We’ve all experienced that dull, aching soreness that sets in our muscles after an intense workout, a long day of physical labor, or any unaccustomed activity that pushes our bodies further than they are used to going. It starts as a slight tightness and discomfort that gradually builds into a constant throbbing and stiffness that makes even small movements feel like torture. This phenomenon, known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), can turn an otherwise pleasant day into a rough one as you find yourself dragging your limbs around painfully.
But before you reach for over-the-counter pain pills to ease the discomfort, consider looking in your medicine cabinet for an all-natural remedy that could help provide soothing relief, Epsom salt. This humble mineral compound, named for the mineral-rich spring discovered in Epsom, England, has been used to treat muscle soreness for centuries. Although often employed as a component of bath salts today, Epsom salt’s high concentration of magnesium makes it so effective at easing the symptoms of DOMS when absorbed through the skin.
So before you resign yourself to hobbling around in pain for days, consider giving Epsom salt for muscle soreness a try. This mineral-rich remedy has been turning unpleasantly sore days into ones of soothing relief for generations. Keep reading to learn exactly how Epsom salt works to ease muscle soreness and the simple ways you can use it at home to find the relief you’ve been looking for.
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Anecdotal and Scientific Evidence
For centuries, people have used Epsom salt soaks anecdotally to find relief from sore, aching muscles. There are countless accounts of the soothing, rejuvenating effects of these mineral-rich baths. Proponents claim that magnesium works almost like magic, pulling pain and tension out of muscles and joints. While anecdotal reports may not hold scientific merit, they do illustrate how strongly people feel about the therapeutic powers of Epsom salt.
But does the science actually back up these glowing anecdotes? There are mixed reactions in research. There seems no high-quality evidence that people absorb bathwater magnesium through their skin. According to Tod Cooperman, M.D., answering a question says that “Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) added to a bath can raise magnesium levels in the body, according to a preliminary study”
Additionally, a review in the International Journal of Dermatology concluded that Epsom salt baths can be an effective form of magnesium delivery for deficiency syndromes. Considering that DOMS is exacerbated by inflammation and magnesium plays an anti-inflammatory role, the scientific literature supports the traditional wisdom on Epsom salts.
So while the personal accounts of Epsom salt’s powers may be anecdotal, they find backing in current medical research to some extent. Both established wisdom and some scientific evidence indicate Epsom salt may very well be an easy, natural way to find relief from sore, aching muscles.
What Causes Muscle Soreness?
Muscle soreness, also called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), has a few key causes:
- Lactic Acid Buildup: During exercise, your muscles produce lactic acid. Too much lactic acid can cause a burning sensation and stiffness.
- Microtears: Strenuous exercise leads to tiny tears in muscle fibers. When these fibers repair themselves, they cause discomfort.
- Inflammation: Your body increases blood flow to the damaged muscles, which can cause swelling. This puts pressure on nerve endings, leading to soreness.
How Epsom Salt for Muscle Soreness Helps?
Epsom salt helps with many ailments including muscle soreness and cramps. It can help address the causes of DOMS in a few key ways:
- Magnesium: This mineral, which Epsom salt is rich in, helps regulate nerve function and relax muscle tissue. It also helps reduce inflammation.
- Improved Blood Flow: An Epsom salt soak dilates blood vessels, enhancing circulation. Better blood flow speeds up the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to repair muscle damage.
Step-by-Step Guide to Using Epsom Salt
Taking an Epsom salt bath is easy and soothing. Follow these simple steps:
- Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath. The warmer the better for relaxing muscles.
- Soak sore muscles for 15-20 minutes to allow the magnesium to be absorbed into your skin and muscles.
- After your bath, rinse off and gently stretch or massage muscles to promote circulation.
- Repeat daily as needed until muscle soreness subsides.
Many find this salt soak helps accelerate muscle recovery.
Other Helpful Tips for Muscle Soreness
While Epsom salt baths should provide soothing relief, you can pair them with other remedies for optimal results:
- Gentle stretching helps improve flexibility and blood flow to injured tissue. Avoid sudden movements.
- Applying ice packs can reduce inflammation and numb sore areas temporarily. Use for 20 minutes at a time.
- Over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can ease pain. Follow dosage instructions.
- Light exercise increases blood flow. Try walking or gentle yoga. Just don’t overdo it.
Safety Precautions with Epsom Salt
An Epsom salt bath is generally safe, but keep these precautions in mind:
- Pregnant women should consult a doctor before use. Too much magnesium may be harmful.
- Avoid getting the Epsom salt solution in the eyes or mouth. Rinse if contact occurs.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and after your bath.
Other Healthy Uses of Epsom Salt
- Reduce Stress and Improve Mood: Soaking in an Epsom salt bath promotes relaxation and eases stress by boosting magnesium levels. Magnesium plays a key role in mood regulation and anxiety reduction. Many report feeling less stressed and more tranquil after bathing in the mineral-rich salts.
- Reduce Inflammation: Magnesium sulfate, the compound that gives Epsom salt its name, has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers. This makes it beneficial for inflammatory conditions. For localized inflammation, soaking the affected area in an Epsom salt bath can aid healing.
- Promote Restful Sleep: The calming and stress-reducing qualities of Epsom salt make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Many find soaking before bed conducive to a satisfying night’s rest. This in turn enables better health and healing.
- Overcome Magnesium Deficiencies: With its high magnesium content, Epsom salt is an excellent way to increase magnesium levels. Since magnesium deficiency is common, adding Epsom salt soaks provides needed magnesium absorption to prevent symptoms like muscle cramps, fatigue, and anxiety.
- Healing Sunburns: Sunburns benefit greatly from Epsom salt baths. The magnesium sulfate compound helps take away inflammation, discomfort, and skin irritation caused by too much sun exposure. It supports healing by lowering swelling.
- Soothes Foot Pain: The anti-inflammatory traits of Epsom salts offer relief when soaked in a foot bath. For various foot conditions like plantar fasciitis and arthritis that involve inflamed nerves and joints, Epsom salt eases Foot achiness for several hours afterward.
- Exfoliant for Skin: As an add-on to your regular skincare routine, Epsom salt provides exfoliation to reveal fresh new skin. The salt’s coarse texture sloughs off dull skin cells and unclogs pores as it circulates in bath water.
- Healing Boils: The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions of Epsom salt may help bring boils to a head. By softening the skin tissue and allowing drainage, it quickens healing time. The minerals get absorbed to fight infection too.
- Relief from Hemorrhoids: The soothing, anti-inflammatory relief Epsom salt provides lends itself useful for inflamed hemorrhoids. It can decrease swelling, discomfort, and bleeding when added to a sitz bath. Many report significant relief from soaking in this mineral-rich solution.
- Relief from UTI: The minerals may prevent bacterial growth when used both internally and in bath water. When feeling UTI symptoms coming on, adding Epsom salt to your bath and drinking some magnesium sulfate water could potentially ward off UTI infection.
When sore, aching muscles have you moving gingerly, reach for Epsom salt. A centuries-old natural remedy that can bring soothing relief.
Epsom salt contains abundant magnesium, which helps relax muscles, reduce inflammation, and improve circulation when absorbed through the skin in a warm bath.
Simply add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to bathwater and soak sore muscles for 15-20 minutes to allow the magnesium to penetrate tissue.
While anecdotal accounts of Epsom salt’s powers abound, scientific research backs it up too, with few studies confirming increased magnesium levels from Epsom salt baths.
With both wisdom and science supporting its efficacy, Epsom salt is an easy, effective way to find relief from DOMS naturally right at home. A warm soak will have those aching muscles feeling comfortable again in no time.
Noble Home Remedies relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for accuracy and reliability while avoiding tertiary references. Our editorial policy provides more information about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date.
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