For beginners, learning how to give a good massage is no easy feat. We know, because we were beginners (and for far too long).
As we climbed towards the amateur ranks, we learned that many of our couples massage techniques that seemed correct were entirely wrong.
In this article, we’ll share the dos and don’ts, along with instructions on how to give a good neck, shoulder, back, foot, and head massage for beginners.
Plus, since a video is worth ten million words, we’ll keep our explanations brief and demonstrate with pictures and GIFs.
how to give your partner a good massage
Giving a good massage is one of those talents that we all wish we had. Plus, nothing makes you feel as loved as when your partner takes some time to give you an impromptu massage.
Oh, don’t know how to give a massage? Don’t worry, we’ve got beginners covered.
The best news is that it isn’t all that hard. Knowing what not to do and learning several simple techniques will not only elevate your massage-giving skills but make things easier on your hands and shoulders.
With some practice, you’ll know how to give a professional massage to your partner at home.
In this article, we’ll share our favorite couple’s massage techniques that only take seconds to learn. Your partner will forever thank you!
Why You Should Learn How to Give a Good Massage
About six months ago, we began taking a couples massage class called Melt.
It’s a fully online class and we 100% recommend it (we wrote up a thorough review here). It’s the fastest and best way to learn how to give a really good massage.
Our favorite thing about it is that it’s geared specifically for couples so it’s sexy, sensual, but professional. Seriously, that class has been one of the most fun things we’ve done all year.
Anyways, what started as a fun way to get closer and more intimate soon turned into our favorite weekly ritual.
Outside of the vast benefits of giving and receiving massages (improved circulation, more energy, relaxed muscles, boosted immunity), we felt more connected as a couple.
Science backs this up in study after study. The University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute (yes, it really exists) found that touching can improve mental and health conditions.
When touched by someone we care for, our oxytocin levels (aka the love hormone) increase, and our cortisol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure go down. Touching can even reduce how much pain we experience.
Most compellingly, regular touching between couples leads to higher relationship satisfaction and quality. So what better way to spice up your relationship than learning how to massage each other?
How to Give a Good Massage – Tips and Techniques
Some of our favorite massages are the unexpected, impromptu ones: when you’re watching TV or working at your desk. For those massages, you don’t need anything but your two hands.
If instead, though, you want to make more of a moment of it, here are a few easy tips and techniques so you can do it like a pro.
These are the basics on how to give a massage for beginners.
Setting the Scene Tips for Couples Massage
These are tips to set you up for success before the massage even begins. They are listed in order of importance.
1. Use a sweet almond massage oil
Can you give your partner a really good massage without oil? Unlikely.
For just $4 on Amazon, this sweet almond massage oil is what you need. It applies easily, and a little bit goes a long way.
Just make sure that the oil you buy is with sweet almonds because non-sweet almond oil isn’t recommended for pregnant women (if there’s a chance for that in your relationship).
Many people opt for lotion, but while cleaner and less greasy, you’ll need to reapply frequently and we don’t find that worth it.
2. Forget the bed, massage on the floor
We learned from our couple’s massage class, Melt, that the sexiest place isn’t the bed. For beginners, this is the #1 most important how to give a massage tip.
Massaging on soft surfaces isn’t ideal because it’s more difficult for the masseuse. Instead, consider setting up a blanket on the floor — one that can be easily washed if oil gets on it — and sitting behind your partner. Add pillows if you need any support.
3. Switch off your cell phone
Nothing ruins the mood like a distracting “ding!” from a text.
Outside of playing soothing music, make sure your phone is off so there are no distractions. That way your partner knows they have your full attention.
4. Elevate the experience with candles and scent
At the minimum, light a few candles to set the mood. Ever since living in Peru, we love to burn Palo Santo right before and during our massages.
We love the smell, it’s relaxing, and even our type A, engineering minds are convinced that it welcomes positive energy.
Technique Tips to Give Your Partner a Good Massage
These tips on massage technique are important. Again, they are listed in order of importance.
1. Don’t tire yourself out
Do your best to use your body weight so that you don’t tire too quickly. When giving a back massage, it helps to keep your arms straight without locking your elbows.
For most beginners, the thumbs fail first. Instead of pressing only with your thumbs, try applying pressure with the heel of your hands or your knuckles.
If you begin to fatigue before you’ve worked out your partner’s knots, it helps to support and guide the massaging hand with your free hand by, for example, grasping the wrist.
Lastly, remember to maintain good posture.
2. Slow and broad strokes
It’s best to start and finish a massage with slow, broad, and soft strokes along the larger muscle groups. Think of it as a warm up and cool down.
Once your partner is warmed up, you can apply more pressure and shorten the strokes to search for knots and trigger points. Never pinch or squeeze muscles.
3. Use the right amount of oil
If you apply too much oil, you’ll lose all friction and it will be impossible to give your partner a good massage.
Start with just a little bit of oil and warm it in your hands before application. You want your hands to slide smoothly across your partner’s skin with enough friction to maintain slow and controlled strokes.
4. Relax, listen, and really feel your partner
Since you want to know how to give a good massage, it’s essential that you’re not distracted.
Listen to your partner’s noises. As you learn what they like and dislike, you’ll be able to give them a much better massage. If you don’t hear any noises, you’ll have to communicate verbally. Ask them how it feels and ask for how hard you can go on a 1-10 scale.
Lastly, a lot is going on under your partner’s skin. Focus on feeling the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, noticing any changes or differences. This is especially important in the feet, where there are tons of small and delicate muscles and ligaments.
How to Give a GOod Neck Massage
Now that we have learned what to do and what not to do while giving your partner a massage, we’ll focus on how to give someone a neck massage.
If your partner spends any portion of their day looking at a screen, they need this.
1. Let the sides of your hands do the work
Nothing tires your hands out than pressing with your fingers.
Instead, focus on creating rhythmic circles moving up from the base of the neck. Apply pressure through the sides of your hands for a relaxing yet strong neck massage.
2. Deep tissue thumbs
As shown below, start by cupping the base of your partner’s head at the top of the neck. Where your middle fingers were, place your thumbs.
Place the rest of your fingers in your partner’s hair, but don’t cup the ears (no one likes their ears covered, it’s weird). Move just your thumbs in a scooping, circular motion by applying pressure through the pads of your thumb.
It. Feels. So. Good. And it’s incredibly simple. This move works especially well when your partner leans back into you.
How to Give a GOod Shoulder Massage
We all carry a lot of tension in our shoulders. Here is how to give your partner an amazing shoulder massage.
1. Fingers down and palms down
Pinching, pushing, or driving a knuckle into your partner’s shoulder is for amateurs.
While deep tissue massage can be glorious, remember that other, softer massages can be more relaxing and far more sensual. Plus, it’s far more enjoyable for you, the masseuse.
Apply even pressure between your palms and fingers to spread the massage oil across your partner’s back. Contour and mold your hands to the tops of your partner’s shoulders.
2. Deep tissue for the knots
We’ve already warned you against pinching — no one likes it.
Instead, use the pads of your thumb or all four fingers together to go deeper into your partner’s shoulders. Keep the movements fluid and repetitive.
Our favorite move, shown below, begins on the left shoulder with your left hand. With your wrist down, cup your partner’s upper shoulder by applying pressure through all four finger pads — not the nails!
Contour down the rest of the shoulder. It feels amazing. If you need more pressure, place your hands on top of each other for more power.
3. Mix up going hard and light
Working the shoulders with a massage is synonymous with one thing: working out the knots.
However, professional masseurs know that crafting a good, well-balanced massage is a mix of going hard and light. Spend a stroke or two working out a knot but follow-up with a stroke or two of something soft and relaxing.
How to Give a GOod Back Massage
For a great back massage, your partner should sit cross-legged and lean forward. Then you can kneel (with your butt on a pillow) behind them and lean into the massage.
1. Work your way down on either side of the spine
While this one may be a given, no one likes bone on bone. Don’t worry, even if you massage the spine, you won’t hurt your partner but it just doesn’t feel nice.
Instead, use your body weight and the palms of your hands to slowly move down your partner’s back. Press one hand at a time and take it slow.
How to Give a GOod Foot Massage
For beginners, the foot massage is possibly the biggest bang for your buck. It’s rather simple and it’s hard for your partner not to absolutely love it!
1. The foot is more than just the sole
A proper foot massage includes the ankle, heel, top of the foot, and toes.
Since the foot is one of the most complex structures of the body, take your time working on all areas. Use your full hands to contour around the ankles and your thumbs to work in between the tendons on the top of the foot, working from the ankle towards the toes.
2. Imagine the sole as a “T”
Think of the bottom of your partner’s foot like a “T” with the pads of the foot as the top line.
As shown below, use your thumbs to work from the heel to the two, applying pressure. Once at the “T” junction, fan out to either side.
If your thumbs begin getting sore, use your knuckles instead.
How to Give a Scalp Massage
Like the foot massage, this is another simple but highly rewarding massage.
1. Full head coverage
Have your partner sit on the floor while you sit behind them on the couch or in a chair.
A scalp massage is a perfect add-on to a neck massage (so make sure to follow our tips mentioned above, particularly the “deep tissue thumbs!”)
Place your thumbs at the base of the head while your fingers spread through your partner’s hair to the scalp. There’s not much technique to the scalp massage but simply dig through the hair to get to the scalp and press through the pads of your fingers in circular motions.
Massage all over the head, from the temples to behind the ears. Finish off with a neck massage.
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Closing Thoughts on How to Massage your Partner
However, what’s most compelling to us is the science on the power of physical touch when it’s coming from your partner or spouse. We feel this when we do couples yoga together.
Between the physical touch benefits, accessibility, and affordable price, learning how to give a good massage is an excellent life skill. We hope this article has helped you get started on the right track.
If you’re serious about taking advantage of the benefits of massaging your partner at home, the Melt Couples Massage Course is the best way to learn. The price of the course is less than one couples massage at a spa, and the skills last a lifetime.
If you want to learn more, we’ve written a detailed review of the online massage course.
For more resources for couples, such as the best two-player card games for couples or the most exciting couples challenges, head over to our Healthy Couples page.
Or, download our free at-home marriage retreat guide or date night “menu” below.
Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
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