As a long-distance runner throughout middle and high school, when soreness would not disappear as fast as I desired, my family often told me to just “take an Epsom salt bath.” “Pesh”–I felt like it was a bunch of hocus pocus to throw salts in the bath that would magically help your muscles not be sore.
Today I will debunk this wise tale and explain Epsom salt on a deeper level, how and why exactly it works, because no one growing up told me why when I would ask, leaving me to question if it was true.
Epsom salt is known as magnesium sulfate. It is a chemical compound of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. You lose magnesium when running or sweating your brain out in a workout. Runners are often known to have a magnesium deficiency. Fatigue, muscle cramps, and twitches are signs of magnesium deficiency.
Therefore, many think that Epsom salt baths work by soaking up or soaking in magnesium sulfate because your body has lost so much of it. After doing this, your soreness will be significantly reduced. This makes sense, right? Except, it doesn’t, because that is not how our bodies work.
Our skin is relatively waterproof, a beautiful design that helps keep all the essential stuff inside our bodies and all the harmful stuff out. If our bodies were not this way, we would constantly be struggling to fight off sicknesses because our bodies would soak toxins in.
Furthermore, this idea that a quick soak in magnesium sulfate will ease our sore muscles is a bunch of bullshit. This idea that our body will soak it in and let the toxins out is simply too farfetched.
You can search this up online, and many articles will pop up about how good it is for you. But there is currently no scientific support surrounding the claims about Epsom salt when it comes to sore joints and muscles.
With all this harsh information, I am not here to say that soaking in an Epsom salt bath wastes your time. Taking a bath after a harsh workout still has positive outcomes, as hot water will increase blood flow to your muscles, bringing more oxygen. Baths are also extremely relaxing and a suitable time to sit in your thoughts or debrief the day. So, taking a hot bath is never a bad idea; throwing in Epsom salts just won’t make any difference.
Going along with the placebo effect, if you want to add your Epsom salts and you think it makes a difference, keep doing it; you just like the smell of your salt or how it improves your skin. I am not here to judge if you like it.
If you are a heavy runner wanting to replace depleted magnesium, here are some good ways other than Epsom salt that do just that: spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocados, brown rice, dark chocolate, dill, basil, sesame seeds, and many more.
If this is your first time hearing this news, I am sorry to be the one to share it. In conclusion, Epsom salt baths do not help reduce soreness in your joints and muscles. Sorry, Grandma, for debunking one of your biggest practices–love you!