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.
Brien-anne RMT, CA
I am passionate not only about Massage Therapy & Aromatherapy, but also living a holistic lifestyle and empowering others to do the same!