Lessons from massaging myself, others, dogs, and cats
You can just massage yourself. Then once you learn to massage yourself massaging other people, dogs, and cats is almost the same.
I’m sure there are a bazillion youtube videos about how to massage yourself, but I haven’t watched any of them. I just started squeezing my muscles and did more of what feels nice.
In the last year I’ve taught ~50 people how to massage, too. More recently I’ve been teaching people how to massage others:
It’s super easy:
Find your muscles.
Squeeze them with more pressure than you think. I’m not going to specify precisely how to do this. **Just explore, be curious, and try random things.**
Follow your intuition. Do more of what feels nice.
Make sure that any muscle you massage is relaxed before you massage it. This is actually hard to do.
If massaging any area hurts, it’s nearly always because the muscle is tensed in some way. Usually this can be resolved by repositioning the body part in a way that it isn’t supporting itself. (E.g.: Don’t massage arms/legs while they are supporting themself in midair)
Squeezing fat doesn’t feel nice.
If you have a fat on your arm for example, you have to reach through the fat to the muscle to squeeze it.
Eventually you learn how much force to apply to a muscle in accordance to how large the muscle is.
Massage ability might be very dependent on grip strength. I’ve been told that I have hands of iron, so maybe I’m not skilled so much as just strong.
Massaging non-muscle body-parts sometimes also feels nice. Lightly rubbing the very thin amount of soft matter on top of bones can be quite nice.
There’s probably a bunch of other tacit knowledge I’m missing. Feel free to ask me to massage your arm hand etc. sometime.
If you want to massage other people, my main advice is that you learn to massage yourself or at least that body part of yourself first. Then you understand how it works and can apply that to others. It’s like 70% the same.
When massaging other people, my rule of thumb is to increase the pressure until they say “ow”. Then decrease the pressure by 5%. Do this every time you go to a new area.
If they aren’t saying “ow” you aren’t being ambitious enough.
When first starting to massage a body part and they’re not used to you, start off with less pressure. Foreplay
Same thing also if they’re ticklish. Just rest your hands there with as much pressure as you can do without tickling them for a minute or so.
Get your massagee to give as much real-time feedback as possible. Hums and sighs are better than words. I find that it helps to watch their face.
But mostly you should be going by your own intuition of what would feel nice on you rather than what they find nice. The feedback loops of learning massage are way better from you massaging yourself than you massaging others.
You can use this knowledge to massage cats and dogs, too. Cats and dogs often relish being massaged, often more than scratches. They just have smaller muscles that need less pressure, that’s all.
If they don’t like it they will get up and leave.
Getting acquainted with your body:
For me, massage has been a great way for me to get to know my body.
It also naturally leads into intuitive stretching.
I imagine that the ideal use of massage is as a way to learn when your own body is tense. I imagine that, ideally, you never or almost never need to massage yourself because you’ve figured out how to relax yourself so much. But by massaging yourself you start to pay attention to where you are tense.
Massage might cause problems, idk. I hurt someone’s hand once but they told me the massage was still worth it.
Someone once told me that massaging a particular spot on a pregnant woman’s abdomen can cause miscarriage?
I posted this on LessWrong and it got many downvotes, seemingly because they think I’m callous about massage safety. I think the crux is that I’m operating from the assumption that any harmful motion will hurt before it does significant damage. But if you’re not paying close attention to pain, yeah I think you could easily hurt yourself and others.