Get Up, Get Down, Get an Electric Massage Table
One of my first jobs after I graduated from massage school was working in a high-end spa. All of the treatment room tables were electric lift, and even though I worked in the tiniest room, the ability to lift and lower my table as needed was great for my physical comfort.
That experience was well over a decade ago. I worked in other settings, finally opening my own practice, but as I got older, my lower back began to reminisce of the you-never-forget-your-first-time luxury of working with an electric lift table. No more standing on tiptoes one minute and seeing how deep I could lunge the next, while trying to perform a client-centered and effective session. A table I could adjust mid-session could help me get out of my body and better get into theirs, so to speak!
I wasn’t only thinking of my own comfort when considering such a steep purchase. My current massage space is on the first floor, with a ramped entrance and a wheelchair accessible bathroom. If I could get an electric lift table, I could truly make my office as accessible as possible to all. I began my search and here’s what I learned to consider when purchasing an electric lift massage table:
Americans with Disabilities Act Tax Credit
As a small business, an electric lift massage table can qualify you for up to a 50% ADA tax credit. The purpose of the credit is to help defray some of the cost of making your physical business more accessible to disabled persons. The website BuyMassageTables.com simplifies this process for you by featuring ADA compliant tables and even providing a link to the necessary tax form. Before considering such a purchase, if you plan to take advantage of this tax credit, always consult with your accountant to ensure tax rules haven’t changed.
The key feature allowing your lift table to qualify for the ADA tax credit is not how high, but how low your table goes. The table surface must lower to a level no higher than 18 inches from the floor to qualify. It’s a pretty understandable requirement when considering a person transitioning from their wheelchair to your table.
Professional Association Discounts
Log into your membership page for benefits offered by your professional association. Your membership may garner you discounts with massage table manufacturers or retailers of massage equipment.
ABMP members can find information here.
AMTA members can find information here.
Don’t belong to either of the big massage associations? Not to worry, follow the social media accounts of your table manufacturer of interest. You may catch sales comparable to membership discounts.
Consider Not Adding Add-Ons
Additional padding may make your table extra comfy, but that added thickness might disqualify your table from the ADA Tax Credit. Same goes for add-ons such as built in shelf units or hot towel cabinets. Under table accessories can inhibit the ability of your table to go low enough for the surface to stay within the 18 inch accessibility range.
With Covid-19 here to stay for the foreseeable future, a lift table can eliminate surfaces your client needs to interact with in your treatment room. No need for a client chair, they can sit on the table to undress and dress. You may consider a tilt lift to reduce the number of pillows you might need to bolster a client in a comfortable semi-recline.
Additional “breaks” in the table to accommodate a tilt top, a knee lift or a breast recess feature may make effective cleaning more of a challenge. Whether adding more features, or going with a flat top, don’t forget to purchase a sanitizable cover. At the moment, I’m liking Innerpeace’s Hygienic Line of machine washable, sanitizable protective sheets, cradle covers and bolster covers.
Another Consideration… Delivery
These bad boys are HEAVY and they get delivered freight. (In my case, it was an 18 wheeler that pulled down a dead end street. I did not stick around to see how he got out of there.)
Unless you are purchasing from a vendor who offers indoor delivery, expect a tremendous crate to be dropped off at your front door. BuyMassageTables.com has a White Glove Delivery service, where they will bring your table in, set it up and remove packing materials. It must be arranged separately and it's not cheap ($300-$600), but you might consider it if your office is on a second floor or you don’t have a way of readily disposing of large amounts of heavy cardboard and wood particle board.
You can’t simply drop that baby at your nearest UPS store to return if your freight got banged up on its journey to your office. Be prepared to photograph and document ANY damage to the crate when it is delivered, and include that info on the form you sign to accept delivery.
Enough already, what did you get?
I’m an ABMP member, so I took advantage of the 20% membership discount and chose the Earthlite Ellora lift table with a pneumatic tilt option.
Its surface reaches the 18 inch threshold, and the pneumatic lift is helpful slowly and safely repositioning my prenatal and my elderly clients. The lift and lower functions are quiet and smooth, and the test massages I did were both comfortable for the receiver and very easy on my just-getting-back-to-work lower back.
Take your time when choosing your electric lift table. It’s a big investment in your business, and for your clients, but can be a bigger investment in yourself as a practitioner.
Sakinah Irizarry (she/her) has been a licensed massage therapist since 2003. She resides in Saugerties, NY where she also enjoys a thriving private practice. When she’s not working or being a mom, she is a passionate advocate for educational equity and social justice. In her free time she enjoys Star Trek reruns and going camping. #BlackLivesMatter