One of my favorite self-care rituals for minor aches and pains or tight muscles is to wrap the area in towels that have been soaked in warm epsom salt wraps. But while sitting with an epsom salt wrap, I don’t just sit there and get on my phone.
A big part of releasing and restoring functional movement is awareness. Our minds and bodies are so connected. When we are present and mindful, we are able to notice small pains and do something about it before it becomes a problem–it is so wonderful to be able to take care of ourselves in this way. Being present and mindful can do more than just help us prevent injury.
When I put my epsom salt wrap on, I take slow, deep breaths, letting my exhale out all the way. (Note that it’s best if you use a dry towel around the wet one for insulating the heat.) I notice the feeling of the warmth on my skin, of the wrap hugging the area. I take a few moments to quietly notice what I can in that area of my body. I purposefully relax into the position I’m in, smiling softly to myself. I slowly try to soften the area that I’m noticing–if I cannot, I at least imagine a softening and relaxing, or imagine breathing into the area. The more I relax, and the more the area in the wrap relaxes, the more I notice and allow, and the more I ask it to soften. I do what I can, and thank myself for taking the time to take care of myself.
I usually replace the wet towel with a new one a few times as it gets cold, making sure that the water is still somewhere between room temperature and too hot.
Once I take off the wraps, I let the area relax for a moment, continuing to breathe slowly and notice any sensations. I begin to move the area–in this example, I’ll use my foot.
I might bring my foot more towards my head, and then more towards the floor, very slowly. I might move it slowly left and right. I notice if there’s a direction that’s easier to move my foot in, and then I slowly take it in that direction. From there I slowly relax all of my muscles, allowing the foot to glide back to neutral. I might do this same movement a couple more times, and then find a new direction or movement that feels easy. It might involve a combination of ankle, toe, and foot movements–it might even involve the leg. Whatever it is, it’s very, very slow, and focuses on relaxing the muscles slowly so that the foot gently glides back to neutral.
I spend several minutes like this, somatically releasing the area. Then I take my hands and softly offer what feels good–sometimes, it’s simply resting my palms on the area, breathing into it and noticing any sensations, asking it to relax more. Other times, it’s gently stroking. Sometimes it’s softly pressing up and down the region.
While enjoying this time for myself, I might also reflect on what caused this pain in the first place, or what movements contribute to more pain so that I can be mindful of that in the coming days. Whether or not you’re sure of what happened, I always spend more time in the next coming days softly releasing my muscles, usually through somatic releases like the ones I described above.
Enjoy trying out this lovely self-care routine. If you like it, love it, or have any questions, let me know!