Plantar fasciitis is a painful foot disorder and this condition can make it very difficult for you to walk. It’s caused by the inflammation of a band of tissue (called the plantar fascia) and often your doctor may recommend foot massage therapy to treat it. A massage has proven very helpful in reducing pain and any patient who has experienced the morning pain of an inflamed fascia can really appreciate this. And when it comes to massages, plantar fasciitis oils can certainly come in handy.
What Are Essential Oils?
Despite the name, essential oils aren’t technically oils because they don’t contain fatty acids. They’re extremely concentrated plant chemical molecules that cause plants to emit a certain scent. They’re so concentrated that it can take as many as 16 pounds of fresh peppermint leaves to collect just a single ounce of peppermint essential oil. So if you need a pound of Bulgarian rose oil, it’ll take 4,000 pounds of Bulgarian roses to make it.
Because they’re often super-concentrated, you should avoid applying pure essential oil directly on your skin. There are exceptions to this however. For example, lavender essential oil is so gentle you can use it at full strength on the skin of a child. But this rule applies to most oils. You need to read the label first to be sure and you should only get one made by a reputable manufacturer.
Essential oils can be used for just about anything. You can sprinkle a few drops in your bath tub for a luxurious bath. You can add it to your shampoo to make your hair smell nice. And you can apply it to your skin. Some essential oils can be used to heal skin irritations caused by mite and mosquito bites, and others can even soothe burns.
And of course, you can definitely use essential oils for your plantar fasciitis massage.
What Oils Should You Use?
Your personal preference will matter a lot when you pick an essential oil for your therapeutic massage. A large part of the essential oil’s effectiveness is in its scent, and we each have our own favorites.
But you should also ask your massage therapist for recommendations. If you’re going for self-massages, you may want to start with what are considered “classics” in plantar fasciitis massages. You’ll need to have a carrier oil, and then just add a few drops of the essential oil.
1. Frankincense. This is one of the true classics, as it has been used for years. If you may recall, it’s one of the gifts given during the birth of Jesus by the 3 Wise Men. Its very name indicates how good it is, as it comes from the old French term franc encens, which means quality incense.
Frankincense has many uses, and among them it is known to help relieve inflammation and pain.
2. Basil. This comes with a warm and spice aroma, and its scent can be very invigorating. This is its most-well-known feature. Its scientific name is Ocimum basilicum, and “ocimum” is derived from the Greek word osme, which means to smell.
It’s also great for mixing with other essential oils, particularly with marjoram, cedarwood, lemon, black pepper, and lavender.
3. Peppermint. Many are familiar with the scent of peppermint, and that familiarity can help you relax while getting a massage. Yet it’s also a stimulant for the mind. The renowned Professor Emeritus William N. Dember of the University of Cincinnati found that inhaling the aroma of peppermint oil boosts mental sharpness by as much as 28%.
It’s also among the rare essential oils which can be consumed internally. Drinking a mixture of a few drops of peppermint essential oil with water can help with indigestion.
4. Black pepper. It’s a famous condiment, so most people already know its smell. For foot massages, it’s best to just use a drop or two into the soles of your feet every day. You can also blend it with coconut oil.
Black pepper offers many benefits. It’s an antispasmodic and is used for muscle pulls and cramps. It is also very effective for arthritis and rheumatism, as it is warming and it improves circulation. It also helps reduce inflammation.
5. Helichrysum. Its scent is quite stimulating, but it is a very highly regarded essential oil for massages. Its effects include corticoid-like benefits, free radical scavenging activity, and inhibition of the inflammatory enzyme. All of these effects boil down to one particularly useful benefit: it reduces inflammation significantly.
This particular benefit has been confirmed by a study conducted by the Department of Pharmacology of the University of Valencia in Spain. And don’t forget what plantar fasciitis is—it’s an inflammation of the plantar fascia under the sole of your feet which is causing all that pain you feel in the morning.
You can just add 2 to 4 drops to your carrier oil and apply to the spot where you feel the most pain.
6. Cypress. It produces a clean and fresh scent, and it can be very energizing when you inhale it. But its most useful attributes, at least for those who have plantar fasciitis, is that it eases chronic pain and it effectively reduces inflammation. That makes it almost seem like it was designed specifically for your condition.
Just mix it with equal parts of carrier oil, and then apply it to the sole of your feet as you apply your massage. You can do this 2 to 3 times a day. If your massage regimen instructions call for less frequent rubbing, then you can just apply this gently onto your heel without the massage.
7. Birch. This is quite a useful essential oil. As an antispasmodic, it relieves cramping, and as an analgesic it alleviates pain in the muscles and joints. It also helps with rheumatism and arthritis.
Birch is a very strong essential oil, so carrier oil is a must. Test with just a drop or two of the oil first before you add more.
In fact, you should try all these essential oils first with carrier oil. Don’t apply it to your eyes and not on your skin directly either, unless the label explicitly says so.
Should You Try It?
Not all that many people are convinced that essential oils are in any way effective. It’s currently an ongoing debate whether or not it works. It’s not yet fully accepted by mainstream medical science, but then the same thing has been said of herbal medicine and even of massage therapy itself. But it is true that the research regarding essential oils and aromatherapy has been limited.
There’s also no real regulation over who can sell these items. So you have to be very careful where you purchase it. The label should include information such as the country from where the plants were sourced, because this affects the quality. There should also be an indication as to whether it is 100% pure or not. And check out the price too—very cheap essential oils are most likely fake.
Picking the Right Brand
It’s hard enough to pick the right essential oil, but picking one also means selecting a particular brand. And that can be very difficult. A lot of online reviews are inaccurate, or they may actually be promotional in nature. And some manufactures don’t have stringent quality control, so you may not be getting the proper quality—you may not even get the essential oil you ordered.
So what should you do? Your best bet is to go to a massage therapist who uses essential oils to his patients. You can then try out several during your massage sessions and see which one is best for you.
Another way is to ask friends who have experience with essential oils. They can guide you on which ones to get, and which ones are effective in treating plantar fasciitis.
Finally, always check with your doctor to see if they approve of your choice. Using essential oils come with some risks, especially for children and for pregnant women. If your doctor gives you the go-ahead signal, then you can proceed.
So what should you do? At this point, your best bet is still to listen to your doctor, especially if they’re a podiatrist. These medical professionals have experience in treating patients with plantar fasciitis. Discuss your options, and see if you can find the safest and most affordable treatment you can find which your doctor approves of.
Medical science is catching up in its studies of massage therapy’s effectiveness, and they’re confirming what massage therapists have known all along—it’s an effective way of alleviating the pain.
That’s why massages are often part of the treatment for this condition. It’s an effective therapy in relieving the pain, and they don’t come with the serious side effects as well.
With the right plantar fasciitis essential oils your treatment regimen will be more effective and absolutely relaxing.