Epsom Salts for Recovery

Today I’m doing a mud run with some clients and our staff. So I thought now would be a good time to step aside and let Matt take a turn with a post for you on using Epsom salts for recovery. After today’s event I might just have to have a bath like this myself. Take it away Matt…

Have you ever done a workout and then barely been to move the next day? Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I have certainly been sore lately! Our weekly stair runs have been wreaking havoc on my calf muscles. Recently, many clients have been asking me how I recover after hard workouts, and what my thoughts were on Epsom salt baths. Well to be honest, I choose to complete my daily ablutions standing up. More specifically, I am a pure shower guy, and haven’t sat in a bathtub since I was in pre-school. So, for all you bath tub enthusiasts out there this one is for you.

What are Epsom salts

So what’s the deal with Epsom salts? Magnesium sulfate or Epsom salts are a readily available home remedy thought to ease muscle soreness and tension. But how does this really work? Is it pure mysticism or do these crystalline compounds really target muscle soreness and aid in healing?
During exercise, our muscles often accumulate large amounts of lactic acid. Lactic acid is a byproduct of anaerobic metabolism and causes that nasty burning sensation in our muscles during a workout. Most believe that this deposition of lactic acid within the muscles causes that post-workout soreness. This soreness is thought to be due to a microscopic deformation of the protein chains within the muscle fibers.

How Epsom salts help with soreness

Sore calf muscles

Sore calf muscles

Now for a little chemistry: acids and bases – the yin and the yang of science. Simply put, when a base (a substance having a high ph) interacts with an acid (a substance with a lower ph) the effect is for each one to “neutralize” or cancel each other out. Such is thought to be the same effect in our body when we bathe in Epsom salts – the more “basic” salts will neutralize the more “acidic” environments within our muscles, thereby decreasing muscle soreness and tension.

How to use Epsom salts

While Epsom salts are widely available and dirt cheap, a quick scan of your pantry may show – like mine, you have no Epsom salts on hand! Never fear, taking a warm plunge without salt can have some benefits too! Warm water will induce vasodilation of the blood carrying vessels within the body. This, in turn promotes increased blood flow to the sore areas, which helps to “flush out” the muscle, and remove those nasty post-workout byproducts.

So, whether you choose to bathe or to shower, a quick dip in some Epsom salts may help to ease that stiffness away. When used in conjunction with other methods such as stretching and active recovery, Epsom salts may provide that added edge for those looking to get back to their activities. Now it’s your turn: do you use an Epsom salt bath following a hard workout? Post a reply to this blog and weigh in on your thoughts regarding this post-workout recovery method.

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