Controlling Noise in Your Massage Office
People yelling. Kids playing. Dishes clanking. Doors slamming. Just a few of the many, many noises that can disrupt a massage session.
It happens. We're often more aware of the noise than the client is. But few things make me flinch and sigh (silently) more than when my office neighbors have a particularly loud day and I've got a bunch of straight-up, wanna-pass-out, relaxation clients scheduled.
When I set about this journey to reduce the noise traveling to my massage room, I had no idea it was so complex. I did not imagine that it would take hours of time to learn about how sound travels and all the options for stopping it. I really geeked out on it.
Most importantly, I learned that 'Sound Proofing' isn't a great term. You gotta get more specific to actually make a difference.
This is, quite literally, blocking transmission of sound waves. It's stopping the vibration. This is done with layers of heavy things that cover a whole wall.
It's a construction project involving sheets of mass-loaded vinyl and two layers of drywall with a special sound-dampening compound between. Each side of the wall is secured to different, offset studs, using clips that prevent sound from traveling through the drywall into the studs. There are special putties to wrap around outlet boxes and door seal kits to prevent sound from entering/escaping through little spaces. There are special ceiling tiles for noise blocking, too.
In a perfect world, we would all have offices built for massage. But that's unlikely. If you're game, you can add to your wall and make a real difference with just an extra layer of drywall, the special compound, the putty, and a door seal kit. If that's still more than you can handle, read on. There's more to learn.
This is what we're talking about with acoustic foam panels (or eggcrates). Reducing echo and reverberation can help a bit. Not a bunch, but some. The trick is this: the foam need to be where the sound is. Putting a foam-backed picture in your treatment room won't help reduce noise coming from loud therapist next door. The sound-absorbing material needs to be in the room next door, preferably placed on the common wall and also whatever wall the therapists is talking towards. Heavy curtains or textile art and a rug could be helpful, too.
(If you're concerned that noise from your room could be heard outside, get some sound absorbing materials in there.)
In general, sound masking uses a small device like standalone speaker, except the only sound it emits is a soft whooshing noise, white noise. If you've ever been around a suite of professional offices, where the occupants don't want you to hear their conversations, you might have noticed one of these small devices.
Real sound masking (hiring professionals to evaluate an environment and create a custom plan) is fantastic, but probably out of your reach if you're a solo practitioner. You can try using an air cleaner, fan or actual white noise machine. You may find that placing it near the door or wall where the sound is coming from helps a bunch. Having one right outside your treatment room door may help, too.
A Combination of Approaches
What usually works best is a combination of solutions. A great neighbor would be cool about putting some sound-absorbing art or textiles on the common wall. If that's not an option, a heavy, full bookcase on your side of the wall could help. A well-placed white noise machine and fan will take the edge off. Aiming your music speakers towards the head of the table could help, too.
What types of noise challenges have you handled in your massage space? How did you make it work?