Does Epsom Salt Really Work For Muscle Aches?

Effective remedy or old wives’ tale?

By: Emily Freeman

When it comes to your fitness routine, muscle soreness can really cramp your style. From drinking cherry juice, eating watermelon, handheld massage devices, post-workout nutrition, and cold therapy, professionals are constantly trying to find the best solution for muscle aches. As the search continues, there’s one solution that holds the test of time, even with a lack of scientific proof, Epsom salt baths. 

RELATED: 9 Tips to Reduce Muscle Soreness Faster

What is Epsom Salt?

Epsom salt isn’t the same kind of salt you’d use to season your eggs. In fact, it’s not salt at all. Epsom salt is a chemical compound composed of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. These tiny crystals dissolve in water and have been used to treat everything from insomnia, arthritis pain, fibromyalgia, constipation, and, yes, muscle soreness. 

How Does Epsom Salt Work?

Many of us are deficient in magnesium due to modern-day diets. Getting enough magnesium is essential for quality sleep, lowering stress levels, a healthy digestive system, reducing inflammation, regulating hormones, and alleviating muscle soreness and cramping. Theories say that when dissolved in water, the magnesium found in Epsom salts can be absorbed through your skin, which may be more effective than ingesting it. 

However, science has found this theory inconclusive. So why does nearly everyone from professional athletes to your Grandma recommend Epsom salt baths when you complain of sore muscles? Maybe it’s because regardless of the effectiveness, a warm bath will put you into a state of relaxation, which helps your muscles release tension. Or possibly it’s because it’s a low-cost way to pamper yourself, which always makes you feel better. This is a big question mark even science doesn’t seem to want to study. In 2021, there is still no research being done on the effectiveness of Epsom salt baths

Regardless, why not bathe yourself with a little extra self-care?

How to Take an Epsom Salt Bath

Regardless of scientific proof, Epsom salt baths can be very relaxing and rejuvenating. Plus, Epsom salt baths may be one of the most effective ways to get more magnesium warm water causes our skin to dilate, which may enhance absorption. 

After you’ve filled your bathtub with warm water, add in about two cups of Epsom salt it should start to dissolve right away. If the mixture gets clumpy, run more water or use your hand or foot to help them dissolve. Then it’s time to soak! Aim for at least 15-minutes of bath time. You can play music, meditate, read or listen to a book, and/or light candles to help stimulate relaxation. Make sure to submerge all sore parts of your body into the water. 

If you don’t have the need for a full Epsom salt bath, you can always fill a foot soak with ½  to 1 cup of Epsom salt and soak your feet!

Choosing an Epsom Salt

When it comes to choosing an Epsom salt, you may be surprised to find that there are a number of different options! From fragranced to fragrance-free to fancier magnesium bath flakes, the options are endless.

Ancient Minerals, 365 Epsom Salt, and Dr. Teal’s are all great options to consider for your next muscle recovery Epsom salt soak.

Are There Any Side Effects or Concerns?

Epsom salt baths have little to no negative side effects. But, you may want to lather on some lotion after taking an Epsom salt bath since the crystals can have a drying effect on your skin. And, if you have sensitive skin, it may be best to test a patch of skin first before taking an Epsom Salt bath. 

Always Do What Works Best For You 

If you’ve found that taking Epsom salt baths is an enjoyable way to alleviate muscle tension, why stop? Sometimes the power of suggestion is enough to ease ailments and improve your quality of life. When it comes to something harmless like an Epsom salt bath, we fully support this self-care addition!