How to Use Essential Oils to Ease Muscle Pain and Soreness

Woman with sore muscles
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The scents of essential oils—extracts from flowers and other plant parts—are said to ease tired, sore muscles. Adding a drop or two of these fragrant oils to a bath soak, massage oil, or compress is a nice way to soothe achy, sore muscles at home.

Popular Essential Oils for Muscle Pain

Here are some popular choices, which can be used individually or blended together. 

  • Eucalyptus has cooling properties. It's also used for inflammation.
  • Black pepper is known for it's warming properties.
  • Rosemary is stimulating and is used for all muscular conditions, including sprains and sore muscles.
  • Birch has a long history of use for sore and tired muscles.
  • Clove is known for its pain-relieving properties.
  • Ginger has warming and soothing properties.
  • Cypress is said to help with muscle spasms.
  • Basil is used to alleviating feelings of tension.
  • Roman chamomile is calming and is used to relieve muscle discomfort and aches.
  • Clary sage is said to be useful for relaxing muscle spasms and pain.

How to Safely Use Essential Oils

When you're using essential oils, it's important to know how to use these powerful oils safely and it also helps to know what to look for when buying essential oils. The oils are highly concentrated, so only a few drops of the oil are needed.

For sore muscles, the oils are typically integrated into a topical method for soothing muscle tissue. Consider these methods:

  • Add a few drops into a bath. A bath can help ease sore muscles, and adding some fragrant oils may help to further relax achy muscles. 
  • Use it in a massage oil. Mix a few drops of essential oils into a carrier oil, like sweet almond oil. When massaging it onto muscles, the heat of your body will warm the oil and release the scent into the air.
  • Put it in a compress. Cold compresses may help with sprains and localized swelling. After adding a few drops of essential oils to cold water, place a clean piece of muslin or cloth into the water, wetting it completely and then wringing it out. 

How to Blend Your Own Essential Oil Recipes to Ease Muscle Pain

While pre-blended oils for muscles are available, they can also be combined at home. Here is a sample blend for muscle soreness and pain:

Determine How Much You Would Need to Make

Essential oil oils should always be diluted before applied to the skin. If you would like to make a massage oil, you will need a bottle that holds between 4 fluid ounces (1/2 cup or 125 mL) and 8 fluid ounces (1 cup or 250 mL), depending on how much you would like to make.

Ingredients

To make this sample essential oil blend, you will need:

  • Roman chamomile essential oil
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Clary sage essential oil
  • An appropriate-sized dark glass bottle with cap
  • Massage oil

Method

Add the following to a bottle:

  • 4 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
  • 4 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1 drops clary sage essential oil

Add 4 ounces of massage oil to the bottle. Cover tightly.

Tips for Making Your Own Essential Oil Recipes

Be sure to label the bottle. List the ingredients. Clearly mark that the contents of the bottle are for external use only.

There are different types of chamomile essential oil. Roman chamomile is believed to relax muscles, while German chamomile is thought to be better for inflammation.

To convert measurements:

  • 1/8 teaspoon = 12.5 drops = 1/48 oz. = approximately 5/8 mL
  • 1/4 teaspoon = 25 drops = 1/24 oz. = approximately 1 1/4 mL
  • 3/4 teaspoon = 75 drops = 1/8 oz. = approximately 3.7 mL
  • 1 teaspoon = 100 drops = 1/6 oz. = approximately 5 mL

Warnings About Using Essential Oils

While essential oils in baths, massage oil, or compresses may provide some pain relief, it's important to know when to see your doctor.

Consult your doctor if you experience any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Pain that lasts more than several days (without getting better)
  • Redness or swelling
  • Bleeding, bruising, or tenderness following an injury

If you are pregnant or nursing or have a health condition, check with your healthcare provider before using essential oils. They shouldn't be used as a substitute for standard care. And even though they are natural, they're quite potent and should be used with care.

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