How to give a perfect massage at home
You don’t need to be a trained masseur to give a good massage in a home setting, and the risks are minimal if you familiarise yourself with the potential problem points. So, here’s how to be the best boyfriend ever. Do it at your own risk – being pampered is addictive, you might find yourself employed as your partner’s personal masseur.
Something that people love about going for a professional massage is the atmosphere. You walk into an oasis of calm and that already has a relaxing effect. Therefore the first thing you want to do is tidy up, even if it’s just that one room. Stick your socks in the laundry, chase the cat out and open the window to let some fresh air in. Do you feel relaxed when you walk into the room? If the answer is yes, you’re on the right path.
Consider your working area
Leave a few folded or rolled up towels so you can use them to prop your partner’s body later. If you like a bit of classic romance (why not?), decorate with dried rose petals or place a single flower blossom on top of the towels. It works for Thai spas and it can work in your home too.
Create the atmosphere
Dim the lights. If you can’t do that, light some candles and switch the lights off. Once the room is aired, close the windows and choose how you’d like to scent the room. You can mix in a little bit of essential oil into the massage oil, light scented candles, use an essential oil burner or some incense. Don’t overdo the scent or both you and your partner will get a headache. You know how some people pour too much perfume on themselves and project across the street? Don’t be that person in the world of massage.
And here’s the most important thing: warm the room to a comfortable temperature. If your boyfriend has to lie there shivering, he’ll want to get under the duvet and watch Netflix instead.
Oil or lotion?
Lotion gets absorbed faster so oil is easier to work with. That said, oil is a little messier, so do use a sheet you don’t mind staining or spread out some towels. You can also use a massage gel, but like lotion, it gets absorbed quickly and you won’t have the same ‘silky’ feel. But do check with your partner as well, some people don’t like being oiled (I know, it’s hard to believe).
You can learn a lot from free videos online (or you could invest as little as £15 for a quick massage course on websites like Udemy), but here are the basics that you can build upon.
Prop your partner’s ankles, knees and head with towels as required. Cover the body parts that you are not working on with towels to keep him warm.
Start with effleurage, stroking, circular movements carried out with the palm of your hand. To begin with, your aim is to warm the muscles. Try to go for continuous, flowing movements that blend into one another.
Once the muscles have been warmed up, deepen your pressure and use the following techniques:
- Knead like your would bread dough. Use both of your hands and make sure to lift up the muscles rather than just moving the skin.
- Place your hands next to each other and push them away from each other, then bring them back. Try this movement in different directions.
- Use the sides of your palms or your fists to drum on the muscle.
- Use your fingers to bunch the tissue together (as if you were pinching, but keep the movement light so it doesn’t feel painful) and your thumbs to apply deeper pressure in small circular movements
Once you are done, cover your boyfriend with a towel and ask him to lie there quietly for a few minutes. Then give him a gentle rub down with a towel. This will avoid getting the oil on the sheets or on his clothes.
Here are some of the more common mistakes in massage:
- Cold lotion. Some videos show the massage therapist squirting lotion straight on the back of the man lying in front of him, but that can be unpleasant. Warm the oil or lotion between your hands before using it.
- Assuming that tickling is okay. If the person is ticklish, their muscles will contract and they’ll find a hard time relaxing. Change your touch if your partner starts to giggle. Use the whole palm rather than fingers or knuckles, and stay away from ticklish places like the ribcage.
- Too much chit chat. This is not the time to discuss the recycling. Remember, you want your partner to relax. If he attempts to carry on a conversation, ask him to close his eyes and focus on your touch instead. And I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but switch the phones off.
- Moving on too quickly. For your partner, part of the relaxation involves focusing on the area you are massaging. Moving elsewhere too quickly breaks that focus and doesn’t allow the muscle to relax fully. It can also make the massage feel rushed.
Finally, a word about safety. Ask about injuries and allergies, don’t use essential oils if your partner has sensitive skin. Never use essential oils without diluting them in massage oil (simple sunflower oil would work fine). Don’t apply deep pressure without professional training, keep it at light to medium. Only use light strokes on the stomach. Massage around the spine, but leave the spine alone. If you feel tension in your own back, arms or neck, change your positioning to use your body weight more effectively.
That’s about it. Ask your partner questions as you work. ‘Does this tickle?’, ‘Would you like me to apply deeper pressure?’, ‘Does this feel uncomfortable?’, and so on. This kind of communication is important even to experienced masseurs, as each person’s body is different.