Did your partner sleep wrong and now has a kink in their neck? Or perhaps you want to do something nice for your loved one and show them how much you care. Knowing how to give your partner a pretty great massage yourself can make the difference between a crummy day and an awesome one. But of course, this hinges on one thing: do you know how to give a good massage? Giving an at-home massage is not that hard. Here are my favorite tips:
Use firm pressure, but not hard.
There seem to be two extremes when I hear people describe getting a massage from their loved one. It’s either too light and doesn’t feel like it’s easing the tension. Or it’s too hard for them to enjoy. There are a couple of common reasons for these extremes. If your partner is smaller than you, there is often a tendency to use very light pressure. This is okay if that’s what they want, but it can be a little disappointing if your partner is tense and sore. Or worse, annoying because they are ticklish. On the flip side there are people who come from the “no pain, no gain” school of thought. Don’t buy into this myth! Massage should be pleasant. If your partner has to tense their muscles and clench their teeth in order to get through the massage, you aren’t doing them any good. If they prefer a really deep massage, leave that up to the professionals, you could do more harm than good.
There are occasions where someone might want a fast-paced massage. But unless your partner is getting warmed up for a race or some other athletic competition, this is unlikely one of them. Slow & steady is the name of the game here. Fast-paced massage applications has a stimulating effect, whereas slow techniques create a feeling of sedation and relaxation. So take a deep breath, slow down and take your time.
If you meet a bone, leave it alone.
There is one exception to the firm pressure rule, and that is bones. You don’t need to be an expert in anatomy to recognize knees, elbows, ribs, and the spine. These areas have little padding between them and the skin, and can be quick to bruise or feel painful. If you find your hands arriving at one of these bones leave it alone, or skim over them using gentle pressure and keep going with your massage on the other side.
Practice good body mechanics.
Just as massage shouldn’t be painful for your partner, it also shouldn’t be painful for you. If you are hunched over, with your wrists/thumbs bent at awkward angles, you will regret the day you ever offered to give your partner a massage. Use bigger muscles in place of smaller ones wherever you can. For example, use your forearms instead of your fingers, or the palm of your hand instead of your thumbs. When you move to a new part of your partner’s body, adjust your entire position, not just your hand placement. In the How to Give a Neck & Shoulder Massage video below, Ian Harvey, Massage Therapist gives some great tips on how to avoid hand/thumb fatigue.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
You probably don’t need a massage therapist to tell you that open communication between you and your partner is key to many aspects of your relationship. But it’s especially true in a situation like a massage, where one of you is more vulnerable than the other. As the massage giver, it’s important that you check in regularly: How does this feel? Would you like more or less pressure? The same goes for communicating your own needs. If you are getting tired, say something.
Learn from the pros.
One of the best ways to learn is from the people who are already great at it. Getting regular professional massage treatments can be helpful to learn different pressures, pace, timing and flow . YouTube is also a fantastic source of tutorials for beginners. You can search for a style of massage such as Swedish (How to Give a Swedish Massage Demonstration ). Although in the video, the therapist is performing the techniques pretty fast, I would go at a slower pace than shown. Or you can search for a specific area of the body you would like to focus on. A common are of tension are the neck & shoulders. (How to Give a Neck and Shoulder Massage Demonstration), this is an excellent video for the beginner at giving a massage.
If you follow these guidelines, you’re going to be fine.
If you can give a caring, relaxing massage without hurting your partner or yourself, you’re way ahead of the game, not to mention a hero in their eyes :). And if your loved one feels like they need a more focused massage, you can schedule them a massage appointment with me, or purchase them a gift certificate.