How to give a massage

Everyone from infants to the elderly can appreciate a massage. Massages can stimulate, relax, be therapeutic, or be sensual depending on the circumstance and technique. Properly done, a massage is invigorating and relaxing at the same time. It may be more difficult to give a massage than to receive one, but learning the strokes and pressure is easy enough and those who are on the receiving end will certainly thank you.

There are various strokes and various amounts of pressure that are used when giving a massage. The most common stroke is the effleurage, a gliding stroke that is best for applying oil or lotion and involves using all four fingers and the thumb. This is a relaxing stroke and involves only light pressure. Other strokes include kneading, pulling, wringing, and percussive strokes. Kneading, pulling and wringing use firmer pressure while massaging either up or down the massage area. Percussive strokes encompass tapping or chopping and are best used on legs, buttocks, and the back, but never the spine. Percussive strokes are never used in infant massage.

Typically, unless seeking massage therapy for pain relief or injury, the most popular and widely preferred massage areas are scalp, back and feet. To give a scalp massage, have the receiver sit or lie comfortably with their entire head exposed. Beginning at the base of the neck, using mild to firm pressure, massage the scalp with the balls of your fingertips and move your thumbs in a circular motion. Head and scalp massages are great for stimulating hair follicles and relieving tension, so donít forget the temples.

When giving a back massage, be sure the recipient is laying flat with their head turned to one side. Use caution when applying pressure to the spine, and work from the center outwards and from the neck down. A basic foot massage includes pressure to the arch of the foot and each toe individually.

Experiment with different strokes and varying degrees of pressure to find what is most relaxing for the recipient. Infant massage should be performed only with guidance from a professional.