Aromatherapy for Sprains, Strains & Fractures
Injuries to muscles, ligaments and bones are common and can range from minor strains and sprains to more severe injuries such as dislocations and fractures. These tend to occur as a result of an accident, improper use of a muscle or over exertion, but can also be caused by disease, such as Osteoporosis for e.g. which is a condition that causes the bones to become weak and more likely to break. Sometimes simply tripping or slipping can cause a significant injury leading to time off work and normal day to day activities, as well as a lengthy period of rehabilitation.
Sprains versus strains
According to the NHS a sprain is when the ligament connecting two bones within a joint, is twisted, stretched or torn. This most commonly occurs in the ankles as well as the wrists, thumbs and knees.
A strain (or pulled muscle) is when the muscle itself is overstretched or torn.
Both types of injury can result in pain, swelling, bruising, muscle spasms and an inability to weight-bear or use the muscle or joint normally. Most of the time these injuries can be treated at home without seeking medical advice and will normally start to feel better within a couple of weeks. More severe sprains or strains may however take several months to return to normal.
Fractures and dislocations
A fracture is a broken bone that can vary from a thin crack (incomplete) to a complete break. These tend to occur after a fall or being struck by something. The most common signs of a fracture are pain, swelling and deformity.
A dislocation is where the bones in a joint are forced from their normal position. This is most common in shoulders and fingers but can also occur in ankles, knees, hips and elbows. Symptoms will include pain, an obvious deformity where the bones look out of place, bruising and swelling and an inability to move the joint.
Reducing the risk of injury
It is of course impossible to stop some accidents from occurring, however there are some steps that you can take to help reduce the risk of injury. For example, consuming a healthy diet including foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D can help maintain bone strength. As can regular exercise, especially weight-bearing activities.
Ways to help prevent sprains and strains include:
- Regular exercise to keep in shape and strengthen muscles and joints
- Warming up properly before exercise/sports and stretching afterwards
- Not exercising when tired or in pain
- Eating healthily to maintain strong muscles and a healthy weight
- Maintaining correct posture
- Using / wearing appropriate footwear or protective equipment
- Taking care in the workplace when lifting or performing repetitive tasks
How aromatherapy essential oils and carrier oils can help
Essential oils and carrier oils can play an invaluable role in reducing the risk of injury as well as helping relieve some of the physical and psychological symptoms if you do get injured. There are a wide variety of oils that can help with pain, bruising and inflammation, as well as oils that can soothe emotional issues such as anxiety, stress and even depression, which can occur after more severe injuries. We discuss some of the most effective oils and ways to use them below.
Pre-Sport Muscle Warming Blend
Apply a pre-sport massage lotion to prepare your body for action and to enhance your warm-up routine.
- 14ml of Moisturising Lotion
- 2 drops of Black Pepper essential oil
- 4 drops of Lavender essential oil
- 1 drop of Ginger essential oil
Post-Sport Muscle Soothing Blend
It’s also important to take time to cool down properly to reduce the risk of injury. If you are experiencing discomfort and soreness in your muscles, it is possibly caused by lactic acid. If there is insufficient oxygen in the body to completely break down glucose during physical activity, large amounts of lactic acid are produced as the body breaks down carbohydrates to produce energy. Lactic acid can irritate muscles, causing discomfort and soreness; it is, however, a defence mechanism preventing permanent damage during exertion. Massaging your limbs after activity will help remove the lactic acid from your body and the pain caused by it. Try the following blend:
- 14 ml of Infused Arnica Oil
- 2 drops of Cypress essential oil
- 4 drops of Juniper essential oil
- 1 drops of Angelica Root essential oil
You could also try our pre-blended Muscles Massage Oil which is ideal for both before and after exercise.
While personal trainers are increasingly popular, especially in gyms, people who do a lot of sport may also wish to invest in regular sports massages, as a qualified Sports Aromatherapist will aim to keep your muscles in the best possible condition, which can help reduce the risk of injury.
If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer from a sprain or strain, I recommend the following 4 steps known as RICE:
- Rest – avoid putting any weight on the injury for the first 24-48 hours
- Ice – apply an ice pack or cold compress for 10 minutes every 2-3 hours for the first 24 hours (always consider issue such as Raynaud’s Disease or cold hypersensitivity).
- Compression – apply a bandage to support the injury
- Elevation – keep the injured area raised as much as possible
Please note these are general guidelines only and that you should follow the advice given to you by your doctor or nurse.
Sprain & strain blend
- 3 drops Rosemary
- 2 drops Black Pepper
- 1 drop Benzoin
This blend can be used in a cold or hot compress, in the bath or in a massage oil. If using in the bath or for massage dilute in 14ml of base oil. Our infused Arnica oil is particularly recommended for its healing, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
Please note to help prevent swelling you should avoid hot baths, warm compresses, heat packs, massaging the injury site, and alcohol for the first couple of days.
A cold compress is best suited to the immediate treatment of soft tissue injuries to help to reduce inflammation. To make a cold compress, take 100ml of iced or refrigerated water and place in a bowl with the above-mentioned essential oils. Place a clean cloth in the bowl and let it soak up the water and oils. Wring out the excess water and place the cloth over the affected area. The process should be repeated as soon as the cloth warms to body temperature but should not be left on for longer than 10 minutes.
A hot compress can be used after the first couple of days to help reduce pain. Follow the directions above but use hot water, as warm as can be comfortably tolerated. A warm compress can be covered with cling film and wrapped in a towel and should be replaced as soon as it has cooled to body temperature.
Bathing is reputed to be one of the best ways to ease soreness once swelling has subsided. Try the pain-busting bath blend below or use the Sprain & Strain blend from above. Add to warm (not hot) running water. Then lie back and soak for approximately 20 minutes.
- 3 drops of Rosemary
- 1 drop of Eucalyptus
- 1 drop of Benzoin
- 1 cup of Epsom salts
Clay poultices or clay packs can also be helpful to help reduce pain and inflammation. These can be made by mixing French Green Clay with a little water until you have a stiff paste. You can also add one of the essential oil blends from above. Smear the mixture over the affected area, cover with a cloth and rest. Follow this procedure twice a day. Using cold water is helpful for swelling and hot water for pain-relief.
If you’re in a cast, you unfortunately can’t apply anything to the affected area. Once the cast has been removed however you can use the above-mentioned blends and techniques to help with any remaining pain or stiffness. If the cast has left your skin dry and irritated, you can use the following blend to soothe and recondition the skin.
- 14ml of Infused Calendula Oil
- 8 drops of Roman chamomile
- 2 drops of Sweet Orange
- 2 drops of Sandalwood
Finally, even a minor injury can leave you feeling low in mood, and depending on personal circumstances, some people may feel isolated and alone. Essential oils can therefore help to improve your mental wellbeing. For example, using a few drops of Bergamot in an aromatherapy diffuser or candle burner, or placing a few drops on a tissue and inhaling, can really help to boost your mood and lift your spirits. Bergamot is one of my favourite oils and is like inhaling sunshine from a bottle; and I would certainly recommend it if you’re feeling down.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful, and if you’re suffering with an injury I wish you a very speedy recovery.
Don't forget that all of the products mentioned above can be purchased from our website.
- Do not use Black Pepper if you have sensitive skin
- Do not use Rosemary if pregnant or epileptic