Magnesium is mineral that is present in all of our organs, as it participates in over 300 biochemical reactions in the human body. Magnesium is indispensable for energy production through a process called oxidative phosphorylation or glycolysis. It is also an important part of human bone structure and takes part in the making of DNA and RNA.
One of the functions of magnesium most relevant to athletes is that it plays an important role in nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.
While magnesium is found in a range of foods, like nuts and seeds, whole grain, brown rice, oatmeal, black beans, and avocados, dietary magnesium is poorly absorbed, at only 30-40% of what is consumed. The rest is excreted.
For this reason, researchers found that magnesium is much more effectively absorbed when in direct contact with the skin. Thus, magnesium oil was developed, which has allowed people to take advantage of the benefits at much greater rates.
Magnesium oil isnt actually an oil. Instead, it is pure magnesium chloride suspended in water. When it is highly concentrated, it just happens to have an oily texture.
Magnesium oil is usually recommended by health specialists when someone has magnesium deficiency. However, magnesium deficiency is hard to diagnose; in fact, most people dont get the amount of magnesium they should be getting, and they dont even know it. Some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Coronary spasms
- Muscle cramps
Because these symptoms, especially when they present themselves in the light to moderate stages, are similar to symptoms presented by other deficiencies, magnesium deficiency can often be overlooked.
Uses for Athletes
The use of magnesium oil for athletes is overlooked far too often. Magnesium has a very important role in the health and wellbeing of athletes regarding muscle function. This includes oxygen uptake, energy production, and electrolyte balance. In fact, researchers have found that marginal magnesium deficiency can impair exercise performance and can cause amplified fatigue, cramping and prolong post-exercise recovery.
The effects of magnesium deficiency in athletes can result in:
- Metabolic inefficiency
- An increase in oxygen consumption
- An increase in heart rate
- A greater risk of muscle injury
Athletes who have to have strict weight control, like gymnasts and wrestlers, could be specifically vulnerable due to a lower dietary intake of foods high in magnesium.
Since magnesium is an electrolyte, sweating also results in magnesium loss. For this reason, all athletes who sweat strenuously will want to consider using magnesium oil.
How to Use Magnesium Oil
Magnesium oil has been used for sports massages because it has been shown to help break down scar tissue, improve blood circulation, increase flexibility and muscle tone. As a plus, it also contributes to reducing stress.
This is the most common presentation of magnesium oil. If you are using magnesium oil for general health and performance improvement, it is recommended that you apply it after a shower, 30 minutes before applying other lotions and oils.
After an injury, you should apply magnesium oil before touching or applying ice to ensure it is absorbed properly.
If you do not like the feeling of magnesium oil on your skin or if it is uncomfortable, you can add magnesium oil to a warm bath. 6 to 8 fluid ounces is a good amount to start with. Here, you can even ad some other essential oils or fragrances to your magnesium oil to further relax.
Note: problems when using magnesium oil are rare, but they can occur. You should avoid using magnesium oil if you have low blood pressure, have sensitive skin, take anxiety medication, experience muscle twitches, or notice any unusual or uncomfortable side effects.
Where can I get it?
You can purchase magnesium oil from most health supplement stores. If you feel like it is too pricey, you can actually make it yourself by buying magnesium chloride flakes (also found at supplement stores or online) and adding equal amounts of flakes and boiling water in a glass spray bottle. When you shake it, the magnesium chloride flakes will dissolve. Once it is cool, you can put the top on and stored.
Nielsen, F.H., Lukaski, H.C. 2006. Update on the relationship between magnesium and exercise. Magnesium Research. 19(3): 180-189.