Women's breast tissue gets in the way of working some of the pectoral muscles of the chest, but massage therapists have no trouble working on men. Although going to a massage therapist to have an oil massage done is one option, you can also work on yourself. Besides massage techniques that are done by one person to another, working on yourself with a foam roller is another option. Using a foam roller is basically giving yourself a deep tissue massage.
The chest effleurage is a basic massage stroke to spread oil on the chest and begin working on the area. Effleurage is one of the standard massage therapy strokes. It is light and relaxing. To effleurage a man's chest, have him lie face up on a massage table and stand facing his head. Place massage oil on one hand and rub your hands together to warm them. Place your palms on his chest with your fingers pointing at their feet. Then, slide your hands down to his abdomen. Turn your fingers outward and slide your hands down to touch the massage table next to his hips. Turn your hands again so that your fingers point downward again and slide your hands up his sides, across the chest and back up to where you started. You'll need to turn your hands to point outward again when you slide along the chest.
Fanning is another basic massage stroke used often in the popular Swedish-style massage. You can fan the pectorals on a man, but it wouldn't work on a woman, although you can fan the area above the breasts on a woman. To perform this technique, stand to the left side of a man who is lying on a massage table after performing a couple of chest effleurages. Using your thumbs, begin on the side of the sternum opposite where you are standing and work your way up diagonally toward his right shoulder, following the line of the pecs. Make circular motions with your thumbs, moving always in an outward direction. Lead with either thumb and alternate so that each thumb replaces the other as you go. Bring your thumbs back to the sternum and slightly above the place you started, repeating the fan motion parallel to the diagonal line you just fanned. Repeat on the other side by stepping around to his right side.
Percussion refers to a massage technique were you tap or chop the body lightly to increase blood flow. You can use percussion on a man's chest, or he can do this to himself. Tap the chest with your fingertips in a point like a beak, quickly hitting the left and right side alternatively. You can also use loose fists. A man may do this on himself by pounding his chest like Tarzan. Hit points all around the chest.
Foam Rolling the Pectorals
A foam roller is a self-massage tool that may be used on your back, chest, buttocks and most areas of your legs. By stopping any time you feel pain and letting the weight of your body press into the foam, you can release adhesions. To use the foam roller on your chest, basically follow the same line as the pectoral fan, but with the foam roller compressing the pecs instead of another person's fingers. To do this, lie face down on the floor and place the foam roller to the right side of your sternum, positioned diagonally with the top end pointing at your left shoulder. Use your arms and legs to propel you forward so the foam roller moves up toward your right shoulder. Stop at any adhesions and hold until the pain lessens. Repeat on your left side.
- "Essentials of Massage and Bodywork Student Handbook"; International Professional School of Bodywork; 2003
- Self-Massage for Athletes: Self-Massage for Swimmers