Pre-workout drinks and protein powders are great when it comes to fueling your workouts and building muscle. But what you should really consider adding to your workout arsenal are: essential oils! Extracted from flowers, herbs, grass and so on, these oils give off the fragrance of the plant in which it was derived. The fresh scents of essential oils are commonly used for spiritual awareness, DIY beauty creations and in homemade cleaning solutions for a fresh-smelling home. However, my personal favorite way to use this secret weapon is for relieving sore and tired muscles, disinfecting gym equipment and relaxing the body post-workout using aromatherapy.
Here are my top three ways to use essential oils for workout recovery and relaxation:
Use essential oils to soothe muscles
Using essential oils after a strenuous workout can help relieve stiffness and soreness. The botanicals in the oils work deeply into the muscles and naturally reduce pain and inflammation. As an added bonus, the scents can be calming and reduce stress. Several essential oils such as lavender, black pepper, ginger, peppermint and eucalyptus contain anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, which can aid aching muscles, as well as improve circulation and ease swelling. For some post-workout love, try any of these DIY recipes for muscle restoration below.
Muscle soak: In a bowl, mix 1 cup Epsom salt with 2 drops each black pepper and peppermint. Then, add 3 drops each juniper and lavender. Fill bathtub with warm water and agitate while adding salt mixture. Soak in bath for 30 minutes.
Calming shower gel: In a bowl, combine 1 oz. aloe vera gel with 5 drops each black spruce and mandarin. Store in a BPA-free plastic container. Use this to rinse off sweat and fight microbes. Black spruce and mandarin oils can aid in soothing sore muscles, reducing inflammation and muscle spasms and ease aching joints.
Disinfect with lemon and tea tree oil
Whether you’re at the gym or a yoga studio, always remember to wipe down the equipment. Yoga and exercise mats can become musty and dirty from sweat, and the pads on gym machines may contain harmful bacteria and germs that can make you sick. Essential oils such as lemon and tea tree are great natural disinfectants, containing both antimicrobial and antifungal properties. The scent will also keep you energized during your workout (unlike the chemical commercial cleaners). Make it yourself and toss it in your gym bag using this simple method:
Equipment cleanser: Add 10 drops each tea tree and lemon with 1 oz. water. Pour into a BPA-free, recyclable bottle and shake.
After a tough workout, you may find it hard to relax, especially if it’s late in the day. Diffusing certain essential oil blends can help relax the body as well as calm the mind. Inhaling essential oils can be very effective in relieving muscle tension along with calming the nervous system. Using an essential oils diffuser, try either of the following (according to directions for diffuser) to fill the air with a peaceful, calming scent.
For relaxation: Mix 2 drops each lavender and jasmine with 15 drops vanilla essential oil.
To unwind: Mix 2 drops each lavender and sandalwood with 1 drop chamomile essential oil.