How to Give a Great Swedish Massage at Home
Do you love massages but can’t afford to go to the spa on a regular basis? You and a partner can pamper each other at home. Massage has tons of benefits. As long as you follow a few safety guidelines, use a lot of love and creativity, and practice on each other, you can learn to give a relaxing massage. Everyone has natural talent in the realm of massage therapy. Take turns being the client and the therapist.
Start by purchasing a table.
You can get one online for less than 150 dollars. If you think you’re going to be doing a lot of massages, consider getting an adjustable table. You will want to set the height of the table so you can lunge and still put pressure on your “client” without stooping. The most important thing besides the client’s comfort is not hurting your own back.
Put the table in a place where you have plenty of room to move around it. Use soft lighting such as lamps or candlelight so that you don’t blind the client when she is lying on her back. Pick a room where the shades or curtains can be drawn for dimness as well as privacy. Play soft music that the client chooses.
Make your table comfortable. Have a sheet between the table and the person and covers over her. If it is winter you may want to put a heating pad under the bottom sheet. Always have plenty of blankets; the person giving the massage will be much warmer than the person receiving the massage. Use pillows under the ankles when facedown and under the knees and head when face up.
Choose the right oil.
If you want to use scented oils, have more than one from which the client can choose. You can get pre-made massage oils and lotions from places like Bed, Bath and Beyond or any salon that offers massage. You can use a simple unscented oil like grape seed oil, which is available at any health food store, or experiment with adding your own herbs. Once you have your partner on the table, warm the oil between your hands before applying it to their skin. Use a little at first; you can always add more.
Doing the Massage
An easy way to start is to have your partner lying face down. Start by uncovering one leg and apply the oil. Always use pressure that travels from the foot to the hip. Stroke lightly with both hands and apply more pressure as your partner asks for it. You can use a hand over hand motion or a kneading motion. You can use your elbows, heel of your hand, fingertips or fists. You can also tap or pound on the legs. As long as you avoid putting pressure on the back of the knee and remember to always travel from the foot to the hip you will be safe. Never, never apply pressure on the arms or legs that travels from the body to the hands or feet.
Bend the leg at the knee and work on a foot massage. Knead gently with your thumbs on the arch and heel. Trace around the ball of the foot, the ankle, and in between the toes. Pinch the toes lightly between your fingers. Move the foot in a circle at the ankle and flex the foot completely toward the calf and away.
When you have done both legs and feet, cover your partner and rub the legs a couple of more times over the sheet. This provides closure for the lower half of the body and a connection as you move on to the back. Stand at the head and apply oil from the shoulders down to the low back. Rub with both hands down the big muscles on either side of the spine to the hips then sweep back up along the sides and up the neck. If you want you can just repeat this simple motion or you can try some other things. Knead the large muscles on the tops of the shoulders. Work your thumbs, palms, or knuckles along either side of the spine. Just don’t apply pressure directly on the spine. Trace around the shoulder blades with your fingers. Use a hand over hand or thumb over thumb motion on the low back.
Once you have turned the client over, go back to work on the front of the legs with a bit of oil. Use the same motions as on the backs of the legs. Don’t forget to move in the direction from the feet to the hip and not the other way. Trace or knead around the kneecaps gently. Rub the part where the ankle joins to the top of the foot with your thumbs. Go over and between the muscles on top of the foot and rub the toes again; you can also bend and flex the toes.
Cover the legs and move on to the arms. Pick up the arm and gently rub with your whole hand toward the shoulder. You can rub the shoulder again now, or even reach under your partner and rub between the shoulder blade and the spine. Massage the hands just as you did the feet.
Reach under your partner’s neck and shoulders with your fingers at the bottom of the back of the neck and slide them towards the head. Do the same thing with a hand over hand motion. You can flex the neck to either side and roll their head through its full range of motion. Gently rub all over the scalp with your fingertips in a shampooing motion. For many people this is the best part. Just don’t get oil in her hair. You can also massage the face, also without oil, by rubbing the cheeks in an upward motion towards the forehead. Trace over the forehead and eyebrows gently and rub the temples in circles.
These are just a few ideas. Have fun trying new moves. Type the word “massage” into any search engine and you can find books and videotapes to teach you more than you could ever put into practice in one lifetime. There are as many kinds of massages as there are people to give them. And the best part is that next time it will be your turn on the table.