Members suffering from a range of ailments have found welcome relief from The Spa’s sports aromatherapy treatment.
Jennifer Ford was fluffing a duvet when her back clutched at a 45-degree angle. The herniated disk was partly hereditary and partly caused by years of hard snowboarding and aikido training.
The mother of two was stuck in the position of a construction crane for six months. She cried pulling on her socks. She braced herself against the wall to hug her 16-month-old daughter.
“It was pretty depressing,” says Ford, who underwent back surgery in her native Canada. “The surgery helped. It took care of the main issue, but I was left with chronic pain.”
She sought countless massage treatments and therapies to help her kick the prescribed painkillers. When her family joined the Club in 2013, Ford discovered The Spa’s sports aromatherapy wellness treatment, offered by certified aromatherapist Hideaki Hongo.
“He just really blew me away with his knowledge of the essential oils and their different therapeutic properties and how they can specifically work with my condition,” says Ford, 42, sitting in The Spa’s lounge. “It wasn’t just the oils, but also his technique and strength. I was, like, ‘Yes, I found it.’”
Aromatherapy uses natural oils from plants to enhance mental and physical well-being. Hongo says typical aromatherapy treatments comprise a relaxing massage, enhanced with stress-releasing aromatic oils.
During Hongo’s sports aromatherapy sessions, he kneads therapeutic oils into the client’s body with a deep-tissue massage—rosemary and lemongrass to loosen muscles and cypress or juniper to boost circulation.
“It’s like cooking,” says Hongo. “My treatments always depend on what the clients need.”
Studies by the United States Sports Academy show that aromatherapy reduces recovery time following exercise and the Mayo Clinic says treatments can improve quality of life and reduce pain, particularly for those with chronic health conditions and osteoarthritis.
Member Masako Inoue, 66, began receiving sports aromatherapy treatments in the US when regular aromatherapy sessions had little effect on the hard knots in her muscles.
Inoue, who has joint pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis and medication side effects, began receiving treatments from Hongo last year.
“Sports aromatherapy treatments have been very helpful to relieve these symptoms,” says Inoue, who works out two times a week and plays golf and tennis. “I can spend my daily life more actively [and] without pain.”
Ford, who uses essential oils every day at home, recently ran 10 kilometers and snowboarded with her family in Nagano. She exercises six days a week and her back pain is gone. Inspired by Hongo, she has enrolled in an online aromatherapy course with a school in the US.
“It’s not just using aromatherapy that is totally and magically going to heal all of your ailments. It’s adopting a new lifestyle, getting regular massages using oils, exercising and eating right,” says Ford. “In combination, it’s the perfect thing to help your muscles recover and reduce soreness and just provide strength to all your body systems.”
Visit The Spa to learn more about sports aromatherapy and other wellness therapies.
Words: Nick Narigon
Image: Kayo Yamawaki