We all have very different bodies. So there's never a one size fits all massage table for everybody and every body. Fortunately, with the right tools we can make lots of adjustments.
So here's a list of things I've hated about massage tables, and if they bother you too, why you should speak up.
#1 MY HEAD GOES... IN THAT?
That toilet-seat shaped cushion we place our head in when we're facing downward (laying on our stomach) is also known as the face cradle.
If not properly adjusted to the angle your body needs, it could crane your neck, leave your sinuses super stuffy, or even compress your airway.
But the solution is super easy, so be sure to speak up!
Most face cradles can be adjusted to raise up or press down, and some even tilt. That creates a lot of different options to ensure your neck is comfortable and limit pressure on your sinuses or throat.
And it's totally okay to change your mind about the position you prefer 5, 10, 15 minutes into the massage, or even during the last five minutes. Seriously, don't lay there and be uncomfortable. It's counterproductive and such an easy fix to try another angle with the face cradle.
OR, opt out of using the face cradle all together. You may be more comfortable with your head laying directly on the table itself - laying on your ear, using your hands as a cradle, or using a small pillow for support. Give it a try. If it's no good, you can always go back to the cradle.
Bonus pro tip: Be sure tell your massage therapist if you get a little stuffy in the face cradle. They may have a nasal-passage-dilating essential oil on hand. In my office, I have eucalyptus and peppermint on hand. I also try to not have clients face down for any longer than 15-20 minutes at a time, and have a super cushy wool cover on top of an already cushy cushion. We aren't designed to lay on our faces, so work with your massage therapist to ensure you're as comfortable as you can be during that portion of the massage.
#2 WHAT DO I DO WITH MY ARMS?
When I'm on the massage table as a client, I tend to fidget, especially with my arms. And that's okay. No one expects you to lay stiff as a board the entire time.
Sometimes there's not clear direction on where to put your arms during the treatment. If no direction is given - put them where ever is most comfortable for you. At your sides, rested on your stomach, off to the side. Just like with the face cradle, try a few things out. See what works best for you.
When a client is laying face down, I often offer my massage stool at the top of the table for to rest their arms, or I verbalize it's okay to move around and try out different positions.
Most of the time, whatever is comfortable for my client is what's comfortable for me, and I simply move their arms around if I need to for the effectiveness of the treatment.
#3 WHEN YOU NEED A BOOST
Unless you're laying on a reeeally fancy high-end hydraulic lift table (think basically a hospital bed), there's no built-in mechanism for elevating or supporting knees when you are laying flat on your back.
That can put pressure on the lumbar spine, hips, or knee joints. Also known as: not comfortable.
Again, there's a super simple solution: pillows (or bolsters), as many as needed.
By default, I always have one bolster on the table for elevating a client's knees, but have plenty more in the office if we need some extra height.
If you get a massage and there isn't a pillow or bolster under your knees, request it. And don't be afraid to ask for more if you need additional elevation.
There's no point in getting a great massage, only to walk out achy. The table and the massage therapist are there to work with you.