By Cheryl Long, LMT
I’ve been a massage therapist for more than a decade. That translates to many honored hours of healing people. I ease pain, provide comfort and stimulate recovery. Doing these things well requires my commitment and focus everyday.
There are tools of my trade that I’ve come to depend on to aid and augment my massage therapy. Since day one of my career, I’ve integrated Arnica into my practice. Its reparative and regenerative properties mesh perfectly with the founding principles of massage. In some ways, Arnica is the perfect partner in my practice.
Tips On Using Arnica During Massage
When treating patients, I consider Arnica in four different forms:
- Arnica Tablets (oral)
- Arnica Gel
- Arnica Ointment
- Arnica Oil
Let’s start with Arnica oil first. It’s the most expensive form of Arnica, so I don’t just slather it as its own oil. But Arnica oil is ever present my treatments. I mix about ½ teaspoon of Arnica oil into my almond oil before every massage I deliver. Why do this? I guess the real question for me is why not? Arnica helps muscles heal, so I use it with all my patients who have general aches and pains.
Arnica ointment is very effective when I’m working on a specific area that is injured. I don’t use it for general relaxation treatments – the ointment form is very Arnica-rich and is best used for areas that need focused massage. Neck, low back, shoulders, tennis-elbow – these are all areas where Arnica ointment can be very effective when applied during massage.
I keep Arnica gel refrigerated. I use it as a cooling down treatment after a very deep massage – but only on specific spots. Gel tends to be sticky and it works best on areas that are inflamed, and applied in those spots for several minutes.
When the body has been loosened and relaxed from a massage, its muscles are primed for healing. After massage, oral Arnica tablets can be taken. They dissolve quickly and can be safely taken with other drugs.
Arnica and Self-Massage
When you’re dealing with acute pain, self-massage with Arnica ointment can be very effective. Doing this slowly, with a focused awareness three times a day is a good regimen to follow. Over time, your pain should lessen as healing begins. If you ever are in doubt about the seriousness of an injury, always consult your doctor.
During all my years as a practitioner, I’ve had extremely positive results from Arnica. It’s helped literally hundreds of clients heal from all kinds of injuries. Just like a chef who likes her special sauce, I guess Arnica is my special sauce. But be warned – it’s just not that tasty!
Cheryl Long is a licensed massage therapist in Sutton, Quebec.