An aromatherapy massage is a therapeutic Swedish massage that uses restorative oils and lotions containing essential oils for maximum relaxation. Through the course of an aromatherapy massage session, you absorb or inhale essential oil molecules that are known to have deeply relaxing and restorative properties as they are believed to affect the limbic system which is an area of the brain that is known to regulate emotion.
What is Aromatherapy Massage Good For?
An aromatherapy massage is known to be beneficial for a variety of reasons ranging from general relaxation to improved mood, and pain management.
These benefits are generally associated with basic massage therapy as well adding essential oils in the case of aromatherapy massage seems to enhance these effects. An aromatherapy massage is often added on as an additional service to general massage therapy.
What Happens In An Aromatherapy Session?
An aromatherapy massage is a pretty widely available massage therapy that can be booked at most spas and massage clinics. That being said, the techniques used, the level of care and tailoring of the massage therapy to an individual, and the essential oils used can vary.
Most massage therapists have pre-made essential oil blends that they have personally perfected over their careers working with numerous clients that have exhibited similar issues. Based on their experience and your situation, the therapist’s first point of action is choosing the right blend for your current mental and physical situation.
A massage tailored for stress management and relaxation will likely include lavender essential oil due to its relaxing properties and more energizing and uplifting massage therapy would include rosemary essential oils. Your therapist might also include you in the process of essential oil selection and make you sample and smell various blends to understand your level of comfort with a certain blend.
There is a wide variation in the quality and effectiveness of essential oils. Synthetic scent-based oils are completely different from essential oils as they have no therapeutic properties and are purely fragrance-based. Highly skilled and educated massage therapists are very committed to identifying and acquiring the best available essential oils they can provide to clients to ensure quality and efficient therapeutic results.
After aromatherapy essential oils are selected by the therapist, he or she leaves the room to give you privacy to undress and lay down on the massage table comfortably and privately. The usual posture is face down on the massage bed with a sheet covering you on top.
Once the aromatherapy massage starts, you will sense the subtle fragrances of the essential oils as you go deeper into relaxation. On completion of the massage, the massage therapist might even suggest an essential oil blend or two that you could either purchase from them or make a note of to purchase at your convenience to use at home for personal relaxation sessions.
What Essential Oils Are Good For Body Massage?
There are numerous essential oils to choose from that could efficiently support an aromatherapy session. Not only there is an abundance of individual essential oils but also various blends of different essential oils targeted toward different health and wellness outcomes by massage therapists.
That being said, there is a general agreement in the massage and aromatherapy world of the categories of body massage that certain essential oils fit under accurately.
Relaxing and calming oils
- Lavender essential oil
- Chamomile essential oil
- Geranium essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
- Mahanarayan oil
Decongesting and easing of breath
Euphoria and energy driving
Uplifting and mood-enhancing
How To Give An Aromatherapy Massage
Start by choosing the right blend or individual essential oil you have determined to be the right choice for the session. They can be diluted in a carrier oil, such as coconut or sweet almond oil. Layer your palms with the essential oils or apply directly to the region that will be treated. Now that you are ready, you will follow certain basic massage techniques to conduct the aromatherapy massage.
Petrissage is a technique where the muscles are kneaded and this helps achieve much deeper tissue penetration. Use your knuckles and thumbs to squeeze, knot, and knead the muscles to target deeper tissues.
Effleurage is a gliding and sliding massage technique of Swedish massage which is used across different regions of the body to release tension and target knots. The pressure applied is alternative with a cycle between heavy and light pressure with either the palms or fingertips.
Friction helps generate heat and in a massage, the heat generated helps create relaxation in the muscles. To start, rub your palms together firmly and swiftly to generate heat and apply them immediately after directly onto the region of the body being treated. The friction technique can also be used as just a warm-up leading up to a much firmer and deeper tissue massage.
Tapotement, also known as rhythmic tapping is a technique that is performed with the sides of cupped hands. Rhythmic tapping helps soothe and relax the muscle while energizing it at the same time.
Vibration or shaking
The vibration or shaking massage technique is performed with a front and back motion with the heel of your hands which helps release tension and loosen up the muscles. The technique can also be performed with the sides of the hand or the fingertips as long as the vibration and shaking are effectively achieved. As the name suggests, this technique vibrates and shakes the muscles to break knots and create a soothing relaxation to the loosening muscles.
Aromatherapy Massage Benefits
Every single essential oil used in aromatherapy massage has its own researched therapeutic properties. This expands even further with blends where multiple essential oils contribute their therapeutic properties to a blend to create a wide-reaching therapeutic result.
Some aromatherapy massage sessions use specific essential oils for calming benefits while other sessions use oils for energizing benefits. The benefits vary depending on the expected outcome of the massage and the essential oils used. Some of the common benefits include:
- Anxiety relief
- Decrease in muscle tension
- Increased calmness and relaxation
- Pain relief
- Reduction in stress
- Nausea and insomnia relief
The use of essential oils in therapeutic aromatherapy massage is being continually explored for benefits across various issues and areas such as depression, dementia, anxiety, menstrual pain, and insomnia.
Aromatherapy Massage Risks
The massage therapist should ensure they check in with you before your first massage session about your medical history. This is done to ensure you do not have any known allergies that could be flared with the use of essential oils. Essential oils are very potent and can be absorbed through the surface of the skin.
To prevent adverse effects it is advised to use a limited amount of aromatherapy massage essential oils and have them diluted properly in a blend with a carrier oil to balance its potency. If you are overly sensitive to smells, other massage therapy techniques might be better suited to you as aromatherapy is very strongly associated with the smells of essential oils.
As a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, it is best to check in with your doctor to confirm if aromatherapy massage is the right option for you. You might be recommended against it or referred to a massage therapy specialist that is certified in pregnancy massage.
Aromatherapy massage with essential oils should not be performed on rashes, areas of inflamed skin, wounds, bruises, hernias, tumors, or fractures. If you experience pain during a massage session, inform your massage therapist immediately.
Should You Shower After An Aromatherapy Massage?
Showering after an aromatherapy massage session is a huge mistake. Most people shower after an aromatherapy massage to rinse the oil off the body. This is undesirable as the expected outcome of the massage is for the essential oils to be absorbed by the body to provide their therapeutic benefits.
The aromatherapy massage just heats the essential oils and they need an additional hour after just to be absorbed into the skin. Wait at least an hour before you use the shower after a massage session to ensure you absorb all the therapeutic goodness of the essential oils.
When taking a shower an hour after the aromatherapy massage, use cold water or warm water for optimal post-massage relaxation. Most people are tempted to have hot showers but this could end up being counterproductive as the heat could end up further inflaming injured and aching muscles that might have been just treated. Warm water is the perfect balance between cold and hot that will help you relax while not contributing to any further inflammation.
An aromatherapy massage when conducted by a professional therapist may help improve your overall feeling of wellness, calmness, and relaxation which ultimately improves your current situation.
Scientific research is still being done to uncover all the health benefits associated with aromatherapy massage performed with essential oils. Despite not being a cure-all magic pill, it has still helped large amounts of people with managing their feelings of pain and mood problems, even if only temporarily. Give it a try and get to know for sure if aromatherapy massage is the right approach for you!