How I Conquered My Post-Workout Aches and Malaise


The Magic Formula That Works for Me:
Magnesium, Sulfur and Red Light

By Tom Cowan, M.D.
I want to wish everyone a peaceful and joyous new year, and to thank you for the warm responses to my books and other writings.  I often say I have the privilege of having the best patients and the warmest support network anyone could possibly ask for.

The holiday season is a time for reflection and inward focus for many.  We also share time with friends and family and set goals and plan direction for the coming year.  Many of us use the tradition of New Year’s resolutions to consider ways to improve our health.  For me, with gentle prodding from my wife, I have decided to redouble my efforts to improve my fitness.  It’s not that I don’t do regular movement and physical activity, because I’ve always done that, but I have always hated the gym.  I understand the benefits. I even realize that when I do work out, it makes everything, particularly gardening, easier for me. It’s just that I don’t really enjoy the process.  The other reason for my gym avoidance is that, typically, when I have intensified my workouts in the past, I tend to feel achy and out of sorts for days afterwards.  This seems to happen almost no matter how slowly I ease into the workouts.

However, in the past couple of months, I have come upon a simple strategy that has greatly eased this post-workout malaise and discomfort.  The basic components include the usual caveats to do adequate post-workout stretching, keep well hydrated and exercise only muscles that have been warmed up.  These things I have done in the past, seemingly to no avail.  This time I added the following three simple interventions.

The first is magnesium oil. Magnesium is arguably the most important mineral in our bodies and one of the most difficult to maintain in adequate stores.  Magnesium is used in virtually all detoxification processes. It relaxes muscles and improves blood flow to virtually all the tissues through its relaxation effect on the blood vessels.  Magnesium is used in energy-production pathways, in the formation of healthy bone tissue, and the maintenance of healthy immune responses.   The support of the various detoxification pathways, along with the improvement of blood flow, are probably the principle reasons that increasing one’s magnesium stores can help prevent such things as muscle or menstrual cramps, cardiac arrhythmias and elevated blood pressure. 

While magnesium is ubiquitous in the plant world (it is the core of the chlorophyll molecule), it is also generally poorly absorbed through the GI tract.   Oral magnesium supplements generally share in this poor absorption, which is why one of the centuries-old healing practices, particularly in Europe, has been to rub magnesium oil on the skin.  This technique seems to facilitate absorption and create adequate blood and tissue stores of magnesium.  
The magnesium I am using is one that comes from the 250-million-year-old Zechstein underground sea in Veendam, Holland.  Protected by its depth of 2 km underground, Transdermal (Zechstein) Magnesium Oil has been the preferred magnesium supplement in European clinics for decades.  It is a maximally concentrated oil and contains no impurities or additives — it’s pure, raw, unadulterated, and stored in cobalt-blue glass bottles.  The effect of this oil for me was clear and powerful.

Here’s how I use it: The first thing in the morning, I rub, drop by drop, about 30 drops of the oil on all the non-hairy parts of my body.  It’s sticky, so I just leave it on and then go about my day.  I usually put another 30 drops or so on my skin 30 minutes before my workouts.  After the workout, I shower, and any residual stickiness goes away.  In the first few weeks, I noticed a tingly sensation after applying the oil.  This effect was probably related to the increased blood flow caused by the absorption of the magnesium.  The “tinglies” are now mostly gone.  Adding magnesium will support many health issues, from arrhythmia, fatigue, cramps, muscle aches and pains.  It’s also a safe, effective, natural way to support your body and to make workouts not only doable but also enjoyable..

The second intervention was to add 1 Tablespoon of MSM Morning Mix to my water 30 minutes before every workout.  MSM Morning Mix is a mixture of the sulfur-containing compound MSM, with the Chinese adaptogen herb schisandra and Himalayan Shilajit, a sticky, super-mineral-rich substance found primarily in the rocks of the Himalayas. Sulfur is another key component of detoxification pathways and a mineral that is often deficient in modern diets.  Without adequate sulfur stores, detoxification is impaired, lactic acid tends to accumulate in the tissues, and the characteristic cramps and pain of the post-workout blues happen more readily.  Adding a highly absorbable sulfur supplement, along with the minerals contained in the Shilajit, with a premier herb that helps your body adapt to stress (including the stress of exercise) has made a tremendous improvement in my post-workout experience.  There are many other indications for adding sulfur to your diet, many of which have been outlined by the work of Stephanie Seneff on the role of sulfur in preventing the oxidation of cholesterol.  For now, I am grateful that it’s helping me to keep on track with my fitness goals.   

The final intervention came through the generous donation of a light-therapy device from the people at Saunaspace.  I told Brian, the owner, about my post-workout malaise, and he suggested that I shine one of his full-spectrum, incandescent lights on my body and, in particular, on any painful sites for 30 minutes after each workout (at a minimum). It’s easy to do; I just set up the light about 18 inches from my body while I am eating, typing or sitting and reading.  It emits a wonderful red glow that gently warms the targeted area and improves capillary blood flow.  After 30 minutes my body feels warm, more flexible and the typical achy, crampy feeling is mostly gone.  I drink plenty of structured water during the day as well. More on that topic another time!