Sometimes, you push your muscles to the limit. Whether you went for a run for the first time in months, were lifting a heavy load, or are like me and decide to hike 15 miles to the summit of Mount Snowdon — the highest mountain in Wales — your muscles may give you a little bit of trouble. For me, views like this were worth it.
The next day my thighs were a touch tender, but luckily, I had some essential oils back at my mother-in-law’s house. Everyone knows how wonderful coconut oil is, but when you add specific essential oils into the mix, you can create some highly effective, all-natural remedies — like this muscle balm.
Using a coconut balm to soothe muscles
Although coconut oil is being used as a carrier oil (i.e., allowing your body to absorb beneficial plant-based oils), it too offers healing properties. When you’re initially working out, the “burn” that you experience is generally due to lactic acid — an organic compound that is formed during strenuous exercise due to the metabolism of glucose.
This is what leads to dreaded cramps. After the build up subsides, individuals often experience what’s known as “delayed onset muscle soreness.” Whether you increase the level of intensity or duration, if there’s a change in your level of physical activity, you will likely feel this phenomenon 24 to 48 hours following exercise.
In order to address this dull pain, anti-inflammatory drugs are often recommended. Instead, you can achieve optimal results without any adverse effects — especially when you massage the area with this homemade coconut oil balm. Although massage will not likely influence muscle function, research has shown that it can significantly reduce swelling.
If you massage the area with coconut oil, you will target inflamed muscle tissue. Coconut oil will increase the available blood supply, improving circulation and enhancing your body’s ability to heal. When aiming to reduce pain and inflammation even further, there are a number of essential oils that will provide natural relief, including:
- Peppermint — This minty fresh essential oil is often used based on its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anesthetic properties. Meaning, it can help you better combat stiffness, pain and overall inflammation.
- Rosemary — Once again, rosemary essential oil can significantly increase blood flow, yielding key restorative properties. If you’re experiencing full body soreness, adding a few drops to a hot bath can do wonders for your symptoms.
- Eucalyptus — Known to cool muscle pain, this versatile oil is the perfect anti-inflammatory solution, while also offering antibacterial properties. When you build up your essential oil collection, you’ll benefit from a range of applications. In this case, you could use eucalyptus oil for sore muscles, but also when suffering from respiratory issues.
- Lavender — Helping individuals sleep, lavender is a calming essential oil that has the ability to heal. Once again, it provides anti-inflammatory benefits, essentially targeting muscle stiffness. When combined with other oils, such as those listed above, you create a synergistic effect.
Homemade Muscle Balm
You can play around with different combinations and increments, depending on your personal preference or the intensity of your pain.
- 1 cup of coconut oil
- 15 drops of essential oil (in this case, we used 5 of each — lavender, rosemary and peppermint)
- 1 tsp olive oil for skin health (optional)
1. This remedy could not be any easier. First, melt the coconut oil in a double boiler.
2. Once melted, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Essential oils have what’s known as a flash point — which is a set temperature that a compound (in this case, an essential oil) will evaporate. Of course, you want to avoid this. As long as your oil is below 125°F for this recipe, you will be just fine.
3. After you have allowed your coconut oil to cool, add essential oils plus optional olive oil and stir. If it’s a hot summer’s day, place your balm in the fridge to harden. I generally store mine in a small mason jar in the fridge regardless — offering an effective balm whenever I need it.
Click here for 9 MORE reasons to use coconut oil every day.
— Krista Hillis