As a very active person who loves running, biking, Pilates, and weight training, I'm no stranger to muscle aches and pains. But when I became pregnant in early 2018, those aches were brought to a whole new level — calf cramps became a regular occurrence, especially at night. I posted in a few mom groups online, hoping to find a natural remedy for the problem.
Dozens of women recommended soaking my body (or even just my legs) in an Epsom salt bath before bed and then gently massageing my calves. If it cured their leg cramps, it seemed worth a shot — so I ordered a giant bag of Epsom salt online and eagerly awaited its arrival.
I was pleasantly surprised not to wake up with cramps that evening.
If you're unfamiliar, Epsom salt is a mineral compound called magnesium sulfate. When added to water, the magnesium and sulfate separate, and the idea is that you can absorb them through your skin. While there's no scientific evidence to prove that it's effective, Epsom salt has been used in spas and homes for years as a way to ease sore muscles, insomnia, bruising, and swelling. Sceptics say that it's simply soaking in a warm bath that causes those muscles to loosen up, not the minerals themselves — but placebo effect or not, you may find Epsom salts soothing when you're in pain.
Personally, I've always enjoyed soaking in a tub, so I was happy to spend some extra time there. Of course, when you're pregnant, you have to be careful that the water isn't too hot and that you're not submerged for too long, so I kept the water lukewarm and soaked for no more than 20 minutes. I added about a cup of Epsom salt to the running water as the tub filled up, and stirred it around until it was mostly dissolved in the water. After my bath, I made a point to gently massage my calves before I climbed into bed. I was pleasantly surprised not to wake up with cramps that evening, and even my shoulders, upper back, and neck felt better. I immediately knew that Epsom salt would become a regular part of my routine.
The further along I got in my pregnancy, the more I committed to taking an Epsom salt bath at least once a week. And now that I've had my son, I see no reason to stop. Even if it's unclear what Epsom salts do, there's no denying that a bath seems to soothe my muscles, specifically in my lower legs. And for me, simply lighting a candle, dimming the lights, and reserving some time for myself is exactly what I need to feel restored and rejuvenated. I'm not a doctor, but if anyone comes looking for relief, I'll tell them that Epsom salts worked for me.