A professional massage can soothe not just one’s tired body, but also the soul. There’s something inherently therapeutic about being touched, and doubly so when the practitioner knows exactly how to relax and relieve stressed muscles. The ambiance of massage clinics, however, is just as crucial as the service being performed – proper music, lighting and scents can amplify the experience, creating deeper relaxation which allows the therapist to work more effectively.
As such, it only makes sense that cannabis, known for its relaxation and restorative properties, would naturally go hand-in-hand with the practice of massage. In fact, the scientific basis for cannabis’s pain relieving properties make it a no-brainer for being the perfect complement to massage.
Cannabis is a well-known pain reliever and anti-inflammatory agent. By reducing pain and inflammation in the muscles, the therapist is able to work more deeply and effectively. In an interview with Massage Magazine, osteopath Dustin Sulak of Maine, who prescribes cannabis in his practice, further stressed the benefits of the anti-anxiety properties of cannabis and how it may additionally serve to reduce pain. He also cites studies that show CBD as responsible for quickening the recovery time of injured connective tissues.
All of these properties together create a uniquely suited companion for massage. By reducing pain, inflammation, and anxiety, the body is coaxed into deeper states of relaxation where the muscles are looser, and thus experienced massage therapists are able to more deeply soothe away problem areas.
One such studio embracing the cannabis massage is LoDo Massage Studiolocated in Denver, Colorado. Lodo has been offering cannabis-assisted massages for a little over two years now. Partnering with renowned cannabis product company Apothecanna, one may opt for a massage with cannabis-infused pain cream.
I spoke with Sarah Rodgers, 29, of LoDo Studio, who has been a massage therapist for 6 years and has worked with LoDo since they opened. She remembers when owner Ed Rich first proposed the idea of offering cannabis-assisted massages.
“When they told me about it I was very excited,” she said. As for the inspiration behind the service, Rodgers explained, “We’re kind of a hip type of place, we wanted to do something that would speak to the people around the community. We wanted a place where deep tissue was [a big part of the practice], and the Apothecanna pairs really nicely with deep tissue massages.”
As the name may suggest, deep tissue massages differ from their perhaps more commonly practiced cousin, the Swedish massage, by focusing on the deep layers of muscle and fascia, the sheath of fiber surrounding the muscles.
Livestrong reports that the Maryland Medical Center has found deep tissue massages to be “more effective and affordable for relieving chronic pain than conventional medical remedies.” Deep tissue massages decrease inflammation, increase blood flow, and soothe tension in muscles associated with chronic pain. In addition, deep tissue massage is cited as being beneficial for reducing blood pressure, stress relief, and rehabilitating muscles which have suffered injuries.
Because deep tissue massages require the therapist to work so deeply in the client’s muscles, cannabis acts as a natural aid to loosening the muscles and thus allowing them greater access.
“It really helps the muscles when you use it,” said Rodgers. “[A cannabis topical] helps the muscles to relax a little bit easier. It has a tingling sensation to it when you first apply it, and I think from that moment on the client is able to – I mean it’s all purely topical, so it’s mostly felt in the muscles, that’s as far as it goes. It helps the client kind of just sink in. I notice people are able to relax with deeper pressure, and they’re not even as sore as they would be without it, if I was just using a regular cream. They recover a lot quicker.”
When asked, Rodgers indicated that cannabis massage is suitable for people of all legal ages, lifestyles, and massage needs.
“We [have cream] that has lavender in it if they’re looking for something more relaxing, or a stimulating cream that has a grapefruit and ginger so it’s a little rejuvenating. There’s definitely lots of different ways to help people depending on what they’re looking for. My favorite is the one blended with peppermint and arnica. It’s a really nice combination. The peppermint is cooling, while the arnica helps with the pain and the cannabis creates this really nice experience on the muscles.”
From personal experience, Rodgers enjoys receiving cannabis-assisted massages as much as she administers them. “When I’m receiving a massage I can tell the difference between not getting the [cannabis] lotion and getting the [cannabis] lotion. My body will just take the pressure a lot easier and it’s more of a lasting effect as well,” she explained.
Indeed, the benefits of cannabis assisted massage therapy do not stop solely at the client. Massage therapy is an extremely physical demanding job, and can leave the therapist with their own aches and pains to tend to. Rodgers noted that giving a cannabis massage is less stressful on her muscles than a traditional one.
“It’s really nice for both the client and the therapist. It’s like a win-win,” she said with a genuine laugh. “I use my hands a lot [as a massage therapist], and they will ache really bad when I’m done with massage, but with the Apothecanna they don’t really ache as much. I used to get cramping in my hands, and I don’t really get cramps anymore. When I don’t use it [I find myself wishing] I had it. It’s helpful.”
Rodgers spoke earnestly of the benefits of the cannabis massages she offers. When asked if there was a particular client who stood out in her mind as benefiting exceptionally from the practice, she replied, “Honestly I feel it’s like that for all my clients. Massage itself is a really amazing way of helping people; the human body is fascinating, how it will just unlock in certain areas and it’s all connected. Adding cannabis to the massage just allows me to get in even further, and even deeper, and even better. [There are] so many experiences with everybody. I get a lot of really deep work with injuries, chronic pain, and all kinds of stuff like that. I’m just amazed every time.”
With legalization sweeping states such as Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, undoubtedly the country will continue to see cannabis combined more commonly with relaxation services such as massage. For adult users as well as medical marijuana patients, the healing benefits of cannabis can be appreciated and enjoyed.