It’s that time of year when colder weather continues to take a greater hold.
Certain parts of the country—and world—become blanketed with snow, whereas others face seasonally cooler temperatures, a clear sign that winter is now in full swing.
Although some people enjoy the briskness in the air during the beginning and mid-winter months, others seek solace from the rapid dip in temperatures that leave them longing for the return of summer and warmth.
Both groups can benefit from a warm massage.
Warm Massage Therapy Benefits
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that flu season usually begins in October or November of each year and can continue to the following May. One way to potentially avoid coming down with the latest bug is massage therapy, according to Cedars-Sinai.
Their research has found that massage helps boost the body’s immune response.
Warm massage can also provide relief for individuals suffering from any number of chronic pain conditions.
For instance, the Arthritis Foundation shares that studies have found a connection between cold, wet weather and increased levels of arthritis pain. Yet, research indicates that massage therapy can help relieve arthritis-related pain, even more so when a topical is incorporated into the treatment protocol.
Wintertime is also a time that is often synonymous with skin turning dry and itchy. According to MedicineNet, this response is caused by lower levels of humidity in the air and increased use of central heat. Warming massage topicals can help replace the moisture the skin needs during the winter months so it can look and feel its best.
Massage can even improve one’s mental outlook this time of year, as research published in the Depression Research and Treatment journal indicates that some people develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during darker months.
SAD is a form of recurring major depression, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that many studies have connected massage therapy with reduced depressive symptoms.
Conditions that Respond Well to Warm Topical Use
Three ingredients typically used in warm massage topicals are camphor, menthol and capsaicin. All of these have been indicated by research to provide positive results for people with a variety of health conditions.
For instance, in 2014 the IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Science published a study involving 60 women with knee joint pain due to osteoarthritis. One-half of the women engaged in warm mustard oil massage and the remaining half received massage with warm mustard oil plus camphor.
Upon conclusion of the study, the group that used camphor with their massage reported that their pain was reduced “more significantly” than those not exposed to this ingredient.
Another study, this one published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research in 2017, involved 105 patients on hemodialysis, a therapy that requires use of a dialysis machine to filter toxins and waste from the blood due to kidney failure.
Each participant was assigned to use a topical containing either rosemary, menthol or a placebo. Those in the menthol group reported significant reductions in their levels of musculoskeletal pain.
Capsaicin has provided promising results as well, with one 2009 evidential review finding that use of this ingredient in a topical cream can help relieve pain associated with neuropathic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and diabetes.
Promote Warm Massage
Warm massage therapy can be used to complement some of the most requested massage techniques today. These include myofascial release, stretching, deep tissue and medical massage.
Educate clients as to the benefits warming topicals provide this time of year, from having a stronger immune system to reduced cold-weather pain to improved mental health.
Share information about the warm massage topicals you offer in your practice, making suggestions about which ones may help them best given their physical condition and massage therapy goals.
The more clients see how using warm therapy can help them thrive in the colder winter months, the more they’re able to enjoy their massage experience—and the easier it becomes to deal with the chillier weather, because they know that relief is just one massage session away.