Whether we have bad posture or a manual labor sort of job, our back takes a beating each and every day. A massage can be a great way to relax. It can especially be a great little treat to a loved one that works hard all day.
The back houses the spinal column and because of this, many of the nerves in our body start there. So not only will a back massage help ones back feel better, but it will help other parts of their body feel better as well.
Here are some simple techniques and tips to give a fantastic back massage. Though some of the advanced practices, like back cracking should be left to the professionals.
Preparing For The Massage
Not everyone has a massage table on hand so a bed will have to work. The key is to make the receiver of the massage as comfortable as possible. If they are uncomfortable this will lead to more tension in the back. If the person cannot relax, then what is the point of giving them a massage.
The person should be laying on their stomach, with their arm parallel to their face. Use a rolled towel to place under the forehead so that they can lay face down and still be able to breathe.
If you want to get super fancy, you can light some candles and incense and play some soothing music to help relax the person receiving your massage. This tends to work better for women than men, men do not often care about ambiance.
If you are using oils, as you should be because a little lubricant helps from stretching the skin and causing too much friction, set a towel or two down on your bed to stop any oil runoff from ruining your sheets.
As for lubricant, you can use a nice lotion or even olive oil. You can also make your own fancy oil from sunflower oil mixed with a little bit of lavender oil. The lavender smell helps people relax.
Beginning The Massage
Take your position beside the person you are going to massage. Make sure it is a comfortable spot that you would want to stay in for awhile. Oil your hands and place them on either side of the neck. Run your hands up and down the back on either side of the spine.
Get a nice feel of the back, look for any areas of tension. Especially knots in the back. Knots in the back feel as you would expect them to, like a lump under the skin and on the muscle.
As you run your hands up and down the spine, place your thumb on either side of the spine and fan your finger out over the back, smoothing the skin and muscle. The key to a great massage is to always be rubbing something.
Massaging The Shoulders
After you have lubricated the back and found the areas of tension, it is time to move up the the shoulders. This is where people with stressful jobs hold a lot of their tension. Place your hands on either side of the neck. You will feel two big muscles at the base of the neck, this is actually one big muscle called the trapezius. This is a powerful pressure point, when squeezed too hard, it can incapacitate even the mightiest of men.
However, we are not going to squeeze that hard. You by no means have to be gentle with this muscles. Roughly squeeze the muscles, massaging in a circular motion.
Move your hands down to the shoulder blades. Make an L shape with both your hands and place them under the shoulder blades. Rub the muscle along the bone. After a few times of doing this, move your hands to the sides of the body. Rub up and down the sides of the body to help relax the muscles.
Dealing With Tension
If you happen across any areas sore spots on the back during your massage, stop and take your thumb and apply mild pressure. Tell the person you are massaging to let you know if the pressure is too hard and uncomfortable.
Press your thumb down and release. After you have released, rub the area in quick but firm circles with your thumb until the tension has released.
The same technique goes for knots. If you happen across a knot, rub the area firmly with your thumb or if the area is large, use your elbow.
You should eventually feel the knot begin to break apart, this is the best feeling in the world to a person get a massage. If you find and break up a knot, they will automatically feel loads better after wards.
Ending The Massage
A massage can last anywhere from 2o minutes to an hour. I have found that you know about the muscles and bones in your back, the better you are at massage. Massage is something you have to really feel out.
You can incorporate some of your own rubbing techniques into the ones I recommended. As long as the rubbing is not painful or uncomfortable, it is good for the back. The real benefit from massage is the increased blood flow that comes from rubbing the muscles. The increased blood flow decreases pain and discomfort.
I have found that the most relaxing way to officially end the massage is to move your hands up to the trapezius muscles in the shoulder area. Give these a few brisk squeezes again and move on.
Never attempt to apply pressure directly onto the spine. You are neither a professional massage therapist or a chiropractor. Back cracking may feel good at first, but can lead to permanent back damage.
So try to avoid applying pressure on the spine, even if the person asks for it.
Never apply too much pressure on the kidney area either. the kideys are very sensitive and do not have much muscle to protect them. You can easily damage a persons' kidneys by applying too much pressure.