Many LMTs have had the experience of working with a client who had trouble relaxing—perhaps the client was in pain, worried, or just didn’t like to be touched.
So, what can an LMT do in order to provide the best massage to a tense, unrelaxed client? Low lighting, quiet music and a soothing atmosphere are all pretty standard. Certain creams, however, can also help, particularly those that include lavender.
It’s easy to focus on glide and friction when it comes to creams. The creams, lotions, gels, and oils you choose depend on your situation, the modalities that you specialize in, your clients’ needs, and many other factors. Ingredients are also important, and cost is almost always a factor. With all of those various considerations in mind, it may seem overwhelming to add another to the list. However, patients who have problems relaxing may well benefit from creams that are designed to help them relax.
Many LMTs use aromatherapy as part of their practices, but even those who don’t may find that choosing creams with particular ingredients can aid patients in relaxing. For instance, one of the most common aromatherapy scents is lavender because promotes relaxation. A 2012 study published in the Journal of The Medical Association of Thailand found that breathing the scent of lavender oil can reduce blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature—all hallmarks of relaxation.
Creams that contain lavender can be beneficial without being overpowering. Some people may be sensitive to the scent of oils burning, and you may prefer creams to oils for administering massage. Using a cream that contains lavender may eliminate those problems while still providing the relaxation benefits.
According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, topical treatments of lavender may have anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, there is some evidence that it may ease pain, as well. Though these properties need to be researched further, the possible benefits for massage clients is clear, particularly if relaxing is difficult.
Watch for Side Effects
Always be on the watch for any negative side effects. One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, showed a possible link between prepubertal gynecomastia in boys and the repeated application of either lavender or tea tree oils. If your client roster includes prepubescent boys, it may be best to avoid the use of creams containing either of those oils.
One important point to remember is that, for many clients, learning how to get the most benefit from massage therapy is a skill. It may take time for people who struggle to relax to learn what works best. Providing as comfortable a setting as possible and using tools such as creams with ingredients that promote relaxation can make it just a little easier.