Dec 18 2012
Epsom salt is vastly underrated. Most of us associate it with a relaxing bath, but did you know that epsom salts have all sorts of amazing health benefits—as well as beauty, household and gardening-related uses?
Epsom salt has been used for hundreds of years as a natural remedy for a number of ailments. Unlike other ‘salts’, Epsom salt has beneficial properties that can soothe the body, mind and soul.
What is Epsom Salt?
Epsom salt, named for a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, is not actually salt but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body including regulating the activity of over 325 enzymes, reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function and helping to prevent artery hardening. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins and help ease migraine headaches.
Why Epsom Salt Baths?
Epsom salt baths are the easiest way to enjoy the health benefits of magnesium and sulfate, as both minerals are readily absorbed through the skin. After a deep massage treatment, we often give our clients a packet of Epsom salts because it draws the lactic acid out of the body, reducing achiness. For the same reason, these baths are great after a big workout or long run.
The key is to use water that’s as hot as you can bear (unless you’re pregnant) and at least one cup of Epsom salt. Another important tip: drink two glasses of water while you’re in the tub to assist in the flushing process.
Benefits of Epsom Salts
There are many reasons why Soma Studio recommends Epsom salt baths to our clients. Some of the countless health benefits include:
- Relaxing the nervous system
- Drawing toxins from the body
- Soothing back pain & aching bodies
- Easing muscle strain
- Reducing swelling & inflammation
- Alleviating skin problems
- Treating colds and congestion
- Relieving symptoms of athlete’s foot
It’s also a natural emollient, exfoliator and hair volumizer. Around the house and garden, Epsom salt can be used to soften towels, clean bathroom tiles, deter slugs, fertilize plants and keep your lawn green.
Where to Find Epsom Salts in Vancouver
Any pharmacy such as Shopper’s Drug Mart or London Drugs should carry plain Epsom salt. If you become a convert, you can find it in bulk at Costco and select stores.
To up the relaxation ante, try naturally scented bath salts such as lavender, mandarin, sandalwood or ylang-ylang. These can be found at bath and body care stores such as Escents Aromatherapy – or it’s easy to make your own.
Aug 06 2011
I had the great fortune to be the daughter of a wise woman. My mother was ahead of her time in many ways; most notably, her interest in herbs, alternative wellness, yoga and massage. This was revolutionary stuff in small town Saskatchewan at that time. When I was 12 years old, she became a Registered Massage Therapist and started a small practice in our home. I have known massage therapy to be an alternative to pain medication since I was quite young. As a figure skater, I benefited greatly from her abilities.
One of the myriad things that Mom taught me was that people use massage for many different reasons. I hope to clarify for you how massage therapy can be used in your life.
Some clients are referred to a registered massage therapist (RMT) by their MD, chiropractor or physiotherapist, for a specific health concern. It may be headaches, back or neck pain, injury from a car accident, sport injury, stress or depression. Often these situations require urgent attention and a patient might see an RMT twice a week. For both therapist and patient, getting the symptoms under control is a priority. After seeing an RMT for 3 weeks or so, the main issue may be alleviated or at least under control. These clients may then stop coming for treatments until some other problem arises.
Other clients choose to come for treatments as part of their wellness plan. There may not be an obvious problem to work on or a nagging injury; this is more of a preventative approach to wellness. Clients book a treatment once every 2 weeks or once per month, on a regular basis. They reserve the time and make it a priority, like exercise. Usually this type of treatment involves relaxation. Relaxation time should not be underestimated! We live in a stressful world, with stress-induced illnesses. When the body knows how to relax, it can deal more effectively with what we put it through on a daily basis.
Some of our clients have chronic conditions such as Fibromyalgia. Massage therapy lessens the effect of the condition and adds to the quality of life for someone who faces these additional challenges.
At Soma, we are all trained in pre and postnatal massage therapy. We’re very comfortable helping pregnant women cope with the many changes of the child-bearing year. Many clients begin treatment at the beginning of the 2nd trimester, although massage therapy is very safe during the first trimester as well. We recommend treatments once every 2 weeks in the beginning, increasing to once per week for the last month. Regular massage during this time helps to reduce swelling, lessen fatigue and decrease back strain. We also suggest that massage treatments continue for at least a few weeks after the birth, to help with hormonal adjusting, fight fatigue and reduce strain on the body. Some women continue with regular treatment even after the baby is born to help with strain from breast-feeding, or simply for some “Me” time.
So you see, massage therapy can be useful for everyone, at all stages of life! Listen to your body, and be good to it. Bring it in to Soma once in a while for a tune-up; you’ll be happy you did.
Wishing you health and vitality,
Jul 07 2011
Swedish massage therapy: Therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil.
Aromatherapy massage: Massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called essential oils to address specific needs. The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing or balancing. Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions with an emotional component.
Hot stone massage: Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body. The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting. Hot stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension, but prefer lighter massage.
Deep tissue massage: This massage targets the deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle. Deep tissue massage is used for chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems or recovery from injury. People often feel sore for one to two days after deep tissue massage.
Shiatsu massage: A form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. Each point is held for two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance. People are normally pleasantly surprised when they try shiatsu for the first time. It is relaxing yet the pressure is firm and there is usually no soreness afterwarsds.
Thai massage: Like shiatsu, Thai massage aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. Thai massage also includes compressions and stretches. You don’t just lie there — the therapist moves and stretches you into a sequence of postures. It’s like yoga without doing any work. Thai massage is more energizing than other forms of massage. It also reduces stress and improves flexibility and range of motion.
Pregnancy massage: Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is becoming increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage know the proper way to position and support the woman’s body during the massage, and how to modify techniques.
Reflexology massage: Although reflexology is sometimes called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain points on the foot that corresponds to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is very relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day, or just have tired, achy feet.
Sports massage: Sports massage is specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity, but you don’t have to be a professional athlete to have one — this type of massage is used by people who are active and work out often. The focus isn’t on relaxation, but on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance. A combination of techniques are used. The strokes are generally faster than Swedish massage. Facilitated stretching is a common technique. It helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility.
Back massage: Some massage clinics and spas offer a 30-minute back massages. If a back massage is not on its menu, you can also book a 30 or 40-minute massage and ask that the massage therapist focus on your back.