Perhaps there is no better way to break the ice and establish a physical relationship with another human being than massage. Simple shoulder massages, something we are all in great need of, have been known to lead to much more intimate encounters.
If you’re going to do massage, learn a few basics:
- Move your hands along but never on the spine.
- Avoid hard squeezing or pressure in the beginning.
- Always do everything on both sides of the body. Usually you’ll be using both hands to stroke both sides at the same time, but if not, switch sides and repeat.
- Pay attention to your partner’s reactions to your touch.
- Ask if the amount of pressure you are using is right for your partner. Ask “Is this too hard? Would you like me to press harder?”
The Basic Seated Massage
Your first opportunity to give a massage will probably be a chair massage, with your partner fully clothed and facing away from you. A good lead-in line: “You look stressed out. Let me rub your shoulders a minute.”
Start by gently squeezing the tops of the shoulders, then gently run your hands down the sides of the neck and out the shoulders to the top of the arms. Alternate these two actions until you feel the shoulders soften and drop.
Place your hands on either side of the base of the neck. Being careful not to put pressure directly on the spine (located along the neck’s center line), work your way up to the base of the skull using gentle circular motions of the thumbs. There are nine vertebrae in there. Try to massage the edges of each one. Take your time. This should cause your subject to tilt their head forward. (If the head tilts back instead, you are rubbing too quickly and making the neck tense up. Start over.) Spend some time massaging the little depressions on either side of the spine at the base of the skull.
While the head is tilted forward, move on to the head and scalp. Massage with a circular motion along the hairline, moving up behind and around the ears. Make soft circles on the temples then expand the motion all over the skull, starting at the back and moving up and forward. Finish this phase of the massage by stroking the forehead with a smoothing motion.
If your massage partner seems to want more, have them place their forearms on a table and lean forward. This way you can reach the upper back. Again, massage gently on either side of the spine, then run your fingers around the edges of the scapula (the big triangular bone you’ll feel on either side. Place your palms flat on the scapula and gently move them in a circle. This is an area of great tension in most people, so go slow.
Finish the chair massage with a series of gentle taps with the balls of your fingers, up the spine, out the shoulders and all over the skull to the forehead. Be aware of your partner’s body language. They may offer you new places that need attention.