Oils + Physical Therapy
by Justine Calderwood, MSPT
I recently decided to bring my love of essential oils into my physical therapy practice as I considered how they could complement the treatment I provide. I’ve been using Young Living essential oils for about three years now, mainly at home for myself and my family. When I first heard about essential oils I didn’t even know what they were. Now I know it’s the natural oil found in plants, and can come from the leaf, stem, root, flower petals, peel, wood or root. I first got introduced to essential oils to help me deal with some insomnia and emotional turmoil, and I was looking for something that would help me sleep and ease my tension.
I happened to see some essential oils on the shelf of a local health food store, and after reading the description on each oil, I picked a few out. Some lavender and ylang-ylang and something called “pillow potion” that I thought would help me quiet my mind and allow me to sleep. I used these oils for a short period of time, not really seeing any improvement. Then a co-worker told me about Young Living essential oils and how beneficial they were for her and about their purity. She shared an oil blend called Joy with me and I felt that I had found what I was looking for. At the time I wasn’t happy with some aspects of my work and home life, and in general felt the occasional “blues” and this marvelous oil gave me a little pick-me-up and boosted my spirits.
I did some research on Young Living and their oils and the thing that got me hooked was their “Seed to Seal” guarantee that ensured that they oversee every step of the extraction process to produce 100% therapeutic-grade essential oils. They have their own farms in the USA and around the world, and they never accept diluted, cut or adulterated oils. From planting only the best seeds, to using sustainable growing and harvesting methods, to doing vigorous testing to ensure they harvest each plant at the optimal time, Young Living guarantees a consistent, high-quality product. They do internal testing but also have third-party experts test their products. Finally, Young Living does not add anything, such as fillers or additives, to their end products. If you would like to know more about the 5 steps of the “Seed to Seal” process, click here for more information and videos. Now I only purchase Young Living because I have learned how superior their products are to the "grocery store brand", which may have added fillers and aren't produced using the same stringent standards as the Young Living brand. I trust their products because they've been producing them for the past 23 years!
After I purchased my starter kit three years ago, I started using the Lavender oil at bedtime and I immediately noticed an improvement in my ability to relax and fall asleep easier. There are 11 oils that come with the premium starter kit, and as I learned more about using essential oils, I expanded beyond that kit into using other single oils and blends for various reasons. About a year before getting introduced to essential oils, I started my training in Myofascial Release with John F. Barnes. I was introduced to a new way of evaluating and treating the body. It is an approach that recognizes the mind-body complex in whole-body treatment, instead of compartmentalizing a person into their physical body, their mind, and spirit. Was it really all separate, like I had been taught? As I began incorporating this new way of evaluating and treating as a physical therapist, and receiving treatment for my own chronic headaches, I realized first-hand how much influence our mind has in our physical pain. And, on the flip side, how much our body influences our mind.
As I embraced the Myofascial Release Approach and started using it in the physical therapy clinic, I was unsure of this new way of treating and second-guessed my abilities. It took me a while after taking that first seminar to summon up the courage to use my new techniques on my patients. That’s when I began relying on my essential oils. Oils like Valor that I applied to my wrists with the intention of boosting my self-confidence. Release to let go of my old ways of thinking and doing to see if this new way of being would be better. Lavender to relax and calm me, both at work and home. Peppermint and PanAway to relieve occasional muscle soreness and tension. Highest Potential to help me be the best therapist I could be. Thieves to boost immunity so I didn’t miss work when “the crud” was going around. I wasn't using them on my patients at that time; just keeping them to myself.
Up until 6 months ago I would have been considered a “closet oiler”, meaning I used my oils at home or work for personal use, or to help my family, but very few people would have known I was using them. Now I’m ready to share them with my patients and the world. That’s how I do things. I feel confident in sharing about essential oils, just like I feel confident in sharing my passion for Myofascial Release and Physical Therapy. I’m not the same person I was three years. I’ve gone through a lot of personal and professional growth. I have seen the impact on changing my views of how to treat the body. My patients improve much quicker now and have longer-lasting pain relief and improved mobility, with fewer visits than the traditional physical therapy I was taught way back when. I’ve taken quite a few Myofascial Release courses by now and am confident in my ability to help people feel better and move easier and to support them during their own personal growth. And I’m thrilled that essential oils can assist the healing and growth process.
Essential oils can be used three different ways (aromatic, topical and ingestion), and in the physical therapy clinic I use them two of those ways. Aromatically, I often have a single oil or oil blend diffusing in the diffuser. Sometimes patients will be greeted with a Lemon-Peppermint blend to stimulate the senses and energize, Thieves or Purification to boost immunity, or Balsam Fir promote emotional balance or to support the respiratory and nervous systems. A diffuser is a small device that you fill with water, drop a few drops of whatever oil you want to use, and turn on. The diffuser breaks the mixture of water and oil(s) into micro-particles and disperses them into the air, where they can be breathed in to receive all the benefits of the plant.
Another way I incorporate essential oils into my practice is topically. When I do manual physical therapy interventions, such as Myofascial Release, I don’t use any creams, lotions or oils because to release soft tissue restrictions of the body I need to adhere to the surface of the skin to access the fascia. But after hands-on treatment I will often use essential oils, such as Peppermint or PanAway for its cooling effect and to help the body move with ease. You may also find me applying Grounding or Highest Potential to my wrists or putting a drop in my diffuser necklace prior to treatment sessions. I do this because I want to be focused on each patient, grounded and centered to facilitate their healing process…and because I still strive to be the best therapist I can be.
If you’re curious to know more about essential oils, physical therapy or Myofascial Release, please contact me. Tell me your story. Tell me how I can assist you in your healing journey, personal growth or path to personal wellness!
Justine Calderwood, PT, MSPT is the owner and physical therapist at The Healing Spot Physical Therapy, LLC in Woodland Park, CO. She specializes in treating people with chronic and unresolved pain and conditions that haven't responded to other forms of treatment. Since 2002 she has been helping people just like you feel better and move easier, by providing hands-on therapy and educating people on what they can do at home to help themselves. The Healing Spot Physical Therapy, LLC serves the communities of Woodland Park, Green Mountain Falls, Cascade, Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, Divide, Florissant and Lake George, Colorado. Call us for a free phone consultation! 719.270.1123
The materials contained on this website are provided for general information and educational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Healing Spot Physical Therapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation. The information contained in this blog is not intended to diagnosis, cure, treat or prevent any disease.
You can find more information about Young Living by Clicking Here. Learn about about the "Seed to Seal" guarantee and the founders, Gary and Mary Young.
You can find more information about John F. Barnes and Myofascial Release by Clicking Here. John has written a lot of articles on fascia, fascial restrictions and Myofascial Release. On his website at www.myofascialrelease.com you can look under the “Resources” tab for a list of articles that may assist you in your path to fascial freedom.
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