Futon vs Table Massage: What’s the Difference?

There are different ways clients can receive massages: on a chair, on a table, or on the floor. This article will discuss the difference between a futon massage and a table massage.

Check out this table of differences between a futon massage and a table massage.

What’s the difference between a futon massage and a table massage? A futon massage is done on a futon (floor mat) or the floor using yoga-like techniques, while a table massage is done on a lifted table.

Let’s look at some more specific differences.

ComparableFuton massageTable massage
ExamplesThai and Shiatsu massageSwedish massage and deep tissue massage
TechniquesAcupressure, yoga, and AyurvedaDeep tissue pressure and kneading techniques
Massage oilNot usedUsed
Yoga posturesUsedNot used

What is a Futon Massage?

A futon massage is an umbrella word for all massages done on the floor. This includes shiatsu and Thai massages.

A futon is a Japanese word for mat or mattress padded with cotton. In Thai and Shiatsu massages, the client lies on a futon dressed inflexible or loose clothing.

For this reason, drapes and massage oil aren’t used. Instead, acupressure is applied with the hands, elbows, knees, and feet.

There is a lot of dynamic movement in futon massage that will otherwise be impossible to do on a massage table.

For example, the therapist can decide to use the balls of their feet to apply pressure on the back or put the client in certain yoga positions for more dynamic stretching.

There is no passive moment because the client is engaged with the therapist through a series of pulling, stretching, acupressure and yoga.

The floor acts as a solid medium to keep both the therapist and client grounded with all these movements.


  • Clients can go through dynamic movements and activities without risk of falls.
  • Also, clients who are averse to taking off their clothes for a full body massage can enjoy the benefits of a full body massage while clothed.
  • Acupressure and ayurvedic techniques used in Shiatsu and Thai massages not only energize the body, but also calm the mind and improve the flow of spiritual energy of clients.


  • Some clients may not enjoy lying on the floor for too long. For example, elderly clients with arthritis and other osteodegenerative diseases aren’t ideal clients for futon massage. Clients with cold intolerance can quickly catch a cold if proper insulation isn’t provided.
  • The therapist on the other hand has a risk of experiencing muscle sprains, strains, and waist pain if he is not aware of his body mechanics and posture.

What is a Table Massage?

A table massage is done on a massage table. Traditional massages like Swedish, sports, deep tissue and pregnancy massage are done on massage tables.

Massage tables are essential tools in a therapist’s office because the right ones do a lot to prevent injuries to the client and postural disorders to the therapist. Because of this, therapists invest a lot of time and money to get the right table.

Not only that, they go all out to preserve the integrity of the table so that it lasts them a long time.

The therapist has to depend entirely on his body weight in table massages. This is because the client is passive throughout the massage, unlike in futon massage.

The therapist uses massage table accessories such as bolsters, cushions, armrests, and face rests on providing support.

Another critical difference in table massage is that the client is nude. Towels and blankets are used as drapes for privacy and insulation.

Massage lubricants are also used to remove friction and resistance. These oils come in cremes, jars of butter, gels, balms, and oils.


  • Table massages are great for clients who do not wish to participate actively in their massage sessions.
  • They are great options for clients who are unable to bear their weight for too long. For example, ill clients, frail clients, or clients with musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Table massages allow therapists to apply sustained deep pressure at targeted areas without risks of sprains and strains to their wrists.
  • Table massages offer full-body massage to clients who don’t want to be restricted by clothing.


  • If a therapist isn’t mindful of his positioning, he risks straining the back and waist.
  • Table massage can pose challenges to elderly clients who may find it difficult to mount the table.
  • Clients can fall off from a massage table if the right measures aren’t taken to prevent that from happening.

Futon Massage vs Table: Which is Right for You?

There is no right option. Each massage position has its unique pros and cons.

Before you decide on the proper massage position for you, you should discuss your goals and expectations with your massage therapist.

The therapist will weigh your expectations against your current medical status and create a personalized treatment plan.

You can enjoy both massage modalities at different times of your treatment plan. You don’t have to stick to a single massage position all the time.


Lisa. She came to our massage center for her first massage experience ever. She said she wasn’t comfortable taking off her clothes for a full-body massage during the consultation.

She opted for a Futon massage and was still able to enjoy all the benefits of a full body massage with her clothes on. She grew to trust my team and me with time and eventually switched to a table massage.

At the moment, she switches back and forth between a futon massage and a table massage.

She wants to participate in her massage actively, so she has a Futon. Then there are days she only wants to lie down, close her eyes, and let the therapist do all the work, so she has a table massage.

What point are we trying to make?

Yes, the futon and table massage differ in many ways, but they have their unique benefits. Choosing the proper massage position depends on your goals and current medical status.

However, you don’t have to stick to a particular massage position throughout your treatment.

Now its time to hear from you:

Futon vs. table massage: which do you prefer and why?

We can’t wait to read your comments below.

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