Generally speaking, a massage table should be able to hold 250 pounds at least. However, if you’ll be massaging a 250-pound client, you should aim for a higher weight capacity, starting from 350 pounds and up.
If you’ll be using the table on a consistent basis, you should get a model that can hold up to 700 pounds.
How can the tables have such varying capacities? That’s what I’ll explain in this article.
Understanding the Difference Between Static and Working Weights
When shopping for a massage table, most people choose a model based on the wrong weight capacity. But which one is wrong? The static or the working? Let’s see.
As the name suggests, the static weight represents the load that a table can hold while standing still. In other words, this is the maximum weight that the table can withstand when you’re not actively massaging your client.
Understandably, this weight capacity doesn’t really say much about the table’s quality. You could buy a table that allegedly supports up to 1500 pounds of static weight. But when you get to the actual kneading, it could collapse underneath a 200-pound client.
Plus, even if the table can really hold 1500 pounds, that doesn’t mean that you can concentrate all of that force in only one spot. Ideally, the four corners and the middle seam are the strongest weight-bearing areas in any table. Focusing the load anywhere else will increase the possibility of frame bending or even breakage.
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The working weight is the parameter that takes every factor into account. It represents the load of the client plus any pressure applied by you, the masseuse.
Some foreign brands may describe this weight capacity by other terms, such as the safe working load (SWL) or normal working load (NWL).
As you might’ve guessed, this is the only weight capacity that should determine which table you’ll purchase.
If you’re just starting your business, search for tables that can hold 250–350 pounds, to say the least. Capacities lower than that won’t be versatile enough, not even for personal use.
If you’re expecting a high client rate, you should consider raising the bar to 500 or even 800 pounds. As you go higher, the table will be more durable, and you won’t have to turn down many clients.
Does the Frame Material Make a Difference?
Yes. Generally speaking, aluminum massage tables can hold more weight than most wooden alternatives, but that’s not always true. It all boils down to the table’s design, construction quality, and whether the manufacturer is trustworthy.
I know that some of your friends might’ve warned you against aluminum, claiming that it squeaks, rusts, and sprains your back if you try to move it around. The next time you hear those claims, tell your friends that they’re thinking of steel, which used to be the sole material for massage tables before the ‘90s.
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Which Is Stronger: Portable or Stationary Tables?
If you’re only considering strength, stationary tables would be a no-brainer. Thanks to their bulkier builds, these tables can support extreme weights, which is why they’re ideal for spas.
If you’re thinking about providing home or office visits, you should definitely get a portable table. Despite their modest weight capacity, these tables won’t drag you down since they typically weigh less than 40 pounds.
What to Do If the Manufacturer Doesn’t Specify a Weight Limit?
If you can’t find a weight capacity anywhere, it’s better to consider a different product.
Having no capacity stated publicly is a crucial red flag. It could mean that the capacity is so low that mentioning it would stifle the sales. Or it might mean that the company didn’t bother doing safety tests in the first place.
And please, do yourself a favor and don’t take online reviews for granted. Some brands pay top dollar for reviewers to speak highly of them, even if that involves faking some numbers.
Always Read the Manual
Respectable manufacturers will specify everything you need to know about their massage tables in the manual. It’s important to check this manual before use, even if you’re an experienced masseuse.
Some manufacturers might warn you against applying pressure on a particular part in the table, mostly because of an inevitable design flaw. If you overlook these instructions, the client may hold you accountable for any damage that happens to them during your session.
To Sum Up
Remember, brands will always try to amaze you with a whopping static weight capacity, tricking you into believing you can massage a baby elephant, not just overweight clients!
You should always check the working weight. Aim for products that can support a minimum of 250 pounds. Go all the way up to 700 pounds if you’re planning to work in a professional spa.