“Massage is not just a luxury. It’s a way to a healthier, happier life.”
For a good many years, I was under the impression that a massage was one of those things that was meant for celebrities and royals, something extravagant and totally unnecessary for regular folk like me. However, my first massage experience completely melted away these (mis)perceptions along with a few niggling knots. That’s when I realized, massage isn’t an extravagance – it’s an essential!
Once you step into the world of massages you realize what you’ve been missing so far. There are so many different kinds of massages, using different techniques or materials. There are also massages that target specific trouble spots or conditions, and that’s how I ended up doing my first head massage. I had gone in expecting to relieve the tightness in my neck, but I came away feeling lighter, 100% more relaxed and of course, ache-free!
But this was because the massage was done by a professional who knew what she was doing. The wrong kind of massage can have the complete opposite effect and you don’t want that! There are quite a few factors that go into a proper head massage, which you need to know whether you’re giving one or receiving one. So here’s an essential guide on how to do a head massage the right way.
How to do a Head Massage the Right Way
Set the Right Environment
The first step in doing a head massage the right way is to set the proper environment. Make sure the giver and recipient of the massage have both their phones turned off or put away. Arrange for someone else to handle any other interruptions or distractions that may arise. Play some relaxing music at a low volume – nature sounds work well.
The massage recipient needs to sit or lie down. If sitting, the chair needs to be one that tilts far back, so that the person is almost lying. Make sure the temperature of the room is comfortable enough. It goes without saying, but the massage therapist needs to wash his or her hands well before starting.
Relax the Hair
A head massage is also for the hair, so loosen hair if it’s tied up, and also have all jewelry taken off. Use a brush to loosen tangles. If the hair is too rough maybe apply a little warm oil. Another tip is to wrap a warm towel around the head for 5 minutes – this immediately relaxes the hair and the scalp.
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Start with Shoulders
Head massage therapists don’t aim straight for the head. Instead, they start with the shoulders, with gentle movements from the base of the neck to the two ends of the shoulder blades. Then they move back in towards the base of the neck. Starting with the shoulders also acts as a familiarization process, so the person getting the massage has an opportunity to decide on the kind of pressure he or she wants.
Navigate the Neck
Our necks carry our heads all day long, and they’re under a lot of stress! After the shoulders, the neck comes next, with light movements from the top of the spine to the base of skull. For this area, only the tips of the fingers or thumbs are used, for gentle movements. More pressure is applied while moving up and less while moving down. Hold the pressure at the base of the neck for a few seconds since this is the area most prone to tension.
Cover the whole Head
When massaging the head, there are two main ways of doing it – with the finger tips in a shampooing motion, or with the palm, in a mild kneading action. Alternate between the two while covering the whole head. One way to ensure this is to move from the base of the skull to the crown, from the crown to the forehead and then the temples.
Using the finger tips will put less pressure, and the palm will mean more pressure. Take cues from the recipient of the massage to know what to do where.
Add Special Touches
There are many ways to customize a head massage to an individual’s personal preferences. Some people prefer longer, oval movements instead of circular ones. A slight pulling of the hair is also a popular move, although some may not like it. Many therapists pay special attention to the ear lobes and the area behind the ears. Whatever you choose, make sure that the hands are always in contact with the head in some way or the other, so that the head is not left idle for long.
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Finish off Gently
While ending the massage, be careful to taper it off gently, as abruptly ending it can completely ruin the experience. This is also important to remember when moving from one part of the head to another, since sudden movements can startle the person who’s trying to relax. Do it slowly, gradually shifting position and pressure. If the hair gets caught in between, do not bother trying to de-tangle it as it can cause pain or discomfort. For basic effectiveness, a head massage needs to be at least three minutes long.
Head Massage for Different Hair Types
A head massage with oil may sound like something exclusively for a dry scalp, but the truth is that it can work wonders for all hair types. A head massage done the right way helps to increase blood circulation in the scalp, activating receptors and stimulating hair follicles. This means that a good massage equals healthy hair and better growth – for all hair types.
In general, people with normal hair can do with a head massage once or twice a week. They can use most kinds of oils, although coconut oil and almond oil along with most essential oils.
Those battling dry hair and dandruff can go for a head massage about three times a week. The preferred oils are coconut oil, argan oil and macadamia oil along with lavender essential oil.
For those with oily hair, it is recommended to go for a head massage once a week, so that the head is not weighed down. Good oils for them are coconut oil, peppermint oil and tea tree oil.
Want to read up on some recipes that are perfect for your hair? Read up the rest of the post that was originally written for Quint Fit. Click to read more.