March 29, 2012

Muscle Relaxers after Massage

 Lots of massage therapists recommend use of Epsom salt soaks after massage, and I’m one of them. Trouble is I felt bad when older clients confessed the last thing they would do is “slip” into the tub.

I did a bit of research (read the package) and it turns out that while Epsom salt soaks are great. Epsom compresses work just as well. I now recommend compresses or simply soaking feet in a pan of Epsom soak.

It was Eureka time when I saw an Epsom salt lotion at the drugstore. It seemed fairly reasonable, $10 for eight ounces. As I usually do, I experimented on myself and my own family and I was soon recommending it to clients who wanted Epsom without the soak.

In all this, I wondered, just what does Epsom salt do? I asked one of my clients, a biochemist, and got this answer. Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate, a type of salt that contains magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer and regulator, and sulfate, another chemical that reduces inflammation. Just as calcium helps muscles contract, magnesium helps muscles relax. The magnesium and sulfate are probably very important as well because both tend to be missing from processed foods.

That’s a pretty interesting pedigree, and helps explain why I love my Epsom soaks. The salts can be taken by mouth, but when you do you will find out why most people won’t go near Epsom-ed water: It has a volcanic laxative effect. As in gangway, coming though!

I’ve seen some stuff on the internet about other kinds of magnesium, such as chloride, carbonate, taurate, etc., but those tend to get into the oral supplement area, which I like to steer clear of. Epsom salts and magnesium chloride sprays are fairly inexpensive when compared to other topicals.

I would love to hear from other massage therapists’ thoughts and experiences with Epsom salt, magnesiums or other topicals.


MatthewPerrello said...

I just recently did the research to discover whether the chemical components of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) are able to be absorbed through the skin, or whether the relaxing effect is due entirely to being in a hot bath. Turns out that yes, apparently the body is able to absorb a significant amount of magnesium through the dermis. Experimental evidence indicates that the body will absorb magnesium when it is deficient in the body. What a great way to get your magnesium!

Anonymous said...

Right on Matthew! We are very permeable, as it turns out. Hugs, Sue Peterson