Essential oils, with their fragrant natural ingredients from trees, shrubs, herbs and flowers, have long been known for improving health and wellbeing thanks to their therapeutic properties. If you enjoy fitness and working out, the good news is that there are dozens of ways you can harness the power of aromatherapy in sports and exercise. With its ability to work on both a physical and psychological level, aromatherapy can motivate you when beginning a new regime, ease muscular aches and strains and even sharpen and focus the brain when aiming for a new personal best. Here are 6 practical ways to get you out of the starting blocks with this sweet-smelling natural therapy.
Please note that many of the aromatherapy essential oils mentioned below are not suitable for use during pregnancy, breastfeeding and for those with certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure and epilepsy. Always check with a qualified practitioner or your GP if you have a pre-existing medical condition before using essential oils.
Spice Things Up with Ginger
Many of us want to start a new fitness regime but procrastinate and wait for that elusive ‘perfect moment’ to begin. If you’re in need of an extra jolt to get you up off the couch, warming and reviving ginger essential oil could just motivate you to lace up your trainers again! This mood-boosting oil will lift the lethargy and lend you the confidence to put your plans into action. Treat yourself to a new notebook or planner and vaporise ginger oil in an oil burner as you map out your new fitness goals. Or, put a few drops on the pages of your planner and the aroma will waft over you and re-focus you every time you update it.
Perform Better with Peppermint
The cool refreshing aroma of peppermint will put a real pep in your step, clear mental fatigue and perk you up to perform at your very best. Use an oil burner or vaporiser to fill the room with the uplifting fragrance as you get ready for your fitness session, or put a few drops of this invigorating oil on a handkerchief and inhale before and during your workout. Peppermint also blends well with other clearing and stimulating oils such as rosemary and eucalyptus to give you extra determination and drive. You can also dab a few drops of the essential oils onto cotton wool balls and place in your trainers overnight for sweeter smelling shoes!
Pre-Workout Rosemary Rub
We all know the importance of warming up before a workout to loosen the muscles, prepare the body for exercise and help prevent injury, but aromatherapy can step in here too. To make a pre-workout blend, add 3 drops of stimulating rosemary and black pepper essential oils, and 2 drops of uplifting grapefruit essential oil to 20ml of carrier oil such as grapeseed oil. Mix well. Apply briskly, working in strokes towards the heart. Focus on areas you’ll be targeting during your workout to warm the body up and get the circulation flowing.
Let the Oils Take the Strain
If you’re unlucky enough to suffer a sprain or strain during exercise, essential oils with analgesic and relaxing properties such as lavender and chamomile can go some way towards reducing inflammation and helping the healing process. Depending on the injury, hot water (for a dull ache) or ice-cold water (for sharper, more acute pain) can be used, to which you can add a couple of drops of either lavender or chamomile essential oils. Soak a flannel in the solution, wring out and cover the area with the soothing compress for 10 minutes.
Melt Away with Marjoram
One way to stay super-motivated during a workout is to remind yourself of the richly-deserved aromatherapy bath you can sink into when you’ve finished! Sweet marjoram is a powerful muscle relaxing essential oil that will help to ease away aches, pains, stiffness and soreness after exercise, and will soothe on an emotional level too. Its warm, spicy aroma blends well with bergamot and lavender. Mix 2 drops of each essential oil with 20ml of carrier oil of your choice (or milk) and swirl into hand-hot water. If you prefer a shower, mix the same amount of essential oils into 20ml of unperfumed shower gel instead.
Treat Yourself to a Sports Massage
Sports massage involves using soft tissue remedial techniques and exercise advice to help with recovery and rehabilitation after injury, and to prevent future injury. It can also be used to enhance performance. A full consultation and assessment are carried out so that the treatment, or course of treatments, can be carefully adapted to the individual’s needs. If you would like to study sports massage, Centre of Excellence offers a comprehensive Sports Massage Practitioner course which guides you through everything you need to know to pursue a successful career.
The information given is for personal information and interest only. It is not intended to offer professional medical advice or treatment of any condition. Always consult with your GP if you are concerned about any health conditions or are considering starting a new exercise regime.