Sprained ankles are a common source of pain for people of all ages. Often, sprained ankles require a significant amount of time to heal. Soaking the ankle in an Epsom salt bath may speed up the healing process.
The scientific name of Epsom salt is magnesium sulphate. While called "salt," Epsom salt does not have any of the same components as the more common table salt. The compound is named for Epsom, England, where it was first discovered and mined.
Benefits of Magnesium
The human body needs magnesium for muscles and nerves to work properly. According to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements, magnesium "helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function." Dr. Margaret Philhower states that magnesium is a great supplement to "relax the muscles and flush the lactic acid out of them." Magnesium also helps reduce inflammation.
Benefits of Sulfate
The Epsom Salt Council states that the sulphates in Epsom salt are also useful in joint and muscle maintenance. Sulphates help the body produce the proteins needed for healthy joints. Sulphates also help rid the body of toxins, which can hinder muscle healing and repair.
Soaking in Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths are one of the most effective ways for the body to absorb the magnesium and sulphates. The Epsom Salt Council recommends adding two cups of Epsom salt to a standard size bathtub. For larger tubs or more serious sprains, you may want add up to four cups. Dr.Waring of the University of Birmingham cites no risk to the body of absorbing Epsom salt through the skin.
Length and Duration of Epsom Salt Bath
For sprains and muscle aches, the Epsom Salt Council recommends soaking three times a week, for a minimum of 12 minutes each time. If the sprain is severe or long-lasting, you may want to try increasing the number and duration of the Epsom salt soaks.