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.
Whole Hand Effleurage
Warm the massage oil in your hands, and apply a modest amount (see tips, above) with whole hand “effleurage” (definition – smooth rhythmic stroking): Use the whole surface of both hands (see diagram). Stroke reasonably firmly upwards from the lower back all the way up to the neck, then (gentler pressure), circle around and back to the lower back region (5 to 10 minutes).
Effleurage using Heel of the Hand
There is a smaller area of contact, so the pressure is deeper. Both hands work in circles – start at the lower back. Move in a circle, first outward, then upward and return to the center. Gradually progress to the upper back (5 minutes).
Effleurage using reinforced Fingers
(Smaller area of contact, so deeper again – see diagram). Stand on the opposite side to the one that you are working on. I suggest you stand on the right side first. Push with the flats of your fingers (one hand on top of the other) away from the center line, then glide back toward the spine. Start at the lower back, and work up to the upper back (five minutes).
Stripping, using the Reinforced thumb
Glide with deep sustained pressure up the full length of the “sausage shaped” muscles either side of the spine (see diagram). Back off the pressure a little as you cover the neck. Move slowly and deliberately, feeling for knots or sensitive spots as you glide from lower to upper back. Three times each side; alternate with a couple of minutes of effleurage (techniques one to three above), and repeat the stripping.
Frictions, using the Reinforced Middle Finger
Firm deep movements either side of each spinous process. Start to the side of the lower spine and move upward. Apply 5 frictions at each spot – more if over a sore spot.
“Effleurage” using Forearms
Apply firm downwards pressure (see diagram), and move the arm closest to the head up to just below the shoulder blades. 6 strokes. For the first stroke, be aware of the possibility of lower back pain
Trigger point release using sustained pressure of the of the reinforced thumb.
Let the patient’s pain be your guide. Place your thumb over any tender spots or knots that your patient may have told you about or that you may have felt, and press firmly and with increasing pressure thus: Gradually increase the pressure until the pain is 6 or 7 on a scale of one to ten. Hold that pressure until the pain lowers to about 4/10 (takes about 5 seconds). Immediately (don’t stop the pressure), increase again until the pain is 6 to 7 on the scale of 10, and again hold until the pain subsides to 4/10. Repeat step two. This is painful, but you can’t do much harm to the patient – quite the reverse: muscle and back pain (upper or lower) may miraculously disappear. Your thumb is more likely to suffer, so make sure that you back it up with the fingers of the other hand, and after each trigger point release, give your thumb a bit of massage too.
Finishing with Effleurage
Apply effleurage (stroking moves) with supported fingers (technique 3 above), then effleurage with the heel of the hand (technique 2 above), then full handed effleurage (technique 1 above). This will enhance the good that you have done with the stripping and trigger point release.Then leave the patient quiet for a few minutes.