Back Massage – Stroking Variations

For a slightly different movement, try fan stroking. Start with your hands on your partner’s lower back, as above, and stroke firmly up the back pressing on the muscles on either side of the spine. Fan your hands out over the lower ribs, molding them to the contours of your partner’s body, and glide them lightly down the sides. Repeat the stroke, fanning your hands out a little higher on the back each tune, until you reach the shoulders.

Take this variation a step further by continuing to stroke the back, but use your hands alternately. One hand strokes firmly upward as the other glides down the side. Practice this stroke until the move is smooth and rhythmic and when you have perfected it, your partner will benefit from its wonderful relaxing flow.

During a back massage, ask your partner at regular intervals to change the direction in which the head is turned. You will be able to reach all parts of the neck, shoulders, and upper back, and your partner won’t get a stiff neck.

Kneading

After the gentle stroking movements with which you started your back massage slight change of tempo feels good for your partner. Kneading is an extremely versatile a movement; it can be done slowly and deeply; or fast and stimulating depending on your partner’s needs.

Turn to face across your partner’s body, with your hands facing each other and your elbows sticking out, and grasp and squeeze handfuls of flesh with alternate hands. Imagine you are rhythmically kneading dough, but with a smooth, flowing movement. Grasp the flesh with one hand, squeeze it but do not pinch, and push it toward your other hand. Release the first hand, then pick up and squeeze the flesh with the second hand. Start at the hips and work up the sides of the body.

Continue kneading at the base of the neck, over the shoulders, and out across the upper arms. The deltoid muscle at the top of the arm is often very tense, and since it lifts the shoulder working with the large muscle across the upper back, you need to include this area in the massage in order to relax the back thoroughly. Then work on the side nearest you – either lean down so that you can push up with your thumbs, or move to the other side of the body and reach across again. Work your way around the back twice.

The deltoid muscle is named after the Greek letter delta, which is the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet. The capital version of the letter is shaped like a triangle, just like the shape of the muscle.

Sides stroking

To relax your hands after these kneading strokes, I like to use side stroking. With loose, relaxed hands, vertically stroke up the sides of the body pulling inwards towards the spine. Work all around the back, with one hand following the other in a smooth, flowing rhythm. This is an easy stroke that is relaxing for both giver and receiver.