How to Massage the Back

The back is the largest and most important area you will massage all at once and so the massage itself is divided into sections of the shoulders, lower back and spine. The back is a great opportunity to ease yourself into the massage, try out the techniques, and practise the long, sweeping strokes. Most people will feel comfortable about having their backs massaged and are able to relax easily. Giving a back massage feels immediately satisfying because of the breadth of the muscles and the fact you can actually see the difference you are making. As the back contains so many nerves and nerve endings, any massage you do here will have a direct and profound effect over your partner’s entire body.

1. Effleurage

Begin the massage by positioning yourself at your partner’s head. Rub a small amount of warmed oil between your hands. Place both hands together at the top of your partner’s back and start to glide your hands downward. Keep your hands relaxed and flat against the back, both spreading the oil and feeling out your partner’s muscles.

Massage  Back

2. Effleurage

Glide to the lower back, separate your hands and sweep out around the hips. Then, start to draw your hands back up the body, this time stroking up the sides. Raise your wrists, to increase the contact of your fingers with your partner’s body. Reduce your pressure slightly on the return stroke.

3. Effleurage

As you move right up the back, sweep your hands around the contours of your partner’s shoulders, bringing your hands together again at the neck, and stroke lightly off the body. Repeat the whole stroke at least twice more, smoothing out your partner’s muscles in preparation for the next stroke.

4. Easing the shoulder

Move to your partner’s side. Support the shoulder gently with one hand and with the other, press, circle and squeeze around your partner’s shoulder blade, using either your fingertips or the flat of your hand. This is a loosening and relaxing stroke, easing and softening the muscles.

5. Kneading the shoulder

Return to your partner’s head. Begin to knead along the top of your partner’s shoulder muscles, pushing in with your thumbs and rolling your fingers back toward you. Continue massaging along the shoulder to the neck. As this is a fairly compact area, your movements will naturally be quite small.

6. Shoulder push

In the same position, place the fingertips of both hands, one behind the other, at the inner edge of the shoulder blade. Now push both hands slowly downward, pressing firmly around the outline of the shoulder blade. Follow the contours with your hands, at the same time releasing any tension.

7. Shoulder pull

Continue the movement around the bottom of the shoulder blade, then separate your hands and draw them back up around the rest of the blade, keeping close in to the armpit. Your partner’s shoulder should move as you pull. Repeat the whole stroke. This is excellent for loosening the shoulders.

8. Pushing the shoulder down

After repeating the previous movement, end the sequence by placing both hands over your partner’s shoulder and pushing the shoulder downward. The shoulder will move significantly, but only push as far as feels comfortable. Your partner will then feel a good release. Do the movement once only.

9. Feathering down the arm

Use the light feathering stroke to brush gently down your partner’s arm with your fingertips. Use your hands alternately in a gentle rippling movement, as far as you can reach, in order to release tension down the arm. You are then ready to repeat the whole sequence on the other shoulder.

10. Lower back effleurage

Move further down your partner’s body. Rub oil between your hands, then use effleurage strokes to spread the oil over the lower back, hips and buttocks. Start at the lower back, separate your hands out over the hips, come round the buttocks to complete the circle and return to the lower back.

11. Circling the sacrum

Place one hand on top of the other, fingers flat, over your partner’s sacrum (the bony triangle at the base of the spine). Slowly circle several times in an anticlockwise direction, using your upper hand for pressure. This is a wonderful tension release, but always check it feels comfortable for your partner.

12. Hip push

Place both hands, one on top of the other, in the centre of your partner’s back. Start the stroke to the far side of the spine, just above the level of the hip. Now, push away from you, sliding your hands over the back and downward, but keeping your stroke above your partner’s hips.

13. Hip pull

Circle around the hip, pulling both hands back over your partner’s buttock. As you pull, raise your fingers so the pressure changes to the heel of your lower hand. Both steps of this movement flow into each other, with greater pressure on the downward stroke. Repeat to release lower back tension.

14. Kneading

Lean over your partner and begin kneading strokes on the buttock by pressing down into the flesh and away from you with your thumb, then rolling the muscles back toward you with your fingers. Move your hands in an alternating rhythm and work only on the soft muscles, avoiding the bone.

15. Pulling

Without breaking your movement, bring your hands just above your partner’s hips. Slide one hand underneath the body, then bring your hand back toward you by pulling up your partner’s side. Pull alternately with each hand, moving along the side of the body up toward the chest.

16. Feathering

When you reach the shoulder, use your fingertips alternately to softly feather the length of the back muscles, keeping to the far side of your partner’s spine. Lift your hands away lightly at the end of each stroke. Repeat down the length of the spine several times, finishing at the lower back.

17. Forearm stretch

Lean across to the far side of your partner’s spine and rest both forearms together, facing each other, in the middle of your partner’s back. Keep your wrists relaxed and your hands formed into loose fists. Using your body weight, start to apply pressure downward with your forearms.

18. Forearm stretch

Now turn your forearms over and, still applying downward pressure, draw them slowly apart across your partner’s back. Lean your weight into your arms and stretch until you reach the hip and shoulder. This not only feels great, but provides an excellent stretch for the muscles at the side of the spine. Repeat twice, change position and perform the lower back sequences on the other side.

19. Ironing the spine

Place one hand on top of the other over the spine on your partner’s lower back. Then, keeping your lower hand flat and using your upper hand for pressure, push lightly up the spine moving toward the neck.

Massage  Back

20. Raking the spine

At the neck, raise your wrists and fingers and place one hand behind the other. Using the balls of your fingers rake down your partner back, keeping your fingers to either side of the spine. Combined with the ironing movement, this is excellent for releasing tension along the spine.

21. Stroking the spine

Return your hands to your partner’s upper back and stroke lightly down the spine several times. This is a profoundly relaxing and soothing stroke, which gives the feeling of connecting the entire back. It is also a stroke for warming down and bringing the massage on the back toward its close.

22. Resting

This movement is deceptive, for it is not as passive as it appears. To complete the back massage, place both hands on your partner’s back. Feel the energy coming out through the palms of your hands, at the same time feeling your partner’s back coming into balance. After all the work you have done, it is important to spend a few quiet moments for everything to settle before you move on.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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