Massage therapy’s primary goals are alleviating client discomfort and increasing relaxation. To that end, spa owners take great care in creating a relaxing environment. From the wall color and the massage table linens to the music, lighting, and aromas, each detail is carefully selected to provide a memorable experience. A good massage therapist knows, however, that tailoring each treatment to meet the client’s individual needs within that environment is an essential part of the comfort equation.
Upon arrival, the massage therapist will carefully assess the client’s discomfort level, if any, and determine how to customize treatment accordingly. One key customization factor is proper body support. Using massage table equipment like face cradles, arm rests and hammocks, bolsters, wedges, cushions, and pillows will position the client for ultimate relaxation and allow the therapist to freely work away aches and pains. When deciding when to use these massage accessories, give thought to implementing a variety of tools to provide your client with an unforgettable and uplifting experience.
Face Cradle Cushions
Give considerable thought to using a quality face cradle cushion. Lying prone for 30 to 40 minutes at a time can lead to significant head discomfort and sinus pressure. Choosing a face rest with added padding can notably increase comfort. Be sure to adjust the position of the face cradle to the client’s liking prior to the start of the session.
Bolsters, Cushions, Pillows and Wedges
Massage bolsters, cushions, pillows, and wedges come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Keeping an arsenal of these must-have massage table accessories on hand gives the therapist superior positioning capability for maximum client comfort.
Prone Position Uses
Consider placing massage cushions under your client’s ankles, pelvis, and sternum while they are in the prone position. Experiment with different sizes and shapes to find the best fit. Remember to check in with your client in regular intervals throughout the treatment to determine if repositioning is necessary.
Under the Chest/Clavicle: Placing a cushion under your client’s upper chest will relieve discomfort between the scapula often experienced by people working with their arms extended in front of them for long periods of time (like working on a computer at a desk or machine sewing) This positioning also serves to alleviate pressure for those with curvatures of the spine or kyphosis.
Under the Ankles: Using a bolster under the ankles will relieve lower back pressure and minimize possible leg cramping.
Under the Hips: A wedge shaped cushion under the hips will help to alleviate pain often experienced by scoliosis and sciatica sufferers when lying face down.
Supine Position Uses
When in the supine position, place a bolster under your client’s knees and neck for maximum comfort.
Under the Knees: Place a half-round or full round bolster under the bend of your client’s knees to decrease lower back pressure or use a larger cushion to elevate the entire lower body from the knees down to improve circulation and comfort.
Under the Head and Shoulders: For clients experiencing respiratory or neck issues, lying flat can be a challenge. Use a massage pillow to elevate the head and shoulders as needed to aid in comfortable breathing and detract from added stress to the neck and upper back.
Side-Lying Position Uses
Massage cushions, wedges, and bolsters are probably most important for clients lying in the side position. It is crucial to your client’s comfort and safety to support the spine in a straight line from chin to ankle. Prenatal massages are often given in the side-lying position.
Under the Head: To keep the head in line with the spine, prop a cushion below the ear and neck. Proper alignment will decrease the possibility of accidental twisting.
Between the Arms: Using a bolster between your client’s arms prevents torquing of the spine at the shoulders. Ask your client to extend his or her arms parallel to one another at about a 90 degree angle from the body. Place the cushion between them.
Between the Knees: Add a wedge or bolster between your client’s thighs to prevent discomfort from stacking the knees and stress on the lower part of the spine, back, and hips.
Under the Forearms and Wrists: Whether your client is lying face down or on his or her back, arm rests are a valuable massage table accessory. An arm rest shelf or hammock supports the arms when lying prone while side arm bolsters attach to the massage table for added space while lying supine. In addition to added comfort, arm rests provide additional width to your massage table which can be exceptionally relieving for larger clients.
Adding a variety of massage table accessories like face cradles, bolsters, and arm rests to your existing environment will provide next-level comfort and ultimate comfort to your clients and keep them coming back time and again.