It’s the day after that half-marathon, dance performance, barre class or level-upping workout, and your thighs are killing you. While you feel satisfied that you pushed your limits, the pull you feel every time you stand up is really starting to get to you.
No need to pop pain killers or muscle relaxers. These don’t solve the problem: they simply cut off communication between the location of pain and your brain.
There is, however, an essential oil that may relieve you of all your muscle soreness without tricking your brain.
What is this seemingly magical essential oil?
The answer is peppermint essential oil.
What is Peppermint Essential Oil?
The peppermint plant is a natural hybrid between spearmint and watermint. Peppermint oil is extracted from the herb through a process called steam distillation. Historically it has been used to ease stomach pain, headaches, and many other ailments.
Peppermint essential oil is still used for a variety ailments. Unfortunately, there has been limited research with regards to its effectiveness for most illnesses, but that doesn’t mean the benefits don’t exist.
Today, it is taken in small doses to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the common cold, headaches, and other conditions. Peppermint oil is also used directly on the skin in diluted formulas for headaches, itching, and, most importantly for most athletes, muscle aches.
How to Use Peppermint Essential Oil to Muscle Aches
Some manufacturers will tell you to put a drop or two of pure peppermint oil directly on your skin. However, on sensitive skin this could cause irritation or rashes. For this reason, it is recommended to dilute peppermint oil by mixing 1-2 drops in a teaspoon of a carrier oil, like coconut oil or olive oil. Rub it on the muscles that are sore, massaging the muscles to help release tension. After the first application, wait fo 12 hours before applying again to ensure that you don’t experience a secondary reaction.
For a Peppermint Oil Massage…
Massaging the sore area with peppermint oil is the most effective way to relieve sore muscles. Massaging in itself warms the muscle and helps to dissipate the lactic acid causing the soreness. As you massage your sore muscle, it is being absorbed by the skin and being inhaled through the nose, resulting in a double action on the sore muscles.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Peppermint essential oil has an important content of menthol, which gives it its penetrating scent. It should not be used on infants or young children, and the oil should always be diluted. Large doses can cause nausea, headaches, and dizziness, among others.