Home Massage Guide 02

Starting your massage on the back

1. A nice position for doing back massage. But make sure you are not too heavy or crushing the persons knees.

Please ensure you have read the Theory, Health & Safety information then you can begin to massage at almost any place on the body, however we begin on the back as people are generally more comfortable having their back touched.

Look to spend about 20 minutes here and repeat each technique three times. This massage then flows down the legs, treats the feet, front legs, front torso and the head which is a lovely relaxing place to end.


Prepare; clean and warm the room. Your space should be comfortable for the person to lie down and for you have the space to move about freely. Put on some nice music, dim the lights, turn off your phone and other distractions, it's time for your friend to relax and for you to focus. Have your massage oil ready and please take care that you do not turn the person you are practising on into a victim.

2. Alternate position kneeling beside the person. Here you need to change sides occasionally

Discuss the massage with them the person to establish that they do not have any health issues, discuss where and how you are allowed to touch. Some people are very shy, so tact and diplomacy are required to expose the buttocks or get some women to remove their bra. Be respectful of their boundaries.

Have them undress and lay face down, they may like a pillow under their head and/or a cushion under their ankles. Some women may appreciate a bolster or rolled towel under the front of their shoulders to lessen pressure on their breasts.

Get in position

You can either sit lightly on their thighs with your knees either side if comfortable as in image 1, or kneel to one side as in the image 2 above.  If you cannot kneel to deliver this treat, you may need to invest in a table.

Sitting as illustrated in image 1 above (3 below), look at your friends back and observe the overall shape and skin condition. You will notice that the buttocks curve down into the hollow of the lower back (or back waist) and there is a soft curve up over the shoulders into the neck.

Note that the hollow of the back between the hips and the rib cage is relatively soft and you should never put too much pressure into this area because there is a risk that you could damage the kidneys. Remember, you are messaging the soft tissues (or muscles) and avoiding putting any strong pressure on the bones, especially the spine which you should really avoid as much as possible.

Apply oil your hands and spread it softly and evenly over the entire exposed area of skin that you can comfortably reach. Note; it does not feel nice to have the oil dripped over you, and this may get the massage off to a bad start. These are simple instructions with videos below.

Primary effleurage (Primary Stroke)

3. Start position for primary effleurage

When you have applied the oil:

  1. Place your hands on your friends buttocks so your finger tips level with their tail bone. If your subject doesn't like their bum touched, you have to compromise and start from the back waist.
  2. Then lean forwards and let your hands slide up the muscles either side of the spine and over their shoulders, but only if you can reach comfortably
  3. Pull back curling your fingers into the contours of the shoulders and
  4. Slide out (contour) over the tops of the arms and
  5. Slide your hands back down the sides of the body and back up onto the hips (note image 4) so you cover the entire side of the body as well as the top of the back.
  6. As the person is comfortable, lean with your upper body weight to apply more pressure, but do not press hard into the back waist as this can damage the kidneys.
  7. Repeat this primary stroke 3 times or more until both you and your subject are comfortable, and let your fingers feel into the body tissues.
  8. Keep a mental note of what feels tight or soft, rough or smooth and if anything feels different or unusual, ask the person how it feels to them and adjust your pressure as necessary.

4. Are you comfortable and is the person enjoying this?

This is the primary effleurage stroke which you are using to simply gain a perspective on the back that you are working on. You are noticing how soft or how tight the muscles are and hopefully appreciating some skin to skin contact, and the contours of the body.  Return and repeat this stroke whenever you forget what to do next.

This is a soothing and relaxing stroke, so do not press with your thumbs, use the whole of your hand, but you can press in more with your finger tips when going up between the shoulder blades.

Remember, these strokes want to start with your hands on the persons buttocks and they slide up either side of the spine without pressing on the spine or pressing too hard on the ribs or shoulder-blades.

Try to make your strokes flow up over the top shoulders and even slightly into the neck, and then return deeper down the sides.

Sometimes a nice alternative is to slide back out the arms.

Secondary effleurage (Secondary Stroke)

Complete the primary strokes as above to end with your hands on the buttocks as you started.

But now instead of sliding your hands up the length of the back:

  1. Slide the heels of your hands down through the waist so that your fingertips still point slightly up You will need to learn forward and down to do this.
  2. Slide your hands as in the image right
  3. When your hands reach the floor/bed, turn your fingers down, slide back down and pull up over the hips.
  4. Your second stroke instead of going down through the waist goes down over the ribs, the next slightly higher up the back and then down over the ribs and down via the arm pit and back to the start primary stroke covering the entire back.
  5. Repeat  the set 3 - 5 times as it feels really nice when done well.

Now, you may have felt that some muscle are more tight, and some muscles are soft and you can now begin to increase pressure into the muscles that feel tighter.

Thumb pressure (Primary thumbs)

5. Slide your thumbs from beside the tail bone up to the neck and try to feel the shape and texture of the spinal muscles.

Apply pressure on your thumbs as in image 5 instead of your whole hand and be gentle. Ask how the pressure feels and back off if you're a bit strong.

  1. Make your 1st stroke from the sacrum up either side and close to the spine
  2. Make your 2nd stroke a centimetre (1/2 inch further away from the spine.
  3. Make your 3rd stroke another centimetre (1/2 inch further away from the spine.

As you increase the pressure, ask your friend if the pressure is okay, or if they would like more or less pressure and it is your job to follow their request.  Be careful of pressing too hard on the bones as it can really hurt.

By now you will be starting to notice variations in muscle density and you should by now have some feedback that what you are doing feels nice, or maybe some parts of the back feel tender or even sore.

Now you can select and gently rub those tender areas using back and forward and /or circular movements with your fingertips or thumbs.  Typically these are the upper back between the shoulder blades and often the buttock muscles. Perform rubbing strokes both along the grain (that's the direction) of the muscles and across the grain will help them soften and relax.  Sometimes when you are working on the upper back, it is easier to kneel beside the person, or to kneel above their head as in page 2, but if you work from the side you have to remember to repeat the procedure from the other side (as in the video below).

6. Squeeze into the muscles around the top of the shoulders

Remember your friend must be made comfortable in all positions or the pleasure and value of treatment is diminished.  Always face your friend, at times it is easy when doing the extremities to face away from them, however this will disconnect you from their energy and they may feel abandoned. Also from the first moment of touch, do not take your hand off them, of if you need something out of reach tell them that you will be back.

Other Strokes:

  • Rubbing
    Short back and forward strokes over tight muscles, feels good between the shoulders.
  • Kneading
    This is what we call petrissage, where you are attempting to pick up as much of the skin and underlying muscle as you can to get away from home squeezing with alternate hands.
  • Wringing
    Sliding your hands in parallel but opposite directions which are nice along the sides of the body.
  • Friction rubs
    Slide your hand quickly but gently over a small area of skin to warm the skin and underling muscle.

If this information is helpful, let us know and we'll add more.


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