Combining the Arts of Massage and Aromatherapy

Mar 6, 2017

Both massage and aromatherapy are known for their potential benefits for body and mind. Aromatherapy massage combines the two to achieve psychological and physiological wellbeing. Given the range of massage techniques and the variety of essential oils you can use on clients, aromatherapy is another way to create more personalised health and wellbeing outcomes for individuals, according to their health background.

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy techniques have been around for 6,000 years. This art or science is considered to be an alternative medicine that uses plant extracts and essential oils to enhance physiological and psychological health. Aromatherapy can involve inhalation, massage, baths, or compresses.

In combining aromatherapy with massage, the massage therapist prepares a blend of essential oils and a base oil (or lotion) and applies the blend to the client’s skin through massage. The aromatherapist may focus on creating a synergistic blend of a number of oils, which means the oils chosen are selected to enhance each other’s properties and, when blended, they result in an amazingly pleasant scent.

Basically, aromatherapy massage is the idea that both scent and massage can have a profound effect on health and wellbeing.

Possible benefits of aromatherapy massage

There are many possible benefits of aromatherapy massage, and these can vary depending on the specific needs and issues that the client or patient is experiencing, the essential oil mix, and the type of massage being practised.

  • Pain – A combination of massage and essential oils could help patients with managing and minimising chronic and acute muscle pain, such as back pain or sports injuries.
  • Headaches – Aromatherapy massage could reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches and migraines.
  • Anxiety and stress – It can also be beneficial for relieving anxiety and stress.
  • Natural option – Aromatherapy massage can be a natural, holistic alternative (or complement) to options such as prescription medicine or even surgery, depending on the health issue being addressed.
  • Circulation – Aromatherapy massage could improve circulation and, in turn, enhance mobility and flexibility.
  • Immune system – Aromatherapy massage could strengthen the immune system by stimulating the limbic system and encouraging the release of toxins.
  • Common conditions – Aromatherapy alone could have benefits for common conditions such as colds, flu, insomnia, nausea, skin conditions, stress, and infections.

Digestive disorders and premenstrual syndrome are some of the other conditions that could be alleviated with aromatherapy massage.

The beauty of essential oils

There are numerous essential oils, each with unique health and wellbeing benefits. While inhalation of essential oils are believed to promote health benefits by positively impacting the limbic system (a section of the brain related to the nervous system), essential oils can also have benefits when absorbed through the skin through massage or topical application.

Some commonly used essential oilsinclude the following:

  • Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus oil could have benefits for nasal congestions and colds.
  • Frankincense – This essential oil is associated with a calming effect.
  • Geranium – Geranium essential oil could help with menopausal issues and premenstrual syndrome, and it can be beneficial for those with sore or injured muscle tissue.
  • Lavender – Lavender essential oil can be used to relieve stress and boost relaxation.
  • Peppermint and rosemaryThese essential oils could give you an energy boost when applied or inhaled.
  • Rose – Rose essential oil is considered to be a uterine tonic and assist with contractions during labour. Research shows massaging with rose essential oil can alleviate menstrual symptoms.
  • Sandalwood – Sandalwood essential oil can be used to assist with digestive problems, dry skin, and stress.
  • Tea tree – Tea tree oil is considered a disinfectant with antibacterial and antifungal properties. Along with pine and eucalyptus oils, tea tree oil is associated with a decongestant effect.

When combined with each other, essential oils can have an amplified effect. For example, a combination of lavender and ylang ylang could help normalise blood pressure better than the individual oils on their own.

Carrying out aromatherapy massage

Aromatherapy massages can be a full body massage or involve just one section of the body, such as the back or the face. It can start in the back, bottom, and legs before turning over to focus on the front.

The massage therapist will usually apply the oil in long, sweeping strokes to warm up the skin and muscles before conducting deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massages involve the rolling and squeezing the skin and muscles between the hands for a deep, relaxing effect while possibly boosting circulation and elimination of toxins from the body through the skin.

In all, this could enhance recovery time if there’s been an injury or strain, and the absorption of the oil through the skin can augment the healing impact of the massage.

Precautions and advice for clients

Aromatherapy massage is natural and generally safe for most people, but, as with any type of therapy, the massage therapist should take certain precautions.

Massage and aromatherapy might not be suitable for people with certain health conditions, so always obtain additional information or medical advice if necessary before carrying out aromatherapy massage.

When blending your own massage oil for aromatherapy massage, use a natural botanic oil as your base oil, rather than synthetic mineral oils, because these can impair the skin’s breathability.Patch test essential oils on the patient’s skin before use, and avoid applying to damaged skin, wounds,and other sensitive areas. Patients probably should avoid eating a heavy meal before their massage.

At Discover Massage Australia, we are passionate about increasing your knowledge base and ensuring that you can grow professionally through learning and upskilling. It’s important that you find a course that specialises in the art of aromatherapy, to ensure you are performing it correctly and utilising it as much to possible, to provide the most benefit for your clients.

Bringing the benefits of aromatherapy to your massage clients

Aromatherapy massage can be a wonderful option for helping patients achieve better health, wellbeing and healing outcomes. As long as the massage therapist is well-informed about the properties of the essential oils used and takes necessary precautions, the use of essential oils in combination with massage can be a deeply healing and relaxing experience for patients and clients. It’s important to make sure you are well-versed in the art of aromatherapy before adding it to your massage repertoire, as it can provide many benefits to your clients, as well as making your business stand out from the rest.

Cameron Aubrey

Cameron Aubrey has over 20 years experience in the massage industry, and leads the team as Course Director at Discover Massage Australia. Cameron holds a Diploma in Remedial Massage, and his expertise runs across a large range of massage techniques, particularly sports, Swedish and whole body massage.