Ever had a massage that left you feeling unsatisfied? Perhaps you want to give one to your partner, but your technique leaves a lot to be desired. We may look to the professionals, but ultimately, we know our own bodies and what they need – so it’s no surprise more and more people are turning to at-home massage. In collaboration with the industry’s top professionals, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you give the perfect massage
Whether it’s the music, the room temperature or the oils, environment is a really important factor in the success of a massage. Your partner needs to feel completely comfortable in order to get the most from their massage, and where better to start than with fragrance? Scented candles are known for their therapeutic benefits, while our specially designed massage range can even be poured onto the skin as oil. If it’s an invigorating treatment, our Inspiring candle is sure to awaken the senses with notes of peppermint and jasmine. Indulge’s ylang ylang, patchouli and palma rosa offers a rich, luxe treatment, while Stimulating’s clary sage adds a sensuous vibe. Enriched with cocoa butter, almond oil and vitamin E, our candles are the last word in luxury aromatherapy.
According to Karolina Maciejewska, UK & Europe Manager for Soothe, effleurage is one of the handiest movements to have in your arsenal. She explains: “Not only does this technique introduce your touch, it warms up the muscles to prevent injury should you need to increase the pressure later. To enhance the treatment, warm up an oil beforehand. Grapeseed is a lovely choice, owing to its neutral fragrance and non-irritating application. Simply apply the oil on to the stressed part of the body with long, gentle strokes. The aim of this motion is to reduce friction, so try not to rub it in. Keep your palms open flat, and put equal pressure on both sides of the area to create balance. This may involve placing your hands on the base of the spine, sliding them up towards the neck and back along the arms. Remember not to press too hard, and be sure to avoid bones; effleurage is not intended to correct specific pain. Continue this for five minutes, then slowly increase the pressure. Effleurage is so versatile, professional therapists use it as a soothing segue between other movements, and to end the massage. Whoever you use it on is guaranteed to be grateful.”
You can boost the impact of your massage with hot stones. Commonly used in combination with Western European approaches, Reiki and cranial massage, they relax tension and stiffness in the muscles through concentrated delivery of heat over the target area. Of course, this technique requires careful preparation and equipment for maximum effect, including a specialist stone heater and some form of protective material. The heater will warm your stones to the right temperature, while the barrier ensures the skin won’t be burned. Stones are used in tandem with oils to give your strokes a deeper penetrative effect on the muscles. Together, the methods make for a highly satisfying treatment.
Renowned medical massage professional Boris Prilutsky attests to the lasting benefit of deep-tissue work, and its significance in the full treatment of muscle pain. “Lots of people place emphasis on sweeping motions and circular rubbing, but kneading and deep-tissue work is important for muscular relaxation.” In layman’s terms, kneading refers to the slow application of pressure, squeezing and pulling of skin against other areas of skin or underlying bones. No matter the style or nature of the massage – Swedish, Shiatsu, aromatherapy – in Prilutsky’s eyes, at least 50% of time should be devoted to movements of this nature for optimum tissue repair.
Masseuse to the stars Dr Dot specialises in quick relief for a busy celebrity clientele. If you’re short on time, she recommends targeting core areas like the head, neck, ears, face, hands or feet in a quick but intensive treatment. For the head in particular, “place your hands in the rake position, and use fingertips to massage and loosen the scalp with enough pressure to move the skin over the underlying bone.” This technique is designed to lower blood pressure and elevate mood.
This technique is key to Swedish massage, and focuses on rhythmic tapping, hitting and pounding. Best for fleshier areas of the body, tapotement stimulates the deep-tissue muscles through lively percussive movement. Best of all, this stroke is known to reduce fatty deposits by increasing blood circulation. To get this right, keep your hands loose and the blows equal in strength and intervals. While a certain amount of force is necessary to get the benefits, avoid doing this on bony areas like the head and spine or you risk turning a pleasant experience into a painful one!
As with any lifestyle-related activity, success is rooted in routine – and massage is no different. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so you won’t be able to fix those aches and pains in one sitting. Esteemed masseur and founder of River North Massage Emmanuel Bistas believes commitment to regular massage is the most crucial part of the process. Otherwise, you only have “60 minutes to undo damage that has been done for years”. Whether it’s a light, aromatic treatment designed to relax the mind, or a more intensive massage aimed at a specific muscle group, find out what your partner wants to achieve long-term so they can consistently reap the benefits of this wonderful therapy.
Parks creates candles that set the perfect tone for romantic, stimulating or soothing massage. Discover how you can pair scent and oil in one deeply luxurious experience by browsing our range today.