Choosing the right massage couch

Choosing the right massage couch can be a minefield. Your couch could be with you for years to come so it is important to choose one you are happy to work with. As a massage school, we are often asked this question by our students, so i have put together a guide to help you with what to consider when purchasing a couch.

Here are some tips and points to help you choose your couch.

Weight of couch

Do you work mobile or from home? Or will your couch be set up permanently in one place? If you need to carry your couch around or pack it away at the end of the day, you will need to select a couch that is not too heavy, or bulky, to move around. The metal frame couches tend to be lighter than the wooden ones.

If you are mobile, you can buy couch carriers with wheels to help, however, do consider having to climb flights of stairs as you will need to carry the couch up and down them.

Height adjustable

Will you be the only person using the couch? It is important to use the couch at the correct working height for you. If you choose a height adjustable couch you will be able to set the couch at the best height for your height.

The massage couch should tell you what height it is suitable for. Also, if you are short, like me, you need to consider the width of the couch too, as you may struggle to reach over the couch.

As a rule of thumb, to check the height of the couch is right for you - stand at the side of the couch, with your hand clenched into a fist and arms down at the side of your body. If your fist touches the couch without your arm bending, this is the best height for you.

If you are tall, and you are worried about your clients, getting on and off the couch, you can provide a step which can be tucked under the couch when not needed.

Back rest

Do any of your treatments involve clients being sat up? Many of the couches will have back rests that are adjustable, or they can be laid flat for body massages. Be careful that the hinges of the back rest is sturdy. Raising the back of the couch is ideal for treatments such as reflexology, sports massages on fronts of legs, some beauty treatments. Consider this for future even if you don't think you will need it now, you may add on a new treatment at a later date and then wish you had bought a couch with a back rest.

Width of couch

What will the rough size of your client be? i.e., if you are working with hefty muscular sports clients, you will need a wider couch, and consider a longer couch if you have extra tall clients too.

If your couch is too narrow, you will struggle with being able to offer arm massages, for instance, as they will not be able to rest their arms beside them, and you would need to support the weight of their arm and massage them whilst supporting them.

Some couches are tapered which may work better for your and the treatment you are offering. Also, easier if you are on the short side, with shorter arm reach.

Don't forget, your clients will come in all shapes and sizes, so you need to ensure they are comfortable and at ease during their treatment. This is also a good time to mention that couches may come with a weight limit too. You want your clients to come back for more treatments, so their comfort is of your upmost importance.

Price

A couch needs to be affordable to you, however, you also need to consider how often you will be using the couch. Think about investing in a good couch now, and you wont need to replace it at a later date.

Couches can range from £50 up to £1000+, so look at the price range that is affordable for you.A hydraulic couch will be more expensive than a portable couch.

Your massage couch is your tool, it will become an extension of you and your treatment. You may have amazing massage techniques, but if your couch creaks and groans every time you effleurage, your client wont be able to relax, and nor will you.

Comfort

Another point to consider, is to look at the depth of the cushioning on the top of the couch. The deeper the cushioning, the more comfortable the couch would be and luxurious your treatment will feel.

Face hole / Head cradle

For treatments where the client will be laid face down, they are going to need to breath, so a face hole is required. This will be a cut out hole in the couch, with usually a cut out piece to place in it when not needed. This will be far more comfortable for the client. Some couches come with a removable head cradle too, this can be more comfortable than a face hole, and also lengthens the couch, ideal for taller clients.

More tips

So, you have chosen your couch, now here are some extra tips to enhance your treatments and the comfort of your client.

* Bolsters under the ankles when face down, and knees when face up will be more comfortable for the client. A bolster can also be a rolled up towel, cushion or pillow.

* Couch covering - You can buy plastic covers for beauty treatments such as waxing, to protect spillages on the couch. Couch roll is disposable and will save on washing towels, but can be a little clinical for relaxation massages. A couch cover will protect your couch, but you will need to cover it in couch roll or towels for each client. Sarongs, and sheets are also a possibility, but remember, any fabric that comes into contact with the clients skin will need to be washed for every client.

* Step stool - A step stool tucked under the couch can be used for clients on the shorter side, or with a medical condition, such as a hip problem, to help them to get onto and off of the couch with ease.

* Hygiene - Even thought your couch will be covered for every client, it is still important to clean it, and this can be done with an antibacterial solution.

* Warmth - A heated blanket can be used for extra warmth of your client, but be mindful of PAT testing, and regular checks in line with health & Safety legislation. Also, a nice fluffy blanket can be placed over the client for extra warmth, but you would still need a towel or sheet between the blanket and the clients skin, or you will have to wash the blanket after each client. (Massage is also a form of desquamation, so think of all the skin cells that are shed during a treatment!)

Checklist

  • Weight - Mobile or static?
  • Height - Height adjustable?
  • Back rest
  • Width
  • Price
  • Comfort
  • Face hole - head cradle

I hope this has helped :-)

Karen Ashton

Holistic Therapies Training Academy