The Perfect Complement to Massage

By Body Sense Staff

From the Greeks and Romans to today’s modern massage therapist, aromatherapy has long been a tradition in the healing arts. Have you ever had an aromatherapy massage? Has your massage therapist ever invited you to smell certain essential oils during your session or incorporated them into the massage itself? If so, then you are aware of the extra benefits that can be enjoyed with the seemingly simple, but biologically complex add-on that aromatherapy offers to your session.

What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils (extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, woods, and roots) in body and skin care treatments. Used as a healing technique for thousands of years, essential oils aid in relaxation, improve circulation, and assist the healing of wounds. It’s common for aromatherapy diffusers to fill a massage room with the scent of the oils. Specific essential oils are also blended by the aromatherapist and added to carrier oils, such as almond oil, to be used during massage. Each essential oil has its own unique characteristics and benefits.

4 Essential Oils to Consider
Some essential oils serve different purposes, like providing energy, so be sure to check with your practitioner and health-care provider before self-applying at home or incorporating any of these into your next massage. Here are four essential oils that work great with massage.

1. Eucalyptus Oil
This oil has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that make it one of the best ways to help your aching muscles—and it’s easily absorbed by the skin. It works well on rheumatism, sprained ligaments and tendons, and stiff muscles. The aroma of eucalyptus oil is strong, so make sure you like its powerful odor before using it more generously during your massage.

2. Peppermint Oil
Due to its warming properties, this oil is perfect to use on your sore muscles. Its warmth helps your blood circulate better, which assists in the elimination of muscular pain. It also aids in mental clarity, and, when applied to the temples and forehead, can relieve headache pain.

3. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil has a refreshing fragrance that can help address muscular pain. Its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties make it a great choice to help with arthritis and rheumatism, and is helpful for athletes when administered pre-event.

4. Lavender Oil
This great postworkout oil is one of the best remedies for muscle aches, and it’s great for sensitive skin as well. Lavender’s analgesic properties make it extremely effective in soothing low-back pain, strains and sprains, and menstrual cramps.

While essential oils have many healing properties, remember they may also cause allergic skin reactions for some users. It’s important for your therapist to know about any allergies you may have, and whether you’re sensitive to strong scents, before using this health-care approach. These oils offer only a small picture of the many great benefits of aromatherapy. Try various essential oils at home and during your next massage, and see where this aromatic journey takes you next.

Essential Oil FAQs
How are Essential Oils Made?
Essential oils are either distilled or extracted.

How are Essential Oils Distilled?
Utilizing a steam process, the plant material is heated; as the steam rises, it carries the essence of the plant with it. The steam is then captured and condensed, and the plant’s oils are separated from the water.

What is Expression?
Expression is the process whereby citrus essential oils are derived by applying pressure to the fruits’ rinds.

Should Essential Oils be Inhaled, Ingested, or Rubbed On?
The effects of essential oils depend on their method
of application.
• For aches, apply essential oils directly to the site of the pain. You can also apply a few drops to your bath water and enjoy a long soak, or ask your massage therapist to add the essential oil to a carrier oil during your massage.
• If you are looking to lift your mood, then inhaling essential oils might work for you. Simply add the desired essential oils to hot water and inhale
the steam.
• Advice about ingesting essential oils requires the
expertise of a skilled aromatherapist and is not
recommended without significant product
knowledge, as some oils can be dangerous if
consumed internally.

Should Essential Oils be Diluted Before Application?
Direct application of essential oils may be too concentrated for the skin and may cause irritation. Therefore, ideally, essential oils should be diluted before being used. They are usually diluted with carrier oils, the most common of which are almond oil, grape-seed oil, and jojoba oil.

Are There Any Cautions When Using Essential Oils?
There are several things one should keep in mind
before using essential oils or getting an aromatherapy
• First, the quality of the oil is important. Check for purity when purchasing oils for home use.
• During the health history intake, let your practitioner know if you have any allergies.