The use of essential oils for muscle and joint recovery has been in practice for centuries due to their anti- inflammatory and healing properties. For centuries poultices, consisting of infusions of essential oils from plants or the whole plant, were used to treat pain and inflammation. These were applied onto a sore muscle or joint, and even as recently as fifty years ago, lead and opium soaked bandages were commonly applied to bruised and sore muscles.
How Essential Oils Relieve Symptoms
Essential oils are practical because small quantities have a beneficial effect and are easily applied when mixed with a base oil or cream. Different essential oils have their own specific effect: some are anti- inflammatory, others relieve pain and some promote cell regeneration. The main benefit is the localised effect of essential oils that can be targeted to a specific area of injury or pain. These oils are rapidly absorbed, fast acting and are quickly metabolised, thereafter leaving no lasting or harmful side effects if used in small concentrations.
This is good news for a sportsperson that endures injury whilst training, especially if trying to avoid over the counter pain medication with potential longterm harmful side effects.
The Sportsman’s Key Essential Oils for Sports injuries are – Peppermint, Rosemary, Ginger and Lavender
In clinical studies (IJA.2010.vol7, issue 2) essential oils are shown to reduce inflammation and pain and improve circulation, which is why they have become well used by sportsmen or women. These oils can be used alone but when combined in the correct quantities and applied correctly, the results are more noteworthy.
Peppermint has a cooling effect on muscles and joints – its main constituent is menthol and this ingredient is well known to help with injuries by its cooling icy effect.
Rosemary has a slight irritant effect – it is rubifacient which means it stimulates circulation bringing fresh blood to an area which in turn supplies fresh oxygen and removes toxins or acid build up. It warms up an area of joint or muscle.
Ginger has a warming effect on muscles and joints, relaxing tight muscles and taught tendons.
Lavender has many uses including improving metabolism of cell tissue and repairing and promoting cell growth. This is especially useful where tissue has been damaged and needs to recover.
The above essential oils work better if they are combined because of their alternate actions or the conflicting effects of cooling and warming. This has a beneficial action on the rapid healing of a joint or muscle that has been under strain.
Applications of Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used in a diluted form, mixed into a base or carrier oil, or a cream or gel. They can be also be used diluted in warm water in which bandages are soaked and applied to an injured area. The creams, gels or oils can be massaged into the injured joint or muscle with the massage action also playing an important role in alleviating the pain.
For very painful areas, where the muscle or tendon is too sore to massage, or even for awkward areas where massage is tricky (like a knee or elbow) essential oils mixed in a water base can be applied via a spray application.
Bath oils or salts containing the effective essential oils are wonderfully therapeutic as they provide absorption of the oils with the warmth increasing circulation and therefore healing.
Take a look at our Pain relief Products
Watch the video of Clive explaining how our Pain Relief range works.