How to Give a Great Massage—A Beginner’s Guide

Now you’re speaking my love language.

By Chanel Dror
Learn how to give an amazing massage.

You can’t tell me you haven’t thought about sending your partner to massage school so they can learn how to give a great massage and relieve your tired shoulders?

I never thought of myself as having much of an addictive personality. In fact, I’ve always been quite the opposite—rather than latching onto a habit, my hobbies and interests are fleeting, and often gone just as quickly as they came. Then again, we all have our weaknesses, and mine revealed itself a couple of years ago: after spending a few minutes on the receiving end of a fabulous hand massage from my benevolent boyfriend, I found myself desperate for more. 

Each time I sensed he was ready to wrap things up, I begged and bartered, “One more minute… please… just 30 more seconds on each hand…” And so has been the case for every massage since. Sometimes I imagine a world where Eric has gone to massage therapy school behind my back, and then surprises me one night by showing off his certificate of completion and treating me to a 60-minute deep tissue session. A girl can dream, right?

That being said, there are things we can each do to turn those brief at-home massages into more thoughtful, therapeutic, and dare I say, romantic experiences. We sat down with an Austin-based massage therapist (and Camille’s cousin!), Sarah Lynton for a crash course in how to give a great massage. Keep reading for a quick lesson in treating your sweetheart to a few minutes of R & R, then share the step-by-step with them to get the favor returned…

How to give a great massage

Before you get started:

Create a relaxing ambiance by lighting a candle or diffusing essential oils, and playing soothing music. Some of our favorite calming scents: bergamot, chamomile, lavender, ylang-ylang, and marjoram. 

Provide a soft pillow for your partner to rest their face while you’re giving the massage. For extra comfort, spray the pillow with a soothing mist, like this Lavender and Acacia Good Night Pillow Mist.

Sarah uses a professional grade massage lotion, but she also recommends using Origins Ginger Body Oil. A great unscented alternative is jojoba oil, found in the skincare section at most health food stores. Jojoba oil is very similar to our body’s natural oil and is usually suitable for all skin types.

Be relaxed yourself! Your partner will be able to unwind more if you have already let go of the stresses of the day.

Prepare a cup of hot tea for your partner after the massage. Staying hydrated after any massage is important!

8 steps for giving a great seated massage:

  1. Begin by warming up your partners’ shoulders and back by moving your hands fluidly over the areas you will massage.
  2. Using loose fists, press firmly on either side of the spine, careful to avoid contact with the spine.  This helps open up the back.
  3. Repeat with your forearm.
  4. Create a blade shape with your hands, and “saw” back and forth lightly to warm up the neck and shoulders.
  5. Gently knead shoulders, starting with broad pressure using your palms, and moving to use your thumbs to knead areas of tension.
  6. Massage the neck, using both hands to gently work up and down the full length.
  7. Squeeze your hands down the arm until you reach your partner’s hand. Use small thumb circles to massage the palm, then “scrub” each finger and pull gently on the end to provide traction.
  8. Finish by using the tips of your fingers to massage the scalp.

Massage tutorial by Sarah Lynton; Featured photo by Trinette Reed; Step-by-step photos by Nicole Mlakar for