Sensual massage is a skill that's well worth learning as it can be used at almost every stage of a relationship. A head massage or foot rub can help seduce a potential partner, leading to more intimate caresses once you’ve made the right connection.
And even on to full body massage when the relationship is in full flow. In fact, massage can relax and arouse a lover in equal measure.
Start by making sure the room is warm – there's only one type of shiver you want to elicit, and as people relax their body temperature decreases so even if you're both keeping your clothes on, it will make the experience more comfortable. Have warm towels to hand to cover the parts of your lover's body that you're not massaging. If you're going for a full body massage, sharing a bath together first will help the muscles relax and set a sensual mood.
Don't use massage oil if you want to have sex as it can break condom. Instead, there are numerous lubes designed for massage as well, which will help your fingers move over your lover's skin more easily.
Unless you've studied massage professionally, don't press into any bones as this can be dangerous. Instead, focus on the large muscles of the back, thighs and buttocks. Start with smooth 'effleurage' strokes – which are circular caresses with the fingertips or palms. If you find any particularly tense areas, either ease them out slowly or, if they're stubborn, use 'petrissage' – this involves kneading the muscles, using your knuckles for particularly tight areas. Start gently and build up pressure gradually, checking your lover is comfortable regularly.
Alternating massage with more sensual play can build a delicious tease.
Alternating massage with more sensual play can build a delicious tease, so mix therapeutic moves with more erotic stroking. Try kneading the shoulder muscles before softly trailing your fingertips down the side of your lover's neck, or massaging the sides of the buttocks – which can store a lot of tension – then letting your fingers stray to more intimate zones. For a super-hot treat, try liberally covering your lover in lube then sliding your body over theirs (assuming you're not significantly heavier than them). And above all, communicate: ask your lover what they enjoy and do as they desire.
The more you know about the body, the more effective your massage will be, so study the basics of male or female erogenous zones, and general anatomy to help you best understand how to caress your lover. A little knowledge can reap a lot of rewards.