1. Practice on yourself. Self-massage is one of the best things you can do for your body. It will make your technique better when you massage your partner, too. By experimenting with pressure, stroke and force on accessible parts of your own body, you can fine tune your technique for others. Calves, feet, thighs, upper arms and shoulders are all well within your realm of self-massage. Oil your skin up and get to work. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a butt or back massage, you will probably need to enlist the tireless efforts of a foam roller or a tennis ball.
2. It’s not just about your fingers. Many massage newbies really overuse their fingers. They push hard with their finger joints. Within the first three minutes, they’re exhausted. Over-utilizing your finger joints not only can injure your digits, but it’s highly ineffective in a massage setting. Instead, use your body weight to create pressure. Brace your fingers together so they aren’t hyperextended and use the force of your torso and gravity to gently glide across the muscles. As an added benefit, your core will become slightly engaged. You’ll also be able to gracefully massage your partner for triple (if not quadruple) the time. You can also use soft fists or your forearm as a tool; your hands will get significantly less fatigued.
3. Don’t pinch or grab. Not only is firm pinching or grabbing of muscles highly uncomfortable, but it can actually do real damage. Pinching is never a term associated with pleasure or comfort, so keep it out of your massages. Additionally, if you are untrained, do not go on a seek-and-destroy mission for knots. Loosening the muscles overall has plenty of benefits without seeking out those painful trigger points. Be firm but gentle. Switch it up and don’t focus on one spot or zone for too long.
4. Use oil. Nothing is more stressful than the skin burning friction of an oil-less massage. It can turn a potentially relaxing massage into love-induced torture. Always use a little bit of oil on your partner’s skin when giving a massage. You can use any kind of oil in any type of scent. I usually prefer coconut oil, as it doesn’t absorb into the skin immediately and allows for easy gliding. You can also buy massage-specific body oils at stores, or you can make your own if you want to get creative!
5. Avoid bones. Massaging bones is uncomfortable. Just don’t do it. Always be sure to stroke around bony areas, like the spine, rather than directly over them. A good way to start: start out a back massage by making small circle up and down both sides of the spine. Let your strokes grow from there, moving outward, being aware of and avoiding the spinal column and shoulder blades.
Need more advice? Ask your partner what they like. Just as in a healthy relationship, a healthy massage relies on open communication between partners. So don’t be afraid to get out the oil and experiment. With practice you’ll grow and learn together. So, hop to it!