How To Warm Massage Oil: 6 Different Ways
Whether you’re giving, receiving, or giving a warm-oil massage to yourself, there is no arguing that it is a true act of love and an amazing, heartfelt way to express that love and appreciation to both you or a partner. Of course, a massage has many benefits, but taking the time to warm the oil beforehand further heightens relaxation, taking the massage to another level.
The Indian tradition of Ayurveda, translating to “knowledge of life,” believes that health and wellness depend on a perfect balance between the mind, body, and spirit. They believed a necessity involved in maintaining this balance was found in the practice of “abhyanga,” a self-massage with warm oil. It was and still is considered a great act of love and a way to promote good health and help yourself or your loved ones maintain their physical, mental, spiritual health and balance.
Besides simply promoting rest and relaxation, abhyanga is believed to increase energy, alertness, physical strength and delay age-related changes to the body and muscles. It can be a very personal and uplifting self-care routine.
Why Warm It?
Taking the step to warm your oil can have many benefits for the muscles, helping the person relax, soothing aches and pains due to stress or an injury, and to help the oil to penetrate the skin better. Not to mention, it feels heavenly.
Relax the Muscles
The heat helps muscles relax and loosen. When a heat source is applied to a localized area, the body attempts to maintain homeostasis and regulate the body temperature. For this reason, the blood vessels in the region where the heat is applied expand to increase blood flow to spread the heat to the rest of the body.
For Aches and Discomfort
If you are massaging for stiff joints or an injury, heat helps soothe muscles and opens blood vessels which can assist in the healing process and help alleviate some pain. Heat also stimulates your skin’s sensory receptors, meaning it will decrease transmissions of pain signals to the brain and partially relieve some discomfort.
The warm temperature of the oil increases its ability to diffuse into that first layer of skin, therefore penetrating it easier. Warmer temps also affect the actual structure of the skin -- increasing permeability.
How To Warm Massage Oil
Warming massage oil is a simple, basic task that provides significant results and will make your massage that much better. How hot you want your oil depends on you, but always be sure to test the oil on your wrist before pouring it on your skin. It should be hot to the touch but not burn. It is also smart to have a glass container with a lid that seals.
#1: In Your Hands
Good old friction can be enough to do the trick, too. Rubbing your hands together for 15-20 seconds prior with the oil on your hands can warm up the oil slightly, but it won’t be such a drastic change as if you use a more serious heat source. If you don’t plan on massaging for very long, just a quick rub down, this is a simple method, but if you plan on a full-body massage and take your time, you may want to go some more efficient routes.
#2: The Microwave
Ensure your oil container is microwave-safe or pour it into a ceramic or glass cup or container that is safe. Stick it in the microwave for 30-60 seconds and carefully test how hot it is. The problem with this method is the oil won’t remain hot for very long.
#3: Hot Water
This is likely the easiest, safest, most effective method. You can pour the hot water into your bathroom sink, a mug, or a pot, and all you need is a sealed container that won’t melt. You can boil the water in a small pot or kettle, anything you have on hand already.
- Pour the water into a mug, a bowl, or leave it in the pot.
- Submerge the oil (in a sealed glass container) into the hot water.
- Let the oil warm for 5-10 minutes.
At this point, your oil should be warm, and you can either remove the oil from the water and get to rubbing or take the warming mug/bowl/pot with you and place the oil back in hot water throughout the massage to ensure the oil stays warm.
#4: Over a Candle
If you have pets that like to run around and knock things over, this probably isn’t your best bet. However, if you don’t, this is a thorough way to warm your massage oil as long as you can commit to supervising the open flame. It’s also a rather romantic and sexy and somewhat old school to warm your massage oil via candlelight.
You’ll need a massage oil warmer bowl, massage oil, tea lights/candles, and a thermometer.
- Place some candles underneath the bowl and light the candle.
- Place the warmer bowl over the candles.
- Pour the massage oil into the warmer bowl.
- Monitor the oil and check its temp from time to time.
#5: In an Oil Warmer
Suppose you feel quite enthused about this technique and think of adopting self-massaging or partner massaging into your regular self-care or partner routine. In that case, you may want to go all out on the accessories. One of the few tools you may want to invest in would be an oil warmer. There isn’t much to using massage oil; just be sure to read the reviews and unplug it when you’re finished.