How to give a really, really good massage.
Touch is a human need—we quite literally have a hunger for skin-on-skin contact—and that is part of what makes a good massage all the more enjoyable. And if it’s your partner administering it, you might expect that the intimacy of the moment might lead to something more underneath the sheets.
The science is there, too: Studies have shown that massages can help to lower chronic pain, reduce blood pressure, and improve feelings of depression and anxiety. One 2010 study even showed that couples who gave each other twice-weekly foot massages experienced an improvement in their intimacy and communication. But a self-massage comes with its own benefits, too: Research has shown that self-massage (which can also be administered with the help of a foam roller or tennis ball) helps to reduce stiffness in muscles.
Before you give (or receive) a good rub-down at home, set the scene: Lower your lights, put on a calming playlist, and light some candles. Follow these simple guides to massage, and prepare to let good vibes flow.
Massaging a partner
No massage table, no problem: You can easily give your partner a full-body massage by just asking them to lie facedown on your bed (make sure they have a pillow or towel that helps them to comfortably rest their head). Here’s how to take it step-by-step.
Apply lotion or oil to your hands before running them down the length of your partner’s back, putting the majority of your pressure in your palms. Keep your hands along the sides of the spine—not directly on it.
There are a few basic massage techniques you can try, but these two are good beginner starting point: Effleurage is a long, gliding point that makes a good starting point for any body part. Petrissage is more active wringing and kneading to stretch tissue that might be tight.
Communicate—ask your partner if you’re applying enough or too much pressure, if there’s a specific area where they’d like to focus on, and how they’re feeling. If they’re ticklish, a little firmer pressure can help.
The Ayurvedic technique of abhyanga was made for those flying solo—consider it the perfect remedy to sore, tired limbs. Here’s how to do it.
Oil is crucial for this kind of massage—warm it up prior to use by letting it sit in a bowl or cup of hot water for about five minutes. Throughout the massage, continually reapply it to your hands—you never want them to feel dry.
Rub your limbs and neck with long strokes, and your hands, feet, torso, and collarbone with circular strokes. Use firm pressure throughout and really focus on the details—take the time to rub every finger. This helps drain lymph.
Take a warm bath or shower.