While performing an advanced, therapeutic back massage requires plenty of professional training, you can still give someone a relaxing, tissue stimulating massage even without training. By learning some of the basic massage techniques and how to apply them, you can begin giving quality massages at home. One of the most important parts to note is that without professional training, you should apply only light pressure with all of your techniques.
Part 1 of 2: Setting Up for a Back Massage
Get a massage table. Using a massage table will give you the best access to somebody’s back, and it’s built for comfort, complete with a face cradle for alignment of the spine. However, if that’s not available, there are a few alternatives.
- If you don’t have access to a massage table, then you can try using the floor, a couch, a bed, or even a kitchen table if it’s sturdy enough for the person to lie on. Each option has drawbacks that make it less ideal than a massage table, mostly due to comfort issues for the person receiving the massage and height issues requiring the person giving the massage to lean over in uncomfortable ways.
- If a bed is the best option available, make sure that the suggestion doesn’t come across as inappropriate. Consider the relationship you have with the person and discuss that the massage will take place on a bed beforehand.
2Place a soft mat down. If you don’t have access to a massage table, and you’re opting for one of the harder-surfaced alternatives, then lay down a soft mat. Use a mat that is at least two inches thick to provide the proper comfort for the person receiving the massage.
3Spread a sheet over the table or mat. Since the person will dress down most or all of the way for his or her massage, a clean sheet over the mat or table will be both more hygienic and more comfortable for the person. It will also catch any excess oil.
Prepare the room. Make sure the room is warm without being hot. This is the ideal atmosphere for the person to relax the muscles you’re trying to massage.
- Play some uneventful music. New age, ambient music, quiet classical music, or even soundscapes will help the person relax to their fullest. Pulsing, driving music won’t help. Keep the volume low.
- Turn the lights down just enough so there’s no glare in the room.
- Light scented aromatherapy candles. This is optional, and you should ask the person before lighting the candles since some people enjoy the smells while others are too sensitive to them.
Have the person undress to his or her comfort level. Massage is best given and received without clothing on the area being massaged, especially if you are using oil or lotion. Request that the person undress as much as he or she is comfortable with.
- Always provide an additional towel or sheet above and beyond the one covering the table. This way the person can lie down and cover the parts of his or her body not being massaged. This will make the environment both more comfortable and warmer, which is relaxing.
- If privacy is a concern, step out of the room as you have the person dress down and cover himself/herself with the additional towel or sheet. Knock and ensure that the person is ready for reentering the room.
- If the person left pants or underwear on, you can tuck the edge of the towel or sheet into the waistband to ensure no oil from the massage stains the material.
Have the person lie face down. If you have a proper massage table, this means the person’s face will rest in the face cradle.
- If it’s comfortable for the person, you can also use a pillow or folded towel beneath the ankles. This will support the person’s lower back.
7Expose the person’s back. If the person wrapped a towel while undressing or pulled the additional sheet all the way up, then fold the material down to expose the person’s back.