Transdermal Magnesium for Athletic Muscle Recovery
Magnesium’s Role as a Micronutrient
Two things that cannot be separated are nutrition and fitness. Professional athletes often push their muscles and bodies beyond limit through constant exercises resulting in tired, aching and strained muscles and ligaments. Ultimately, this can cause ongoing fatigue which often results in a drop in overall performance. This is where transdermal magnesium can play a large role in muscle recovery and health.
Micronutrients play an essential role in energy production, transport of oxygen, tissue growth, and maintenance of bone health. They also affect muscle recovery from exercise strain and in body protection from oxidative damage, which occurs during exercise. Athletic fitness requires having the right concentration of micronutrients, and magnesium is one of the most essential micronutrient for athletes.
Magnesium is the second most abundant element in the human body. It is essential for over three hundred biochemical processes. These include its role in optimizing muscle and nerve function through its irreplaceable contribution to the synthesis of energy in the form of ATP. ATP is required in high levels by active muscles. Magnesium also acts as an electrolyte in active muscles and a magnesium deficiency results in muscle fatigue.
Oral Magnesium versus Transdermal Magnesium
Although magnesium oral supplements can help optimize athlete’s magnesium level, ingestion of magnesium is often produces a delayed effect. In addition, getting your magnesium via diet or supplements can produce be an incomplete or inefficient absorption in the digestive tract coupled with stomach irritability. This asks the question if oral magnesium supplements or topical / transdermal magnesium supplementation is the right fit for you.
The skin is the largest human organ and can provide a more effective, fast and healthy approach of improving magnesium levels. There are two approaches to transdermal magnesium supplementation: Magnesium oil spray or soaking in magnesium.
Some people apply magnesium oil, which is a high concentration of magnesium chloride, onto clean skin. It is easy-to-absorb and can work quickly. Transdermal magnesium absorption is incredibly effective as the magnesium goes straight through to your blood vessels and muscles, bypassing reliance on digestive absorption.
Float Tanks for Transdermal Magnesium
Soaking in magnesium is also a quite effective form of transdermal magnesium. Float tanks have over 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt dissolved into about 10 inches of water. This salt concentration is extremely high, which results in an increased specific gravity (compared to soaking in a lake or hot tub.) As a result, this causes a person in a float tank to have a feeling of being suspended in space free from the influence of gravity.
Transdermal magnesium supplementation therapy via float tanks entails laying in a large, enclosed, salt water bath that is designed to minimize external sensory input to the brain. The water is so buoyant with magnesium that anyone can float effortlessly. The temperature of the environment is neutral, at skin temperature. There is a calming light inside the float tank if you prefer it. Otherwise the float tank is wonderfully dark and quiet.
A number of top athletes now have float tanks in their houses. Football teams have started incorporating flotation therapy into their training and recovery programs. Having float tanks in their arsenal allow them to help their athletes recover, relax and get attain 100% fitness level.
Epsom salt is composed of magnesium sulfate heptahydrate (although often shortened as magnesium sulfate,) with the magnesium content being the main active ingredient. The heptahydrate indicates that it is a compound with seven molecules of water.
Studies on Float Tanks
A study of 450 people found out that floating in this magnesium salt solution resulted in a lowered level of blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, along with an increased sense of wellbeing.
Another study of 65 participants who were suffering from stress along with muscle pain resulted in participants that underwent 12 sessions of transdermal magnesium via floatation therapy enjoying a significant decrease in depression, anxiety, stress, pain as well as an improvement in sleep quality.
Another study consisting of 60 international athletes reported that a single floatation therapy session significantly improved mood and lowered soreness of muscles.
Taking a Transdermal magnesium supplementation in a float tank is quite easy! You arrive at Isolate to your own private room, put in earplugs, take a shower, and step into the tank. And then all you need do while in the tank is lay there. You’ll be recovering with speed and ease, void of all external influences. You can use this time to meditate, relax, and sleep or even use it as distraction-free brain organizing time. No matter what you are thinking about in the tank, your body is going to be absorbing magnesium!
Benefits of Transdermal Magnesium
Inflammation is the body’s main response to stress and injury. Magnesium, being a powerful anti-inflammatory mineral, modulates the cellular processes involved in dampening inflammatory responses. In other words, this makes magnesium the perfect cure for sore muscles, inflamed or aching joints.
Detoxification of Lactic Acid
Taking a soak in Epsom salt is known have enormous detoxification effect of the body getting it rid of metabolic products. Lactic acid is the main byproduct of anaerobic energy metabolism. Anaerobic energy metabolism is the main pathway for energy generation in athlete’s muscle as it provides a faster means of energy generation to meet with the high energy demand of active muscles. This often results in lactic acidosis from the accumulation of lactic acid in the blood stream. As a result, this can cause muscle ache or burning, or in more extreme cases nausea and rapid breathing.
Taking a rest in the float tank results in reduction of lactic acid.
Transdermal magnesium reduces stress level in both the mind and in the body. Floating in a float tank frees the body of pressure from gravity, causing all muscles to relax and rest.
Floating once a week ensures an increased blood flow and relaxing of tight muscles. This boosts the healing of muscle tissues. Transdermal magnesium sustains chemical processes that results in muscle contraction and relaxation, reduction in cardiac activity and blood pressure. Magnesium absorbed through the skin aids in the formation of neurotransmitter serotonin from Tryptophan which is an amino acid conveying a sensation of profound relaxation.
Calcium Channel Blocking and Pain Reduction
Magnesium are effective calcium channel blockers and hence effective in reducing pain. Calcium channels are pores on cell walls that allow calcium in and out of the cells. This activates biochemical processes that result in pain and they exist predominantly in neurons, blood vessels and muscle tissues. Transdermal magnesium activates pathways that reduce blood pressure and pain by acting as a calcium channel blocker. Some studies have also shown that magnesium brings about a reduction in pain level after surgery. Transdermal magnesium has been reported to ease as well as prevent migraine headache.
Magnesium and Blood Sugar
And in addition to all these amazing benefits transdermal magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar. Insulin resistance is associated with a magnesium deficiency. People with insulin sensitivity or resistance also lose excess magnesium in their urine. Subsequently magnesium plays an important role with diabetes treatment.
Magnesium is essential to health and fitness. And most people are deficient in it. Although there’s multiple ways to increase magnesium, float tanks are one of the easiest and most effective ways to do just that. In other words, you need to try out a float tank and see what it does for your athletic recovery.
Gröber, U., Werner, T., Vormann, J., & Kisters, K. (2018). Myth or Reality—Transdermal Magnesium? Nutrients, 9(813). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080813
Nica, A. S., Caramoci, A., Vasilescu, M., Ionescu, A. M., Paduraru, D., & Mazilu, V. (2015). Magnesium supplementation in top athletes – effects and recommendations. Journal of the Romanian Sports Medicine Society, XI(1), 2482–2494.
Zhang, Y. (2017). Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance? Nutrients, 9(946), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9090946
About the Author
Colleen Caron has facilitated thousands of float sessions as the Operations Manager at Isolate Flotation Center in Boulder, Colorado. She believes that in our over-stimulated culture, floating is the most accessible way to connect with the deepest parts of ourselves and tap into our potential, whatever that may individually look like. Her mission is to help as many people as possible discover the “float tank as a tool” for their own personal development. Colleen has personally used the tank to manage lifelong anxiety and depression, practice compassion, meditate and expand consciousness, boost creativity, problem solve, recover from a bike accident, and to simply rest.