a massage is more than just pushing on my partner’s body

i also get to choose:

  • how hard i push
  • the direction of push
  • the sharpness of the push
  • the rotation of the push

in this regard:


(insert boner joke here)

in a good massage, half the time i spend rubbing i’ll be mapping their energy rather than trying to soften muscles. that is, i’ll be trying to learn where the tension areas are and how they link into each other. things like this are best learned with a soft, gentle touch. only when i have a specific spot and understand the direction that it wants to move do i push harder

i have a mate who thinks the point of a massage is to “break up the shit that’s in there.” he thinks any pressure less than my whole weight pressed against one point is too little and does nothing. one reason he thinks this is he has a ton of muscles in his shoulders and they’re all tight, so moving anything around around tends to be successful only if we brute-force half his body into submission first. i guess it works? he got me to learn walking as a technique, and he seems to enjoy it

i still maintain that adjustments done this way are short-term and the effect fades out within minutes. to make lasting changes it’s better to tease the whole structure into relaxing, then start linking tension spots into nodes


imagine i’ve found a tight spot in my partner’s back, say just below their shoulder. as well as pushing directly on the spot in question, i can also try to push the tension around laterally underneath their skin

rarely do tension spots actually move. but what they do is yield, and often they will yield to a directional push easier than to a straight-on force. often, they yield when pushed along the direction of the muscle, but that’s not an exact science*

* – this is half of what massage school** is: learning muscle diagrams so we know what direction and how many layers deep the spot of tension lives in

** – i have not actually gone to massage school. i did send a life partner there once. it was very expensive, lasted an entire summer, and by the end of it he had a lot of anatomical knowledge and got a license to practice, which he did for two years before going back to a desk job. he developed some nice flow to his techniques. i still seemed to have a higher level of sensitivity to how energy moved around in someone’s body than he did though

so let’s set up some directional terms, roughly based on this hypothetical spot under one shoulder blade:

  • up is toward my partner’s head
    • down is toward their tail
  • in is toward their spine***
    • out is away from there, toward the fringes of their torso
  • underneath is deeper inside the body

*** – truly, in is toward the closest node, more on that in a bit


there’s an instinct to dig deep on tight spots, and that’s good sometimes, but it’s also good to use a wider, broader pressure some other times

much more detail in the next section on grip


by rotation i mean how much i’m twisting the pressure of the push

for most of the body, this is subtle, and is more a matter of direction being thought of as arcs instead of straight lines

around nodes though, rotation can be tighter. this is more akin to petting than pushing, where i’m teasing an energy flow more than moving a muscle

much more detail in the section on chakras

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