Magnesium and its superpowers in muscle recovery

25 Nov 2018

 

 

I often cite the benefits of magnesium for muscles and joints to clients, especially those competing in events and or training intensely who need all the recovery they can muster, in addition to foam rolling, massage ball trigger pointing, seeing us for sports massage and regular stretching (plus de stressing mentally!!). So, I thought I’d write a blog breaking down the benefits and regular questions I get asked on the best way to take it.

Overall, magnesium is a mineral that serves many crucial functions in the human body such as: 

  • regulating blood pressure

  • maintaining heart health

  • energy production

  • nerve function

  • protein synthesis – important for muscle repair!

  • healthy bone formation

  • blood sugar control

  • regulating sleep cycles

So you can see, it’s really important for overall health. 

 

 

Why is magnesium often mentioned for Muscle recovery?

 

If you are training for a sport or activity or exercising a lot you will be depleting your body of essential minerals and nutrients, such as Magnesium. Therefore, you will need to supplement these vitamins and minerals to give your body back these crucial nutrients allowing your muscles, nervous system and other systems to recover. 

 

Here are some way Magnesium can help with recovery:

 

  • Assistance with muscle cramping

 

Although research studies effects on muscle cramping have been mixed, a study has shown participants who received 300mg of daily magnesium for 6 weeks had less muscle cramps than placebo group. Similarly, a study on pregnant women showed the same effect on leg cramping. 

 

So, whether the results are psychosomatic, placebo, or supported (further scientific research is needed), taking magnesium daily has been shown to decrease symptoms of muscle cramps. It acts as a calcium blocker, helping muscles relax after contracting.[1]

 

  • Aids with sleeping (which helps with overall recovery)

As magnesium can aid with muscle relaxation and have positive effects on the nervous system, it can help people relax and thus improve sleep quality. Animal studies have shown it can help regulate production of melatonin, which guides the sleep-wake cycle.[2]

 

  • Can boost exercise performance

 

With less cramping, regulation of muscle contractions, better recovery and sleep – magnesium has shown in some studies to boost overall exercise performance. There have been a few studies including one of triathlon athletes who supplemented with magnesium for 4 weeks and experienced faster running cycling and swimming times, complemented with lower insulin and stress levels.[3]

 

What can happen if I lack magnesium in my body?

 

  • Weakness in muscles

  • Cramping

  • Anxiety

  • Poor circulation

  • Muscle pain in neck/ shoulders

 

How can I take magnesium?

 

Magnesium can be taking orally through foods or supplements as well as through the skins through oils or baths. 

 

Orally

 

While there is a plethora of supplements on the market adorning the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets – magnesium can be found naturally in below food:

  • pumpkin seeds

  • nuts such as almonds and cashews

  • peanuts – great for fans of peanut butter!

  • wheat cereal / bread

  • Brown rice

  • Soymilk

  • Spinach, kale and green leafy vegetables

  • Vegetables eg. Broccoli 

  • Black beans

  • bananas

  • Coconut water – a natural electrolyte drink, without the sugar that sports drinks and things like endura have in them. 

  • Dark chocolate – good news for chocolate fiends!

  • Chia seeds

Overall, food that is high in fibre such as nuts, leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains are your best bet magnesium sources. 

 

Extra-dermally – via the skin

 

While there are no reliable scientific case studies touting the recommendation of topically applied magnesium sprays, oils or baths – some clients especially athletes have reported better recovery from these including floatation tanks with dead sea salts (magnesium chloride).

 

 

Magnesium / Epsom salts baths

 

A lot of people don’t realise that Epsom salts are made of Magnesium. They are actually made of Magnesium sulphate. The benefits of Epsom salts baths come from the chemical structure breaking down into magnesium and sulphate, which is argued to be absorbed through the skin to help muscle and joint pain. You could also argue that the warm bath alone can help by relaxing the muscles and the mind.

 

How much do I add to the bath?

 

Usually 2 cups is enough for an average bath, but you can add more for your preference provided the water can dissolve it.

 

What temperature?

 

A heat to dissolve the Epsom salts bu