As a massage therapist, there are many things you can do to help ease clients’ pain and improve their mental health.
These are just two of the benefits of engaging in massage therapy according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Part of easing pain effectively involves choosing the technique that is most likely to offer your clients the best results. One additional way to help clients get the most from their massages involves knowing how to get the most from the topicals you choose. Most fall into one of three categories: warming topicals, topicals that create cooling effects and basic massage topicals.
One ingredient commonly found in warming topicals is camphor. Healthline explains that camphor comes from the wood of camphor trees and can help with pain and irritation, as well as itching and inflammation. Additionally, the skin absorbs it easily and, as long as it is used correctly and isn’t used in high doses, it is safe for the average client.
Camphor-containing massage topicals can help a variety of pain-based conditions. For example, one study in the IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Sciences found that using camphor oil combined with warm mustard oil was more effective at relieving knee joint pain in women than warm mustard oil alone.
Other pieces of research indicate that warming topicals can also provide relief if arthritis is present.
Use of Cooling Topicals
Cooling topicals enable massage therapists to provide pain relief without risk of freezing or irritating the affected area, and many such topicals contain the ingredient menthol. The Encyclopedia Britannica indicates that menthol can be synthetically produced or obtained from peppermint oil. Either way, it produces a cooling sensation that research has found to help ease pain.
One such study was published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies and involved 20 adult females who struggled with hand arthritis. Part of the subjects received massage therapy and the rest engaged in massage therapy with a menthol topical.
The group that engaged in massage with the menthol topical reported more improvement in hand function, greater grip strength, and reduced hand pain than the non-menthol group. They also noted more improvements in their mood and sleep.
Basic Massage Topicals
Basic massage cremes and lotions that aren’t heating or cooling are great for use on clients who engage in massage therapy to help them relax or to release minor stresses and myofascial “knots” versus trying to obtain relief for a physical health condition.
Some of these non-heating and non-cooling topicals do contain other ingredients though, which potentially makes them better options for certain sets of clients.
For instance, Custom Craftworks has a SacredEarth Botanicals® massage lotion that is unscented, hypo-allergenic and vegan. It is rich in organic polyunsaturated oils and organic botanical extracts for a calming, therapeutic experience for the client. This lotion is also ideal because it's light and provides excellent absorption while retaining great glide and workability.
What's In It:
Purified Water, Organic Sunflower Oil, Octyl Palmitate, Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glyceryl Stearate, Tromethamine Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Allantoin, Organic Lavender Extract, Organic Arnica Extract, Organic White Tea Extract, Organic Chamomile Extract, Tocopherols, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Borage Oil, Organic Tamanu Oil, Sodium Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin
What's NOT In It:
Parabens, Animal Products, Dimethicone, Propylene Glycol, TEA (Triethanolamine) or Ureas
Massage Topical Best Use Practices
Regardless of what type of topicals you choose to offer your clients, there are a few additional best use practices, which, when followed, can help you get the most from them.
One is to not use topicals on wounds or damaged skin.
If you sell topicals to your clients, it also helps to let them know how they can get the most out of the oil, gel, lotion, or creme they purchased from you.
This includes sharing that it needs to be rubbed in thoroughly until it is absorbed, and not using it on children or pregnant women without a doctor’s approval.
There are quite a few topical options for massage therapists and getting the most from each one involves learning what type of conditions they treat and how to use them to get the best results. That makes them as beneficial to you, the practitioner, as they are for your clients.
This blog was curated from the article, "How to get the most from your massage topicals" published by Massage Magazine on September 18, 2018. Original article can be found here.