What Does Epsom Salt Do for Soreness?

Epsom salt is a popular treatment used for muscle soreness and other bodily aches and pains. According to the Epsom Salt Council, Epsom salt isn't just folklore anymore as numerous studies show that Epsom salt is an effective over-the-counter remedy for treating a variety of conditions. Although Epsom salt is well-known for treating sore muscles, many people don't understand the mechanism -- or the potential -- behind the therapy.

Blue epsom salt in a wooden container. Credit: i4i/iStock/Getty Images

Significance of Sore Muscles

Muscle aches and pains can stem from a variety of causes. Medical conditions that commonly cause soreness in or around muscle tissue include rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and the seasonal cold or flu. Exercising and physical exertion can also cause muscle soreness. Those with bodily aches and pains can benefit from an Epsom salt compress or bath soak.

How it Works

Magnesium is a primary component of Epsom salt. It is a mineral that the body needs and, unlike other minerals, is absorbed through the skin as you soak in the bath. The mineral helps relax skeletal muscles by flushing lactic acid buildup in the muscles, which may occur during physical exertion, such as a vigorous workout. Magnesium also plays an important role in the absorption of vitamins in the body. It also helps regulate muscle and nerve function. All of these effects significantly influence muscle soreness, which also affects muscle stiffness.

Soothe Your Aching Muscles

Although you can take Epsom salt orally, taking a bath soak or applying a warm compress with Epsom salt offers additional benefits over taking magnesium orally. Foods drugs and medical conditions may interfere with magnesium absorption and Epsom salt is the most effective way to give your body the magnesium it needs – and it is readily available, notes the Epsom Salt Council.

Give Your Feet a Break

In addition to soaking your body, you can use Epsom salt on your feet. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends a regular routine of soaking your feet two or three times a week, for 10 minutes or more, in a solution of 1/2-cup Epsom salt and approximately one gallon of hot water. The foot soak may help your circulation and relieve pain and inflammation.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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