Aromatherapy massage is a therapeutic approach that combines essential oils and massage techniques. Working with the body’s physical and emotional systems is designed to relieve stress, improve mood, and reduce anxiety. Many people who use aromatherapy often find that they enjoy this form of healing so much that they continue to practice it daily.
Aromatherapy massage has been increasing in popularity these days because of its wide range of health benefits. Spas and centers, like Modern MindBody Massage, offer these services to those looking to maximize body massages’ benefits. If you’re new to this concept, continue reading below to learn more about the different aspects of aromatherapy and its benefits.
Understanding The Different Aspects Of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy uses scented aromatic essential oils for medicinal purposes to enhance an individual’s physical and psychological health. It improves both mental and physical wellbeing. Aromatherapy also has a reputation for being a safe and effective complementary therapy to conventional medicine. Aromatherapy involves using certain fragrances to trigger a pleasant ‘natural relaxation response’ in your brain that helps you sleep better at night.
Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils as its source of nourishment. Essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid comprising various volatile organic compounds in plants. Many of these components may contain alcohols, which are naturally present in plant materials. Some plants also contain different flavonoids and terpenoids, which have unique roles in the plants’ physiology. These chemicals react with specific receptors found in the human body and produce signals responsible for eliciting favorable responses in the human nervous system.
Essential oils are produced through the following methods:
- Steam distillation
- Solvent extraction
- CO2 extraction
- Maceration process
There are different essential oils that can be used for aromatherapy. Essential oil blends can be found in both bottled and vaporized versions. Aromatherapy products are commonly sold in mass quantities, like creams and lotions, or smaller bottles, like scented bath soaps and room fresheners. Essential oil scents can vary significantly based on the plant used, the amount of processing done to the ingredients, and the source of the oil.
A few commonly used essential oils include:
- Citrus Essential Oil
This scent is found in the leaves of the lemon tree. Lemon-scented soaps and lotions are very popular. The smell is uplifting and fresh, resembling the smell of fresh lemons. The scent is light and is pleasant, almost indescribable. Citrus oils can be used topically on aching muscles or dry skin, or used whole or applied to the scalp or skin as a massage oil.
- Lavender Essential Oil
This essential oil is derived from the flowers of the lavender plant. The smell of lavender is uplifting, sweet, and has a calming effect on many people. When added to other essential oils for aromatherapy, lavender may help alleviate common colds and flu symptoms.
- Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant. Peppermint contains menthol, which is one of the strongest scents. The oil produced from it has several uses. Menthol has been proven to be effective in relieving colds, nausea, sinusitis, and cough, as well as in relaxing muscles and easing tension and stress. Menthol is also found in strong fresheners.
The Benefits Of Aromatherapy Massages
Aromatherapy is usually best paired with full-body massages. An aromatherapy massage is an alternative form of bodywork, and it involves relaxing the body through inhalation and exhalation techniques. What are the benefits if you combine aromatherapy techniques and body massages? Here are some of those advantages:
- It Helps Reduce Stress
Stress has been shown to exacerbate existing health problems and lead to other, more severe health issues. In a nutshell, stress causes you to become physically and mentally ill. Stress lowers your immune system and can cause you to suffer from colds, flu, and other illnesses.
Stress can also push people to have unhealthy habits, like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and overeating. That’s why people under a great deal of stress tend to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and even heart disease.
Aromatherapy helps to relax the entire body so that it is better able to fight illnesses. The therapeutic properties of the various scents make you feel relaxed and help relieve the symptoms of both mental and physical stress.
Reduced stress levels can help prevent cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension and coronary artery disease, from developing in the body. Furthermore, massage therapy can improve the blood supply to the brain and help prevent certain mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
- It Helps Relax The Muscles
Muscles can become tight for several reasons. It could be because of muscle contractures, soft tissue damage, or an increase in tone. Muscles can also become tight due to poor posture and emotional stress. When you stand or sit for long periods, your muscles tend to feel some strain or tension. When this happens, the muscle naturally resists this tension and contracts to overcome the body’s demand. Over time, this will affect the range of motion of the muscles, and you’ll feel that they’re starting to feel tight or stiff.
Massaging the muscles with essential oil is one of the best ways to treat tight muscles and help them relax. There are different massage techniques a massage therapist can do to address this issue. These are:
- Effleurage – This massage technique uses light strokes to increase the temperature of the soft tissues and improve blood circulation in the muscles. When the temperature is increased, the muscles relax, thus, relieving the tension around the area.
- Petrissage – This massage technique is used to squeeze and roll the soft tissues to relieve muscle spasms and increase the oxygen in the muscles.
Muscle massage can also help manage pain, tension, and swelling when used with the following essential oils:
- Peppermint – It contains menthol that gives a cooling effect on the sore muscles. It also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Helichrysum oil – It helps with muscle spasms and pain.
- Marjoram oil – It helps relax the muscles and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
There have been studies that prove that muscle massage can help not only to tighten muscles, but also relieve sore muscles after a physical activity, like working out. When combined with aromatherapy, you can experience more benefits because as your muscles relax, essential oils also help your brain release more hormones to help you feel relaxed.
- It Helps Reduce Joint Pain
Massage therapy can provide increased joint pain relief when used in conjunction with essential oils. The benefits of massage therapy include the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. During full-body massage therapy, these hormones are released into the bloodstream.
Aromatherapy is beneficial for managing pain caused by arthritis as it has many different healing properties. Aside from releasing hormones to manage pain, aromatherapy massage also helps relieve joint pain by improving blood circulation and reducing inflammation. When there’s an increased blood flow in the joints, there’s improved movement; thus, a person will feel reduced pain.
- It Helps Improve Blood Circulation
There are two different types of blood circulation within the body: lymph flow and circulation of blood flow. When the circulation in the body is poor, a person can feel swelling, tension, and tightness. They’ll also feel increased pain. During aromatherapy massage, the blood flow is stimulated through the friction between the skin and the fingers.
For example, in a Swedish massage, the therapist will rub the muscle tissues in the same direction as your blood flow, leading to the heart. This helps your muscles relax while the lymph system continues to move fluids to the heart. This also encourages the blood and lymph fluids in your extremities to return faster and improve the body’s overall circulation.
Shiatsu massage is another massage technique that helps improve blood flow. In this technique, the acupoints are stimulated for better blood circulation. It improves the health of the tendons and muscles, as well as relieves tension. To perform this massage, a finger is inserted into a specific acupoint. Pressure is applied, and this allows blood to flow throughout the body.
Adding aromatherapy essential oils to these massage techniques will make the treatments more effective. Some of the essential oils used for this purpose are cypress and ginger. Cypress helps warm the muscles, and it also helps alleviate pain caused by muscle cramps.
A great massage therapist, no matter what they apply on the skin, may be able to give you relief from chronic pain, increase your range of motion, as well as aid with blood circulation.
Many people have reported increased energy, better sleep, improved moods, reduced symptoms of depression, and lower stress levels. It has even been suggested that regular massages may reduce the risk of degenerative joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis, by reducing joint inflammation.
Aromatherapy massages are also one of the best ways to relieve muscle pain after a workout. When tight or sore muscles are massaged, there’s an increase in blood circulation around the areas being massaged, which helps reduce pain and inflammation. When essential oils are used with different muscle massage techniques, you can feel more relaxed, and your brain can produce more hormones to help you manage your pain.