Crack your knuckles, ladies. It’s time to master the Valentine’s Day massage. Professional massage therapists are here to give you their tips and reveal their secrets so you can knead your sweetheart to heaven this Feb. 14.
Massages are sexy. After all, they are all about touching, rubbing and kneading your partner into bliss. However, even with the best of intentions, they can sometimes go wrong. So if you’d like to surprise your valentine with a sensual massage — but would prefer he wasn’t left bruised, battered or scared for his life afterward — heed the advice of our professional massage therapists, and make sure you get it right. Luckily for you, giving a great massage is nice and easy.
Set up for the senses
Ideally a massage should be a holistic experience. That means there’s more to it than just kneading knots and stress away.
“The trick is to distract as many senses as possible,” explains Midas Touch remedial massage therapist Jacob Sutton. “Provide something to hear, something to smell, something to see and, of course, something to feel.”
Silence is deafening, so the first step in setting the mood is to give your valentine something ambient to listen to.
“Hopefully you know your valentine and know whether they prefer a sweet rainforest background or something more modern like Lana del Rey or Moby,” says Sutton. “Enigma has a great rhythmic beat. I love to massage to their music.”
Registered massage therapist Nishia Richard recommends online streaming sources like 8tracks, Digitally Imported and Songza as great sources for tunes.
“Just type in “chill,” “massage” or “relaxing,” and there is hours of awesome stuff,” she says, adding that slow and relaxing is best. “I prefer anything from acoustic artists to chill electronic music.”
Our sense of smell is powerful, so it’s in your best interest to fill your massage space with alluring aromas.
“Essential oils definitely add to the experience and can help to increase relaxation,” says Richard. “They can be used in a diffuser or directly on the body — one or two drops mixed with some oil.”
As to the particular selection, she says lavender is known for its relaxing properties, while jasmine and sandalwood have sedative elements that can help to create a tranquil atmosphere. If you’d like to invigorate and stimulate your partner, look to citrus.
“Mint is one of my personal favourites,” she adds, “because it promotes circulation, relieves tight muscles and is fantastic for headaches and sinus issues.”
Sutton suggests trying something out of the ordinary, like orange and fig or ylang ylang.
You might think there’s not a lot of seeing going on when you’re face down, but the amount of light in the room can have a profound effect on your entire body.
“Low lights or candles are good during massage. It’s much more relaxing in dim lighting,” says Richard.
“Keep the light to a bare minimum — two to three candles in the corner of a room or an oil burner with a few candles around is perfect,” agrees Sutton.
He says that dim lighting not only sets a great atmosphere, but it’s also good after the massage, because eyes can become very sensitive.
This is where the actual massage plays the main role. However, other factors will affect the sense of touch, such as where and how you’re going to position your valentine.
“If you don’t have access to a massage table, then pillows and blankets on a floor are better for the back and spine [than] a soft surface like a bed,” says Richard.
“Something that is very unique and used in different massage styles is a mattress on the floor,” adds Sutton. “You can get around it easily enough, and it is also very romantic.”
5 Steps to the perfect massage
What not to do
Of course, massage has its own list of no-nos. Here are the most important:
- No Valentine’s Day booze. Not only are you likely to be clumsier and less responsive to your partner’s reactions, but their pain tolerance will also be higher than normal.
- Mobile-free zone. Nothing kills the mood faster than a ringing phone.
- Don’t squirt your partner with massage oil. It’s cold and uncomfortable. Apply oil to your hands and then to their body.
- A little less conversation, a little more action. Restrict talking to inquiries about the pressure or whether something feels good to allow your partner to stay in the zone.
- Cold hands! If you have poor circulation or your hands are cold, then wash them in warm water, or rub them together before touching your partner.
Start off by putting a blanket over your partner and doing some rocking motions to their body with your hands.
“This is a great way to start because it warms up your hands and gets your partner used to your touch,” says Richard.
Begin slowly and gently so your partner can get used to your touch and feel at ease. Allow your valentine to engage all their senses in the environment you’ve set up for them.
“Start out lighter,” says Richard. “Nice, fluid motions in a slow path help with relaxation. Also, a good amount of oil will keep from pinching the skin.”
“I personally use a method that is similar to kahuna or lomilomi,” says Sutton. “This method originated in Hawaii and is done in a dance around the table. The basic principle is to keep a constant, slow pace and to continue to massage from start to finish without a single pause.”
Work your way around your partner’s body, using long, broad strokes with your hand or forearm.
“Always work in the direction of the heart, meaning that if you’re doing legs, work from the foot up to the thigh. Arms would be from the hand to the shoulder,” says Sutton.
Furthermore, apply more pressure when working your way up, then ease off when you move back down to the starting point.
Handy tips from the experts
- Always use fresh linens and towels.
- If you’re worried about technique, seek enlightenment on YouTube.
- Ask! That’s the best — and only — way you can tell if the pressure and technique are right.
- Don’t break contact with your partner. Even if you need a break, rest a hand on their back. It’s important to not disturb the bond.
- Set music on a continuous loop so it doesn’t run out halfway through your massage.
- Tissues are good to have on hand (because lying face down can cause a runny nose).
- Don’t stress too much. The golden rule is that if it feels good for the massage therapist, it feels good for the client!
Repeat the magic. No matter which part of the body you’re focusing on, don’t breeze past it. Give it the attention it deserves.
“Generally you should repeat all of the strokes you make three to five times. Don’t rush it; be slow and steady,” says Sutton.
End on a definitive note. Be sure to ease your partner out of the massage, just the way you eased them into it.
“A nice treat at the end is to get a wet face cloth and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute,” Richard advises. “Be careful; open it up to release some of the heat. Then place it on [your partner’s] back with some pressure. It feels great!”