Since we have just begun a new series here on BoxStalker about at-home CrossFit workouts, now is probably a good time to discuss something that is guaranteed to happen after your first CrossFit workout, whether it be at home or at the gym: sore, tired muscles. In fact, due to the very nature of CrossFit, athletes are guaranteed to experience sore, tired muscles regularly! This is not just a one-time experience; you will continually experience muscle aches after challenging workouts, but that’s okay. In fact, it is a good thing - provided you are exercising properly. (Please do not mistake workout-related injuries with tired muscles – they are not the same thing, and we are not saying that a workout-related injury is a good thing!)
When you experience sore, tired muscles, you do have a variety of at-home remedies that you can try. One of the easiest and most relaxing at-home treatments for sore muscles is a hot bath. Of course, a hot bath by itself would be beneficial for your sore muscles, but you can boost the power of your bath by adding something that you may already have around the house to your bath water: Epsom salts.
Why do Epsom salts help sore muscles? Well, believe it or not, Epsom salt is not made from salt at all. Rather, it is “a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate” (“Epsom Salt Uses & Benefits,” Salt Works). Both of these minerals can be absorbed through the skin, which makes Epsom salt a wonderful addition to your bath.
And using Epsom salts have been shown to have great physical benefits, including:
- relaxing the nervous system
- curing skin problems
- soothing back pain and aching limbs
- easing muscle strain
- healing cuts
- treating cold and congestion
- drawing toxins from the body (“Epsom Salt Uses & Benefits,” Salt Works)
Maybe you don’t need help treating colds and congestion as a result of your workout, but many of the items on the above list sound like results of a tough workout, don’t they?
Now, one thing to remember if you choose to add Epsom salt to your bath: it is not recommended that you use soap in your bath water if you are using Epsom salt, as the soap will “interfere with the action of the salts.” It is also recommended that you rest for a couple of hours after your Epsom salt bath (“Epsom Salt Uses & Benefits,” Salt Works). For this reason, you might consider having an Epsom salt bath just before bedtime.
One more tip in regards to a hot bath for curing muscle aches: don’t forget that you should also be icing your sore muscles. Men’s Fitness reports that icing your sore muscles is more beneficial than applying heat: "'A hot bath will provide overall relaxation and mild pain relief, but icing actually prevents further muscle damage and speeds healing,' says says Joseph Bosco, MD, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), who specializes in sports medicine. He recommends soothing achy muscles with crushed ice in a waterproof bag, wrapped in a towel."
So just remember, we are not suggesting that you treat all sore muscles with a hot bath 100% of the time! However, we think it might be a beneficial treatment to add to your routine.
Now that we have discussed the benefits of hot baths and the use of Epsom salt, join us next time as we discuss this topic in more detail!
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