Elevated view of a young woman getting a facial

No one wants to waste massage cream—and possibly have a negative impact on the quality of his or her work—by using more lubricant than necessary during a session.

Using too much or too little massage cream can have unwanted consequences. For these reasons, it can be important to have a basic understanding of the factors that guide how much massage cream to use at various points within a session. Here, we will give a brief overview of some of the main considerations when it comes to the quantity of lubricant one may choose to use for his or her particular method of massage therapy or bodywork.


Friction vs. glide

The first factor to focus on may be the texture of the massage cream you have on hand. You want to have a firm understanding of whether this lubricant leans more toward friction or glide.

If your massage cream seems to have a slicker texture, this may mean it has been manufactured for use with massage techniques that often involve longer, lighter, more gliding strokes. If your massage cream seems to have more of a sticky texture, this may mean it was designed for use with modalities that employ more deep-tissue techniques, such as sports massage or massage for pain management.

As you assess your massage cream to determine whether it leans more toward friction or glide, remember that most massage creams offer a combination of both textures, but the ratio frequently tilts more toward one than the other. Once you are aware of your massage cream’s texture, you can begin to better decide how much of the lubricant to use in specific scenarios.

For example, if you have a massage cream with a bit more slickness and you have come to a point within a session where you would like to focus on a small area of muscle tension, using deep-tissue techniques, then this may be the time to dispense less of your massage cream in order to achieve more friction for the focused work.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you have pinpointed the fact that your massage cream seems to be on the stickier side, then you might find you are better off dispensing more of the lubricant for those times when you wish to perform longer, lighter, more gliding strokes within a session.

Of course, you will want to select your staple massage cream based on the type of techniques you practice the majority of the time, so if you find you are performing a lot of these longer, lighter strokes, you may wish to switch to a massage cream that offers more slickness.


Massage cream and body areas

The amount of massage cream you need to use can also depend on the region of the body on which you are working. For instance, if you are looking to apply certain techniques to a client’s entire back, then you would most likely need more massage cream than you would if you were focusing only on the client’s hand or another small region of the body.