Of course, any professional therapist will have a good massage table; clean, soft linens and high-quality oil, lotion or massage cream. They will most likely have appropriate music and lighting, and a warm, pleasant space. But once we get beyond the basics, what tools are available that might make life easier for the massage therapist?
Take a look at our review of the top ten products for massage therapists!
- Magic Massage Cloth: Chair massage is a great way of drumming up business and making contact with new clients. The big drawback of chair massage is that it can be difficult to perform any type of gliding strokes as the client’s clothing gets in the way. The Magic Massage Cloth solves that problem by providing a smooth glide over clothing similar to the glide we get when working with oil on skin, making it possible to bring a whole new level to chair massage.
- CryoCup: It is possible to fill a paper cup and throw it in the freezer, peeling the paper back as you use it on clients, but that destroys a paper cup for every client! This can get costly – never mind the fact that it is wasteful! The CryoCup is a great alternative as it is reusable and gives you a ring on top to hold onto as you work.
- Poultice: There are several types of poultice on the market, each containing different variations of herbs. Steamed in a rice cooker, they offer an interesting alternative to heat application as they can be used in several different ways. The ball offers soft pressure with more heat, while the “stem,” or handle, of the poultice offers a way to pinpoint pressure points. A poultice can be pressed onto the body, or rolled along the length of a muscle.
- Cupping: Cupping involves using a flame to empty the air out of a glass cup, creating a vacuum which draws up the skin. Traditionally, cupping has been used to move energy through the meridians as the vacuum draws energy, and fluid, along the surface of the body. Cupping allows us to apply negative pressure to fascia and soft tissue, as well as to move lymph and fluid. Cupping should only be done with proper training in the technique.
- Hot Packs: There are many microwavable hot packs available in a variety of sizes and shapes. Two things to know about these types of packs. 1. Be careful not to overheat them, especially when re-heating, as they begin to smell like burnt popcorn. 2. Always put them in or on a pillow case when placing on the client in order to keep them clean. Massage oil, creams and even oils from skin build up over time and begin to stink when heating these hot packs. With a little care, these microwavable hot packs can last for years and are easily used in the office or at home.
- Hot and Cold Stones: There are many different sets of basalt massage stones available for hot stone massage and almost as many different sets of cold marble or quartz stone sets available for use as cold stones, usually used on the face. Basalt stones can be heated in water, such as in a roaster or electric skillet, or in a hot cabbie. It is important to always have a bowl of cool water on hand to cool overheated stones before placing them on clients – and it is vital to take care not to burn clients. Cold stones can be cooled with ice water or a refrigerator for services and can be used on inflamed muscle or in facial massage treatments to reduce puffiness.
- Table Warmer: Especially in the cooler regions, a table warmer makes a huge difference for both client and therapist. The table warmer allows us to adjust the temperature directly under the client, while keeping the room a bit cooler. This gives us a greater possible temperature range, which is good because not all clients like to be warm. Men and menopausal women tend to like it cooler, while older clients and some women prefer it much warmer. Look for a table warmer with adjustable settings and an automatic shut off or a timer, to avoid accidentally leaving it on when not in use. With a table warmer, it is easy to adjust to the client while keeping yourself cool as you work!
- Prenatal Body Cushions: While it is possible to support a pregnant client with multiple pillows, a body cushion designed both for support and for fit makes life easier for the therapist, because they are not trying to manage multiple pillows and props – and for the client, as they get on and off the table and roll over or move around on the table. With cutouts and sections for the breasts and belly, these cushions allow the pregnant client to be comfortable and the therapist to work without both trying to work around bulky pillows and bunches of sheets.
- Breast Saver Bolsters: For the client with larger breasts or the new mother who is nursing, a breast bolster helps support the body’s weight while prone – while reducing pressure on the breasts. A great way to make clients more comfortable and a must have for those who specialize in pre- and postnatal massage.
- Jacknobber: A handy little tool designed to allow the therapist to use the palm of the hand to apply pressure while saving their thumbs, the Jacknobber is a great tool for those who regularly do trigger point work.
There are a wide variety of tools available for the professional massage therapist and, depending on your specialty and the focus of your practice, you may just find one or more of the above a “must have” in 2016!