Massage your Way into Their Hearts
, A Valentine’s Day Gift To Remember by Christine Malec – #WellBeingWednesday

Now before we go any further, I’d like to state that I have never been disappointed by chocolate or flowers on Valentine’s Day. If, however, you’re looking for a healthier, cheaper, or more intimate gift for your sweetheart, there’s nothing that says “I want to make you happy,” better than a massage. Our neighbourhood is home to several massage therapists who’d be happy to offer gift certificates, but here’s a concise how-to guide if you really want to dazzle your partner and do it yourself.

Smiling man massaging woman's shoulders

Set the Mood:
Nearly as important as technique, is how you set it up. As a therapist, I tell every new client explicitly, “This is all about you. If you want something; don’t want something; want more or less of something, say the word and that’s how it will be.” Set a particular time aside and make a point to keep cell phones and other distractions out. Don’t punctuate the massage with discussions about why your kid’s failing math, or how to make the next car payment. Let your partner guide the conversation if any. Check in regularly about comfort and pressure, but otherwise limit your spontaneous utterances to avowals of love and admiration.

Lacking a massage table, the best ergonomic situation to ensure staying power, and to keep you from injuring yourself, is to have your partner lie on their side on a bed. Sit behind them, cross-legged if possible, so that you’re facing their back. If this won’t work for you, you can try standing at the side of the bed with them lying on their stomach, or have them seated while you stand behind.

Application:
Skin-to-skin contact using the oil or lotion of your choice is the nicest and most effective way to give massage. If other considerations make it better for your partner to stay clothed, massaging over clothing is perfectly doable. Make sure you first locate your partner’s spine and shoulder blades. Pressing on bones isn’t comfortable, so it’s important for you to know where they are in order to avoid them. They have muscles attaching all around them though, so don’t be shy to dig in.

At the beginning and end, use full hand contact in rhythmical, repetitive movements all over the back. This spreads the oil, and relaxes your partner. During the massage pressure along specific areas, such as up and down both sides of the spine or around the borders of the shoulder blades, can be effectively given using your thumbs, knuckles, or the heel of your hand. A picking up/squeezing technique at the place where the neck and shoulder meets is usually well received.

Rate, rhythm and flow are key. Go slowly; and keep reminding yourself to do so. Make your movements even and continuous. Let your partner know with your hands that there’s nothing else going on; the only thing that’s important is that you’re giving them a massage. This focus is key, and your partner will definitely feel it.

Christine Malec is a registered massage therapist with a peaceful home-based practice in the neighbourhood. www.spiralmassagetherapy.ca

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