How To Take A (Proper) Epsom Salt Bath
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
“If you haven’t yet, see to it that you treat yourself to a hot Epsom salt bath at the earliest opportunity…”
In respect to general self-care between massage appointments, I cannot recommend hot Epsom salt baths enough!
Epsom salt is the common name for magnesium sulfate – originally discovered in a natural mineral spring in Epsom, England. Today, magnesium sulfate is synthetically made and available for purchase without prescription at grocery stores and pharmacies. These days it is common to find Epsom salts blended with a variety of aromatherapy compounds.
As a massage therapist, I suggest clients use Epsom baths for their relaxing effects, to reduce soreness after massage or exercise, and to reduce inflammation from swelling and bruising. The benefits as a self-care measure cannot be overstated, so I wanted to share with you the best practices to get the most out of your Epsom salt bath (and a few optional additions to enhance your bathing experience).
Obviously, a few necessities are called for, first and foremost being a bathtub you can easily submerge most of your body in. Bath towels, bathmats, Epsom salts (at least 2 Cups for an adult), and at least 32oz of drinking water in a reusable plastic cup (glass can be dangerous around a bathtub) are also required for this procedure.
There are many brands and aroma options when it comes to choosing your Epsom salts. I personally tend to stick with unscented Dr. Teal’s myself, but there aren’t any wrong choices. Find what works best for you!
Start by sprinkling the salts across the tub floor and under the water spigot and fill the tub completely with as warm of water as you can comfortably stand (a recommended 98 – 102 F is suitable). Carefully get into the bathtub while it is halfway full, using a handlebar if you have one. Adjust the temperature of the water as the tub fills the rest of the way up. Stay in the bathtub for forty to forty-five minutes, fully submerging your body and allowing your muscles to relax into the water.
Some optional additions to your bath can include, bubble bath, candles, a pink Himalayan salt lamp, music, and a small morsel of chocolate. I find it helpful to include something to pass the time, so a soothing face mask or shampoo treatment for your hair is sensible. I also find that lighting a cone incense is a good timer for a forty-minute bath (just make sure your bathroom is well ventilated).
Once your bath time is up, rinse off the salt residue and carefully exit the tub. Apply a moisturizing lotion to your skin and redress. I also find it imperative to rest for at least twenty minutes after an Epsom salt bath. This gives your body a chance to cool back down and your muscles to regain their full strength. Be sure to drink plenty of water (the recommended 8 8oz. glasses daily), as you will get hot in your bath and perspire. It is important to restore that precious hydration to your body.
If using contrasting heat/cold therapy, apply ice to areas that are in pain for twenty minutes before a hot Epsom salt bath and another twenty minutes after the bath is complete and you’ve dried off.
Do not take an Epsom salt bath if you have any of the following conditions: seizure disorders, loss of sensation (neuropathy), intolerance of heat, recent consumption of drug or alcohol. Do not eat for eat for at least an hour before taking a bath (but make sure you have something in your stomach before getting into the bath).
Peace and Healing,
Kirby Clark, MMT