The athlete in all of us embraces the eternal quest for optimum performance—walking that extra mile, pressing another set of squats, or holding a Warrior II pose longer than last class. Essential oils can stimulate energy pre-workout or help you relax after a challenging session. Here are 3 ways to use aromatherapy for pre-workout energy, post-workout muscle soreness, and water weight gain. We’ve included our favorite DIY recipes too!
1. Energy-Boosting Oils
For an energizing blend (and great workout motivator!), start with essential oil of grapefruit (Citrus paradisii), which has a subtle sweetness that belies its powerful metabolism-boosting properties. Then add mood-brightener and immunity builder lemon (Citrus limonum) and invigorating peppermint (Mentha piperita); the latter offers natural compounds that support respiratory functions. In addition to opening airways for maximum oxygen exchange, peppermint’s refreshing scent has also been proven to reduce perceived effort while exercising and will help you eke out a few more reps.
Pre-Workout Energy Blend
4 oz. distilled water or 1 oz. carrier oil
18 drops grapefruit
16 drops lemon
6 drops peppermint
How to Use: Disperse essential oils in a diffuser for approximately 30 minutes before your workout to provoke alertness and increase oxygen levels. Exercising outdoors? This blend does double-duty as a refreshing body mist as well. Or blend the oils with your favorite carrier, such as sweet almond or coconut oil, and apply as needed under the nose, breathing deeply throughout your session to maintain focus and energy output.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Essential Oils + Better Lung Function
For a spicier blend that offers anti-inflammatory benefits and promotes endurance, choose clove, cinnamon, and bergamot essential oils. Both clove (Syzygium aromaticum) and cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) contain chemical properties that enable higher oxygen levels in the body’s cells that result in healthy energy functions. They also work synergistically to stimulate the nervous system. Add sweet Italian citrus essential oil bergamot (Citrus bergamia), a natural adaptogen that helps the adrenal system manage the body’s response to stress and balance the metabolism. Last, essential oil of grand fir (Abies grandis) with its decongesting properties will heighten performance and along with clove, offer pain-reducing properties.
Workout Blend II
1 oz. carrier oil
6 drops clove
6 drops cinnamon
18 drops bergamot
10 drops grand fir
How to Use: Apply the blend as needed before or after your workout to relieve achy muscles and joints.
3. Anti-Bloat Essential Oils + Skin Soothers
Essential oils of cypress and juniper can be powerful aromatics that will help tone the skin and banish bloat, especially in the abdomen. The astringent properties of cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) also help improve poor circulation by strengthening blood vessels and tightening muscles throughout the body. Juniper (Juniperus communis) essential oil acts as a purifying agent, cleansing the body of toxins and excess water. Along with essential oil of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and its skin healing and soothing properties, a 20-minute soak will help you recover after a workout.
Banish the Bloat Soak
1/2 cup Epsom salts
18 drops cypress
10 drops juniper
18 drops lavender
How to Use: To ensure optimum dispersion of oils, first draw your bath, then add the blend before stepping into the tub. For best results, increase circulation by dry brushing your body from the feet up towards the heart before you bathe.
Soak Instead of Shower
Instead of a shower after your session, opt for a magnesium-rich Epsom salts soak, which, according to the National Academy of Sciences, helps easy sore muscles by reducing lactic acid build-up common with strenuous exercise. Magnesium also boosts the body’s energy production, helps eliminate toxins, and fights fatigue.
Note: If you are pregnant or on medication, please check with your physician prior to using essential oils. Conduct a skin patch test prior to use. Although these blends contain a small percentage of essential oils, they may interact with some medicine.