How to Relieve Post-Workout Strain and Tired Muscles (Hint: It Takes 5 Minutes To Make)

Discover a tried and true cure for post-workout strain and everyday stress…

We all live with our own aches and pains. A twinge here, a pulled muscle there. Some of us more than others. Personally, I look upon the able-kneed with a great deal of envy, my own lower joints nearly spent after years of cross country running, skiing, snowboarding, track, lifting and general living of life. You’d think that, after two decades of dealing with joint pain and flareups, I would have learned by now how to take the time for a little self care post-workout. Learning to slow down can be a slow process, but a new workout routine this fall led me to discover my latest obsession, one that’s put an entirely new spin on restorative post-gym recovery: Epsom salt soaks.

Now, I’ve never been much of a bath person, always preferring the speed and efficiency of showers over a long soak, but Epsom salts are truly a cure all and worth, well, sitting around in a tub for. Contrary to the name, Epsom salt is not actually a salt at all, but a naturally occurring mineral compound made up of magnesium and sulfate. These two materials (a chemical element and a polyatomic anion, respectively) are readily absorbed through the skin, reducing inflammation, aiding in the absorption of nutrients, easing migraines and flushing toxins from the system (to name but a few of their many benefits). Along with soothing tired, achy muscles and reducing muscular inflammation, Epsom salts can boost your mood and ease stress by replenishing your body’s magnesium levels, which helps produce serotonin and lessen the affects of adrenaline.

While Epsom salts work beautifully on their own, for this simple and effective DIY beauty treatment, I’ve paired them up with a few other stress-relieving, mood-boosting ingredients:

Jojoba Oil: Jojoba most resembles the sebum produced naturally by our bodies. When combined with hot water and Epsom salts, jojoba oil deeply nourishes and conditions dry skin.

Lavender: A natural stress reliever, dried lavender and lavender essential oil produces a calming response, easing stress and calming anxiety. Lavender oil is also believed to help with inflammation, making this oil ideal for athletes and those who experience inflammation of any kind.

Ylang Ylang: This beautiful scent is often used in aromatherapy and is known to be a fantastic skin soother. Ylang ylang is believed to reduce blood pressure and stress, and its calming properties have been known aid in the treatment of depression.

Bergmot: Another anxiety and stress reducer, citrusy bergamot is also known to soothe skin and heal infections.

While these oils are my personal favorites, the wonderful thing about this treatment is that it’s entirely customizable. Try switching out the jojoba oil for sweet almond oil, or adding peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils for an energizing variation. This is the perfect gift to give yourself after a tough workout or even just after a long day at work and, when presented in a beautiful jar, it’s the perfect gift to give the athlete or workaholic in your life. Read on for the steps and to learn how to put this post-workout essential to use.

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Epsom Salt Bath Soak

2 cups plain Epsom salt (most drugstores and major grocery chains carry it)

1/2 cup dried lavender

2 tbsp jojoba oil

20 drops essential oils of your choice (I used a blend of lavender, ylang ylang, and bergamot for ultra stress-relieving benefits)

Large resealable jar

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Place the dried lavender in your resealable jar and cover with the Epsom salt. Seal the jar and shake to combine.

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Uncap the jar and add the jojoba oil and essential oils to the salt mixture. Reseal and shake vigorously to combine.

To Use: Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of the salt mixture to warm bath water, mixing with your hands to dissolve. Soak for at least 20 minutes after a tough workout for muscle relief, or use for everyday stress relief for however long you want. After your soak, rinse any remaining lavender flowers from your skin, patting dry with a clean towel to allow the jojoba oil to soak in.

Notes: Epsom salts are not the same thing as sea salt. You can absolutely use the same recipe for a sea salt bath, but the effects and uses may be inconsistent. I do not recommend using coconut oil in this mixture as it has a tendency to clump in cooler temperatures. If coconut oil is your preferred oil, add it to the bath separately from the lavender/essential oil combination.

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+ Do you have a tried-and-true post-workout routine? Please share!

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