Let me paint a picture for you… As I write this, I have my foot elevated with some 90’s hip hop playing in the back and I’m covered in a mixture of coconut oil, almond oil and castor oil. I had just finished a hot bath soaked in an Epsom salt before I proceeded to oil myself up. Diva much? I have good reason though. I recently irritated my knee. It’s nothing major, but when little physical hiccups like this happen I turn to oils. I’ve recently taken this routine up as a result of a little research and trial. If I happen to have an acute injury where I simply need to give the body a chance to reset and heal itself, I’ll implement an oil rub to assist in the healing process. The process is nothing complicated. I’ll simply warm up oil to a comfortable temperature and rub it in to the affected area.
What about menthol and peppermint creams? For the oil rub, I’d stick to a natural oil and add an essential oil to customize the scent if needed. As a side note, the cooling or burning effect you might get from a Bengay or Icy Hot isn’t necessarily speeding the healing process up, but instead, it’s distracting you from the pain that your experiencing in that particular area that you’ve rubbed the menthol cream on (It distracts your brain from the pain and focuses on the cooling effect of the menthol). So in this case, I’d take it off the suggested oils as the smell can get a little heavy on you and your household, especially if your planning on making an oil rub a part of your everyday routine. If you’re trying to recreate grandma’s room on a Thursday night while the Blue Jays and Yankees play on T.V, then by all means, apply some Tiger Balm.
The reasoning behind the oil rub isn’t instantaneous nor will it provide immediate relief, but it will definitely speed up the healing process. If you come across anyone that disregards the application of oil and its exposure to the joints and/or blood stream, try asking them to apply some toxic waste to their skin and see how quickly they change their tune about how external applications do not have an effect on the internal system. The oil rub has a holistic effect that improves circulation and promotes relaxation. These are both extremely important factors when dealing with stress or inflammatory conditions.
What oils to use:
As a general rule, any natural oil is better than no oil, but if you wanted to be more specific, you can choose oil more appropriate for what you want out of the process. Here are some recommendations…`
Coconut Oil – best used as cooling oil, possibly before or after a yoga session or an inflamed area.
Castor Oil – This is very heat intensive oil and can be applied in cases where the individual is extremely dry or looking for something with a warming effect.
Sesame Oil – This is a good neutral option. It’s also been associated with anti-inflammatory properties.
How to apply the oil:
- Heat the oil by putting it in small bowl or cup, and then put it into a small pot of heated water. Do not microwave it! You speed up the oxidation process and kill the beneficial factors of the oil.
- After warming the oil proceed to rub it into your scalp working your way down just the same way you’d apply lotion (be sure to avoid the face if your skin is more sensitive). You can focus on a particular area that may be inflamed due to injury and focus on that area. Use a circular motion on the joint your working on.
- Take a warm shower and rinse off the excess oil and enjoy the feeling of relaxation and improved circulation.
Enjoy all the benefits of an oil massage and let me know how it goes!