Essential Oils For Sore Muscles
If you’re experiencing muscle pain, then this can make a lot of regular activities difficult. Not only can muscle soreness make it hard to move around and to actually use your muscles but it can also make it much more difficult to rest and to get to sleep. This is bad news as it means you’ll find yourself feeling tired and groggy throughout the day, impacting on your performance and more.
What’s more is that muscle pain begets muscle pain. In other words, if you have a bad shoulder or painful leg muscle, this can actually lead to other painful muscles as well as causing additional injuries. This is due to the body’s natural incliniation to compensate for pain by changing mechanics. If you have pain in your right leg, you might end up putting more weight on your left leg. In turn, this can lead to you becoming more likely to injure that left side or to trip and fall resulting in a number of other problems. Likewise, you might find you sleep in an awkward position or lift things while putting more strain on your back.
There are many causes for muscle pain and many reasons that you might be experiencing this discomfort. Whatever the case though, it’s important to find a way to reduce the pain so that you can move normally and continue with your regular activities and recovery.
One way you can do this is with essential oils…
How Essential Oils Treat Muscle Pain
Essential oils can be used to treat muscle pain in a number of different ways and this is owing to the various different properties that essential oils possess.
For example, many essential oils are analgesic when applied topically. This means they have pain killing properties and can immediately numb any painful sensations. Likewise, some essential oils can provide full-body pain relief when inhaled or consumed. On top of this, essential oils can also affect other things like muscle tension and nutrition to help heal the muscles.
But at the same time, essential oils can also be used for their direct therapeutic benefits. For example. Essential oils make a perfect medium for massage and can allow the hands to glide effortlessly over the muscle tissue while manipulating and removing knots and facial adhesion. Likewise, essential oils can provide the perfect addition to a warm bath which will help to ease the muscles and reduce soreness.
Read on to discover some of the best essential oils for these purposes.
The Best Essential Oils for Muscle Soreness
Valerian Root Oil
Valerian root oil is one of the most effective essential oils for muscle soreness all round. This is thanks to a number of powerful properties that also make it an ideal anxiolytic and sleeping aid.
Specifically, valerian root oil increases the natural production of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) which is a naturally-occurring ‘inhibitory neurotransmitter’. In plain English, that means that GABA reduces the activity of neurons and nerves, which in turn helps to calm anxious thoughts as well as relax smooth muscle tissue. These effects combined can greatly aid sleep and restfulness but they also have the added benefit of reducing muscle soreness by letting the muscles relax and release any built-up tension.
Eucalyptus oil is a generally soothing and pain-relieving essential oil that can be used topically to address a wide range of aches and pains.
One of the particular benefits of eucalyptus oil is that it works as a vasodilator. That means that it can help to widen the blood vessels – making the veins and arteries physically thicker. This in turn means that more blood is able to flow around the body and specifically is able to reach the muscles to help relax them and deliver key nutrients and electrolytes.
Peppermint oil is an oil that contains menthol. This means it has the cooling and refreshing effect that we associate with mint – and that can be absolutely ideal for addressing muscle soreness and also just provide a very soothing and pleasant massage in general.
Peppermint oil also has the benefit of being useful in a number of different capacities. You can apply peppermint oil directly to the muscle which can be very relieving and pleasant. Alternatively though, it also works very well when a few drops are added to a bath. As a warm bath is already a very good treatment for muscle soreness, this can be the perfect combination and a great way to ease painful and skeletal muscle! Better yet, peppermint oil is also anti-inflammatory (as are a few others on this list) meaning that it can help to reduce swelling that might be contributing to muscle soreness.
Just make sure that you carefully follow the instructions on the packaging and use a carrier oil where necessarily. As a ‘hot’ oil, this can potentially be aggravating if it isn’t properly diluted.
This oil is antispasmodic, which means it can reduce spasms. If you’re suffering with cramp or tension, then this is an excellent choice to add to your mixture while you top up your potassium!
Lavender oil is a great oil for providing local pain relief and is also a very calming and soothing muscle to smell. This is a great choice to add to a bath or to rub into the skin during massage.
Bergamot oil is one of the best oils there is for improving the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter/hormone that we associate with ‘feel good’ emotions. That is to say that it can help to improve our mood and reduce stress.
This in turn has a number of benefits for improving muscle soreness. For starters, reducing stress will naturally alleviate muscle soreness to some degree by releasing tension. When we are stressed, we tend to tense our muscles subtly even if we aren’t consciously aware of it. By reducing cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones, you can give your muscles the break they need.
At the same time though, serotonin is also a natural pain-killer/analgesic. Simply increasing serotonin is enough to help ease a number of different pains and that includes muscle soreness!
As though all that wasn’t enough, serotonin also converts into melatonin. This is very effective at reducing pain and discomfort in the muscles because it is another relaxing ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter much like GABA. At the same time, it also has the added benefit of helping us to get to sleep, which is one of the biggest concerns when dealing with muscle pain.
Bergamot oil works particularly well when inhaled or burned. Why not fill a bath with a few drops of eucalyptus and lavender, or peppermint, and then use an oil burner to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy using bergamot oil at the same time?
How to Use Essential Oils for Massage
The best way to use essential oils for muscle soreness though is probably through massage. This way, you’ll get the benefits of the essential oils as well as the clear benefits of having the muscles manipulated and soothed manually.
One of the best advantages of receiving a massage is that it can help to remove knots and ‘myofascial adhesions’. The latter refers to scar tissue that forms on the muscle fascia – the thin sheet that surrounds all our muscles and keeps them in place while supporting movement etc. When receiving a massage, you can ask the masseuse to apply a little circular pressure where they meet points of resistance.
It’s also possible to use self-myofascial release. This means that you’re going to be trying to break up those adhesion and any knots yourself using firm pressure. You can do this by rolling your muscles on a tennis ball, or on a specifically designed tube that will allow you to get into the sore points of your muscles. You should feel this as a ‘good pain’ – a satisfactory type of discomfort that feels sharper when you increase the pressure focused on that area. You can do this while also using essential oils to provide additional benefit. Just make sure to thoroughly wash the objects you used following this process.
Any kind of massage however will be very beneficial as it will improve blood flow and circulation to the area while encouraging normal and healthy movement. Speak with a friend, partner or relative and ask them to provide a gentle massage to the affected area. You can also take it in turns so that you both get the full benefits.
Combine this with a warm compress or warm bath, rest and analgesics such as paracetamol or aspirin. Over time, you should find that you can reduce your muscle soreness and get your body back to full, working order!