Everyone wants a massage, but sometimes, going to see your favorite massage therapist (hi there!) as often as you want a massage just isn’t feasible or affordable. And it can be very special to show your love to your valentine with your touch. My daughter has shown me how very important the love language of touch is. She doesn’t understand all of my words, so I have to show her my love through how I touch her. Most people would be so grateful to receive a loving massage from their partner. But many people are afraid that it won’t feel good, or that it will make them tired. Many people don’t know that in addition to practicing massage, I love to teach massage! So, for a valentine’s day gift for you, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips. So grab someone you love, and give them a loving massage!
There are absolutely occasions where someone might want a fast-paced, vigorous massage. But most likely, your valentine would like a comforting, stress-relieving massage. You might miss the best spots if you go too fast. Plus, if you look at it as a relaxation / meditation exercise for yourself, it will be relaxing for you as well. If you are relaxed, your partner is going to relax too. So, before you start, slow down, clear your mind, take a deep breath, put your hands out, and make each stroke last.
Use firm pressure, but not hard.
People get confused about pressure in two opposite ways. If your partner is smaller than you, you may have a tendency to use very light pressure. This is okay to a point (you probably won’t hurt anyone), but can be a little uncomfortable if your partner is tense or sore or, even worse, ticklish. On the other side are the people who come from the “no pain, no gain” school of massage. Don’t buy into this myth! Massage should be pleasant. If your partner has to tense their muscles and clench their jaw in order to get through your massage, it’s not helping.
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 anatomist to recognize the ones that stick out, like knees, elbows, ribs, and spines. With little padding between them and the skin, these areas can be quick to bruise or feel painful. If you find your hands arriving at one of these bony landmarks (yes, that’s actually what massage therapists call them, it’s like reading a topographical map), you have two options: turn around and go back the way you came, or skim over them using gentle pressure and keep going with your massage on the other side.
Practice good body mechanics.
If massage shouldn’t be painful for your partner, it also shouldn’t be painful for you. Set yourself up to be comfortable by choosing the position that they are resting in. If you don’t have a massage table, you can have them rest on one side of the bed. If you use the bed frequently for massage, you might want to invest in this handy face cradle that fits onto any mattress! You can also have your partner sit sideways in a chair while you massage their shoulders and neck. Another option is to have the recipient lay on the floor and you use a lunge position to get your weight on top of them. If you are hunched over, if your wrists are bent at an awkward angle, if you are using your thumbs or fingers in ways they weren’t designed to work, you will end up regretting the day you ever offered to give a massage. Use the weight of your body to provide pressure instead of your arms, and your arms, fingers, or thumbs. When you move to a new part of your partner’s body, adjust your entire position, not just your hand placement.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Really, you probably don’t need to talk to a massage therapist to learn that open communication between you and your partner is key to anything you undertake together. 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, or thirsty, or really need to leave for work, say something. Don’t leave your partner feeling guilty about enjoying a massage because you made a unilateral decision to sacrifice your needs for theirs.
Learn from the pros.
As with any skill, one of the best ways to learn to give a massage is by watching the people who are already great at it. Getting regular professional massage (hello again!) and taking a couples massage class are both helpful. Barring that, YouTube is a fantastic source of tutorials for beginners. You can search for a style you like—Swedish massage is a great place to start—or an area you’d like to focus on, like the neck and shoulders.
Remember, massage with love!
If you are feeling nervous or incompetent, just breathe gratitude into that part of you that feels worried, and come back to the love that you feel for this person. Even if you are not confident in your skills, if you reach out and massage your partner with the intention of sharing your love with them, they will feel your love, and be so grateful! If you would like to learn more about massaging your partner, schedule a massage and bring in a partner, and I will be happy to show you some great techniques that feel comfortable for you to give, and amazing for your partner to receive!