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Massage Today
March, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 03 >> Musculoskeletal Pain

Make Your Table a Sanctuary

By Angie Patrick

In my previous two columns, I shared information about some of the products you use every day, such as lubricants. I also shared tips on how to choose the correct table for your specific needs. No doubt lubricants and your table are two types of products you work with every day. But there are a few other very important pieces of which you should be aware. These pieces are designed to provide your client with added comfort, adequate cover and the promise of cleanliness. These items are your table additives and dressings. In this article, I would like to share some ideas that can enable you to make your treatment table an oasis for your client, while maintaining proper attention to sanitation.

Not all modalities will require the same types of table dressing. Sometimes, all you will need is a sheet. However, in this article, I would like to focus on modalities designed for relaxation and stress relief. I would like to share some ideas that can change your treatment table from just a place to give massage to a healing and stress-melting cocoon of pure comfort and client pampering. (Sign me up!)

Your purely indulgent table should have a foundation of warmth. Table warmers or bed warmers are different from electric blankets. They typically are the size of the surface of your table and have multiple setting for levels of heat. There are a variety of types on the market from ones that are sewn into a flannel fabric to those encased in vinyl with a flannel cover. The vinyls are better suited for any treatment that introduces moisture, such as mud and wraps. (Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions before introducing anything that could conduct electricity. Make sure your specific warmer is made for this.) Still others are intertwined in a plush fleece fabric, providing cozy warmth and added cushioning.

A massage table decorated with candles and attractive cloths. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Once you have a platform of warmth, you may decide you need a little more cushioning and pampering for your client. To add a bit more cushion to even the hardest table, add a fleece pad cover to your emerging cocoon. These can be made of natural wool, although, they can certainly be priced higher than some of their synthetic counterparts. One thing you will want to consider is laundering these pieces. The synthetic option is readily washable and usually can be dried on low heat. (Refer to the care instructions for the pad you buy.) This flexibility can certainly be a plus; additionally, you run less risk of a client having an allergic reaction to wool.

OK, so now we have a warmer and a fleece pad. This table is beginning to sound like a real retreat, but we still have a few more items that could truly make it a sanctuary. At this point, I would like to address an issue regarding a barrier between the next layer and the fleece pad. Since you will not want to launder the pad after each use, you will want to purchase a thin, impenetrable barrier that will inhibit cross-contamination, while allowing for the warmth and cushion of the first two layers to shine through. There are barriers made of plastic and vinyl on the market, although, I find the vinyl to be less noisy and easier to clean.

Now the sheets - so many options, so many materials. How do you choose? I have to say I am a big fan of flannel. To me, there is little that can compare to the encompassing comfort of fluffy, soft flannel. Although, I must admit I have had some amazing massage experiences on well-appointed, crisp cotton sheets as well. These days, there are more eco-friendly choices as well, with fibers made of bamboo. Bamboo is a readily renewable resource that has become popular in everything from flooring to furniture. It has recently emerged on the textile scene, creating some extremely soft and luxurious sheet sets. You also can find organic cottons that are quite luxurious. Organic sheet sets are often three to four times the cost of typical massage sheet sets, and this can make it an interesting choice for an item that will be laundered after each use. You will want to choose options that will withstand daily washing, oil stains and repeated usage. Also keep in mind that sheet sets purchased specifically for massage commonly include the cradle cover of a matching material.

This brings us to blankets. I am fond of thermal, cotton-knit blankets. These blankets are cooler in summer and warmer in winter. They are truly workhorses, as they can withstand repeated usage and can hold their shape. For an extra-special treat, try one of the fleece blankets on the market. These are cozy, soft and reminiscent of a baby blanket to the touch. Very indulgent! If you choose to go the far end of the luxury scale, you can purchase a twin-sized down comforter, and have a beautiful duvet and matching pillow to dress the table. Of course, these will be removed before treatment, but the client will get the immediate idea they are in for a soothing and relaxing experience.

Your table should reflect you and your idea of comfort. Imagine yourself on the table and then decide which pieces would make you feel relaxed, renewed and rejuvenated. Client perception is hugely important. Couple a quality massage with indulgent comfort, and your name will be on their lips for days. Hopefully, this pleasant experience will result in word-of-mouth referrals, providing you with a broader client base.

I would love to hear some of the ways you make your table a sanctuary. Feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you do to achieve the ultimate in client comfort! I look forward to hearing from you.

Click here for previous articles by Angie Patrick.


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