After a hard run or a tough lifting session at the gym, your muscles may be screaming for a warm, soothing bath. Unfortunately, a warm bath right after a workout is not good for sore muscles. Directly after your workout, you should go for an ice bath. A few hours later, then it is time to slide into a warm bath. Adding some salt, essential oils or herbs may help further soothe sore muscles.
Immediately After Exercise
If you just did something intense, such as running a marathon, it is best to delay your bath. While a bath may sound luxurious and enticing to your sore muscles, it can actually increase swelling and soreness right after or within the first few hours after your workout.
Cold, Not Warm
There is no doubt that a warm bath sounds appealing, but your muscles actually need cold temperatures directly after exercising. A study published by the “Cochrane Library“ in 2012 showed that cold-water baths improved muscle recovery and reduced fatigue in participants immediately following a workout. Participants who immersed themselves in water colder than 59 degrees Fahrenheit saw a 20 percent reduction in soreness compared to passive treatment. If you have a heart condition or another heath problem, consult a doctor before doing an ice bath.
If it has been a few hours since you worked out and your muscles are still sore, then draw yourself a warm bath. Consider adding in some Epsom salt. When you work out, your body loses magnesium and increases adrenaline levels. When you mix Epsom salt with warm water, it dissolves and is then absorbed through your skin to help replenish your magnesium levels, ease pain, relieve inflammation and ease the effects of adrenaline. Add two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak away.
Essential Oils and Herbs
Adding essential oils or herbs to your bath transforms it into an elegant, pampering muscle relaxer. Mix in a quarter cup of ginger powder into your salt bath to boost blood flow to your muscles. Lavender oil can do more than soothe anxiety and insomnia; some people think it offers relief from joint and muscle pain when added to your bath, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. German chamomile flowers might help reduce inflammation and relieve muscle spasms, although studies so far have just been done on animals, not humans, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Sprinkle a quarter of a pound of dried flowers or five to 10 drops of essential oil into your bath for a pleasurable soak.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.