Aromatherapy Massage for Beginners
Aromatherapy uses massage to spread oils around the body and aid absorption into skin, superficial tissues and muscles. Massage warms the body and relaxes muscles, enhancing the effects of essential oils.
A basic massage sequence includes the following four movements. These are used for full-body massage or for specific areas of the body such as arms or legs.
Effleurage – The Warm-Up Act
Usually used to open and close a massage sequence, effleurage is a stroking movement of the hand that covers wide areas of the body. The pressure may vary from light to deep, but it is constant. For the person who is giving the massage, it serves the purpose of making first contact and establishing a rhythm. For the recipient, it warms the skin and promotes the flow of blood and lymph fluid, warming tissues in readiness for deeper moves. Superficial effleurage promotes relaxation of contracted muscle tissues. Deep effleurage produces mechanical and reflex reactions in the muscles.
Petrissage – Creating Friction
Petrissage is also known as friction and it creates a deep static pressure to relax tense muscles. Using the whole palm of the hand, or the thumb and fingers, petrissage works in circular movements to remove knots in muscles and encourage toxins to flow out of tissues. In aromamassage, this encourages the flow of lymph fluid and so is useful in lymphatic drainage. Petrissage typically follows effleurage or kneading movements in a massage sequence.
Kneading Those Knots Away
Kneading is a massage movement similar to kneading bread. The hands work over fleshy areas of the body to encourage the flow of blood and work at the deep roots of tension in the muscles. You can use your whole hands or just your thumb and/or fingers to knead. Some schools of thought speculate that kneading may be a better method than deep effleurage to aid the absorption of an aromatherapy blend into the skin and tissues, helping to decongest and relax muscles. It typically follows effleurage in a massage sequence and can be used to accompany petrissage.
Drain, Drain, Drain Away
Draining movements use the palms, thumbs and fingers to encourage blood and lymph to flow in the desired direction. The technique can include shuffling or vibrating the fingers along the body. It is used at the end of massage sequences, after the body tissues have been relaxed and decongested, to drain toxins towards lymph nodes.
A full-body massage usually follows the sequence: back, back of legs, front of legs, stomach (optional), arms, chest and face. At each part of the body you would perform effleurage (to warm up that area and spread the oils), petrissage/kneading and draining. Cover up each area of the body with a towel after you have massaged it, to allow maximum absorption of essential oils. Be sure to massage on a hard surface (i.e. not the bed) for full effectiveness of your massage moves.
Dilutions And Blending
A blend of 30 ml carrier oil and 18 drops essential oils (a choice of three to four oils) creates a 3% dilution – a safe percentage for most adults. For pregnant women reduce to a 1% dilution and for the elderly, children or those with sensitive skins reduce to 3%. The oils you choose depend on the conditions you wish to treat.
Contraindications To Aromamassage
If you have any of the following conditions, seek professional medical advice before having an aromatherapy massage: pregnancy, heart disease, circulatory problems, high or low blood pressure, varicose veins, pacemaker, haemophilia, taking anti-coagulants, cancer, recent operations or injuries, severe skin complaints, epilepsy, asthma, allergies (including nut), diabetes or thyroid problems.