Recovery 103 – Epsom Salt Baths

With an abundance of running, and now cross-training, comes a great deal of muscle and joint soreness. To avoid the pitfalls of injury, I’m in full-time recovery mode from now until August as I prepare for the AFC Half Marathon.

I do a lot to keep my muscles in shape for the heavy impact of running – from stretching and warmups to compression wear and various supplements and topical remedies. But something so basic that I was overlooking, and was recommended highly to me recently by a massage therapist, is really breathing new life into my legs and I have to share it!

Epsom salt is one of those weird products you know is useful, but can’t really put your finger on why. Though it has uses as a laxative, it’s had a revival lately with its popularity as a skin exfoliant and soaking treatment for sore or injured limbs and feet.

A hot soak after a workout always feels amazing, but with minerals added to the mix, you are getting a little more benefit from your time in the tub. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and one that the majority of us are deficient in. Magnesium is essential for the bones but also helps regulate nerves and muscles, and yes, it does absorb directly through the skin.

Now that I am riding a bike and training regularly on the pavement for the half marathon, the relief from the soaks I’ve been doing is making a world of difference for hamstrings, knees, calves, ankles, and feet.

Avoiding the feelings of physical stiffness and soreness is one of the main reasons I hear that people avoid exercising, even when they know they should. A good weekly (or bi-weekly) Epsom salt soak is an inexpensive way to get relaxing heat therapy at home! And you can use it to make homemade coconut oil salt scrubs too…why don’t you have this in your cabinet yet!

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