Hello Friends and Happy Friday from Nebraska! I really can’t believe it’s April…and that my 28th birthday is next week! I really can’t pretend I’m not in my late 20’s anymore.
Today’s Did You Know Friday (<-find out more here) topic is Epsom salt baths. I’m mostly going to discuss the healing benefits for sore muscles, but I want to dig into a little bit of the other uses of Epsom salts because there are many!
[ In case you don’t know, Did You Know Friday is hosted on the first Friday of the month on 3 different blogs. You can link your health, fitness or nutrition posts and/or learn from all of the smart party people linking up! ]
Training for a Race and Working on My Feet
Lately I’ve been training for some races, the first one being the Leprechaun Chase 10K I did in Omaha last month and the next one is a half-marathon in Lincoln in May (I know, I’m in Nebraska a lot for someone who lives in Minnesota).
I won’t pretend that I’ve been super hardcore about my training, because I really haven’t. I have attempted a longer run once a week that increases as the weeks go on as well as a couple of training runs during the week and strength training at home depending on how tired my body feels from work.
The tricky thing about working on your feet all day 3-4 times per week is that once the work day is over…your body tends to feel exhausted and definitely sore after a couple of busy days in a row.
As a person who tries to listen to her body, I’m always torn as to whether or not I should attempt a workout on these days when I’m sore from work. I’m also torn as to whether or not I should be working out every other day I’m not at work because where is the rest and recuperation that my body needs?
I decided I wanted to try something new to help my body heal a little faster so that I will actually be able to complete more of my training without killing my body.
My Epsom Salt Bath Results
So what have I tried? The Epsom salt bath, for one.
After hearing numerous runners rave about the power of the Epsom salt bath, I decided to invest in a bag myself. I’m really not sure why I started buying the bags on Amazon…maybe because I’ve never found them at Target? I always get the combo bag with one bag of lavender and one bag of eucalyptus spearmint (<-affiliate link). Because I like to have options. And be fancy.
The thing is, I’ve never really been a bath person. I like the idea of taking a bath, but it never seemed to live up to the luxurious bubble baths I’d seen on tv. One time I even dehydrated myself when I attempted a too-hot-for-me bath AND a glass of wine. (tv lies!) Also, sitting and doing nothing for a long period of time is oddly stressful for me.
But I decided to give it a go to relieve the sore muscles.
Not to brag or anything, but I’ve actually become quite good at taking baths. I’ve gotten to the point where I can watch a whole episode of Parenthood before I need to get out. It’s just taken a bit of practice and a want to get those sore muscles better! (also I leave the wine out of the tub, replace it with water and make sure the bath isn’t too toasty)
What have my personal results been with Epsom salt baths?
- I’ve found the bath to be quite soothing.
- The salts make the water feel nice (does that even make sense?).
- The smell of lavender or eucalyptus and spearmint is always very relaxing.
- I feel like I sleep better after taking an Epsom salt bath. I kind of want to take one now as I’m typing this past my bedtime.
- In general, I haven’t been overly sore since my Leprechaun Chase 10k and I didn’t take any baths around that time.
Actual Benefits of an Epsom Salt Bath
From what I’ve heard, and from what the packages of Epsom salts say, Epsom salt baths help relieve sore muscles. Something to do with the salt and water and maybe osmosis and toxins…
For the record, whenever someone suggests that an item “removes toxins” I have to hold back an eyeroll. This phrase is thrown about at the gym I work at and it drives me crazy. What toxins? What specifically is this cleanse or whatever getting rid of? I can almost guarantee I would get a blank stare if I asked those questions. I’m not saying that there aren’t “toxins” in the body, but I just feel like that word is thrown about a little too often in the wrong context.
Since it is Did You Know Friday, I decided I should do some research to find out what the heck the Epsom salts AKA Magnesium Sulfate really do for pain. The results were a bit disappointing.
It turns out there isn’t a whole lot of research that has been done on the subject of Epsom salts and sore muscles. The best I could dig up was from the Epsom salt council and even then…there weren’t any studies cited. There was also a link to a document written by the Universal Health Institute, but still no studies were cited.
The thing is that magnesium sulfate do have their benefits, it’s just not apparent that:
a. one of the benefits is relieving muscle soreness or
b. that the body is even absorbing the magnesium sulfate through the bath water.
Other Epsom Salt Uses
Magnesium, has been proven effective for:
- Taking orally for constipation.*
- Taking orally as an antacid.*
- Quickly treating high blood pressure during pregnancy with a shot or intravenously.
Magnesium is possibly effective for:
- Diseases in the heart and blood vessels.
- Irregular heart beats.
- Chronic fatigue.
- Weak bones.
- Chest pain.
- PMS—including mood swings, bloating and headaches. (sounds good to me!)
*Of course be sure you read the package or consult a doctor before you start downing your bath salts by the spoonful.
I know now that the results haven’t been proven, but I personally feel better after having used epsom salts in a bath. It could be the scent, or the way the salts make the water feel, or even a placebo effect, but I like using them and will continue to do so. I just won’t expect any dramatic relief to my sore muscles. 🙂
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