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Static vs Working Weights

We’re often asked the difference between static and working weights on massage tables. It’s an important question as it’s critical to your ability to provide certain modalities and helps ensure your client’s safety whilst they are in your care.

What is Static Weight?

Static is defined as lacking in movement, action, or change so static weight is the amount of completely still, unchanging and unmoving weight that you can put on the table without causing it damage. Capacity is calculated by performing a static load test whereby a fixed weight is put onto the table for an extended period of time, after which the table is checked for any permanent deformation or structural damage.  Most quality massage tables will have a static weight capacity of around 1200kg, so whilst it could technically hold someone weighing that much (which isn’t likely but we’ll go with it here) this person would have to be absolutely still as the moment movement or pressure is applied, it becomes working weight.

What is Working Weight?

Working weight is calculated by carrying out a dynamic load test, which is weight plus simulated movement. Working weight has a much lower weight threshold than static weight. As a general rule of thumb across the furniture industry it will usually be about a quarter of the static weight, but due to the nature of work with massage, it can be lower than that with massage tables. Working weight is dynamic so it takes into account the constantly changing pressure that is placed on a table while it is in use.

In a nutshell, a simple way to differentiate between a static load and a dynamic one could be likened to having someone rest a hand on your shoulder, compared with having that same person punch you in the shoulder – the second application is a load plus velocity, and that’s a major difference, just ask your shoulder!

Why is it Important?

The amount of working weight that you will require will depend on the types of treatments that you offer and the clients that you serve. Those working with larger clients, doing deep tissue and sports massage will need a table with a higher working weight to cope with the intense, rigorous pressure applied during treatment. In comparison, if the table is being used for more gentle treatments such as beauty therapy, Bowen therapy or relaxation massage, then the dynamic load is not such a major factor.

Working weight and static weight won’t dramatically affect your daily business, but they are important to working safely with a range of clients and modalities. Not paying attention to them may cause injury to your clients and yourself. Apart from the possibility of a cheaper table, there are no benefits to buying or using a table with low static and working weights. So, pay attention to these numbers when you’re shopping around for a new table as, in the long-term, it will serve you and your business well.

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