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Getting Started: A Massage Therapy Equipment Checklist

Massage therapy equipment

Getting Started: A Massage Therapy Equipment Checklist

Starting your first massage therapy practice is a big deal, and there’s never been a better time. According to a recent survey, 38% of consumers got a massage in their massage therapist’s own office in 2020. That number continues to trend upward. While your hands are your most important tools, you'll need a few more things to set up shop. That’s why we created this massage therapy equipment list, to make sure you have everything you need for success.

Massage therapy equipment checklist

Relaxing massage equipment

  • Massage Table:  Your massage therapy table will likely be the most expensive and most important piece of equipment on your list. Your table needs to be comfortable for your clients to lay on and adjustable to the shape and height you need for proper body mechanics.

Massage tables come in two basic varieties: portable and hydraulic. Portable tables are lightweight and sturdy, with a manual height adjustment. Plus they fold in half for easy transport. Portable tables are an economical choice, though prices vary depending on brand and design.

Hydraulic tables are stationary, very heavy, and allow you to adjust the height and angle with just the press of a pedal or button - all while the client is on the table. Massage tables like this are a bit of a luxury item, with a luxury price tag. Well worth it, if you have the extra money to spend.

  • Stool: Not many massage therapists like to stand the entire time they work, so invest in a sturdy stool on wheels. Get something comfortable, adjustable in height and easy to clean.

  • Linens: Stock up on sheets, blankets, face cradle covers and towels. The linens you use need to stand up to frequent washing and be wrinkle resistant. Plan on having enough linens to cover at least 2 full days of massage appointments,  or more if you use a laundry service.
  • Bolsters:  Not everyone is comfortable lying flat on the table. That means you need some sort of bolster for easy positioning and comfort. At a minimum, you need something to put under the client's knees when lying supine. There are a variety of different bolsters made to support specific body parts in different positions. If you’re on a budget, a couple pillows will work just fine.

  • Cleaning products: You’re going to be doing a lot of cleaning between sessions. Stock up on cleaning products that are gentle on the latex cover of your table and stool. If you’re doing your own laundry, make sure to get a detergent that doesn't have a strong fragrance and is strong enough to get the oil out of your sheets.

  • Massage cream or oil:  Put at least 2 different kinds of lubricants on your list. The first being your preferred massage cream or oil. The second should be an alternative option for people with sensitive skin, allergies or personal preference. 

  • Music:  While music is not essential to the massage experience, it certainly enhances it. Soft music sets the tone for the session and helps people relax. Make sure you choose music that the majority of your clients will appreciate. You should either download music or pay for commercial free streaming.


Massage Business Essentials

Working on laptop

Clinic management software:

This is the second most important piece of massage therapy equipment on your list. When it comes to administrative tasks, you have 2 options. An all-in-one management system, like ClinicSense, can save you money and make life easier by handling all your client files, scheduling, marketing, payments and reports. Alternatively, you can buy or create a system for each of the following: 

  • Scheduling system: Your clients need an easy way to schedule an appointment.  Hiring a receptionist is not practical for most massage therapists. Online scheduling is the perfect solution to this problem. More and more people are expecting to be able to schedule appointments online. The ease of online scheduling can have a huge impact on the growth and success of your business.

  • Bookkeeping system:  You need to record all your income and expenses. Investing in software that makes this simple is well worth the money at tax time. There are many options out there, and most scheduling and POS systems have built in record keeping.

  • Point-of-Sale (POS):  A POS terminal allows you to accept credit cards in person, online and on the go. These days more people are carrying plastic than cash.

  • Intake forms and SOAP Notes: Every new client should fill out an intake form that includes at least their contact information and medical history. You’ll also need a place to record your notes from each massage session.

  • Website: It takes some time to build a successful massage therapy practice. Having an online presence is an important part of promoting your business. The simplest way to do that is to build a website. Your future clients are asking google where to find you.

Business cards: Business cards are an easy way to share your contact information with potential clients. Give one to every client, so they can hand your information to someone else. There are many online printers that make creating and printing business cards easy and affordable.

Licenses: If you’re opening your own practice, you may need a business or vendor's license, in addition to your massage therapy license or certification. Check with your local jurisdiction to find out if your city requires you to register your business, and what, if any, additional licenses are required.

Liability insurance:  When you work for yourself, you need to protect your assets. In the unlikely event that someone sues you, liability insurance protects you. Liability insurance can be purchased through your favorite massage organization or insurance provider. Since massage therapy is relatively low risk, annual premiums are fairly affordable.

Phone number: Many massage therapists give out their personal numbers when they are first getting started. Others get a separate line for their business. You need to decide what makes the most sense for you. Remember, this phone number will most likely be published multiple places on the internet. With today’s technology, it’s possible to have multiple phone numbers connecting to a single device.

Once you have everything on this massage equipment list, you’re ready for business! Down the road, you may think about adding things like hot stones, essential oils, or topical analgesics. But for now, it’s time to set up shop and start attracting new clients!