Massage your Valentine! Here are a few tips and techniques to try from Williamsburg massage therapist Meredith O’Brien.
Set the mood
Create a relaxing environment by turning on some soft music, dimming the lights and lighting some candles. Choose an oil, such as coconut or almond, or massage lotion so that your hands will glide smoothly and easily over your partner’s skin as you massage. Enhance with a calming essential oil like lavender or a sensual oil like sandalwood.
Have your partner lay face down, exposing their back and shoulders, on a bed or on a soft, padded surface. Kneel at one side — or if you’re really comfortable with your partner, you can just straddle them below the waist, being careful to not put direct pressure on the tailbone.
Put a small amount of oil or lotion in the palm of your hand, warming it up by rubbing your hands together. Begin at the lower back and run your hands up along the spine, using long, slow strokes with your palms, fingers closed. Move along the shoulders and back down the sides, creating one long continuous motion. Repeat several times, then transition strokes into a circular motion, following the same path.
Beginning at the lower back on each side of the spine, stroke up in a sweeping fan motion, using the heel of your palm to apply gentle pressure. Always be careful to avoid direct pressure on the spine.
At the shoulders, squeeze and knead the muscles, then curl your fingers into a “bear claw” and knead with your knuckles in between shoulder blades. Move up into the neck along the base of the skull and along the spine. Compress the muscles gently to increase blood flow, with palms pressing and releasing as you move from shoulders to the lower back.
Using loose fists or sides of open palms, “tap” – think of gentle, chopping motions – up and down the back, extending to the shoulders. End the massage by returning to long, slow strokes up and down the back, finishing with light strokes using only the fingertips, which first stimulates then relaxes the nerve endings.
Don’t forget the head!
Use the tips of your fingers to firmly massage the scalp in a circular rubbing motion, making sure you use enough pressure so that the scalp moves.
Use as much pressure as your partner is comfortable with. Remember, it’s less about the technique and more about the intention. So don’t worry if you’re not perfect — just a little effort will go a long way in making your partner feel loved and relaxed.