To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Trigger Point Self-Care,” by Donna Finando, L.Ac., in the September 2012 issue. Article summary: The work of a massage therapist requires ongoing muscular exertion in order to accomplish session goals. Regardless of the type of massage we practice, it’s fair to say we work hard physically. It isn’t uncommon to exert and strain our own muscles during the treatment process or while maneuvering a heavy treatment table. Sometimes that leads to elbow, wrist and hand pain; arm and shoulder pain; or back pain—the same problems we help our clients with.

by Arthur J. Sumrall, M.D., with Warren Chambers

Everyone needs magnesium. I originally gave a magnesium-based pain-relief product to Dave, my massage therapist, to use on my neck during sessions. But soon, I gave him his own jar for his knee. After using it, his pain went away. Dave then began to use the cream on other clients, and they soon became believers that magnesium is a mineral our bodies need.

Remember that milk carton labeled epsom salt that your grandmother kept in the back of her medicine cabinet and used to soak sore backs and feet? The content of that carton was magnesium sulfate. Well, like with many other things, our grandmothers had the right idea: Magnesium is a potent anti-inflammatory and key to our bodies’ own self-healing mechanisms.

Magnesium is a superstar mineral. Today, certain products use pharmaceutical-grade magnesium, as well as other minerals and botanicals, which absorb through the skin and go right to the source of pain, quieting it, reducing inflammation and speeding recovery.

I consider magnesium our body’s most important mineral, because it’s needed to make energy and to absorb other nutrients like calcium and potassium. Magnesium is found in green vegetables, such as spinach, beans and peas, and also in whole grains. But more than 60 percent of Americans don’t receive the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. Oral supplements are not an option because if ingested, magnesium can have laxative effects.

Magnesium deficiency contributes to muscle cramping and pain in three ways:

1. Without enough magnesium, the body can’t make enough energy to feed our muscle cells; therefore, energy-depleted muscles cramp.

2. Additionally, magnesium is a great detoxifier. It allows muscles to relax and release toxins. It also neutralizes lactic acid.

3. Magnesium calms the central nervous system and nerve cells, quieting pain signals. Even at slight deficiencies of magnesium, our muscles begin to spasm, and the pain is magnified by sensitive nerves. Self-care with magnesium helps start a positive feedback loop that allows your body to recuperate.

Unlike analgesics that mask pain, magnesium allows you to target an area for instant relief without the worry of side effects or drug interactions. By helping to relax and feed your muscles, magnesium gets you on the road to recovery.

Arthur J. Sumrall, M.D., is founder of the Center for Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery. He was also instrumental in developing a natural product, Magsoothium (www.magsoothium.com), from magnesium sulfate and essential oils for soaking, which has both therapeutic and medical applications.

Warren Chambers paired with Sumrall when they realized the extraordinary effect magnesium sulfate had on the reduction of swelling. Chambers and Sumrall created Magsoothium, which is supported by both medical documentation and clinical trials.

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