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May 16, 2017 Amelia Wilcox

Chair Massage vs. Table Massage: What’s Best for the Office?

Thinking about bringing massage to your office? There’s a lot of different decisions you’ll have to make, including whether to offer seated massage or table massage. In this article we’ll discuss everything you need to know about selecting a massage type for your office, and what the differences are between chair massage vs. table massage.


A Comprehensive Look at Chair Massage vs. Table Massage


When it comes to comparing chair massage vs. table massage at work, it’s important to remember that both can work perfectly in an office environment. One isn’t inherently better or worse than the other.

You just need to decide what will be best for your office’s needs. Before we dive into the details, let’s define what we’re talking about: what are table massage and seated massage?

What is table massage?

During a table massage, the client will lie on a massage table, either clothed, or unclothed and modestly draped with a sheet and blanket. Regardless of what type of table massage you’ll receive, the sessions will likely last 30 minutes or longer. This is the typical kind of massage you’d get from a spa.


What is seated massage?

Seated massage takes place when the recipient is fully clothed and usually lasts a standard of about 15 minutes, but could be anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. There are two types of seated massage: chair massage and desk-to-desk massage.

In an office massage setting, you can choose to have your employees receive their massages while sitting right at their own desks, or your massage therapists can bring massage chairs. The massage chairs can be placed almost anywhere in your office — a break room, a lobby, or even any free corner in your office.

Related: What is Seated Massage?


How to Choose Among 4 Types of Office Massage

Now that we’ve clearly defined what we’re talking about, let’s talk about the things you need to consider before deciding what kind of massage you’d like to offer.

We’ll cover the two types of table massage: clothed and unclothed. And we’ll cover the two types of seated massage: chair massage and desk-to-desk. Let’s go!


table massage vs seated massage

1. Unclothed Table Massage in a Workplace Massage Program

Space Needed for Unclothed Table Massage

People will need to be able to undress before their massage and redress after, so the room will need to be private. Not to mention the fact that most people will expect some peace and quiet while they’re receiving their massage.

The room will need to be big enough to fit a massage table and allow the massage therapist to move comfortably around the room.

With unclothed table massage, you’ll need a separate room for each table massage you’d like to give at the same time. Generally one room is sufficient for most companies, as you can organize a rotating massage schedule. Consider what spaces you have available to accommodate table massages.


How Long Will an Unclothed Table Massage Take?

A standard table massages is an hour long, but can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours. However, most workplace wellness programs keep their table massages on the shorter side.

It’s important to account for the time between massages because that time can really start to add up. Table massage recipients are going to need a few minutes both before and after the massage to disrobe and then redress after the massage. Also, your massage therapist will need to change the sheets on the massage table.


How Much Does Unclothed Table Massage Cost?

It’s no secret that the budget often makes a lot of the decisions for you. Table massage is generally going to be more expensive per person than seated massage. There’s a few reasons for this including the fact that table massage is longer and there’s a laundry expense involved that isn’t required for chair massage.

The exact costs will vary from massage company to massage company, but you can generally expect table massage to be more expensive. You can find our cost list here.


Benefits of Unclothed Table Massage at Work

Your employees will see both temporary and long term benefits from both table massage and chair massage. They’ll love the full-body relaxation they’ll experience with table massage.



clothed table massage at work

2. Clothed Table Massage for Employees

Clothed table massage is generally used for specific massage modalities such as sports massage, where clients get a pre- and post-event massage that targets specific muscle groups.

It’s less common in a workplace setting, unless there is a work-related athletic event employees are participating in.


Space Needed for Clothed Table Massage

Even though you won’t need a private space for people to undress in, you may want a calm and private place for each table massage to take place.

Like unclothed table massage, the room will need to be big enough to fit a massage table and allow the massage therapist to move comfortably around the room. If your event is held outdoors, a pop-up canopy tent is sufficient.


Time Needed for Clothed Table Massage

Clothed table massages are generally shorter than unclothed table massage, but not always. A sports massage may be 15-20 minutes pre-event, and another 15-20 minutes post-event. Shiatsu massage is done on a clothed client and can be an hour or longer session.

Since clients don’t disrobe for sports massage, the massage therapist won’t have any sheets to change over, but they will spray down and clean the massage table between each client.


Cost of Clothed Table Massage

The cost for sports massage may fall somewhere between a typical chair massage event and an unclothed table massage. Shiatsu massage will likely cost more than a standard Swedish massage. See how you can determine cost here.


Benefits of Clothed Table Massage

The techniques used for clothed table massage will be different than unclothed, but your employees will still get the same great benefits, such as relaxation, reduced muscle tension, and decreased knots.



table massage vs. seated massage

3. Chair Massage in the Office

Space Needed for a Chair Massage

Because clients will be fully clothed for chair massage, privacy isn’t as much of an issue. Although you do probably want a quiet, restful place, you don’t need a separate room for every chair.

As long as you’ve got space for the massage therapist to move around, chair massage can go anywhere. If you’ve got a bunch of employees that need massages, chair massage is a great way to go. Because chair massage doesn’t require as much privacy, you can fit multiple chairs into the same area.

Related: Scheduling Chair Massages at Work: How Many Therapists Do I Need?


How Long a Chair Massage Last?

Chair massage can really be any length, but anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes is a standard range, and 15 minutes to 20 minutes is ideal.

After each massage, the recipient can just jump off the chair, the massage therapist will disinfect the chair, and the next person can take a seat as soon as the chair is dry. There’s very little turnaround time between sessions.


How Much Does a Chair Massage Cost?

Chair massage is a great, affordable option for offices with lots of people.

You’ll pay the massage company per therapist per hour, so the length of each massage and how many therapists you decide you need will determine the total cost. Here’s another resource on the cost of office massage.

Benefits of Chair Massage

Are there benefits to office chair massage? See for yourself. Not only will employees enjoy improved muscle function and mental relaxation, but they’ll be better workers too: more focused and with higher morale.

While table massage is more typically thought of as a full-body massage, it is possible to massage the whole body during a chair massage.

Chair massage is generally more convenient for addressing common workplace ailments such as upper back, neck, shoulders, and wrist pain from prolonged computer usage.

Related: Can You Do Chair Massage on Legs and Feet? 

4. Using Desk-to-Desk Massage at Work

Space Requirements for Desk-to-Desk Massage

This is an easy one. If you’re wondering how much space you’ll need for a desk-to-desk office massage program, you’ve already got it.

Desk massage is the ideal choice if you don’t really have a great space for massage. Massage therapists will walk around your office and massage people right at their desks. It’s a great way to go for call centers and other work spaces where employees can’t really be away from their desks.


How Long is a Desk Massage?

Just like chair massage, desk-to-desk seated massage can be any length from 5 minutes up to about 30 minutes. Decide what’s best for your office. There’s no turn-around time for clean-up between each massage.


How Much Does Desk-to-Desk Massage Cost?

The cost structure of desk massage will be essentially the same as chair massage—you can determine the length of the massages based on your budget.

Benefits of Desk-to-Desk Massage at Work

Desk massage is a great fix to common problems that desk workers experience. They can find relief from pain in their back, neck, shoulders and wrists.

So there you have it! All the information you need to understand the difference between chair massage vs. table massage.


Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)