A primer on self massage and partner massage

From protecting your skin to calming the nervous system, here's why and how to massage properly

From protecting your skin to calming the nervous system, here's why and how to massage properly

(Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

We oil our cars to keep them running smoothly, but what happens when our body needs a tune-up? Stiffness in the joints, brittle hair and dry skin may be all too familiar as we head into winter.

A self-dedicated, warm oil massage can help. Massage oil can act as a barrier between your skin and the environmental elements. It can lubricate the body and protect the senses from drying wind, damp cold and bacteria.

When we massage warm oil onto the skin, it penetrates deeply into the dermis and nerve tissue, signaling the nervous system to calm down. Warm oil massage can relax the body, hydrate the skin and soothe the joints. The result is better sleep, a calm state of mind and cohesive senses. If you are feeling anxious, discombobulated or lethargic, then a warm oil massage can rejuvenate the body and help to bring focus and clarity of mind.

Natural, warm body oils can make the experience of self-massage or partner-massage luxurious, relaxing and pleasurable. For your partner it can also create bonding, trust and healing. For best benefits, try a daily or weekly warm oil massage.

Why oil?

Synthetic lotions or creams don't penetrate as deeply into the dermis, plus your body benefits from using natural products. Synthetic lotions and creams contain unhealthy chemicals and preservatives that enter the skin, are processed by the liver and can eventually move into the bloodstream. Organic cold-pressed oils like sesame, almond oil or olive oil are great options for your body.

For this regime, try a warm-oil massage every day when you wake up or before you go to bed. For optimal results, after you shower, apply the warm oil and lightly towel off the excess. The benefits of the oil massage are best if you retain and absorb the oil on your skin.

1. Start with a natural and safe oil of your choice. Check the ingredients to ensure that there are no synthetic additives. Pour a few drops of the oil onto your skin to test area for allergies or skin reactions. If your skin reacts, discontinue use.

2. Pour about ¼ cup of cold-pressed natural oil into a squeeze bottle, and close the cap on the bottle to seal the oil from leaking.

3. Place the bottle into a bowl or pan of hot water until the oil becomes warm.

4. Test the temperature of the oil to ensure that it is comfortably warm.

5. Pour the oil into the center of the palm. With the open palm, apply the oil liberally to the body in long strokes along the limbs. Use circular rotations around the joints. If the joints feel swollen, massage them in a counterclockwise rotation.

6. Begin at the head, face and ears, working your way down to the neck, shoulders, chest, arms, wrists, hands, abdomen, legs, knees, ankles and feet.

7. For the abdominal massage, gently begin in a clockwise direction, starting from the right side of the hip, working your way horizontally across the abdomen, underneath the rib cage and down the left side of the body to the left hip. Repeat three times on the abdomen.

Abdominal massage is an effective way to help detoxify the organs and release pent-up emotions and stiffness. It can also help to increase metabolism and relieve constipation and gas. Avoid self-abdominal massage during pregnancy or menstruation unless recommended by a doctor or health practitioner.

8. After you finish massaging the front body, apply the oil to the sides of the body and finish off with the back body in the same sequence, until you reach the feet.

9. Allow the oil to absorb into the skin.

When we touch parts of the body that we do not normally focus on, like the side or back body, it can draw awareness to what is happening in the body. Pay attention to areas that may be sore or swollen and become familiar with any changes that are happening day-to-day, whether it be temperature changes in certain areas, skin discolouration, small bumps or pain. This helps to keep us informed about our health and the areas of the body that may require more care.


Nicole Mahabir is the Founder and Director of JAI Wellness, a platform for health education, mindful living and wellbeing. For the past 10 years, Nicole has lead professional certified programs, teaching Nutrition, Meditation, Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy and Natural Anti-Ageing Beauty Regimes. When she isn't teaching, Nicole creates integrated, sustainable health protocols for her busy clients. Follow Nicole on Instagram @jaiwellness or on her website, jaiwellness.com.