There are many benefits to exercising regularly, however, one of the unfortunate side effects can be sore muscles. Incorporating massage into your exercise regime however not only helps to reduce muscle pain and stiffness but can help get you into shape faster and enhance your performance too. And don’t worry, you don’t necessarily need to book a massage with a professional therapist, as you can easily mix up your own massage blends to use both before and after exercise.
Benefits of massage before and after sports
Using a massage oil with firm but gentle strokes before activity can help to warm, stimulate, and prepare the muscles for action and increase flexibility. This means you’ll be less likely to feel sore afterward. If the muscles are nicely warmed up and prepared, you’ll also be less likely to injure yourself.
A deeper, brisker massage after activity can help to ease tight, knotted muscles, reduce muscle soreness and aid recovery. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that receiving a massage ASAP after exercise could reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness by as much as 30%.
So, now we know how beneficial massage can be let’s discuss how you make a massage blend at home with a simple carrier oil and a few carefully chosen essential oils.
Carrier oils for sports massage
The first thing to note is that you should never use essential oils undiluted on the skin. They should always be diluted in a carrier oil or another suitable base such as a cream or lotion. Carrier oils are typically used for massage as they lubricate the skin nicely and allow the hands to move freely. You can use any carrier oil for massage. Sweet Almond or Grapeseed Oil are good all-purpose oils but one of the best choices for sports massage is Arnica oil. Arnica is particularly helpful for relieving bruising, aches, pains, sprains and strains.
Top 10 essential oils for sports massage
There are many different essential oils that are beneficial for the muscles and joints.
- Black Pepper is excellent for warming the muscles prior to exercise and for easing pain and stiffness after exercise.
- Chamomile has strong anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antispasmodic properties making it great for inflamed joints, muscle pain, and sprains.
- Ginger is warming and stimulating and helps to increase circulation. It’s also soothing for tired muscles and sore joints.
- Juniperberry can help increase muscle tone and relieve post-workout aches and pains.
- Plai comes from the same plant family as Ginger and is excellent for treating aches, pains and inflammation. It can also help to combat fatigue.
- Lavender is one of the most widely used essential oils and is a great choice for aiding relaxation and soothing pain.
- Sweet Marjoram has a warming, soothing, analgesic effect that helps with pain, stiffness, sprains, and strains.
- Peppermint has cooling, pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic properties and can also help to dispel fight fatigue.
- Rosemary is great before and after sport, helping to warm and prepare the body in advance, and then relieving overworked muscles and fatigue afterward.
- Turmeric is warming and soothing for the joints and muscles and helpful for relieving pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
How to blend your massage oil
We recommend choosing no more than three different essential oils for your massage oil blend. Then add 4-6 drops (total) of essential oil per 10ml of carrier oil. The amount of carrier oil needed will depend on the size of the area you’re massaging and how dry your skin is, but in general, you’ll need 10-20ml.
Here are a couple of example blends that you could try:
Pre-sports massage oil: 15ml of carrier oil, 4 drops Rosemary essential oil, 2 drops Black Pepper and 1 drop Ginger.
Post-workout massage oil: 15ml Arnica oil, 1 drop Plai, 1 Rosemary, 1 Peppermint, 2 Marjoram, and 2 Lavender.
Massage into the affected areas working in a direction towards the heart.
Essential oil safety notes
If you have any health problems or are taking any medication you should seek advice from your healthcare provider prior to using aromatherapy. Certain essential oils including Black Pepper, Juniperberry, Marjoram, Peppermint, and Rosemary should be avoided during pregnancy. Keep essential oils away from babies and children. Spot test first on sensitive skin. Never apply undiluted to the skin or take it internally.
About The Author:
Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology and nutrition and provides in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.