Magnesium is a critical element that plays a key role in a number of bodily functions including muscle function, metabolism and even circulation. As such, getting a sufficient amount of it either through one’s diet or via another method is considered important for one’s overall health.
Epsom salts refer to any number of inorganic salts containing magnesium sulfate. The name is taken from a saline spring in Epsom, Surrey, England where the salts are produced naturally. In water, epsom salts easily break down into magnesium and sulfate which absorb into the body through the skin.
Epsom salt baths are used to help treat and alleviate a variety of health issues and symptoms–some which are particularly common among runners–including muscle pain, soreness, swelling, bruises and strains. It can also help with skin irritations such as sunburn and psoriasis. Finally, it is suggested that epsom salts can also improve heart health, nerve function, relieve stress and alleviate headaches.
Epsom salts can be purchased readily at most drug stores, pharmacies and even supermarkets. To make an epsom salt bath, add 1-2 cups of salts to a rather warm but not too hot bath and soak for 10-20 minutes.
Although there is little definitive research that proves the effectiveness of epsom salt baths, they have been used for centuries by athletes and non-athletes alike and many anecdotal claims are quick to credit them for improved health, well-being and general relaxation.