a sturdy, fixed massage table with a push-lock feature (also known as shiatsu cable release). It allows for a variety of massage techniques and gives the masseuse easy access to all of the pressure points. Look for a comfortable, wide massage table with thick foam for maximum comfort. 

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage uses slow strokes, direct pressure or friction to work the muscles at a deeper level and relieve chronic aches and pains. It’s best to use a firm table that provides support and stability with little resistance. Choose a table with medium-thick foam at the centre of the table so the masseuse won’t have to exert extra effort.

Hot Stone Massage

If hot stone massage is your specialty, choose a heated tabletop for an ultra-relaxing massage. If you’re using larger stones for deeper massages, opt for a firmer table with two inches of foam; if you’re using regular stones, choose a softer table with three inches of foam for added comfort.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most common form of massage. It uses a combination of five basic strokes to work muscles and connective tissues to promote relaxation, pain relief and well-being. Comfort should be first and foremost with this technique, so you’ll want to choose a wide table with a comfy layer of foam. 

Thai Massage

A Thai massage works to clear energy blockages by combining traditional massage techniques, such as myofascial release, with light stretching. It’s typically administered on floor mats, with practitioners using their own body weight to position clients into yoga-like forms. To perform Thai massage on a massage table, the table must be strong and wide enough to accommodate the combined weight of the client and therapist. Look for thinner foam as it's better to have minimal give when performing this massage. A shiatsu cable release (or push-lock table) is ideal because it allows you to place the table directly on the floor for better support and stability.

Aromatherapy and Ayurvedic Massage

These techniques incorporate the use of massage oils, so it’s best to choose a table upholstered in a waterproof and oil-proof material to maintain its cleanliness and longevity. Your table covers should also be made of oil-resistant materials. Clean the table immediately after a massage to keep it in fine form.

Craniosacral Therapy

Craniosacral therapy uses gentle, hands-on massage techniques to focus on the craniosacral system for the relief of headaches, pain and muscle tension. For this massage, your table should have softer, thicker padding at least three inches in depth and preferably a memory-type foam to provide maximum comfort for both therapist and client. It’s best to choose a table with extensions for expanding your work surface and removable headrests to provide access for certain cranial techniques. 

Orthopedic and Sports Massage

Orthopedic and sports massage use a wide variety of massage techniques, including deep tissue penetration, to treat pain and soft-tissue injuries. Look for a fixed table with two inches or less of padding to provide firmness and resistance for intense kneading and pressure. Since sports massage is often geared to athletes, you might want to choose a wider massage table that can accommodate larger builds. Adjustable backrests offer more versatility for various techniques.

Reiki Massage

For reiki techniques, you’ll want to focus on making the client as comfortable as possible, so choose a table with at least three inches of foam — preferably memory foam. Look for a wider table that’s at least 30 inches across, with plenty of leg room for placing crystals around the client. 

Massage Table Cleaning Tips:

  • Clean the massage table with mild soap and water or a vinyl and leather cleaning solution after each use
  • Clean all oil stains on your table immediately to prevent drying and cracking
  • Wash all protective covers and linens after each use
  • Regularly disinfect your table with a diluted 5:1 water-to-bleach solution
  • Let your upholstery dry completely before using or storing


Working Weight +

Choose a table that has the right working weight (that is, the combined weight of the person on the table and the person giving the massage) to suit your needs and specific massage techniques.

Foam Density and Thickness +

When it comes to padding thickness, 2.5 inches of foam provides acceptable comfort for most massages. For "hard" massage techniques like shiatsu and sports massage, a firm, dense foam is better as it doesn't require the masseuse to work as hard. Conversely, for “soft” massage techniques such as reiki, thicker foam (three inches or more) is preferred. Keep in mind that foam quality is related to the density of the foam, not the thickness. Regardless of the thickness you choose, it’s best to buy layered, dense, small-cell foam that's highly rated for comfort and durability.

Upholstery +

Massage tables are available in a variety of fabrics, including leather, vinyl and synthetic, and some are more durable and easier to clean than others. If you’re using your massage table outdoors, without sheets or with oils, you might want to choose easy-to-clean vinyl, which is waterproof and oil proof. If you’re focusing on massages that require lots of lotions and oils, you may want to avoid leather.

Head Rests, Footrests and Bolsters +

Physical supports can add to a client’s comfort and transform a good massage into a great one. Head and foot rests offer ergonomic support to the skeletal structure and contribute to comfort and relaxation, while adjustable head and foot rests allow you to customize the table to be most comfortable for each client. Face rests can help support the face and alleviate stress on the neck. Bolsters and body cushions can provide ergonomic support to the ankles, knees, neck and skeletal structure while keeping pressure off soft-tissue areas like the breasts and stomach.

Carrying Cases +

Carrying cases for portable massage tables are reinforced with tough materials and designed to protect your table and upholstery from wear and tear. Look for a case with several handles and a shoulder strap for easy portability. Even better, choose a model with wheels. Some carrying cases feature pockets or compartments for storing supplies such as oils and linens.

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Massage Table Maintenance Tips:

  • If your massage table is portable, check and tighten all screws and knobs after each set-up as they may loosen during transit and due to temperature changes
  • Use protective covers and linens, which can be washed and reused, to help protect your upholstery
  • Keep your table away from extreme temperatures to prevent cracking and fading
  • Always store and transport your portable massage table in a carrying case
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and care
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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