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You probably know that there are tons of reasons to get a massage. It helps with stress, muscle tension, insomnia, blood pressure, headaches, anxiety . . . just to name a few. Did you know though that even the person giving the massage benefits from it? That's right! You lower your stress levels, release oxytocin (the feel-good hormone), and improve your well-being just like the person receiving it.
This version is a little bit modified to fit a bed massage. You want to use the heel of your hands as much as possible -- using your thumbs puts a lot of stress on the joints. Instead of making your hands and arms do all the work, keep your arms straight and use the pressure you get from leaning into them with your body.
What oil to use
I've got awesome news for you -- you don't have to go out and purchase some fancy exotic massage oil. You probably have some you can use in your kitchen right now!
I was very surprised when my teacher told us that corn oil is one of the best (and cheapest!) alternatives. Yes, that's right -- corn oil from Walmart. It works perfectly fine, and very few people are allergic to it.
If you want to go a bit fancy (but still cheap!), I really like the Viva Naturals Sweet Almond Oil. It is 100% pure and can also be used as makeup remover! My favorite part is the pump; it really helps things going smoothly during the massage since you can get more oil with just one hand. The bottle is 16oz and lasts such a long time! I've been using it for over three months, giving 1-3 back massages a week, and it's still almost full.
Where and how
A back massage is an excellent start since it's easy to do on a bed or big couch, and it's an area that a lot of people have trouble with. Your "client" will lie facedown, shirtless, with you simply sitting on your knees over their thighs. If it's a woman and she's wearing a bra (and you're not allowed to see the goods), you simply unhook it when she has lain down and hook it together again when you're done. Easy peasy and modesty intact. :-)
You want to make the room cozy and relaxing, especially if you're massaging a partner. Put on a soothing playlist, light some candles or turn on your salt lamp (the coziness without the fire risk!), and put a few drops of lavender oil in your oil diffuser. Engage as many senses as you can to make it a full-body experience.
Photo by Monicore
Level one is the warm-up phase. Just like how you do some gentle movements before a workout, you're gonna start with a relaxing combination of strokes to warm up the muscles. Repeat every type of stroke (level two and three as well) 5-10 times. Since it's a relaxing massage, you want to move at a slow, calming pace.
Photo by Chungkuk Bae
Now when the muscles are warmed up, you're gonna put a bit more pressure in your movements. You're gonna start with the right side of the back, and once level two and three are completed you repeat these steps on the left side.
Photo by Hans Vivek
This is when you enter deep-tissue territory. Of course listen to the person you're massaging (if they are very sore or have very tight muscles, you might have to stick with level-two pressure), but here you go as hard as is pleasant/tolerable. The kneading part should be starting out with level-two pressure, and then you have to play it by ear since our necks and shoulders are usually very tight and knotted from all the hours we spend at the computer or looking down at our phones.
Now all you need to do is relax and enjoy the renewed feeling. Try to set up a massage date once a week, and reap all the benefits that come from long-term regular massages. It boosts your health, relaxes you, and bonds you with your massage partner in the way only positive touch can do. :)
Photo by Yoann Boyer
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