Times are hard. We’re all at each others’ throats in self-quarantine, we can’t just go walk around Target for escape and Starbucks has limited hours. Plus, for many families across our country, money isn’t coming in like it was six months ago. In essence, we’re all just walking, talking sacks of stress and anxiety.
What we could use right now is the smell of lavender oil, the sound of wind chimes and the feel of two strong, capable hands kneading our backs into submission. How do you get a massage from a professional and keep social distancing procedures in place, though? You can’t. Just like we’ve learned to make our own bread and cut our own hair, it’s time we learn how to give better massages, too. At midnight, when your middle schoolers are in bed and you’re finally done Zooming, home schooling and “circling back,” these few steps will help you and your partner (or roommate or bestie or whatever) find the inner-peace you both desperately need right now. You should know that you’re not alone in trying to learn how to give an incredible massage. In fact, according to the latest search data available to us, “how to give a massage” is searched for nearly 4,400 times per month!
Set The Scene
Back rubs on the couch during Council of Dads are great. But, you can make things even better by recreating the full spa experience. Start by setting up a spot. A massage table isn’t necessary. A firm bed, the couch or just a yoga or nap mat on the floor will work.
Dim the lights or turn them off completely and light some candles — just be sensitive to conflicting scents. Pick some music — Ask Alexa to play some relaxing tunes or, shoot, just toss that old Celtic Women CD in the DVD player or sound system. It’ll work well, either way. The key factors for music during this experience is that it’s something soft and, hopefully, relaxing.
Finally, toss a flat sheet into the dryer for a few minutes and use it to drape over your loved one’s body — just like at the real spa, it will help keep warm the areas of their body you aren’t currently massaging.
Start With Massaging The Extremities
Here’s the benefit of an at-home massage versus going to the masseuse: You don’t have to choose “target areas” or pay more for a full-service experience. Take your time and work on all parts of your partner’s body. On the surface, a hand massage may not seem that special, but think about how often they use those hands during the day. Maybe they’re a chef, who spends hours a day chopping veggies or gripping a spoon and stirring. Some deep pressure and squeezes into their hand will feel wonderful for them. If they’re a stay at home parent who spends all day chasing your toddler, they’ll be especially appreciative of a foot rub. In both instances, you’ll work your way “in” towards the core of their body.
Hands and Feet
Legs and Arms
Go For A Lower Back Massage, Then Work Up
People often feel the most pain or pressure in their lower back thanks to how it connects with your hips and legs and how you twist it when reaching, grabbing, pushing and pulling. If you’re working from the side, start by moving the heels of your hands back and forth from one side to the other. Do that all the way up to the neck and then back down. Next, work your hands up each side of the spine and then back down.
Always remember to be careful of the pressure you put on the neck and spine, as pushing too hard can do more harm than good. Keep in mind that, in most instance, the feeling a caring touch will be enough to relax and heal all on its own — No need to use all your strength and tire yourself out before your done.
Don’t Forget The Neck And Shoulders
We spend so much of our days hunched over phones and keyboards, our necks feel the brunt of that pressure. Think about it like this: Your neck and shoulders hold up that giant brain of yours. You’ll want to be easy on the neck, but the shoulders are pretty tough. Still, ask your partner how you’re doing and let them guide you if they want you to apply more pressure. Work in circles, moving your hands out from the spine.
- Pick an oil that has a simple, familiar smell but isn’t too strong and overwhelming.
- Ask your partner if they want to talk or just be quiet. Let them guide the conversation, but don’t make them work too hard to keep it going. Keep the tone low and soft.
- Always keep one hand on your partner — It helps to keep things feeling continuous and more fluid.
- Use your body weight, not your strength. You won’t expend as much energy and be able to draw out the massage and finish strong, instead of tuckering out.
How to give a prenatal massage
So you want to give your pregnant partner or friend a prenatal massage but aren’t sure how to do it safely? No sweat, but good on you for putting safety first. Pregnancy induced joint pain, edema, sinus issues, and sciatica are just a few of the issues professionals consider when they work with a pregnant client. Especially in that more uncomfortable third trimester.
It’s important to first understand the limitations of positions a pregnant woman can assume. For example, starting in the second trimester, the woman should lie on the left side to increase circulation. This position also takes pressure off the liver, which is on the right side of the body and helps reduce the risk of acid reflux that may happen from the gastric juices. In addition, later on in the pregnancy, laying on the back can cause compression of the blood vessels, numbness, and difficulty breathing and should be avoided.
Before starting a prenatal massage, it’s important to provide support by providing either a pregnancy pillow, a body pillow, or a pregnancy wedge to help with hip alignment and reduce discomfort.
Here’s a great tutorial video on prenatal massage you can pick up pointers from.