Muscle pain is inevitable. Whether it’s because of the flu, a disease or excessive exercising and effort, we all experience it. The good news is that there are natural remedies out there that can soothe this kind of pain. Essential oils for muscle pain are among the best alternatives to conventional medication.
In this article, you’ll find:
- Details on how essential oils work and how to use them to soothe muscle soreness and pain.
- Pain relieving and anti-inflammatory essential oils that deal with muscle pain relief. Learn about the two types of pain (cold and hot) and what oils to use for them to get the relief you need.
- How to make your own muscle pain relief blend and ideas of simple recipes to use right away.
- Did you know that stress causes muscle tension and soreness? Now’s your chance to find out more and do something about it.
- What causes muscle pain or soreness, plus tips on how to prevent this ailment.
Best Essential Oils for Sore Muscles/Muscle Pain
Muscle pain is pain felt in the muscles and it may vary in intensity. This intensity is given by what caused the pain in the first place. The flu for instance, can make your muscles ache in a certain way. Your whole body feels weak.
While workouts and physical activities make the muscles really work. That results in muscle tear which then becomes inflamed and painful.
Certain diseases may also cause muscle pain and soreness. Tetanus and poliomyelitis are two such examples.
Essential oils for muscle pain relief are very helpful in soothing inflammations, spasms and pain in general. Unlike pharmaceuticals, these oils rarely have side effects. For that however, the dosage must always be respected. Also, if you’re not allergic or sensitive to their substances, they will work only to your benefit.
In fact, knowing the precautions of each oil you want to use may even help you take better advantage of their therapeutic properties.
How Do Essential Oils Work?
Each type of essential oil has a specific chemical profile. The more concentrated in specific active ingredients they are, the faster they work. Essential oils are very complex products with a versatile therapeutic action.
They can work directly on the symptoms and on other factors that lead to those symptoms. For muscle pain relief, their most appreciated effect is the one that deals directly with the symptoms.
Aromatic essences reach the painful area through the sebum of the skin. These oils love fat and sebum is our body’s natural oil produced to protect the skin. The sebum serves as a passageway from the surface towards the sore area. This is also a very fast way for the oils to reach the inflammation and pain and soothe them.
It takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours for the tiny oil molecules to reach the blood through the capillaries. On its journey back to the heart, the blood will thus disperse the beneficial molecules throughout the body.
How to Use Essential Oils for Muscle Pain
There are many ways of benefitting from the properties of these wonderful essences. But the fastest and easiest to use is a simple massage. Using essential oils for muscle soreness or pain is a lot simpler than one would think.
You just need a carrier oil to help disperse the active molecules of the essential oil better. Essential oils (EO) mix only with fat. Thus, vegetable oils are the perfect carriers for topical applications and massages. Mix 3 – 12 drops of EO/ Oz carrier oil for your massage blends.
These oils work internally and externally. Internally, they work through the skin and blood and externally through inhalation.
An essential oil blend for muscle pain relief can:
- Stimulate your muscles and improve the circulation.
- Relax the muscles.
- Promote the absorption of the oils and soothe muscle soreness, tightness and pain.
- Relax your mind and improve your mood by stimulating the nerve receptors on the skin. They will send messages to the brain and release pleasure hormones and neurotransmitters.
You can prevent muscle pain or muscle soreness with a massage that stimulates and warms up the muscles. Or you can also use the massage as treatment after physical exertion. This will soothe the pain and relax the muscles.
Other ways of using your essential oils (EO):
- Diffusions and inhalations: 3 – 5 drops of a chosen EO in the water recipient of your diffuser. Don’t diffuse for longer than 30 minutes every 2 hours! Experimental trials show the opposite of relaxation and calm when oils are inhaled for 60 minutes.
- Aromatherapy bath soaks: This is another great way of enjoying muscle pain essential oils. Add 10 – 15 drops of EO/cup of sea or Himalayan salt and stir well. Then pour the mixture over into hot water.
- Local compresses: Are great to use with essential oils for tight muscles. You can simply soak a compress in hot water and pour 5 – 6 drops of EO on it. Apply and keep it on the sore area for 10 – 20 minutes, and repeat if necessary.
Pain Relieving (Antalgic) Essential Oils for Muscle Pain
Muscle pain is a physical sensation and it can be caused by many factors. Spasms, inflammation and tears are the main cause for the discomfort you feel in your muscles. But diseases, stress and anxiety can also cause muscle pain and soreness. The level of tolerance for pain can contribute to aggravating this sensation too.
Essential oils have important analgesic properties. They are also known as antalgic essential oils, and both terms refer to their ability to relieve pain.
Muscle pain or soreness may feel like a hot or cold sensation in the muscles. Hot pain is usually due to inflammation, but most of us experience a cold pain in the muscles. There are some essential oils for muscle pain that may be used more effectively for each type of pain.
For example, a sprained ankle feels like hot pain. In this situation, oils that lower the body temperature like Peppermint can be more useful than those that raise it. I’m going to specify for each type of oil whether they’re hot or cold.
1) Peppermint essential oil for muscle pain (cold)
This oil is a very popular oil for soothing muscle soreness and pain. One study showed that Peppermint oil can delay muscle fatigue. It can do that by decreasing the level of lactate in the blood. They also concluded that this oil can improve the muscular energy metabolism.
The use of Peppermint essential oil for muscle pain can be very beneficial for all types of muscle problems.
You must keep in mind though that this oil is very powerful and can have neurotoxic effects. You need to make sure your body can tolerate it and always use small doses. Also, never use it for whole body massages, because it can lower body temperature and cause hypothermia.
The oil is not recommended to people suffering from epilepsy and seizures. Also, make sure you always dilute it with a carrier oil before applying the oil to the skin. This way, the effect of your massage will be longer too.
I recommend using only 3 drops in a mix of other oils per two tablespoons of carrier oil. Try not to use it for long periods of time to avoid the skin getting used to it.
Peppermint essential oil for muscle pain can also be used as a great oil for sore muscles.
2) Eucalyptus essential oil (cold)
There are many varieties of Eucalyptus oils but they all contain eucalyptol (1, 8 cineole). This substance makes the oil a mild sedative and pain reliever. It can be very useful to soothe sore muscles and relieve tension after intense physical effort.
The oil reduces body temperature. This means it can also be used on hot pain sensations (inflammation) and flashes. Women at menopause should add the oil of Eucalyptus in their soothing blends.
3) Wintergreen essential oil (hot)
This aromatic essence contains natural methyl salicylate, the same substance found in aspirin. In one study, researchers combined methyl salicylate with menthol. They concluded that one single application managed to provide significant muscle pain relief for 8 hours.
The oil has analgesic properties but it’s a great anti-inflammatory as well.
The methyl salicylate it contains makes Wintergreen one of the best essential oils for muscle pain. But it also makes it dangerous. Wintergreen oil should never be consumed or used in large doses. It is not recommended to people that suffer from seizures and epilepsy. Neither pregnant women nor children should use this oil.
Wintergreen oil has a warming effect on the skin. That makes it perfect for most muscle problems and frost bites.
4) Clove bud essential oil (hot)
Clove oil is a great pain reliever. It numbs the nerves on the surface of the skin. It also stimulates the receptors to send the right messages to the brain. This one will then release feeling good hormones that will soothe the muscle pain and ease the soreness.
Clove bud oil is a hot oil, meaning it warms the area where it’s rubbed. It raises the temperature and warms up the muscles. Pain is known to respond well to heat or warm environments and this oil creates the perfect conditions. If you’re looking for good oils for sore muscles, Clove bud should definitely be on your list.
5) Laurel leaf essential oil (neutral)
This oil here is considered to be a neutral pain relieving essential oil. What does this means? It means that Laurel oil does not raise nor lower the temperature of the body in the painful area. This trait makes it useful in any kind of muscle pain relief blend, acting only on the local pain.
Laurel essential oil is soothing to the muscles and joints, and makes for a great natural ingredient.
6) Black pepper essential oil (hot)
This essence is one great natural remedy. It can deal with muscle pain, strains and muscle soreness. It warms the affected area and it improves the blood circulation there. This makes Black Pepper a great pain relieving essential oil. For that, it is often used in sports massage lotions.
Its fragrance is also very uplifting and stimulant. This scent is working on a deeper level than just the pain in the muscles. It can also help you cope with the pain if you’re over sensitive to it. You can safely use a moderate amount of it in blends meant to prevent muscle soreness too.
7) Marjoram essential oil (hot)
Marjoram is another warming essential oil for muscle pain. It has good pain relieving and antispasmodic properties that can help soothe the aching muscles.
While using this oil, your brain will also benefit from its properties. Marjoram is relaxing and stimulating at the same time.
Anti-Inflammatory Essential Oils for Muscle Pain
When an oil has this property, it means it can reduce inflammations and swelling in the body. We know that muscles swell and at times, depending on causes, they can also get inflamed.
Combining anti-inflammatory and analgesic oils can work better. They can soothe the problem more efficiently.
Here are some of the best anti-inflammatory essential oils for sore muscles and pain relief:
8) Lemon eucalyptus essential oil (cold)
This aromatic essence has a cooling effect and it can be used for inflammations of all sorts. It is a strong anti-inflammatory and pain reliever at the same time. You can use Lemon Eucalyptus to relax and soothe the muscle pain or to prevent it with a warming massage.
This oil is not usually recommended for diffusion. It can irritate the eyes and mucus membrane of the nose.
9) Lavender essential oil (hot)
The oil of Lavender is good at soothing pain and closing wounds. It is also good at repelling insects and improving the appearance of the skin, among others. This makes it over popular yet truly beneficial. It is a great addition to your beauty or natural remedies cabinet.
It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and a mild sedative effect. It’s great to use as essential oil for muscle pain. Mix it with cooling oils like Peppermint or Lemon Eucalyptus.
Generally, it is very well tolerated by all skin types. It can however, cause allergic reactions to sensible people. Always perform a skin patch test for all your oils before widespread use.
10) Roman chamomile essential oil (cold)
This essence has a cooling effect and works perfectly mixed with oils that warm the skin. This contrast will help relieving pain and inflammation.
Roman Chamomile is also very soothing by nature and it doesn’t cause allergies either. This oil can be a great choice to have around and use with other essential oils for sore muscles or pain.
It’s a safe to use oil, having very little contraindications. Most of them refer to the fact that you should consult your doctor before using the oil if you’re pregnant, nursing or suffering from seizures. The same goes for young children.
11) Cinnamon essential oil (hot)
This oil is a “counterirritant”. This means it can cause mild irritation to the skin, thus relieving pain and inflammation. It has a very warming effect. Make sure you at least combine it with a cooling oil before applying to an inflammation.
Test it for allergic reactions and read carefully about its precautions to avoid further health problems. Also, you should not inhale straight from the bottle or diffuse it in large quantities. It can harm your nasal passage and overwhelm your senses with its strong scent.
12) Helichrysum essential oil (hot)
This oil has a warming effect. It is a renowned anti-inflammatory essence that gets to the root of the problem. It soothes the inflammation and stops the throbbing sensation.
It relieves pain, but it also removes toxins and bacteria from the affected areas. The oil can also prevent blood clots, improving circulation.
Helichrysum is one of the best essential oils for muscle pain, especially if you mix it with other potent oils.
Make Your Own Essential Oil Blend for Muscle Pain
I’ve shown you the benefits of a massage for muscle pain relief. And I stand by it, as it’s my favorite way of using essential oils. It is also an effective way of enjoying their effects for a longer time.
Nonetheless, you should not expect the pain in your muscles to go away the instant you finish your massage. It may take more than one application to get the relief you need.
That being said, this doesn’t mean in any way that you should up the dosage! The oils will work, maybe slower at first. But their effect will last longer and there are no side effects to using them either.
#1 Blend Recipe for Muscle Pain
- Wintergreen essential oil: 4 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 5 drops
- Laurel leaf essential oil: 6 drops
- Arnica oil: 2 Oz (60ml)
Mix all these ingredients together and shake really well before each use. Apply a moderate amount of this blend all over the aching muscles or whenever you get a muscle cramp. Use gentle massage movements all along the length of your muscles.
Arnica oil is a vegetable oil, perfect as carrier for the other ingredients. It can also soothe and enhance the properties of essential oils. The essential oils for muscle pain used in this blend can all help relieve the pain and inflammation.
They all work in a perfect synergy, delivering their great properties to the aching area. Since Peppermint essential oil is great for muscle pain, it will undoubtedly help you get the relief you need.
Other Blends for Muscle Pain Relief
#2 Soothing the Muscles after Exercising
- Laurel bay essential oil: 7 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 5 drops
- Wintergreen essential oil: 3 drops
- Tamanu oil: 1 Oz
Mix all these oils together in a pump recipient and apply all over the aching areas. Massage the blend gently onto the skin and keep the area warm. Heat is a welcome factor that helps the oils absorb faster into the skin.
Laurel acts on the nervous system as well as on the pain. Wintergreen is especially helpful in relieving muscle pain. Remember its high content of methyl salicylate. It suppresses muscle cramps and it improves the blood circulation in the painful area.
Dilating the blood vessels will warm the muscles and relax them. Lavender is anti-inflammatory and it enhances all the other oils’ properties. Tamanu is a vegetable oil that also has anti-inflammatory effects.
These oils can also be used as essential oils for tight muscles, muscle soreness and pain.
#3 Muscle Tear Blend
- Lavender essential oil: 8 drops
- Immortelle essential oil: 8 drops
- Eucalyptus essential oil: 4 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Mix the oils together and shake well before use. Apply 3 – 4 times a day, for 2 – 3 days.
#4 Muscle Fatigue
- Clove Bud essential oil: 5 drops
- Peppermint essential oil: 7 drops
- Cinnamon essential oil: 3 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
You can remove the carrier from this blend and add it to a cup of Himalayan or Epsom salt. Use the mixture in your bath water. Or you can mix the essential oils with the carrier and apply on the aching area. All these oils are great essential oils for muscle pain relief!
You can also use this blend for muscle pain relief as a preventive measure too. Just warm your muscles with it before exercising.
#5 Muscle Spasms Blend
- Cinnamon essential oil: 3 drops
- Clove Bud essential oil: 3 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 tablespoon
Simply blend these oils together and apply on the affected areas with gentle massage movements.
Stress Causes Muscle Pain!
It is a proven fact that stress is the disease of the century. Long periods of stress can change:
- Eating habits.
- The quality of sleep.
- Your behavior.
- It can also weaken the immune system.
Stress in itself releases certain hormones that activate all the body’s functions. On a short term, this is a good thing. But when it lasts for weeks and months, not to mention years, stress can cause severe health problems.
Muscle pain is one of the most common stress symptoms. Your muscles may cramp because they remain tensed for a very long time. All this tension causes muscle tiredness and soreness. Lack of physical exercise and a bad sitting posture may also worsen the muscle pain you feel.
But what is the connection between muscle pain caused by stress and essential oils? The use of essential oils is called aromatherapy. In other words, inhaling their scents is a type of therapy. A very pleasant one, if you ask me!
Essential oils are not just beautiful scents. These scents are given by tiny active volatile molecules. These molecules evaporate and reach your brain and nervous system via the nose.
They act like hormones that transmit the brain messages to release neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters have the ability to make the whole body feel good and relax.
That is why Aromatherapy is so popular and useful these days. Relaxation and peace, a good resting sleep and less anxiety will all contribute to less and less muscle pain. Using essential oils for muscle pain relief is oh so easy and pleasant.
As long as you follow the recommended dosages, they are safe and beneficial to use on a daily basis.
Anxiety and panic may also worsen the pain. Once again, essential oils can help you manage these emotions and help you overcome the stress and the pain.
Anti-Stress Essential Oil Blend that Soothes Muscle Pain As Well
- Peppermint essential oil: 8 drops
- Grapefruit essential oil: 15 drops
- Clove essential oil: 5 drops
Keep these oils in a dark glass bottle and pour 4 – 5 drops in your essential oils diffuser. Make sure your room is well ventilated while you diffuse the oils.
Let them diffuse for 30 minutes and repeat every 2 hours. If you want, you can add a bit of carrier in a roll on bottle and make yourself a great muscle pain relief blend. It’s easy to carry all over the place.
About Muscle Soreness and Tips to Prevent It
Sore muscles occur whenever you work out, carry something heavy or because of an illness. When you are stressed, the tension accumulated over time may start aching too.
The best essential oils for sore muscles should be some of the ones I mentioned above. But generally speaking, most oils have some pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.
You could use whatever oil you like best and mix it with another one recommended for muscle pain. The same active ingredients can make essential oils for tight muscles a very accessible natural remedy.
Tips for Preventing Muscle Soreness
They say it’s better to prevent than to treat. Sometimes, certain unexpected activities may cause you muscle soreness. But most of the times this can be avoided. If you know you’re about to do something strenuous, try to:
- Massage all your muscles with a preventive muscle pain relief blend. That’ll warm them up a bit.
- Continue by warming up for 5 – 10 minutes with a bit of stretching.
- Start slow! If we’re talking about working out, start with a few repetitions per series at first. Once your muscles have adjusted to the effort, you can increase the number of repetitions per series.
- If your muscles ache, take two days break. Use some oils for sore muscles to massage the aching areas and speed up recovery. Use Peppermint essential oil for muscle pain as it has been proved to speed up the muscle metabolism.
- Don’t forget to hydrate before, during and after exercising or doing a demanding activity. Your muscles burn out calories and water, so you need them both to avoid muscle pain.
- Make sure to visit your doctor if the pain does not go away in a week. There could be something more serious. Knowing the exact cause may help you get the proper treatment plan. Essential oils for muscle pain relief should not replace specific medications. They’re an alternative therapy that helps on both the physical and the emotional plan.
There are lots of things to say about muscles and the way they’re affected by physical exercise or illness. If you’ve got this far, you know what I’m talking about!
The good news about this very long article is that I’ve given you the details about some of the best essential oils for sore muscles. You can choose your favorites from the 12 you have here. On top of that, you can also combine other oils you like in your blends. They will still work.
Using essential oils for muscle pain can be a pleasant experience. Just make sure you know the exact cause of your pain to use the proper remedies.
How do you soothe your muscle pain? Which essential oils do you prefer? Please use the comments section below to share your experience and preferences.