Muscle pain can be an uncomfortable fact of life.
Almost all of us experience it at some point because we’ve over-exerted ourselves, hit the gym just one too many times in search of those elusive gains, or maybe for another reason.
Enter: magnesium deficiency.
So, what is magnesium and could a lack of it be making our muscles sore? Will using magnesium for muscle pain help ease some discomfort?
To answer, magnesium is a mineral, and it’s crucial to our health and wellness: it’s involved in over 300 biochemical processes in the body.
Research shows that many of us do not have sufficient magnesium levels in our bodies.
These deficiencies can manifest as a number of unpleasant symptoms – including muscle cramps and twitches, headaches, anxiety, numbness, depression and restless legs.
So if magnesium deficiencies cause muscle pain, is supplementing magnesium an effective way to counteract this?
In this article, we cover the following:
- Can you use magnesium for muscle pain?
- Which type of magnesium is best for muscle pain?
- How long does it take magnesium to work for muscles?
In this guide:
Can magnesium help with muscle pain?
Research supports the idea that using magnesium for muscle pain might help ease discomfort.
One study examined the effects of magnesium supplementation on muscle soreness and performance. Researchers concluded that magnesium supplements significantly reduced muscle soreness and improved the perceived recovery of the participants.
The study also suggested that magnesium may have a positive impact on sports performance.
How does magnesium for sore muscles work?
Magnesium works in part by blocking calcium uptake.
Both magnesium and calcium bind to the same proteins within muscles. If calcium builds up, muscles can over-contract. This manifests as spasms or cramps and can be painful.
This is where magnesium comes to the rescue. The mineral helps regulate these spasms, allowing muscles to relax. It also helps muscles relax after contracting during a workout.
What type of magnesium is best for muscle pain?
If you’re looking to take magnesium for muscle pain, there are a few types of magnesium which will work best. Here are four types which are commonly used for muscle pain and how they might help:
- Magnesium malate is a substrate in the cellular energy cycle. There’s preliminary evidence that this lesser-known compound may help relieve muscle pain in fibromyalgia patients.
- Another form of magnesium thought to relieve muscle pain is magnesium sulfate, otherwise known as Epsom Salts. It’s often dissolved in bath water to help ease stress and relax sore muscles. However, there’s currently little clinical evidence to support the effectiveness of this method.
- Magnesium chloride can be applied topically and may help relieve muscle soreness. It is also a good option for increasing magnesium levels and correcting a deficiency (although it should be absorbed orally in this case).
- Magnesium citrate is easily absorbed into the body and is an excellent all-around option to help combat muscle pain and soreness.
How to take magnesium for muscle recovery
How should you take magnesium for muscle recovery? Does one method work better than another if taking magnesium for sore muscles?
Before we delve deeper into methods of taking magnesium for muscles, we want to caution that it’s always best to speak to a medical professional before adding new supplements to your routine.
While magnesium itself may not be harmful, there is the possibility that it may interfere with other medications.
When it comes to the best time to take magnesium, there are no hard or fast rules. Mostly it’s about finding what works for you and being consistent.
Let’s take a look at the common ingestion and application methods.
Magnesium oil for muscle pain
Magnesium oil is absorbed transdermally – and should be rubbed directly onto the skin. It’s a great option for incorporating the therapeutic oil into a massage to soothe particularly contracted or sore muscles.
Magnesium spray for muscle pain
Magnesium spray is another great option for treating muscle pain. The method makes it particularly easy to target painful areas, and spray formulas absorb into the skin easily. Simply apply to sore areas – but avoid broken skin or any sensitive areas.
Magnesium gel for muscle pain
Like magnesium oil, magnesium gel can be massaged directly onto problem areas. As long as you are using quality products from a reputable brand, it’s really about personal preference when it comes to transdermal options.
It takes about 20 minutes for the full effect of magnesium gel to be felt – it can be an excellent high-strength option to target soreness and pain.
Magnesium powder for muscle pain
Magnesium powder won’t directly target a single muscle (unlike the above topical options, all of which do).
However, powder form is the best option for correcting magnesium deficiencies (due to its high bioavailability) and also for helping relieve muscle pains, cramps and soreness overall.
While the above topical options may help target pain, they won’t go far in correcting deficiencies and addressing the potential root problem.
Powders can be taken as a food supplement – just add them according to packaging directions.
With our magnesium blend, we recommend mixing 5g (1 scoop) with water, a hot drink or a smoothie around half an hour before bed. Nothing complicated – just stir in the powder and drink!
How much magnesium should I take for muscle pain?
If you choose to use magnesium oil, magnesium spray, or magnesium gel topically, apply as much as you like, as and when needed.
However, suppose you’re looking to alleviate pain by correcting a deficiency and thus consuming magnesium orally. In that case, it’s important to stick to product guidelines and ensure you don’t exceed the dosages recommended on the packaging.
As a guide, the NHS website advises that consuming up to 400mg of magnesium supplementation per day is unlikely to cause harm.
Taking more than this may lead to unwanted side effects, such as nausea and diarrhoea, as your body attempts to expel the excess magnesium it doesn’t need.
Final words on magnesium for muscle pain
To conclude, supplementing magnesium for muscle recovery and pain may not be necessary for everyone.
However, magnesium can be a naturally beneficial supplement for people with magnesium deficiencies or sore muscles derived from exercise or injuries.
Magnesium sprays are particularly handy for targeting specific muscles, while powders are effective in correcting deficiencies – due to high levels of bioavailability when ingested.
Always ensure you’re taking a form of magnesium recommended for muscle pain (magnesium citrate, magnesium magnate and magnesium chloride have all been shown to impact muscle pain positively). Always stick within dosage guidelines, too.