With it's range of soothing and stimulating properties, menthol can be the perfect ingredient to help relieve clients’ muscle aches and pains

Treat Client Aches and Pain with Menthol (February 18, 2023)

When clients seek relief from aches and pains, reach for the menthol. Menthol comes from natural sources, including peppermint and mint plants, or is produced synthetically.  Either way, menthol provides a wide range of soothing and stimulating properties, making it a popular ingredient for a range of health and beauty products.

Menthol can be applied topically to help treat pain and inflammation. It has a natural analgesic (pain reliever) effect. When menthol is applied in a cream, lotion or gel form, molecules called ligands attach themselves to receptors in our cells triggering a change. Menthol ligands attach to the kappa Opioid receptor to produce a numbing effect.[1]


Another reason that menthol is so effective for aching muscles is because it triggers vasodilation, which is the dilation of the blood vessels.  During vasodilation, blood flow to the pained area increases, reducing the skin barrier function. This enables medicinal ingredients in the lotion, cream or gel being applied to work faster. [2]


Menthol also is known to be a counterirritant to reduce inflammation. It works by causing the skin to feel cool and then warm.[3]



Ready, Set, Goal!

Optimize your client’s performance and get ready to help them meet their athletic goals with this specially designed sports massage featuring Polar Lotion, which includes menthol. ! An integration of deep tissue Swedish, myofascial release and stretching this treatment allows you to adjust to the specific needs of each client while working within the guidelines of traditional pre, post, intermediate and maintenance massage


  • Controlled Glide Crème….2 ounces
  • Rosemary Oil (optional)….10 drops
  • Polar Lotion….1 ounce


  • 2 Hand Towels (hot or cold depending on type of sports massage)
  • 1 Rubber spa bowl (optional—for Controlled Glide and Rosemary mix)

Benefits of Rosemary Applied topically may improve local blood circulation and alleviate pain, as well as, having antimicrobial and antiseptic qualities. Rosemary oil also stimulates mental activity, clears the mind, and aids memory. Rosemary reduces the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, in saliva and is believed to help prevent mental exhaustion and stress.


  1. Mix Controlled Glide Creme with 10 drops of Rosemary Oil. (optional)
  2. Apply the Controlled Glide in an even layer on skin and perform Sports Massage.

Sports Massage Protocol

Can be adapted for pre, post or maintenance massage. See the next page for techniques.

Types of Sports Massage

Massage is used to help prevent injuries, to prepare the body for athletic activity and maintain it in optimal condition, and to help athletes recover from workouts and injuries. Sports massage has three basic forms: pre-event massage, post-event massage, and maintenance massage.

Pre-Event Sports Massage

  • Massage strokes are applied proximal to distal with a quick tempo.
  • Use brisk effleurage to stimulate and warm the muscles and petrissage to help muscles move fluidly and to reduce muscle tension.
  • The intent of pre-event sports massage is to stimulate the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles, reduces muscle tension, loosens the muscles, and produces a feeling of psychological readiness.

 Post-Event Sports Massage

  • Massage strokes are applied distal to proximal, superficial to deep.
  • Light and gentle strokes in order not to damage already stressed muscles. Use very light effleurage to decrease swelling with light petrissage to help clear away toxins and relieve tense, stiff muscles.
  • The intent of post-event massage is to reduce swelling caused by microtraumas; reduce stiffness and maintain flexibility; encourage the removal of lactic acid and waste build-up; and reduce cramping.
  • In addition, post-event massage can help reduce recovery time and alleviate muscle strain and soreness.

Maintenance Sports Massage

  • Massage strokes applied as needed as a regular part of an athlete’s training protocol.
  • Deep effleurage and petrissage are used to relax and tone knotted muscles.
  • The intent of maintenance sports massage is to prevent the development of injuries, maintain healthy muscle function and improve performance.
  • Maintenance massage helps keep the tissues loose so that different layers of muscle slide easily over each other, reduces the development of scar tissue and increases flexibility and range of motion.

Sports Massage Techniques

Consider these techniques during your pre, post or maintenance massage.


  1. Sacrum rock – sacrum to lower back to hamstrings
  2. Sacral stretching – sacrum to shoulders
  3. Sacral compressions – lower back to lower extremity
  4. Skin rolling over back
  5. Muscle broadening over lower extremity
  6. Kneading to the back of the neck, trapezius, deltoid, and glutes
  7. Heel squeeze to the lower extremity
  8. Stretching – heel, quads


  1. Hip extension
  2. Gluteus medius stretch
  3. Rib and shoulder stretch
  4. Quadratus lumborum release and iliopsoas stretch


  1. Limb pull with gentle shaking to lower extremity
  2. Muscle broadening to lower extremity
  3. Kneading to lower extremity
  4. Gluteus maximus and hamstring stretches
  5. Limb pull with gentle shaking to upper extremity
  6. Compression to upper extremity
  7. Hand work
  8. Stretching to neck, shoulder
  9. Rocking and close


[1] “Menthol for Pain Relief,” The Healthy Back, Accessed February 1, 2023. https://www.losethebackpain.com/menthol-for-pain-relief/

[2] IBID

[3] “Pain Relief (Menthol) Topical Gel Dermatological Irritants-Counter-Irritant Formulations - Uses, Side Effects, and More,” WebMD, Accessed February 1, 2023. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-173171/pain-relief-menthol-topical/details