July 25, 2022 4 min read
Massage in sport: The history, benefits, and blend of Wintergreen Arnica Oil
Article by: Daliah Hurwitz Edited by: Lauren Vermaak
Massage is the therapeutic manipulation of soft tissue – the skin and muscles of the body, using fingers, fists, whole hands, forearms, elbows and even feet, while using different techniques such as kneading, effleurage, petrissage, palpating, friction, acupressure, and trigger points.
The origin of massage dates back 5000 years to India where Ayurveda (meaning life health) was seen as a sacred system of natural healing. The practice of massage then traveled through China where Buddhist knowledge of Chinese medicine, martial arts and yoga had its influence. From China it travelled through to Egypt where their belief in reflexology and applied acupressure added to the original techniques, followed by Japan, who then introduced its concentration on designing pressure point techniques to rebalance energy levels and strengthen organs to naturally resist illness.
Later in the 1800’s Per Hendrick Ling, a Swedish doctor, gymnast, and teacher, created what would eventually be known now at the Swedish massage method to help relieve chronic pain. The techniques were later tweaked by Dutchman Johan Mezger and later by American masseurs, masseuses and physical therapists with extra training in anatomy, physiology, hygiene, pathology, and soft tissue manipulation.
To this day the practice of massage and the techniques used continue to grow and evolve in relation to our changing lifestyles, cultures, and sporting codes. With regards, to Wintergreen and our concentration on sport, let’s look at massage and how it benefits sports men and women.
Massage, and in particular, sports massage, aims to relieve pain in the muscular skeletal system, helping to warm up and loosen stiff, tight muscles. This improves muscle elongation, making them more flexible and therefore increasing mobility. The practice of massage aids in releasing muscle spasms, reducing pain and helping to break down scar tissue and fibrosis (which develop as a result of immobilization from injuries) and in so doing speeds up recovery time of existing injuries.
Massage helps the body detoxify by removing lactic acid, greatly reducing the onset of DOMS (delayed onset muscle stiffness) and muscle fatigue produced by exercise. Stimulating blood and lymphatic circulation improves cellular oxygenation to assist physical performance and improve the body’s ability to relax by increasing feel good hormones in the system. These feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine help relax the nervous system and promote both muscle and mental relaxation. This results in an overall well-being which then in turn speeds up the body’s recovery time.
Aromatherapy is the complementary health treatment of using plant extracts with their specific healing properties in the form of essential oils. Topically through the skin and into the blood stream or through inhalation, aromatherapy promotes physical, mental, and emotional well-being. As we have been talking about how massage benefits athletes, a topical treatment with specifically blended oils like our Wintergreen Arnica Oil is a perfect way to apply aromatherapy in a sporting environment.
Wintergreen’s Arnica Oil is used as a massage oil with specific reference to treat inflammation, muscle stiffness and spasm, bruising and minimizing scars via its active Wintergreen, Arnica, Lavendar and Calendula oil. The blend with Rosemary extract also helps to improve circulation, boost energy, and stimulate the removal of lactic acid. The grapeseed allows for very good slip for manual tissue work and massage.
The blend of our Wintergreen Arnica Oil has a very pleasant smell, that many past and current athletes who use it would tell you takes them right back to the change room and many good sporting memories when they smell it.
Wintergreen’s sports massage therapist Daliah Hurwitz states; ‘I as a sports massage therapist would go through a litre bottle of oil a week. It is the product I use the most. Each rugby player that I work with would come to me each week on tour for 30-to-45-minute sessions, where I would try to work on as much of the body as possible if they were feeling stiff and sore or had muscle spasms that needed releasing. The aim of a regular sports massage on tour is to prevent muscle tearing, spasms, aches and cramping on the field and to release general discomfort from flying, training, different bed mattresses and pillows in hotels etc. Alternatively, when players were feeling good, their massage sessions would be more of what we refer to as ‘body maintenance sessions’ that would include lymph draining work to help remove lactic acid and toxins. This would assist in preventing stiffness and maintenance of muscle and the overall body’s health, as massage also helps to improve the immune system, heart rate and other bodily functions such as digestion.”
Though our Wintergreen Arnica Oil helps digestion through massage, it is not to be ingested orally and should only be used by those 12 years and older.
Banner image: Rosanne Leith Photography: OutlawMedia
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