If you suffer from muscle pain, essential oils can help you reduce inflammation, ease spasms, and increase blood circulation. While there are many oils you can use, we believe these are the five best essential oils for muscle pain.
Why would you use essential oils for muscle pain?
Muscular pain can occur from a number of reasons. You may be dealing with muscle pain as a result of:
- A long and particularly hard workout
- Fatigue or pain after an illness
- Tension or stress from work, especially in the neck, head, and shoulders
- A long road trip or flight
- A chronic condition, like fibromyalgia
- A chronic pain condition, such as lower back pain, arthritis or tendonitis
- An injury
For muscle pain caused by injuries or other conditions, it’s always important to talk to your doctor first. They’ll help you find treatments that can resolve the underlying condition causing your pain. But, if you’re suffering from pain in your muscles after a workout or something similar, essential oils for muscle pain after workout can be a great option. In some cases, these can help relieve the inflammation and improve blood flow to the area.
If you’re suffering from another condition, essential oils are a non-invasive option to be used alongside your other treatments. These can help complement other therapies and encourage rest, healing, and calm. Reducing stress in any capacity can also help reduce your pain. So, while essential oils will not treat your condition directly, they can help with your overall mood and stress levels.
As always, talk to your doctor before trying any of these oils. And make sure to follow the safety advice listed here and on the bottle itself. Essential oils are non-invasive and generally safe to use, but too much can lead to skin rashes or other side effects. Further, never ingest these oils unless you’ve been advised to do so by your doctor.
What essential oils are good for sore muscles?
We discuss some of the most commonly used essential oils for sore muscles below. But, in our research, we’ve found that the five following essential oils for muscle pain are the best and most effective options for the majority of patients:
- Black pepper
While these will help many patients, for reasons we list below, there are other options if these don’t help. Other essential oils for muscular pain include:
- German chamomile
- Clary sage
Talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional about including these other essential oils into your massage or bath routine.
The 5 best essential oils for muscle pain
The following essential oils can provide a wide range of benefits, from reducing muscle spasms to improving circulation to inducing feelings of calm. Here’s what helps the most patients with muscle pain.
If you’ve ever stepped into a lavender-scented bath or used a stuffed eye pillow at night, you know how calming this wonder herb can be. While these relaxation and sleep-inducing benefits are important, lavender is also one of the best essential oils for muscle pain. As Authority Health Mag writes:
“The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties in Lavender oil are effective for treating pains arising out of muscle stress and tension. Lavender oil will also ease swelling and improve blood circulation. It is excellent for relieving the muscle spasm caused by mental stress and anxiety.”
For most, lavender essential oil can:
- Ease muscular swelling
- Improve blood circulation
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Induce the calming response of the parasympathetic nervous system
- Mildly sedate the body
Use lavender oil for migraines, tension headaches, and other pain conditions. You can use this oil by:
- Inhaling it while breathing deeply
- Mixing a few drops into a carrier oil, like coconut oil, and massaging it into the sore area
- Adding it to a diffuser before sleeping
- Adding 10-15 drops into a warm bath
2. Black pepper
Yep — it’s derived from the same one on your dinner table! And this essential oil can provide some great health benefits since it:
- Relieves pain
- Helps warm the body
- Improves circulation
As BelMarra Health explains:
“Black pepper essential oil is great for aches and pains. It has a warming effect when used on the skin, making it ideal for promoting blood circulation. It also contains analgesic properties to help with arthritis pain and sore muscles.”
Black pepper is a great essential oil for muscle pain after an intense workout, sore muscles, arthritis, and other pain conditions.
Arnica oil is an incredibly effective essential oil for a number of issues, especially osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel, inflammation, and exercise-induced muscle pain.
A study in Rheumatology International showed that topical arnica oil could provide pain relief from osteoarthritis in the hands. Another study showed that it could help with knee osteoarthritis. Finally, a study in the European Journal of Sport Science found that those who used arnica after intense exercise had less pain and muscle tenderness 72 hours afterwards.
As Dr. Axe explains:
“The thymol found in arnica has been found to be an effective vasodilator of subcutaneous blood capillaries, which helps facilitate the transport of blood and other fluid accumulations and acts as an anti-inflammatory to aid the normal healing processes. Arnica oil also stimulates the flow of white blood cells, which process congested blood to help disperse trapped fluid from the muscles, joints and bruised tissue.”
Use arnica oil by massaging it into the skin with a carrier oil. Most high-quality arnica preparations already include a carrier oil.
As we wrote about in our post on essential oils for fibromyalgia, helichrysum is one of the best essential oils for that condition. It’s made from the Asteraceae plant in the Mediterranean, where it’s been used from thousands of years as a medicinal plant. Helichrysum is an anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, and anti-oxidant. It also improves circulation. It’s a great option for people who are suffering from rheumatic conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome, nerve pain, or sciatica.
This essential oil can:
- Reduce inflammation
- Decrease pain
- Help repair blood vessels and nerves
You can inhale this oil for calming effects, add a few drops to your bath, massage it in topically, or use it in a diffuser at home.
Finally, peppermint oil is another great option for reducing muscle pain. It acts as an antispasmodic, analgesic for sleep issues, and is anti-inflammatory. For most, peppermint essential oil can:
- Calm and decrease muscle spasms
- Relieve nausea
- Relax muscles, especially in the lower back
- Reduce tension, inflammation, and pain
- Act as a decongestant and relieve pain from sinus headaches
Peppermint oil is especially beneficial for those with muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, arthritis, and headaches. To use this essential oil, Dr. Eric Z suggests:
“The cooling, pain relieving effects that peppermint oil has make it soothing for headache applications. Massaged with a carrier oil onto the site of pain, such as sinus pressure, peppermint can help to work the pain of a headache away. It may also help to counter headaches that are triggered by scent.”
It can also be used in a diffuser, applied topically with a carrier oil for a massage, added to a bath, or used in a cold or hot compress.
How to use essential oils for muscle pain
There are a number of ways to use essential oils. You can:
- Combine the oil with a carrier oil and perform a self-massage or ask a partner to to help
- Draw a bath and add 10-15 drops of these essentials oils
- Create a hot or cold compress
- Add it to a diffuser while you sleep
While some of these can be ingested, it’s always best to avoid this unless your doctor has approved you to do so. Always use a carrier oil to dilute these oils before they come into contact with your skin. Carrier oils may include jojoba, avocado, magnesium, or coconut oil. If you’re pregnant, you should also talk to your doctor before trying any of these. We also recommend using a small amount of these oils in a test area to make sure you’re not allergic to them.
Finally, always buy high-quality essential oils. Any preparations should only have a few number of ingredients listed (the oil itself and perhaps a carrier). Avoid any that contain fragrances as these irritate the skin. If you use high-quality oils, you’ll get the most benefits from them and can avoid many potential side effects.
If you suffer from muscle pain, these essential oils can help. However, if your pain has lasted for more than three months and is greatly affecting your quality of life, it’s time to talk to a doctor. A pain specialist can diagnose the cause of your pain and suggest a number of traditional and complementary treatments to help your pain. They’ll work closely with you to find the treatments you’re most comfortable in pursuing, while also using cutting-edge techniques to get to the source of your pain. These may include trigger point injections or physical therapy. Click the button below to find a pain specialist in your area who can help.