Why Table Height and Bodyweight Doesn’t Matter without Strength

by Dec 22, 2020Injury Prevention, Massage Injuries, MT Hybrid Athlete Program, Self Care, Strength Training

Many therapists believe that table height and bodyweight is the only thing that you need to have good body mechanics and to save your body. . .

This should be utilized because it is a good approach, but it isn’t the only thing that you need.

MT’s think that strength isn’t necessary and that flat out isn’t true.

In this episode we are going to be talking about:

  • Why a baseline of strength is needed, even with the right table height and use of bodyweight
  • The type of strength that is necessary for MT’s
  • Two exercises for each

Let’s first get into why massage therapists need strength training.


why these two things alone aren’t enough

I would be remiss to say that you shouldn’t focus on these things – They are the cornerstone of every therapist’s arsenal but focusing on these things by themselves could potentially prove to have hazardous effects down the line.

I know what you are probably thinking at this point. . . 

This guy is crazy! 

I’m probably the first to say this, but I have seen therapists get injured even when their body mechanics are on point. .

They are using their body mechanics. .

And their table is at the right height.

What is the common denominator?

They don’t train the necessary type of strength needed for bodywork.


Deep work places a lot of tension and torque on your joints

A lot of the work that we do (mainly with deep pressure and myofascial release) puts a lot of demand on our joints and if you aren’t strong enough to handle the load placed on your joints, you may be opening yourself up to the risk of injury.

Being stronger will ensure that your joints are protected by your muscle tissue.


Break down of technique

With techniques we commonly use, it isn’t rare to hold positions for multiple minutes. You may think you have the ability to hold these positions but often times, form and technique will start to break down and can result in injury as well. 

Having the ability to hold positions can be strengthened as well, with proper training.

This being said. . . 

What type of strength do we need as therapists?

It isn’t the type that a powerlifter would use to lift a lot of weight.

It’s also not the type of strength or force output that a sprinter would use to run a 400. 

You need the type of strength that will help you steadily ramp up your pressure, and at the same time hold certain positions.

Can you guess what these are?

Strength Endurance

This is one of, if not, the most important types of strength we can have as therapists. It is one of your most valuable assets.

Training in this manner will not only give you better overall strength but it will:

  • Better your lung capacity
  • Even strength and transfer of force
  • Reduce risk of injury
  • Better type of strength training for nervous system
  • Easier to recover from

The easiest way to do strength endurance training is to utilize sets of 6-8, 2-3 repetitions and 30-60 seconds between sets. 

The two best exercises for therapists when utilizing strength endurance training are:

  • Squats – barbell back/front squat, goblet, bodyweight, belt squat
  • Lat exercises – especially rowing (for therapists that have trouble doing a full pullup)


An isometric contraction is holding a position for time. Knowing that we hold certain positions for a given amount of time, it is best to strengthen this ability and make it an actual strength.

Having more isometric strength will also help your stability, prevent injury and help you brace under load.

Two of the best exercises that therapists can do is:

  • Planks – weighted or bodyweight to help strengthen abdominals
  • Hammer curl holds – this curl variation will help prevent elbow injury and combat tricep overuse 



Need more exercises in your arsenal? 

There are plenty more exercises that you can use to strengthen these two types and they are all part of the Exercise Index with the Successful Bodyworker Tribe member’s area. 

You will want to check this out if you want to be the best therapist that you can be. These exercises are to be used with the MT Hybrid Athlete Program, which is also a CE course within your membership. 

This program will strengthen every aspect that you need as a therapist, utilizing methods like strength endurance and isometric strength to help prevent injury, strengthen lungs and make your work the easiest it can be. s

Want to check out our Exercise Index sample area? View it here.

You want to make sure you are as strong as possible before using bodyweight and setting up your table height and ensure that you are injury free and as strong as possible.

Summing it all up

Most times, having your table at the right height, using bodyweight and proper body mechanics isn’t enough. 

There still is the risk of injury if you don’t have a great baseline of strength back it up. 

In this podcast episode we learned:

  • Why strengh endurance is the best type of strength to develop as a therapist 
  • Why squats and rows are the best exercises to use with strength endurance training
  • Isometrics will help you to maintain important positions for a greater amount of time
  • How the plank and hammer curl hold will help you to strengthen the ability of isometric contractions

What is the number one thing holding you back from strengthening your body? Comment below!


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About Me

My name is Zack Mayfield and I am in the constant pursuit to help each and every therapist achieve strength, better self-care and longevity in their career!

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