How to Give Him/Her a Massage at Home

Time to work those kinks out!

Economic indicators may be discouraging, but that doesn't mean you can't have a spa date -- in the comfort of your own home. Giving or receiving a massage in the privacy of your own home has some very nice advantages beyond the money you'll save over splurging at the day spa. Nothing's keeping you from turning a private massage into -- ahem -- a sensual event. Getting reacquainted with his (or her) body from the fingers out is fun, too. That tantalizing dimple at the base of his spine or the tender spot behind her ear could definitely use some attention. A little TLC in the right spot might even lead to an afternoon worthy of a "Dear Diary" entry.

Offering a loved one a home massage has other benefits for the lucky recipient, too. A massage that's firm enough to leave behind a gentle pressure indentation can help reduce the amount of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a stress-related hormone associated with everything from a weakened immune system to weight gain. A relaxing massage can also lower blood pressure and may help manage pain by triggering subtle chemical changes in the body.


Here's the best part: You don't have to be a reflexology guru to bestow a massage with healthful benefits. A general massage using long, gentle strokes can be surprisingly effective because many of the best benefits of massage are the direct result of simple touching. Touching releases a host of helpful chemicals that keep working for hours after you put the scented oils away. So, even if you can't tell the difference between a shiatsu (pressure point massage technique) and a Lhasa Apso (adorable puppy dog), you can still give a good massage.

If he likes to have his neck rubbed -- and let's face it, who doesn't -- a 10-minute massage will loosen his tight muscles, reduce his stress level and may even reduce muscle aches in other areas of his body like his lower back, legs and feet. That's an impressive return on a short investment.

Let's take a look at a few best practices when it comes to home massage. All you really need for a good massage is a gentle touch and a few undisturbed minutes. Adding some enhancements will help set the scene, though, and awaken his senses to a style of "bodywork" that has nothing to do with vehicle maintenance.


Home Massage Product Checklist

We've mentioned that a basic massage doesn't really require much in the way of aids and tools. When you're planning to indulge in home massage regularly though, there are some things that can help make giving -- and receiving -- a massage easier and more enjoyable:

  • Massage oil -- Using oil in massage reduces friction. This helps the masseuse (you and your magic fingers) as well as the recipient. Massage is a hands-on activity -- yeah! But after a few intense minutes loosening his shoulder muscles, your fingers and wrists will start feeling the burn. Keeping friction to a minimum will keep your delightful digits at the task longer without discomfort. A few drops should do it. You want to create a smooth sheen, not an oil slick.
  • Scented oils -- You can use baby oil and still give a great massage, but exploring a few aromatherapy oil options can increase the benefits of massage without any additional work on your part. The essential oils used in aromatherapy are distilled plant essences that work on brain and body chemistry in a number of ways. They are inhaled as well as absorbed through the skin during massage, which makes massage a powerful delivery system for the benefits of aromatherapy. Research into the way aromatherapy works on the body is ongoing, but aromatherapy essences like lavender appear to be surprisingly effective at reducing stress and anxiety, relaxing tense muscles and combating mild insomnia. Just be sure to dilute any essential oils you use.
  • Massage tables and chairs -- Today's scaled-down, portable massage equipment is more affordable for home use than they used to be. Massage tables and chairs are also lighter, often collapsible and easy to store in a utility closet. Having a spot on which to perform relaxing massage will make the process more convenient and could even encourage regular (mutual) massage as a weekly activity. Choose equipment that's adjustable (up and down), comfortably padded and easy to wipe down with a damp cloth. You can find entry level home massage tables for around $100 and chairs for $200 and up.
  • Massage accessories -- Massage is an ancient art, so there are lots of effective techniques around. The ones you choose to explore will reflect your personal interests and possibly recommendations you've received from a massage practitioner or physician. Some massage techniques use heat or steam; others use appliances like handheld massagers. The takeaway here is there's a lot to learn if you want to use a formal massage method, and there are fun tools that can help in the process. Tools are only as good as your ability to use them safely and effectively, though. Gentle massage using your hands to help relax your partner isn't likely to cause injury. Using accessories or aggressive massage techniques without proper instruction, on the other hand, may do more harm than good. Your hands aren't lethal weapons, but avoid experimenting with new massage techniques if your partner has an existing medical condition that should be left to the care of a trained massage therapist.

To give a great massage, be prepared with at least a fluffy towel and massage oil. You'll also want to work on a soft, level surface that's easy to clean if the oil gets away from you. Oh, and you might also want to use a little rubbing alcohol after the massage to remove excess oil from areas like the back, neck or shoulders, especially if those areas are prone to breakouts.


Setting the Mood for a Home Massage

Massage can be therapeutic, but it can also be a form of relaxation and playful fun. If you're aiming for a bit of both, it's almost as important to set the scene as it is to have strong, supple fingers to knead his back and beyond.

Dim the lights -- This is a practical as well as a relaxing and shamelessly romantic tactic. If he's lying on his back, having the overhead fixture on will be uncomfortable for him even if it makes it easier for you to inspect that mole on his shoulder. Here's a compromise: Perform that mole check some other time, and make massage time a "feel as you go" activity.


Use candles -- You don't have to use candles exclusively if you think you need a lot of illumination to get the job done. Candles do provide a flickering, golden glow that creates a pleasant ambiance, though. If you're using aromatherapy candles (that work with the aromatherapy oil you've chosen), they can also be romantic, cheerful, therapeutic and illuminating. That's a lot for a little wax and a wick. You get bonus points if you can arrange for a crackling fire in a nearby fireplace, too.

Adjust the thermostat -- He may look wonderful without his usual ratty T-shirt on, but all that bare skin can get chilly, even as you're beginning to heat up with all that rubbing and kneading exercise. Keep the room warm enough to protect his tender hide.

Put on some mood music -- Yes, music has the power to make a massage memorable for both of you. Keep it low, slow and relaxing. You'll both flash on your massage routine every time you hear those haunting riffs in the future, so pick the accompanying music wisely. This is what soundtracks are all about.


Lots More Information

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  • Centers for Massage Therapy Continuing Education. "5 Tips For a Better Massage Setting." 1/30/11. (7/31/12).
  • Dreyfus, Katy. "How to Give a Killer Massage." Ladies' Home Journal. (7/31/12).
  • Hultquist, Ivy. "The Best Oils, Lotions, Creams, and Gels for Massage Therapy." Massage & Bloggywork. (7/31/12).
  • Life Videopedia. "How to Give a Spa Quality Massage at Home." (7/31/12).
  • Macalester College. "Aromatherapy." 1995. (7/31/12).
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  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. "Massage Therapy: An Introduction." 8/2010. (7/31/12).
  • Old Saybrook. "Several Massage Supplies You Cannot Live Without." (7/31/12).
  • Redbook. "How to Massage Your Man." (7/31/12).
  • The Daily Beast. "Five Surprising Benefits of Massage." Newsweek. 9/3/08.
  • The New York Times. "Beauty Health: The Advantages of Massage." 5/15/83. (7/31/12).
  • University of Minnesota. "How Does Massage Work?" (7/31/12).