There are some important things to remember (Picture Getty)
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there are plenty of ways to get in the mood.
Even if you aren’t feeling particularly sexy right now, there are some simple things that might help.
Toys are a popular option, of course, along with dressing up, but it’s easy to underestimate the power of touch – and a massage can be a great way to get you feeling relaxed and intimately close with your partner.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to give a massage and don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve tried it before and haven’t received the praise you’d hoped for from your other half?
We’ve asked an expert to share how to give a good (and safe) massage at home – after all, we don’t want any Valentine’s Day injuries.
Massage therapist and Therapy Directory member Rosemary Tarrant explains that less is more when it comes to a DIY massage.
‘Couples can experience a deeper connection during massage and I would stress that “slow and steady” is the best way forward,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
Here are her tips for a beneficial and safe massage…
Set a time limit
‘Agreeing the length of time is important,’ says Rosemary.
‘The giver may not be used to giving massage and as arm, wrist and finger muscles are utilised, ensure over-use doesn’t occur.’
She recommends that 15-20 minutes is a good place to start. Then you can always swap over.
Get the environment right
Dimming the lights can be really helpful for setting the tone for a massage. It’s also important for the room to be warm, as this will help muscles relax.
The next thing to consider is the space you’re actually performing the massage, which is likely to be on a bed.
Rosemary says: ‘It’s important to keep the receiver’s head straight when lying face-down so that muscles remain as relaxed as possible, so placing a pillow under the chest and another under the forehead can allow them to breathe.’
You’ll need to get the pressure right (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Pay attention to pressure
‘Pressure is really important, it doesn’t want to be so light that it feels ticklish, however, too deep will make the muscles contract and not be helpful,’ adds Rosemary.
Not enough pressure and you might as well not be doing anything but too heavy-handed and you could cause an injury.
She adds: ‘Going above a seven out of 10 in a person’s pain threshold is not beneficial. This is the receiver’s pain threshold so it’s essential for the giver not to think, “I’m not going that deep.” Follow what your partner is saying or demonstrating with their body.
‘Hands becoming fists, feet or legs moving etc can all be signs of discomfort, so check in with them.’
Rosemary adds that if the receiver gives feedback that the area you are working on feels good, then just stay there.
‘The whole body doesn’t need to be done in one go so listen to what they are saying. At the same time you don’t want to spend too long in one area doing deep work, as the tissue could become inflamed. So do your best to work on both sides of the body (left and right),’ she adds.
Oil helps the massage process go a little smoother – quite literally.
When you apply it, put a little into the palm of your hand (about the size of 10p) and spread it into both hands – both on your palms and the backs.
Also, ensure you remove rings or jewellery that might catch or be uncomfortable for the person you are massaging.
Learn the different strokes
First up there are ‘effleurage,’ which Rosemary says are ‘long, slow, gliding strokes often used to apply the oil onto the skin, but are also really beneficial, dreamy and sleep-inducing – so good to do not only at the beginning but also at the end.’
The second are known as ‘petrissage,’ which Rosemary explains are ‘deeper, kneading strokes where you lift the skin and muscle away from the bone, fabulous for areas like the shoulders, the side of the upper arms, the thighs or the soft tissue below the ribs and above the pelvis – in the lumbar area.’
But she stresses you shouldn’t rub the spine or vertebra as it’s the muscle tissue you want to massage, not bone.
There’s also ‘circular‘ motions to consider. Rosemary adds: ‘If your posture allows then use small circular movements below the occiput (the skull bone at the back of the head), on either side of the spine still in the soft tissue. This can relieve so much tension and done slowly and rhythmically – it can be divine.’
Finish the right way
‘When coming to the end of the massage maybe finish with those lovely long strokes of effleurage again and then let your hands become still for a few moments on the body before you lift them off and cover the area of the body you’ve been working on,’ says Rosemary.
She also recommends having some water post-massage, as this helps flush out any toxins that have moved around.
Potential products to consider:
This could help you along (Picture: Love Honey)
It’ll smell great too (Picture: The Body Shop)
A two-in-one product (Picture: Look Fantastic)
It’ll nourish skin too (Picture: Neal’s Yard)
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