How to Give the Perfect Shoulder and Neck Massage
By Savanna Stone //
Let’s be honest. Usually you don’t have a strong desire to give someone a massage because you want one yourself. But there are certain times in life when it’s good to know how to give a good massage to create a relaxing environment, if you know what I mean . . . And sometimes watching videos of massage tutorials can be kind of awkward because giving or getting a massage is something that should be done in private. So instead of watching an awkward video, read this blog to learn how to give the most perfect shoulder and neck massage for neck and shoulder pain relief so that when that time for relaxation comes, you’ll be ready.
The best position for a massage:
Sometimes it’s hard to give a massage because you’re not sure what position your partner should be in or what position you should be in. The best position1 for getting a shoulder massage if you don’t have a massage table is sitting backwards on a chair and grabbing a firm pillow to put between your partner and the chair as a chin rest. Have your partner pull up a table to relax his/her hands on or just let his/her hands relax at his/her sides. You could also have your partner lean onto a table2 instead of the back of a chair and put his/her head in his/her arms. Stand behind or to the side of your partner when you move throughout the massage.
How to begin:
Apply a dime’s worth of lotion or oil to your hands. Warm the lotion with your hands before applying it to your partner. Stand behind your partner and place your hands on either side of the neck. To begin the massage, alternate between gently squeezing and pressing on the muscles by cupping your hands around the shoulders. To keep you from tiring out too quickly, use your arm muscles rather than your finger muscles to apply pressure. Keep your hands in a C shape as you plunge your thumbs forward and pull your fingers back. When you squeeze, focus on drawing the muscles upwards. Move the C shape of your hands in circles. Try working on one side at a time rather than working on both sides at the same time. Spend some time on each different technique. Try working down into the shoulders after you’ve started with the top of the shoulders. You can also put your thumbs between the shoulder blades and work along the spine by pressing in with the thumb (still using your arm muscles). Massage the outer muscles on the shoulder blades. If you feel a knot, alternate your thumbs on the knot and make circular kneading movements. If your thumbs get tired, use your palms to apply pressure using the muscles in your arms rather than the muscles in your fingers. A general rule is to start from the middle and go out to the sides and start from the top and move down. Remember to always stay in communication with your partner to make sure he/she feels the right amount of pressure. Start with a gentle pressure and gradually move to more pressure as the massage progresses.
Move onto another hand shape. While the first hand shape was the C shape, try flattening your hands. And now that you’ve loosened up the shoulders, it’s okay to start on the neck. Place one hand on top of the other and gently yet deeply massage the muscles around the upper neck. Don’t massage on the bones, just massage the muscles on either side of the neck. Move your hands in circles or gently press one spot at a time. Start at the top of the neck and move your hands down the shoulder. Do this on both sides.
To get a deeper neck massage, stand on one side of your partner and cup one hand around the upper neck. Quickly alternate your cupped hands as you squeeze with one hand at a time from the upper neck down to the shoulder. Try this on both sides. If your partner wants the massage to be slower, try cupping the neck and the head at the same time and gently massaging. And remember, if you need more oil or lotion at any point during the massage, go ahead and apply it, just make sure not to apply too much.
Try another technique. You can do the karate chop. When you do the karate chop, relax your fingers so that they hit each other and massage deeper into the muscles. You can karate chop the shoulders or the back, but generally, it is more comfortable for your partner if you hit more muscle than bone.
Complete the massage by applying calming rhythmic downward strokes with flat hands from the upper back downwards. And hopefully when you’re done, your partner will take a turn to massage you. Otherwise, you might want to pick a different partner.