The Men’s Guide to Giving a MassageWritten by Gavin Humphreys
Men are asked to give massages - it’s a fact.
I don’t know if this has always happened. Did the Vikings give their wives massages? Did the Aztecs get pestered from their loved ones for a rub?
What I do know is that in our day and age, it’s almost a given. If you have a partner, or want a partner, you had better brush up on your massage skills.
Welcome to Massage School
We’ve all been there - your partner asks for a massage, you start rolling up your sleeves… but how many of us really know how to give a proper massage?
What’s the balance between drenched in oil and giving a playground wrist burn? How do we know if it’s good pain, or if we are inflicting permanent damage and they will never be able to walk again?
Let’s be honest, most of us men just think of a massage as a way to get into somebody’s pants. You won’t get anywhere if you are no good at it. And you certainly won’t be asked for another one.
And plus, it shouldn’t always be sexual.
How often does your partner come home stressed, complaining about aches and pains, or just in a bad mood? The answer - a massage.
They can also help with headaches or insomnia. Done well, massages are an excellent way to relax for both the giver and receiver. They show romance and affection, leading to a healthier and more active relationship.
You will need to do your research - first decide what the purpose is of your massage, and go for a style that works. You might consider:
This is the one we (think we) all know.
If your partner is up for a little pain, you can focus on getting rid of those nasty knots in the muscles (this can’t be achieved in one sitting - but why not make it a regular thing?!).
Otherwise, go for a gentle approach, and focus on a smooth, pleasant experience.
*Be aware - never push on the spine; this can cause real injury. End of romantic evening.
Our feet take a bashing. It is a fantastic feeling to have somebody help relax those muscles with a little oil. They are a highly erogenous zone for many people too.
I’d advise the foot massage after a shower (not so much after a sweaty walk home from the office).
Neck and head massage
Working on the neck and head are great ways to alleviate stress and headaches.
Take care, especially around the neck. You don’t want to accidentally pull somebody’s hair out either. That’s not relaxing.
Work your hands in circular motions around the scalp, and be gentle. There are some points, such as the temples, which are amazing tension alleviators.
This is a massage that is all about putting your body in interesting positions. It combines acupressure (pressure points are not only for Spock and kung fu fighters - they can help relax in an instant), Ayurvedic principles (the body and the mind are one...), and assisted yoga postures (that's not Kama Sutra positions!).
Sports massage is a massage technique used mostly to help athletes recover after big events, and after injury. This is a great thing to learn if you or your partner are active folk.
This massage technique from Japan focuses on correcting the flow of chi. Nothing to do with the small, hairy dog. Using the fingers, the massager intends to help the energy of the body flow. It can also stimulate emotions and well-being using pressure points.
Ashiatsu / Bare-Foot Massage
Ashiatsu is the massage where somebody walks on your back. This is another Japanese massage technique - and probably best left for the experts. That said, it would be pretty impressive to learn!
Do not try this with your Dean Oxfords. Unless that’s a kinky thing.
The idea of an erotic massage is to promote sexual excitement or pleasure. You can combine this with any of the other massage techniques, to be honest. It can be used as foreplay or as a selfless gift to your partner. Try to focus on the whole body, not just the sexual organs, to make the experience complete.
Setting the scene
When the moment comes, and you are preparing to give a massage, engage the five senses. This is a holistic experience.
If it’s day time, let the natural light stream in - or even do it outdoors.
You can also choose a darkened room, so it feels more intimate and more like night time. This is advisable if the surroundings are not conducive to relaxing - like a busy street.
At night, go for an atmospheric feel. Candles are great. You might want to consider fairy lights, or colored lighting.
Have fun with colors. Light purple subconsciously suggests luxury, sensuality, and magic. Blue gives feelings of calmness, faith, and trust. It can also increase blood flow. Then there’s red for passion…
Get rid of bad smells and promote good smells - basic.
If body odor is an issue, you could both take a shower. You could make it part of the fun. Showers also help the muscles relax, ready for the massage.
Get fresh air flowing through the room. If possible, use clean sheets that have been blowing outdoors.
Light an essential oil diffuser, or a scented candle. You could place some fresh, aromatic flowers around the room.
Leave the room if you need to fart. That’s a top tip.
Cut out the sounds of the city. If you are in the countryside, open the windows and let the birdsong drift in. If you want to massage somebody on the beach, the relaxing sound of the waves is perfect.
You can always imitate these natural sounds using a recording, or an app on your phone.
You can put on music - avoid Slipknot. You might go for zen music, chimes, classical music, or perhaps some Barry White! Depends where the night is going...
Not a part of massage that we often think about, what about food and drink?
Have some water on hand. A nice glass of wine, or champagne, would be a great touch.
Some Turkish delights, fine chocolates, or fresh strawberries might be the direction to take any snacks.
The most important part of massage.
Make a comfortable place for your partner to lie.
Make sure that your hands are as soft as possible - if you have naturally rough hands, try to moisturize them, or you can even buy special massage gloves.
It’s good not to be too hot, but definitely not too cold. Remember, the massagee will likely be semi-naked, so they won’t appreciate a chill breeze!
To help with touch (and smell), don’t forget to invest in oils.
Essential oils & carrier oils
You have to be aware of two types of oil for the massage - essential oils and carrier oils. You can buy prepared massage oils and lotions, but they won’t give you so much room to experiment and have fun.
Carrier oils are really the essential oils - these are the oils you need in order to do the massage. They make your hands glide nicely along your partner’s thighs and back, without leaving them red and sore!
They are called carrier oils because they are usually mixed with an ‘essential oil’ to give a pleasant aroma and add special qualities. They carry the other oil like a passenger.
They shouldn’t have intense aromas - they have to allow the essential oil to shine.
Most carrier oils you can buy in your local supermarket or delicatessen: Coconut oil, Olive oil, Avocado oil. You can also buy more expensive, subtly aromatic oils in many drugstores or aromatherapy shops.
These are the oils that make a massage something extraordinary. They give the massage oil a beautiful fragrance - and you can select a fragrance that you love, or you think your partner will love.
These are expensive, but they are liquids to be valued - just think frankincense, an essential oil which has been venerated since long before the ‘three wise men.’ Don’t worry, you don’t need to use a lot, a few drops will do.
*Never use the essential oils without a carrier - it could cause a reaction. It is a good idea to ask if your partner has any allergies anyway, before you start! You don’t want them to end up red and bumpy, and stinging all over…
You can also source ‘sensual oils’ that give hot, or cold, or tingly, sensations. These aren’t aimed at a relaxing massage, but (if you have other intentions) they are stimulating to the skin.
You can also buy edible oils. That’s where the line between massage and foreplay starts to blur ever so slightly!
A slippery slope
Play around with different combinations of oils, and different environments, and see what works for you. You might well start to look like you know what you’re doing.
Mix the essential oil and the carrier in a bowl. You can buy a bowl for the oil, or improvise. A half coconut shell is an attractive oil vessel, for example!
Place some oil on the palms of your hands and warm it up, rubbing the hands together. And away you go.
There’s always the danger of leaving stains, so lay down a towel (or make sure that there will be no tears shed if the sheets get ruined).
Get hands on and explore
There’s a whole world of massage out there to discover. It can help get rid of stresses. It can cure pain. It can be a spiritual experience. It can excite all the sensations of the body.
The power’s in your hands.
So oil up, and off you go!