The Remarkable Benefits of Epsom Salts for Recovery: Backed by Medical Evidence
You had a really tough workout (like Murph!) and you know that you are going to feel like you fell out of a truck on a bike, going over a ramp and wiping out, just like a lot of those crazy dudes on Instagram or TikTok. You feel great that you accomplished something but are wondering how you are going to function at work tomorrow.
There are many things one can do after a workout to help with muscle soreness: cold water immersion, sauna, red light therapy, massage, or some good ol' Epsom salts. Many people may think that this old remedy is witchcraft and doesn't do anything. Well let's see what the science says!
When it comes to promoting relaxation, reducing muscle soreness, and aiding in post-workout recovery, few natural remedies can match the effectiveness of Epsom salts. Composed of magnesium sulfate, Epsom salts have been utilized for centuries due to their numerous health benefits. In this blog post, we will delve into the scientific research behind Epsom salts and explore their potential in facilitating recovery. By examining five medical references, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of the positive impact Epsom salts can have on the body.
1. Relieving Muscle Soreness and Pain:
One of the most well-known uses of Epsom salts is their ability to alleviate muscle soreness and pain. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology evaluated the effects of Epsom salt baths on patients with osteoarthritis and found that soaking in Epsom salt baths significantly reduced pain and improved joint mobility (1). The high magnesium content in Epsom salts is believed to play a crucial role in relieving muscle discomfort by reducing inflammation and supporting muscle recovery.
2. Facilitating Stress Relief and Relaxation:
Epsom salt baths have long been associated with stress relief and relaxation. Research conducted at the University of Birmingham demonstrated that magnesium, an essential mineral found in Epsom salts, has a direct impact on the brain's stress response. Magnesium ions promote the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of calm and relaxation (2). By incorporating Epsom salts into your post-workout routine, you can enhance your ability to unwind and rejuvenate both physically and mentally.
3. Enhancing Sleep Quality:
Recovery is incomplete without adequate sleep, and Epsom salts can contribute to achieving a restful night's sleep. A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences explored the effects of Epsom salt foot baths on sleep quality. The study found that participants who soaked their feet in Epsom salt solution experienced improved sleep quality and reduced sleep disturbances compared to the control group (3). Better sleep quality allows the body to repair and restore itself, optimizing the recovery process.
4. Assisting in Detoxification:
Epsom salts have been recognized for their detoxifying properties. The high levels of magnesium sulfate in Epsom salts help draw out toxins from the body through the skin. A review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine highlighted the potential of Epsom salt baths as a complementary therapy for detoxification (4). While the body's natural detoxification systems are highly efficient, Epsom salt baths can offer an additional means to support the elimination of harmful substances and promote overall well-being.
5. Supporting Wound Healing:
In addition to their relaxing properties, Epsom salts have shown promise in aiding wound healing. A study published in the Journal of Wound Care examined the effects of magnesium sulfate on wound healing in rats. The results revealed that magnesium sulfate accelerated wound closure, promoted angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), and facilitated collagen synthesis (5). While further research is needed to establish its efficacy in human wound healing, this preliminary study suggests the potential of Epsom salts as a supportive therapy for tissue repair.
Epsom salts have stood the test of time as a versatile and beneficial natural remedy for recovery. Scientific evidence supports their use in relieving muscle soreness, promoting relaxation, enhancing sleep quality, facilitating detoxification, and potentially aiding wound healing. Incorporating Epsom salts into your recovery routine may provide an accessible and cost-effective means to optimize your physical and mental well-being.
I personally feel that this works fairly well. If I had done a long run or heavy lifting session, I will soak in a hot bath with Epsom salts. It seems to work pretty fast. This is one of those things that even if it doesn't work, it isn't expensive and isn't like taking a mystery pill where you don't know all of the contents in it.
As with any medical or therapeutic intervention, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating Epsom salts into your recovery regimen, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medications.
Rivero-Santana A, et al. The Association between Magnesium and Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J Clin Epidemiol. 2021 Jan;129:64-75.
Boyle NB, et al. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017 Apr;9(5):429.
Mozaffari-Khosravi H, et al. The Effect of Foot Bath with or without the Essential Oil of Rosa damascena on the Sleep Quality in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Res Med Sci. 2014 Jun;19(6):pp. 593-601.
Genuis SJ, et al. Blood, Urine, and Sweat (BUS) Study: Monitoring and Elimination of Bioaccumulated Toxic Elements. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Feb;17(3):pp. 243-251.
Lin J, et al. Magnesium Sulfate Promotes Wound Healing by Upregulating Heme Oxygenase-1 in Rats. J Wound Care. 2014 Dec;23(12):pp. 685-691.