We’re not talking about their confidence or ego (although that probably wouldn’t hurt either) but the use of bolsters for comfort, positioning and accessibility enhances the treatment experience. Enjoying a spa treatment or massage was once considered a rare treat for the majority of people but for today it’s a regular must have. Given this trend, therapists should leave no stone unturned to guarantee the most positive outcomes and relaxing experiences that are truly worth the time and money spent on them.
Bolsters are often overlooked or misused, yet their use can range from the absolutely pragmatic to a fine art form. Some therapists just use regular bed pillows, whilst they can have their place, hygiene is more of an issue, their use is rather limited, and they don’t have the same professional look as a dedicated bolster.
How to use massage bolsters
- Assess each client individually
- Consider their body alignment and treatment needs
- Determine what type of session you’ll be doing and bolster accordingly
- Don’t automatically use the same bolsters in the same positions for all clients
- Know what type of bolsters are available and have a selection on hand
- Bolster for your patient’s comfort and safety
- Bolster for your accessibility, some muscles are more easily approached with the use of a bolster
- Ensure clients let you know if they are uncomfortable and adjust accordingly
Types of bolsters and their uses
The Knee Bolster is the most common bolster available. Usually around the width of the massage table they are a wide half round shape, and as the name suggests, are perfect for under the knees, alleviating pressure on the lower back when clients are in a supine position.
Ankle Bolsters are similar in length and shape to the knee bolster but with a narrower base and higher arc. Use under the ankles in a prone position to alleviate lower back pressure and avoid calf cramps.
Triangle or Wedge Bolsters support clients in an incline position so can be used for neck, shoulder, face and upper body treatments or for clients with medical conditions that don’t allow them to lie completely flat. They can also be used any time you need an acute change of angle of a body part for easier therapeutic access.
A Nape Bolster is a small, low, soft half round bolster. It can used under the neck in the supine position or try it under the upper arm in a prone position to relax the deltoids for lifting and compression techniques.
The Neck Contour Cushion is essentially a mini version of the contoured bed pillows on the market now. It has a roll that fits into the nape of the neck, tapering to a flat pillow for the head. Use it in the supine position or side-lying position to keep the upper vertebrae aligned and reduce compression to the shoulder.
Chest Cushions have become a must have in recent years with the popularity of surgical enhancements adding to the general demand for female comfort. These cushions are specifically designed to relieve pressure to the chest and lower abdomen in the prone position.
There are Pregnancy Cushions available to see women through all three trimesters. These body cushions provide the specialist comfort and support required for the back, belly and breasts, allowing clients to be massaged in the usual prone position until the very late stages of pregnancy.
As you can see there are a number of bolsters out there and this list is not by any means exhaustive, either by type or their potential uses. The one thing they should have in common is that they are covered in a wipe clean material for hygiene. Also look at fabric washable covers to protect your equipment from the damaging effects of sweat and oil.
Where competition is fierce, bolsters just may help you stand out from the crowd. Generally, they are not very expensive, so have a selection on hand then you’ll be ready for anything and your clients will thank you!