While there is not an overwhelming amount of massage equipment needed to create a pleasant experience, most practitioners have a few basic tools and supplies. A massage table, massage chair, or massage mat allows the client to recline comfortably, and these typically have covers that can be removed and cleaned. Pillows or bolsters are usually needed to position the client. A massage oil, cream, or lotion is another essential supply, chosen mainly for its lubricating and aromatic qualities. Two other pieces of massage equipment, perhaps non-essential but found in most massage studios, are a CD or MP3 player and a room heater.
Whether or not a massage table is portable, it has to be sturdy and comfortable. Typically made with a plywood base covered with heavy foam and upholstered, it has a C-shaped face cradle at one end to support the client's head while lying face down. This essential piece of massage equipment is often built with collapsible legs so it can be folded and carried like a suitcase for on-site appointments. Massage chairs have padding and a face cradle strong enough to support a client's weight while the masseur applies pressure to the neck, shoulders, and back.
There are a plethora of massage oils, creams, and lotions available, and while most are designed to lubricate and penetrate the skin, some have to be washed off after a session. Since the relaxation produced by massage produces a heightened sense of smell, many massage lotions include an essential oil of lavender, rosemary, pine, or another aromatic herb. The aroma not only enhances relaxation by producing a pleasant aroma, it also penetrates the skin to calm, excite, or otherwise heal the client internally. Practitioners of aromatherapy massage consider aromatic oils to be an essential part of their massage equipment.
The relaxation created by a massage is deeper if the mind is quiet, so many massage practitioners have a portable music player so they can play calming music during a session. While not technically massage equipment, the player is considered by some to be as important to a successful session as massage oil. There are a wide variety of massage music CDs available, but any calming or healing music can enhance the experience. One last piece of massage equipment that can help ensure the comfort of the client, who is often unclothed, is a room heater. It is difficult to fully appreciate the healing benefits of a massage when the body is cold.