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Athletic Performance Improvement

Sports

Epsom Salt Baths: Muscle Recovery and Beyond

Athletes are constantly on the search for the latest and greatest training and recovery supplements, however, one of the most effective has been around for hundreds of years. Epsom salt is a mineral that was first extracted from sea water in the British town of Epsom in 1618. This salt, also called Magnesium sulfate, when added to warm bath water, can help alleviate muscle pain even as intense as that found in fibromyalgia. It has also been shown to reduce swelling, relieve stress, improve circulation, soften skin and improve mood. These minerals are absorbed effectively through the skin, providing almost instant relief from muscle aches and pains incurred on long training runs or other activities causing overexertion of large muscle groups.

Performance Benefits

Since magnesium is a common co-factor assisting in many physiological reactions throughout the body, it is no surprise that it is in great demand in the high performance athlete. Magnesium is involved in muscle regeneration reactions all of which are key during post training recoveries; these reactions involve protein synthesis, neuromuscular transmitters and the activation of B complex. Another consideration in athletes is their increased requirements for protein, which along with high intakes of calcium and vitamin D increase magnesium requirements. Stress and intense exercise deplete the body of magnesium making you more vulnerable to muscle cramps, body aches and grouchy moods after a long workout. Soaking in the Float Epsom salt (Float-es) after running or extensive training can help prevent inflammation and irritation in your joints and muscles. You can also use this same Float Epsom salt (Float-es) salt water solution to treat sprains, strains or sore muscles.

Female Athletes

Female athletes in particular can benefit from increased magnesium intake. Magnesium and serotonin deficiencies have been found to exacerbate PMS symptoms. Studies show that starting Epsom salt floats as early as two weeks before your period will lead to less pain and significantly fewer negative mood changes frequently associated with menses.
Due to the high physiological demand for magnesium in female athletes increasing the frequency of floating in Epsom salt Float-es will assist in preventing unpleasant cramping and fatigue which is likely to become more prominent prior to your period.

Magnesium and Mood

Magnesium functions as a significant co-factor in the conversion of tryptophan, an amino acid, to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin helps balance mood and promotes relaxation. Excessive intake of alcohol or a poor diet can lead to a magnesium deficiency, which, in turn, can result in low levels of serotonin. Therefore it is no surprise that a common symptom of magnesium deficiency is sadness or a mood imbalance due to a lack of this critical neurotransmitter.

Why float in a Float-es??

Magnesium is a known laxative. Because oral magnesium is not available in controlled release form, there is no way to combat the laxative effects of oral magnesium. Bathing and floating in a Float-es avoids the magnesium s laxative effect by allowing for the absorption of magnesium (and other minerals) through the skin. Bathing and floating allows the body to absorb as much magnesium as it needs in order to relax large muscle groups after a stressful day at the office or a long training run, without the side effects of orally ingested magnesium.

How to make an Epsom salt bath

Just one Epsom salt float a week can have an incredible impact on your health and emotional wellness.
Making an Epsom salt bath is simple:
1. Order a Float-es.
2. Assemble all four easy setup parts in your Float tank location.
3. Add and 800 lbs Epsom salt.
4. Fill Float-es with hot water.
5. Plug Float-es into power source allow the Epsom salt to dissolve.
6. Soak in the your Float-es for about 15 minute or longer. (some float for 30 and 60min)
7. Shower immediately after the bath to rinse the Epsom salts from your skin, which can dry your skin.
8. Caution: Epsom salt, due to its high magnesium content, is a laxative. Swallowing of the bath water, especially by a child, could lead to increased bowel movements. As always watch your children during bath time.


Magnesium, Epsom Salts and Sports Performance

Supplementation among athletes at any level has become a booming industry, with most attention and dollars focused on exotic and potentially harmful anabolic steroids. However, perhaps their attention should focus more on the basics of vitamins and minerals, essential elements that are commonly deficient even among apparently well-fed Americans. Specifically, we will examine magnesium deficiency and depletion, and the effects of supplementation on sports performance as well as overall health..

Magnesium and Sports Performance

Some recent sports and exercise studies show that healthy levels of magnesium help human beings to perform work and exercise with less effort and tire far less quickly. The Henry Lukaski and Forrest Nielsen studies put a small group of post-menopausal women on a normal but supplemented diet for 35 days, then on a magnesium depletion diet for 93 days, and then back on a supplemented diet for 49 days. They were put through exercise tests at the end of each dietary phase. The women in a magnesium depleted status required more oxygen to to reach their target heart rate on the exercycle; in other words, their muscles required more oxygen to do the same amount of work (Lukaski, 2002). Related studies show that muscles tire more quickly when in a magnesium-depleted state. Events that take from one to seven minutes to complete were the most affected. A list of athletic events in that range include running a mile or the 1500 meters, or swimming several laps of a pool. A 1998 German study tested blood samples of triathletes -- athletes who swim 500 meters, bike 20 kilometers, and run 5 kilometers. Those with magnesium orotate supplementation showed higher blood levels of oxygen (an increase of 208% compared to an increase of 126% in the controls), while showing better performance times (Golf et al, 1998).

Why Are Americans Low in Magnesium?

Modern Americans levels of dietary magnesium are further impacted negatively by the depletion of magnesium levels in the soil, as a result of intensive agriculture. Rejection of hard water over artificially softened water also leaves us without a common, natural and free source of dissolved magnesium. E.B. Flink, author of Magnesium Deficiency in Human Subjects: A Personal Historical Perspective, has listed numerous causes of magnesium deficiency. He classifies them into nutritional causes (dietary insufficiency, alcoholism); intestinal causes (diarrhea, malabsorption); excess loss of magnesium through the kidneys (due to disease or the influence of drugs, especially diuretics); endocrine and metabolism causes (hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, excessive lactation, high levels of serum calcium); and genetic and neonatal causes (Myerson, 1989). Not only is the soil depleted, but our efforts to supplement with calcium has thrown all our dietary minerals out of balance: Interestingly, our focus on getting enough calcium is another factor in decreased magnesium levels. In a delicate dance of balance, calcium depletes magnesium yet calcium functions best when enough magnesium is present. Studies indicate that taking a calcium supplement without enough magnesium can increase the shortage of both nutrients. Researchers have found that many Americans have five times as much calcium as magnesium in their bodies, although the proper ratio for optimum absorption of both minerals is two to one (Breyer, 2008).

How to become a better athlete just by soaking in the tub

Liquids with dissolved magnesium may be the most effective way to quickly restore blood levels of this element. An astonishing British study showed that merely taking Epsom salt baths for twelve minutes a day can raise blood levels. And with some evidence that those who drink hard water have the benefit of improved heart health, it is also interesting that Dasani bottled water has some magnesium sulfate added to improve *mouth feel* (NationMaster, 2003-2005).
The above-mentioned British study was conducted by the University of Birmingham with a small group of subjects. Blood levels of magnesium rose by an average of ten parts per million just after one float, and rose an average of nearly 40 ppm after a week of daily baths. It seems astonishing that a mineral could cross the skin barrier, but I suspect that the sulfur helped to transfer the mineral.

To quote the study:

In other experiments using excised human skin, we found that sulfate does penetrate across the skin barrier. This is quite rapid so probably involves a sulfate transporter protein... To check this, 2 volunteers wore patches where solid MgSO4 was applied directly to the skin and sealed with a waterproof plaster. Plasma/urine analysis confirmed that both Mg and sulfate levels had increased, so this is potentially a valuable way of ensuring Epsom salts dosage if bathing is not available. Interestingly, both volunteers, who were > 60 years old, commented without prompting that rheumatic pains had disappeared (Waring, 2004).
Using the skin to absorb magnesium supplements into your system opens up a whole new range of options. Suggestions listed in one article to combine it with lotion or coconut oil, to sponge bathe in a solution, or to spray it on oneself like a mist, do not seem so far-fetched after all (EnzymeStuff.com, 2002).




References:
Baker D.A. (1990). The Use of REST in the Enhancement of Sports Performance-Tennis. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.181-187. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.
Bond J. (1997). "To float or not to float"... is that the question? How to maximise your use of the Sport Psychology float tanks.
McAleney P. & Barabasz A. (1993). Effects of Flotation REST and Visual Imagery on Athletic Performance: Tennis. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.79-86.New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
Richardson S. (1997). Enhancing Rowing Ergometer Performance Through Flotation REST. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.*
Stanley J., Mahoney M.& Reppert S. (1982). REST and the Enhancement of Sports Performance: A Panel Presentation and Discussion. 2nd International Conference on REST. pp.168-183. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.
Wagaman J. & Barabasz A. (1993). Flotation REST and Imagery in the Improvement of Collegiate Athletic Performance: Basketball. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.87-92. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
* Publication is not yet available.
Other:
Atkinson R. (1993). Short-Term Exposure to REST: Enhancement Performance on a Signal-Detection Task. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.93-100. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
Barabasz M. & Barabasz A. (1997). REST Effects on Human Performance. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.*
Melchiori L.G. & Barabasz A.F. (1990). Effects of Flotation REST on Simulated Instrument Flight Performance. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.196-203. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.
OLeary D.S. & Heilbronner R.L. (1985). Flotation Rest and Information Processing: A Reaction Time Study. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.50-61. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.


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