Essential Oil Complements for Sports Massage Treatments by Anne Nguyen

Massage therapy provides immediate benefits for recovering athletes whether they are
competing in triathlons or playing tennis and golf at the club.These results are something we
see daily as therapists. Adding essential oils to your treatments is a natural way to expand and
extend these benefits. It also allows you customize treatments to meet your client’s needs- and
gives your client yet another reason they can’t live without you!
There are three main categories of essential oils that benefit sports massage: anti-
spasmodic essential oils, anti- inflammatory essential oils, and analgesics. Most essential oils
have some of these properties but a few are considered to be stronger in one or the other
Anti-spasmodic oils contain specific chemicals that release tension and reduce the spasm
within the muscle tissue. Some of the most popular in this category are Lavender, Chamomile,
Eucalyptus (radiata or globulus), Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Basil, Sweet Marjoram, Oregano,
Geranium, and Myrrh. Clary Sage is another wonderful antispasmodic oil. We often associate
Clary with uterine cramps because is considered hormone balancer, but part of its amazing
effect is its activity as a muscle relaxant. Clary Sage is great in blends for shin splints in a
massage or as a take home remedy. Myrrh has long been used with the anti-inflammatory
Frankincense in pain relieving muscle rubs.
The second type, Anti inflammatory oils include Frankincense, Chamomile,Ginger, Myrrh,
Coriander, Bitter Orange (from the leaves and fruit), Geranium, Ravensara, and Rosemary.
These oils work by either increasing circulation to the area where they are applied and flushing
out the inflammation or by interrupting the inflammatory process. Ravensara and Rosemary are
refreshing oils for fatigued muscles. Frankincense, Chamomile, and Orange have been
researched for it’s ability to slow the inflammatory process.
Analgesic oils relieve pain by either interrupting the pain signal or quieting it. These are the
types most often seen in our analgesic balms and creams such as Wintergreen, Peppermint,
Pine, Clove, Nutmeg, and Ginger. Geranium has also been used to decrease nerve pain at the
surface of the skin and so it can be used with neuralgia and sciatica. Peppermint and
Wintergreen are strongly cooling essential oils and Nutmeg, Clove, and Ginger are strongly
warming. Warming and cooling oils interrupt the pain pathways. These properties can be used
to make a blend that warms the muscles, cools the muscles, or one that is balanced so it
doesn’t have a strong effect either way. Cooling oils may be preferred after an sporting event
whereas the warming oils may work better for deep tissue restorative work.
So how does one begin to use all of these oils we have to choose from? Of course it is
helpful to know if your client has any preferences. Their perception of the oil will affect how it
works for them. A great strategy is to use at least one oil from each category so the client will
benefit from all of these effects. You can then adjust the level of warming and cooling oils to

meet the client’s needs. Make sure you have brushed up on your essential oil safety
recommendations- especially when using Wintergreen, Clove, and Nutmeg.
Shin Splint Massage Oil- 1oz Hazelnut or any carrier oil, 5 drops Fennel Essential Oil, 10 drops
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Simple Ayurvedic Style Massage Oil- 1 oz Arnica Infused Oil or Brahmi (Bacopa monieri)
Infused oil, 5 drops of Clove, 5 drops of Peppermint, 7 drops of Eucalyptus

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