Getting Table Height Right
How High Should a Treatment Table Be?
It may seem like "day one, page one" of therapist training school, but back strain is one of the leading types of injuries suffered by registered massage therapists. Any therapist working with a client at table height needs to be vigilant about their own physical comfort and safety.
Physical therapy is a physical business after all. The therapist must strive to be constantly aware of their own body mechanics, particularly in relation to the patient. Awkwardly bent wrists, leaning or reaching too far over the table, and lack of support to the therapist's head and neck can all cause complications.
The height of the treatment table, in relation to the therapist, is the most basic and primary consideration in avoiding lower back strain and/or shoulder strain. Most treatment tables are adjustable between approximately 26 to 37" in height and that suits most body types.
It is highly advisable to check and adjust the table height so that, standing upright with an arm hanging and relaxed, it meets the fist (first knuckles) of the therapist. For deep tissue massage, it may be better to set the table height so that it meets the fingertips. Try to avoid working with tables that are outside of this range.
With a table top that is too high, the therapist's shoulders will be compressed upward, causing potential neck and upper back pain. Too low, and they'll have to lean forward, which puts strain on the lower back.
Some tables, like the Oakworks Clinician have extremely adjustable heights. it can be adjusted from 26 to 37.5" in height. The Earthlite Sedona Stationary Table can adjust from 25 to 34". Some tables come in incremental adjustments, at about one inch at a time. While others, like the luxurious Earthlite Apex, come with hands-free electric lift adjustment of 21.5 to 29" in height. This is a more expensive investment, but it can be adjusted to the precise height needed. This could really benefit clinics where more than one therapists are working.
When shopping for treatment tables, be aware that some are not adjustable at all. The Oakworks Powerline Table is incredibly sturdy and rugged, but it's 33" tall, full stop. If this is still too low for a taller clinician, they might adopt the horse stance, keeping their feet apart so their upper body comes to the appropriate height without too much strain. At the end of the day, it's preferable not to require raising or lowering the body in relation to the table and patient.
Based purely on sales, what are the most popular electric treatment tables at Body Best?
- Earthlite Ellora Electric Lift Flat Top Massage Table
- Oakworks Proluxe Electric Lift Flat Top Massage Table
- Cardon Cosmos 100 Hi-Lo Electric Massage Table
Pretty much all table-top treatments demand of the therapist strong, repetitive motions.
For career longevity there are some very good tips to bear in mind and work into daily practice.
Warm up before work. Stretch the wrists and forearms for several minutes before each session. This helps to maintain excellent strength, flexibility, and blood flow.
Take breaks. Going directly from one patient to the next without a ten to fifteen minute break between is way too demanding physically.
Build and maintain core strength. The importance of core strength for physical therapists can't be overstated. The legs and core muscles should do the bulk of the heavy lifting, not the back and arms. Good core strength helps the therapist to...
Practice good posture. Pain in the lower back or neck results from leaning forward, over the patient. Be mindful of body mechanics at all times to prevent career-threatening injuries.
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