As the world watches the best skaters, skiers and snowboarders vie for gold during the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, what we don’t see are the rituals and routines of the athletes as they prep and recover. Olympic athletes demand a lot from their bodies to perform, and therefore turn to various methods of self-care, both before and after they compete.
In addition to various self-care rituals such as mediating, listening to music, practicing yoga, eating fresh produce or enjoying a relaxing massage, many of our top Olympians cite soaking in Epsom salt as a gold winning strategy for optimum physical and emotional health.
American pairs figure skater and former Olympic bronze medalist, Alexa Knierim, finds relief from pain and sore muscles through soothing Epsom salt baths and a good book. “I typically have a fun bath bomb, candles lit, and a good book to get lost in, which calms me down and refreshes my body,” says Knierim.
The main elements in pairs skating are difficult to perform and include lifts, throws, jumps, spirals and spins. As this high impact sport can take a toll on anyone’s body, soaking in Epsom salt baths after a strenuous workout or extensive training can help prevent inflammation and irritation in your joints and muscles.
Another name for magnesium sulfate, Epsom salt is comprised of two essential elements that fight inflammation, while its electrolytes help with lingering tightness. Soaking for 15 minutes (or longer after an intense workout) in an Epsom salt bath can relax muscles and help repair damage, reduce swelling and speed recovery.
Alexa Knierim is a two-time Olympian (2018, 2022) and a two-time Olympic medalist (1 silver, 1 bronze). Knierim is also a two-time Four Continents medalist (2016 silver, 2014 bronze), a three-time Grand Prix medalist, and a three-time U.S. National Champion (2015, 2018, 2020). At the 2018 Winter Olympics, Knierim and her partner became the first American pair, and the second pair ever in history, to perform a quad twist at the Olympic Games.
Other go-to methods of self-care from current and former Olympians include:
- Deep Breathing: American alpine skier Jacqueline Wiles says she too is a fan of an Epsom salt bath after a grueling day on the slopes. Another favorite self-care practice, she says: “I use deep breathing techniques leading up to my run to really calm and center myself, which has helped me a ton when battling nerves.”
- Mindfulness and Meditation: “I make time every morning for 10 minutes of meditation or mindfulness to check in with my body and see how I’m feeling,” said the American pairs figure skater Ashley Cain-Gribble. And she sets aside 30 minutes each night to stretch before bed to help her body unwind from an intense day of training.
- Music: American alpine skier and three-time Olympic medalist Mikaela Shiffrin is open about her struggles with performance anxiety. “Music is a really powerful tool that can help us feel things more deeply. … It can also help us to drive and control our own mindset and emotions, or it can take control of us,” Shiffrin said.
Note: For human use, the Epsom Salt Council recommends only Epsom salt with the USP designation.