Massage London is proud to present our tip on how to massage your friend. It will be helpful to use a little bit of vegetable oil as a lubricant between your hands and their skin

THE BACK

From the head (top) smooth down the back muscles on both sides of the spine. This thick rope-like muscle is called the Erector Spinae group. It actually runs from the base of the skull to the tail bone area. Use equal pressure on your fingers and the heels of your hands. Smooth down the Erector Spinae, and back up along your friend’s sides, shoulders, and neck. Do this several times. Move yourself along their side and face their head. Repeat the long smoothing strokes, going slightly deeper with each pass. Make sure that your hands conform to their body. Your pressure should be even and your strokes consistent in speed. Try splitting your index finger and your centre finger, placing your hand over the spine. Gently place each finger in the groove between the spine and the Erector Spinae muscles. Place your other hand over the bottom hand for extra pressure.

Again begin making strokes down the back, but deeper than the first time. Emphasize your pressure on the heel of your hands, stroking the Erector Spinae, down both sides of the spine. You can try to separate the fibers of the Erector Spinae group of muscles with your thumb. For extra strength, you can use your other fingers to reinforce your thumb. Firmly, but smoothly, work from the ditch next to the spine and over the Erector Spinae muscle. Don’t “thump” over the muscle. Take it slowly, with control. This will help to improve the fibres in the muscle itself.

After you’ve worked the muscle all the way down the back, you can do soothing circular strokes with the finger tips along the same area. This serves to relax the muscle and increase circulation.

Now the fun stuff! 

To work the Erector Spinae even deeper, now that it is warmed up, we’ll use our elbows. In the second picture above, you can see that we use our elbow to work from the low back to the top. Keep your elbow away from the spine. Do not work to quickly so that you lose control. You will make several strokes (3-10) the entire distance. Each should be slightly deeper than the first. Remember: The deeper your stroke, the slower you should go. Let your friend give you feedback as to how you are doing. You may even want to use your other hand to guide your elbow. You can also work the upper back along this muscle area from the head, facing the feet. Work gently and slowly

When you’re done with the deep stokes, you can use your forearms, together, to smooth up the back. Make this pass several times

Next, carefully place the arm of your friend over their low back and your hand under their shoulder, for support. If this hurts their shoulder, keep their arm along the body. Gently lift the shoulder up and use your fingers to work along the border of the scapulae (shoulder blade). Make deep circular strokes, pausing to press on any pebble-like spasms. With caution, you can also use your thumb to gently push under the shoulder blade, lifting it away from the back, stretching the Rhomboid muscle. This area will be very tender. Place the arm back along side them very slowly.

For a finishing touch, we will now work up and down the back with a pushing and pulling motion, made with alternating hands. Push with one hand, while pulling them up with the other. Then, do just pushing stokes. Follow this with strong, supporting pulling strokes.

Carefully use your knuckles on the Erector Spinae muscles, from the top of the back to the low back. Stay off of the bones of the spine. Smooth the back out again, and finish with gentle feather-like strokes, hand over hand pulling upward from the low back to the neck. You’re done!

THE NECK

Begin the massage with gentle pulling motions, alternating hands, squeezing the neck between your thumb and fingers. The pressure should be placed between the white dots shown above.

Use your fingertips alternately, making circles along both sides of the spine. As you approach the head, gently lift the neck and head with the fingertips, allowing gravity to slowly glide your fingers along the base of the skull. Use alternating hands to push on the shoulders, while using the other hand to support the head. Begin probing, gently, with your thumb between the white dots.

Use your fingers and thumbs to find tight muscles. These will feel like thick spots or bands of tension. Apply pressure, gently but firmly, to these tight areas and slowly work them out. Always stay in contact with your friend and see if your pressure is too much or too little. Carefully glide your fingers along the sides of the spine until you are at the base of the skull and balance the head on your finger tips. If your hands aren’t used to this kind of weight, don’t be surprised of this causes your fingers to lockup and cramp. After their head seems to melt under its own weight into your fingertips, gently make small circles in these muscles.

After you have sufficiently worked the neck areas, begin soft, circular strokes in the temple area. While most believe that the “temples” only consist of the area next to the ear (centre photo above), the temporalis muscle actually extends in a teardrop pattern beginning at this area and extending back at least four inches along the sides of the head.

Close the massage with gentle strokes with the thumbs across the forehead, eyebrows, cheeks and chin. Don’t forget to give the ears a little rub with a gentle pulling.

Option for side work...

You can also try working on your friend’s neck while they lay on their side. It is important that they have pillows to bolster their legs and head. Try pulling down on the shoulder, alternating hands and pulling down on the muscles along the neck’s sides. You can also do thumb work from this position and achieve excellent results because of the advantage of leverage

FRONT OF THE SHOULDERS

Begin by spreading your oil over the upper chest area with broad, conforming fingers. Assuming your friend’s breasts are covered, don’t allow your fingers to go under the sheet. You may find a thickness in the Pectoralis Minor muscles. Use gentle pressure to smooth these areas out. With “soft knuckles”, place pressure on the upper chest and glide your knuckes from the middle of the upper chest to the outer edges several times.

Being careful not to rest your fingers on the breast itself, use your thumbs, alternately to smooth along the blue area (Pectoralis Minor muscle) with pressure that is agreeable to your friend. Work both sides. You can also grab the yellow area (Pectoralis Major muscle) and gently pull outward, away from the chest wall. Allow your thumbs to slightly enter the armpit area and use your fingers to pull the muscle over the thumbs. Your thumbs shouldn’t move much… just the fingers pulling the muscle over them. Be careful not to pinch!

You can then use one thumb to hold, or pin-down, the upper Pectoralis Minor (blue) muscle while you use the other thumb to stretch it lengthwise. For a nice stretch, you can press a “soft” fist on muscle while you gently pull their arm over their head. Finish with gentle smoothing strokes with your fingers/palms over the upper chest muscles.

BACK OF THE LEG

Begin smoothing oil from the ankle to the buttock area. You can also include the back in the stroke by making a series of hand-over-hand strokes or single strokes that travel all the way from the ankle to the shoulder area. This style is a Hawaiian Bodywork technique

Holding the foot with one hand, scoop the sole of the foot with the knuckles of your other hand. Use your thumbs and work the sole of the foot. Include the heel, arch and ball of the foot by direct pressure, small circle strokes and short gliding strokes. Bringing the foot directly up in the air, use one hand to support the ankle and the other to press down on the ball of the foot. Give it a good stretch.

With alternating hands, begin lifting and scooping the muscle away from the leg. Scooping should be toward the heart only. Work the inside, top and outside of the entire leg length.

With alternating thumbs, make short “J” strokes up the centre of the lower leg starting at the “Achilles” tendon and working toward the back of the knee (careful of the soft spot behind the knee). “J” strokes glide an inch or so and then hook toward the inside (inside hand) or outside (outside hand). In this case we are lengthening and broadening the muscle fibres of the calf area.

Carefully, use your elbow to smooth up the back of the upper leg. Stay away from the soft spot behind the knee. Keep your forearm fairly level with the leg (don’t lift the hand up because it makes the elbow too pointed and uncontrollable). Remember, the deeper you apply pressure, the slower your stroke should be. Finish with smoothing strokes and then “feather strokes”. Feather strokes are light finger tips, gliding down the leg, hand-over-hand, from hip to foot.

FRONT OF THE LEG

Begin smoothing oil from the ankle to the upper thigh. Be careful to avoid the groin area. Work the entire leg to the hip area. Don’t put much, if any, pressure on the inside of the lower leg (this is bone).

You can continue the gliding stroke up the leg and under the back. Reach as far under the low back as is comfortable and with a broad hand, smooth back down along the leg to the foot again.

With firm broad hand, smooth along the outer lower leg and along the inner, top, and outer thigh areas. Place the pressure on the heal of your hand. Remember, the deeper you go, the slower you go.

Using the curved heal of your hand, gently conform it to fit the top of your friend’s foot. Smooth the top of the foot with deep gliding strokes toward the ankle while supporting the foot with the other hand. As if you were breaking a pop sickle in two, grip the foot and squeeze it “apart”. Gently rub each toe with small circular motions while gently pulling on it.

Using “J” strokes, work along the outside of the lower leg. “J” strokes glide an inch or so and then hook outward, toward the hand that is stroking (alternating thumbs). In this case we are lengthening and broadening the muscle fibres of the Tibialis Anterior. Then take your thumbs and make circular motions around the knee. Make your thumbs mirror each other rather than have one at the top of the knee while one is at the bottom.

Using the flat of your hand, smooth firmly from the knee to the hip with deep, gliding pressure. Work the inside, tip and outside of the thigh. Remember, deeper strokes = slower strokes. Finish with light smoothing strokes over the whole leg, and then “feather” strokes. Feather strokes use the fingers to brush lightly along the leg from the hip down to the foot, hand-over-hand.

SIDE LYING

Supporting your friend as shown above, use your hand to smooth along the upper shoulder to the side of the neck and back. Gentle, gliding strokes feel great here.

When smoothing, you can gently tug back on the shoulder and use the flat of your hand to press along the side of your friend’s neck. Careful of your pressure as to not injure their neck! With alternating hands, pull back on the shoulder while gliding away from the neck with your fingertips

Use your thumbs to gently work the side of the neck. Stay toward the BACK side, however. Directly out the side of the neck are bony areas called Transverse Processes. These do not feel good when massaged. Work the area with small, deep circular motions.

Lift and scoop along the side of your friend. You can also cross your hands and smooth away from the mid-point of their side so that one hand goes toward the hip and the other hand goes toward the shoulder. This smoothing motion feels great!