A massage session is generally given on a massage table, a massage chair, or on the floor on a mat or mattress. There are also sessions given in warm water, in a pool for instance, the so-called aquatic massages, but those will not be covered in this post.
Massage tables come in many varieties and can be made of many types of materials. They can be of fixed height or of adaptable height (mechanically or electronically) and they may have various sizes both in length and width.
Some tables have an opening where the head of the receiver may lie in to give more comfort to the neck.
Typically, massage tables are used for massage sessions where the receiver will be in a lying position: on the abdomen, on the back, or on the sides.
Massage chairs are generally comfortable, soft chairs, which exist in many types and sizes and are used in various ways: to give a foot massage, or to give a head, neck and shoulder massage, or in the case of modern mobile chair massage (for instance, used for office workers), the back and legs may be addressed also.
Of course, we also know the electric automatic massage chairs (with an endless range of varieties), which usually can be found in airports, train stations, congress centers, luxury hotels, or in shopping malls, and so on.
Mats and Mattresses
Mats and mattresses are used for massages given on the floor. Typically these types of massages are ancient, traditional massages, such as Thai Massage, Malay Traditional Massage or Japanese Shiatsu, just to give some examples.
Mats need to be soft and hard enough at the same time, give way, but not too much. They also need not be too thick (else it’s tough for the therapist to move on an uneven level on the floor) and they need to be wide enough if the massage applies extensive stretches, preferably very wide, on the other hand not too large or heavy if they need to be portable.
In the West, practitioners and teachers prefer light, portable, washable mats with removable covers, rain and water proof, and with some kind of a durable foam or latex filling, usable in a fixed setting (at home, in a practice, or school) or mobile to give sessions or training courses somewhere else, at other locations.
As for hygiene and durability, the use of organic cotton, coconut fibers, sheep wool and the like may be nice and give a natural feel, but these materials are prone to become bug-invested over time (with mites, and so on) and the inside filling may get knotty, knobbly, and gnarled.