Your portable massage table is an important choice regardless of whether you are just starting out and want to minimise costs, you need something light to carry around or you just need something to practice on while you are studying. There has never been a better time for choice of massage tables.
I would never recommend a portable massage table that does not have adjustable legs. The height of your table is a very important part of protecting yourself as a therapist. Lower is usually better because working too high can injure you. Adjustment of height allows for you to work on larger clients without standing on a step (frequently done unfortunately) or compromising your posture. It also allows you to change the height for different techniques (although not during the appointment as it will only frustrate your client).
After height comes width. Although a wide table can be effective for larger clients don’t get a table that causes you to stretch over to a point where it is difficult to perform your techniques. Many tables offer extenders that will widen the table at the shoulder height. This allows you to only fit them when necessary and allow better access from the side.
Face hole or face cradle? I think a massage table must have both but if you can only have one choose a face cradle. If possible choose an adjustable face cradle as it allows easier access around the neck and shoulders and you can extend the neck muscles. The cradle also extends your table which is great for taller clients. The vinyl on your table will get hard and uncomfortable for clients so a face cradle is a lot cheaper to replace.
Extras that are very handy are the shoulder extenders as previously mentioned, arm supports that hang below the face hole, and feet extenders that are helpful for taller clients.
If you are working from home or setting up in a practice room then weight is not a factor but if you are providing a mobile service (and many need to when first starting) then you want as light a portable massage table as you can get. Speaking from personal experience the thrill of doing home or office visits soon diminishes lugging around a heavy table all day.
Last of all you will want a cover for your table so it’s not being marked or scratched as you cart it around. Many tables now come with covers and even if you work stationary they can be handy to keep in case you move.
Price you ask? I personally don’t find enough difference in the expensive to the inexpensive to warrant the extra cost. My first table was an expensive one from an Australian manufacturer which I got many years out of but I needed a weight training course to carry it around. My electric table was purchased from the same company and the after sales service could only be described as offensive. Choose a table you have researched and are drawn to then pay as little as you can. As you get more experienced your needs may change and you haven’t spent too much on your table. Massage is a fantastic profession to be part of but you will only last if you put yourself first so choose wisely.