Epsom salt, a magnesium sulfate compound, is a widely used home remedy touted to help alleviate the pain and inflammation from injuries such as sprains and strains. Since magnesium plays a role in muscle recovery, applying Epsom salt compresses to the skin, or soaking the body in Epsom salt, is claimed to provide benefits due to skin absorption of this mineral.
While there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies on the benefits of Epsom salt, there is a surprising lack of research on the effectiveness of this therapy -- and limited evidence that enough skin absorption occurs to provide any magnesium-related benefits. However, Epsom salt compresses are relatively safe, and when applied using cold or warm temperatures, can be a useful complement to your plan to manage the pain and discomfort from strains and injuries.
Measure 1 cup of water, and pour into a bowl. You can use distilled water, but tap water will also work. Use cold water to help injury and inflammation, or use warm water if directed by your doctor.
Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt to the water, and stir until dissolved.
Soak a washcloth in the Epsom salt solution. Remove the washcloth from the water and squeeze out the excess water.
Lay the cloth over the area you want to treat. Allow it to remain in place for 20 minutes. Rewet the cloth in the Epsom salt solution if it begins to dry out.