The Science Of Giving Your Partner A Relaxing Massage

I don’t know about you, but my neck and shoulders tend to get tense during the workday. Very tense. Not only do I work at a desk, I also have a history of neck and shoulder pain for various reasons leading back to my childhood. Throughout the week (some weeks more than others), I have some pretty stiff and sore days, even though I get up and stretch on a regular basis.

My husband also works at a desk all day, and similarly gets pretty tense and stiff muscles. So, what do we do? We often give each other neck, shoulder, and back massages, and it helps both of us quite a bit. Not only do we help ease each other’s sore muscles, we usually both find ourselves quite relaxed afterward.

The stress seems to dissolve a bit, and I find that my own shoulder tension eases quite a bit when I’m giving my husband a massage, as well as receiving one. I highly recommend this practice. There’s science behind it, as well.

British study tests benefits of couple’s massage

A recent study performed at Northumbria University and presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference tested the effects of couple’s massage on a small group of people. In total, 38 people were enrolled in the study, which consisted of a three week massage course. Along with receiving instruction in massage, the participants were surveyed as to their stress, mood, and well-being levels throughout the study.

Results of this study were highly encouraging. After the sessions, the couples reported feeling significantly better both physically and emotionally. Furthermore, the couples reported positive impacts on well-being, stress levels, coping after the study. The positive effects were still reported by the couples three weeks later at a follow-up with the researchers. A whopping 91 percent of the couples said that they would recommend the “mutual massage” sessions to others.

According to lead researcher, Sayuri Naruse:

“The benefits of receiving a massage from a professional are well documented, but this research shows how a similar outcome can be obtained by couples with little prior training and experience of the activity… These findings show that massage can be a simple and effective way for couples to improve their physical and mental wellbeing whilst showing affection for one another.”

The researchers also found that approximately three-quarters of couples enrolled in the study reported that they continued doing couple’s massage after the study was finished. I get it. It really does help with the muscle stiffness (especially if you and your partner practice proper technique!) and with stress.

A few helpful tips

  • If you’ve never really given a massage before, it’s worth it to learn some techniques. A search for YouTube tutorials in beginner massage will get you started.
  • If you’re a beginner, don’t push too hard, especially on neck muscles. Focused, intense pressure can be good, but you have to know what you’re doing, and what your partner wants and needs, first. Be gentle and communicate.
  • Never push down directly on the spine. Again, it’s highly beneficial to learn some techniques before practicing on your partner. Safety is key.
  • When on the receiving end of a massage, talk to your partner about where your tension is. Tell them which of their techniques work, and which don’t. Be honest.
  • Essential oils such as lavender and ylang-ylang can be soothing and relaxing. If you use these, be sure to dilute in a base oil such as organic coconut oil.

Do you and your partner give each other massages? If not, give it a try!

— Meditation Daily