Learn To Give A Massage With Courtney Harmel Photography & Videography
I believe in the healing power of massage so much that I think everyone should have a basic understanding of how to give a massage. It helps so much to be comfortable providing healing touch, even if it's just a gentle squeeze on the arm. We have incredible potential to heal each other-and get health insurance costs down!
Photo & Video by Courtney Harmel
Models Marika Bednarski (Photos) & Amrita (Video)
Video cuteness by Shopie
Note-I used plain coconut oil to massage plus a few drops of lavender essential oil. Also make sure your nails are trimmed so you don't scratch the skin.
Move #1: Long back strokes
When you apply oil or lotion to the back it's a great opportunity to introduce your hands to your friend's body. You really only need a thin layer of product to be able to massage effectively. Too much and you're slipping around. Too little and you're uncomfortably pulling and stretching the skin. Go ahead and get to know the shoulders, the arms, the neck and the whole back. Always massage around the spine and never on top of it, as well as other bones. You'll quickly discover the difference between muscle and bone. You're massaging muscle exclusively. Warm up the muscles and pay attention to your own breathing as well as your friend's breathing. Encourage them to breathe consciously and deeply by doing that yourself.
Move #2: Traps
The Trapezius muscles are shaped like a triangle and run on both sides of your spine, up to the base of the skull down to the shoulder to meet at the middle of your back. By placing your thumbs gently into the traps on both sides of the shoulder area at the upper back, you're stimulating the muscle in a way that encourages relief from headaches, neck and shoulder pain, tightness in the chest and more. Be gentle and go as deep as is comfortable for you and your friend. A small amount of pressure is very effective here.
Move #3: Lats
The Latissimus Dorsi muscles attach at the middle of your back at the spine and travel all the way up to the top of your arms then back down to the top of your hip bone. When you massage these muscles, you can feel the ribs beneath them. It feels really good to lightly trace your fingers between the rib bones, from the spine to the sides of the waist. Keep your hands off the spine and on the muscles, providing healing touch to the middle of the back. This will release tension that contributes to low back and shoulder pain and relaxes the internal organs.
Move #4: Sacrum
I could go on and on about the sacrum but let's keep it simple. 20 minutes of ice twice a day is great for pain and dull aching in the low back. When you go to massage the low back be very careful of the bones of the sacrum and spine. Apply direct pressure into the muscles and watch for sensitivity because this is often a problem area. Massaging the low back can also help relieve pain in the shoulders, hips and knees. If you're both comfortable with it, go for the glutes, too.
Move 5: The Bottom of the Feet
You can almost totally avoid tickling the feet if you do it just right. Never scrape or slide or glide when massaging the feet, unless you're gently rubbing oil on them and warming them up. Use your fingers to press into the feet. Imagine that you're pressing buttons that shoot energy into the body via the foot. You can pick up the foot and stretch the ankle a bit as well as the toes. Trace from the heel to the top of each toe. A good foot massage can put your friend to sleep in no time.
Move #6: The Calves
Gently rub oil to cover the calf muscle and warm it up by massaging up and down repeatedly from the knee to the ankle. Then you can begin to experiment with finding the center line of the calf muscle, pressing thumbs into it and moving from the ankle up to the knee. This gives a nice deep stretch and can help relieve knee and foot pain.
Move #7: The Chest
Think about it: when you get stressed out, what's the first thing you do? Hold your breath? Most people do, and then the chest tightens up and begins to hold a bunch of tension. This tension can contribute to pain in the heart, shoulders, neck and cause migraines. Gently rub oil onto the chest, neck and all the way to the tops of the arms. If you find any tough spots, apply pressure and ask your friend to take some deep breaths. Use repetitive gentle strokes to warm up the skin and muscles. You can even place both hands on the sides of the neck at the shoulders and give a slow, firm push to stretch the neck out.
Move #8: The Face
Start from the center line of the face and trace lines to the hairline and ears, beginning at the top of the head, then the forehead, to the eyebrows, under the eyes, at the cheeks and along the jaw. Use very light pressure as you do this. Be sure your hands are clean when you work on the face, and use very little oil or lotion. The face responds well to touch so you don't have to do much to create a relaxing effect. You can massage the scalp as well, using big circles to release the nerves in the head and relax your friend.
Want more? Watch the video!