Essential Oils for Sore Muscles and Pain

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 muscles at home.

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 alleviate feelings of tension.
  • Roman chamomile is calming and is used to relieve muscle discomfort and aches.
  • Clary sage is said to be useful in relaxing muscle spasms and pain.

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. 

    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:

    1. Determine how much you would need to make.

    Essential oil oils should always be diluted before applied to 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.

    2. Ingredients

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

    For tips on choosing a massage oil, read Which Massage Oil is Best?

    3. 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:

    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

    Final Thoughts

    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 you 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.

      Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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