Understanding Epsom Salt Baths
I tell people all the time, at the clinic, to do an Epsom salt bath after a massage, heavy workout or physical activity. But I never really take the time to explain why it's a good idea, so here we go.
Why Epsom salts?
Epsom salts are made up of the minerals magnesium and sulfate, hence it’s chemical name magnesium sulfate.
Magnesium plays a very important role in the human body. It helps to regulate more than 300 enzymes that are responsible for everything from muscle control and electrical impulses to energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
More specifically magnesium eases stress and improves sleep and concentration; helps muscles and nerves function properly; helps prevent artery hardening and blood clots; helps body use insulin more effective; reduces inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps; and improves oxygen use.
Sulfate is also an important mineral in the body. It is necessary for many biological processes, to help flush toxins from the body and to help form proteins in brain tissue and joints.
How do Epsom salt baths work to ease muscle aches?
The theory is that the water breaks Epsom salts down into it's two chemical components, magnesium and sulfate, then both get absorbed through your skin.
The absorbed magnesium could help trigger your muscles to relax and aid in removal of toxins that can make you sore and stiff. Most people find they feel extra relaxed and sleep really well after an Epsom salt bath as well.
It is an excellent idea to have an Epsom salt bath in the evening after you have had a massage because it helps to further relax your muscles and clear out and toxins released as a result of your massage that could make you stiff or sore.
What is the best way to enjoy an Epsom salt bath?
Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts to warm/hot water in a standard-sized bathtub (double the Epsom salt for an oversized tub), 3 times a week, soaking for at least 12 minutes.
Make sure to have a glass of cool water handy as well as a cool cloth in case you over heat.
After soaking, make sure to rinse off. This will remove any toxins from the surface of your skin that the Epsom salts may have pulled out. It is suggested, that turning the hot water down until you’re using primarily warm/cool water, rinsing legs first, then arms, then back, then chest, and lastly head, neck, shoulders and soles of the feet, will give the maximum benefits after your soak.
Also, make sure to drink plenty of water during and after an Epsom salt bath.
So lay back, relax and soak up the benefits!
Note: If you have a heart condition, are pregnant or preparing the bath for a child make sure to lower the temperature of the bath and use slightly less Epsom salts. It is also important to remember that an Epsom salt bath must be done without using soap, adding any bath solutions or oils, as these substances will alter the chemistry of the water and affect the beneficial properties of the Epsom salts.
A beginners guide to meditation
Meditation, although currently gaining popularity in the western world, is not a new trend. It has been present in all religions, across the globe, throughout history.
In fact, the first written evidence is actually from 1500BC.
Meditation is a way to step out of a busy, chaotic life and find a moment of peace and tranquility.
It could be as simple as a couple of conscious breaths or a prayer, or more in-depth like a vision quest or seeking your higher self. Regardless, these are all forms of meditation.
To see the most benefits from meditation, try to build your practice up to 5 days out of 7 (ultimately aiming for 7 days out of 7); starting with 4-5 minutes each time and building towards 20 minutes as you become more comfortable and confident in your practice.
And it is a practice, you will have some days where it comes easily and some where it definitely does not, but the more comfortable your become, the easier you will find it to settle in and experience the benefits.
Is there a perfect time of day to practice? No, its completely individual, what works for me might not work for you and vice versa. Any time of day can work, although be careful if you choose the evening when you are tired because the goal isn’t to actually fall asleep during your practice. If you can make time, the start of your day is a great place to start as it sets up a wonderful start to your day.
When first establishing a meditation practice, make sure to put some energy in to setting the scene. The room should be quiet and warm; choose the most comfortable way to sit or lay (there is nothing worse than a sore back pulling you out of your meditation); turn down the lights; put on some soft music; light a candle or diffuse some essential oils.
Setting your meditation scene, the same way every time can become part of the ritual and help you settle into meditation more easily.
Choose a style of meditation that feels right for you. Explore 5 different types of meditation practice here. These are all ones that I have tried in my own practice over the years and really enjoy (although I tend to gravitate towards 2 of them for my regular practice).
The most important step is to quietly observe how you feel at the end of each practice.
Did you find it simple to do? Do you feel calmer and at peace? Did it feel forced at all? Where you uncomfortable? Do you feel amazing?
Use your responses and other thoughts to guide your future practice. It’s all about feedback not failure. If it felt off at all, you may consider changing up one of the variables – time of day, type of meditation, physical position, location, etc.
Right now, is the start … When you say I am worth it and choose to make time for meditation to happen.
Be gentle with yourself, no one starts out as an expert.
If you find your mind wandering bring your focus back to your breathing … Relax & bask in the serenity.
What is holistic living?
Ultimately, holistic living is living a life that nourishes your body, mind and soul.
It also recognizes that your body, mind and soul are completely interconnected, that it is impossible to separate one from the others, and that each can directly affect the others.
For example, if you are not getting enough quality sleep (body), your concentration will probably be shot (mind), and you won’t have the energy to do all the things you love (soul).
So how do you shift towards holistic living?
I have compiled some ideas to get you thinking.
I am by no means an expert, but these are ideas that I have come across in my own journey towards living a holistic life.
Don’t get overwhelmed or intimidated by the list, holistic living is not one size fits all, nor is it about perfection. It is about making intentional choices and shifting your focus towards what nourishes you body, mind and soul.
You may actually notice that most of the suggestions can actually nourish more than just your body, mind or soul individually.
Many nourish two of the categories or, if you are lucky, all three. Start with the one that feels right for you and explore from there.
May you be nourished body, mind and soul.
What other ideas do you have?
A holistic approach to massage therapy
From the beginning of my RMT education we were taught to approach massage from the stand point of ‘you have ailment x, so I will use treatment x’, which totally works if all you are looking for is treatment for a specific issue.
What 19 years in the profession, plus continued learning, has taught me is that rarely does anyone come in to my clinic with ‘just one issue’, not to mention the fact that we have an epidemic of chronic stress happening.
In order to provide effective treatment to clients I needed to shift my thinking to what they are experiencing on the whole.
Where are their aches & pains; what is the cause of aches and pains; what is their stress level; how do they handle stress; where do they feel their stress/emotions; how are they feeling emotionally; how is their sleep; what is there energy level like; etc.
So, while we used to talk about a ‘therapeutic massage treatment’ vs a ‘relaxation massage treatment’, I came to realize that all of my therapeutic treatments had to have a relaxation component, and all of my relaxation treatments inevitably have a therapeutic component.
In trying to better articulate how I treat clients, I stumbled across the word holistic.
Holistic is “characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease”, according to the oxford dictionary.
The other definition also fits, “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something [someone] as intimately interconnected and explicably only by reference to the whole.”
Intimately interconnected … such beautiful words to describe how the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels of our beings are inseparable from one another.
With these words in mind the term ‘Holistic Massage Therapy’ began to roll around in my head, and my heart.
I realized that this was actually the approach I have been using to treat clients for a while now, I just didn’t have the words to articulate it.
To put it all together for you … holistic massage therapy is a therapeutic massage that affects the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing of the body to optimise health and wellness.
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
When is your next massage going to be?