Tuesday 3 April 2018

Magnesium, Muscles & Migraines - Westlab Epsom Muscle Spray Review

   I train hard - I don't like to do things by halves. I give it my all on days I feel powerful, and I give it my all on days when I just can't be bothered. I don't see the point phoning it in, it's just a waste of time and I may as well have not bothered at all. And I have discovered that the days I can't be bothered with are the days I tend to do the best on. I get the best high, the most reps, and I always feel so proud of myself afterwards - all reasons I remind myself of before sucking it up and doing it.
   So it's no surprise that occasionally I work myself too hard.

   Magnesium has an enormous role in the body, regulating protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control and blood pressure, all of which play an active role in fitness, both during a workout, with cardiovascular rates as well as aiding the movement of calcium and potassium across cell membranes which is important to nerve control and muscle contraction, and after your workout to relax and help repair the muscles.
   During the second half of your monthly cycle, your magnesium levels drop while your progesterone/estrogen levels rise. Not an issue for most women, aside from the muscle cramps that pesky drop in magnesium can cause, but this is also largely (though not wholly) why more women suffer from migraines than men, and most often or more frequently around that time of the month. Around 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men suffer from migraines, and the intensity and manifestation can vary for every individual.
   Migraines are thought to be caused my temporary changes to the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in the brain; first the blood vessels in the brain over-contract, which is usually when the aura will occur, if you suffer from them, then the blood vessels will dilate rapidly or further than they need to, which brings about the pain. Migraines differ from headaches in that they can be much more painful, occurs down one side of the head or 'in' the eye, and they can be accompanied by an aura, usually visual problems like flashing lights and blind spots. Numerous studies have shown magnesium to be an effective treatment and preventative measure.


   Well, I suffer from migraines of the ocular fashion, complete with an 'aura' which manifests for me as a blind spot that comes out of nowhere, beginning as an off-centre fuzziness edged in flashing zig-zags which expands in the course of 20 minutes to consume an entire half of my vision, after which it clears and I have 5 minutes before the pain hits in the opposite eye. Blind right side, left eye pain. And I find it hard to believe that mine are not magnesium-related. I only suffer them during 'that' time of the month, or after a week of intense workouts (or both, so I try to take it a little easier during the 'danger zone'). In fact, I used Jillian Michael's 7 Day Shred a year or so ago and suffered 3 migraines within 2 days. I also lost half an inch from my waistline, so it was worth it, but that also kind of stabilised my personal connection to migraines, magnesium and working out. And it's also for this reason that I could never be one of those unfortunately obsessive people who train for three hours a day five days a week, nor indeed an athlete - except, perhaps, an archer, which I discovered I have a surprising natural talent for. Otherwise, my body won't let me do it regardless of how many supplements I take or 90% dark chocolate, almonds and leafy greens I chomp on.

   Fortunately, there are magnesium supplements I can take, and I've seen a big drop in the frequency of migraines and an improvement in muscle relaxation post-workout since doing so, but it's not an immediate fix for stiff muscles. Fortunately still, there are other options, such as Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), and the quickest means of relief for tight muscles, which for me is always an early sign that a migraine could be around the corner, is in the form of a magnesium-rich Epsom salt muscle spray.

   Westlab is a renowned brand when it comes to Epsom because they add few additional ingredients to their products - if any, in some cases - and work directly with the suppliers and keep packaging to a minimum, which also makes it more affordable for the rest of us. No sparkle, no jazz, just the products. Unsurprisingly, they also provide one of the purest of Epsom muscle sprays on the market.
   Westlab's Muscle Spray looks a little funny at first, cloudy and gel-like, but with a shake to activate the salts and mix it all up, it clears to liquid and remains that way. It doesn't clog, sprays very smoothly, and is water-light with a lovely spearmint and eucalyptus scent.


   I admit that I sort of intentionally under-ate and over-exercised at the start of this month in an attempt to burn off the Christmas pudge - though I am still proud of those workouts; I tagged 20 minutes of Kettlercise onto the end of every Jillian Michaels' Killer Body session that week, in which I pushed up the weights I usually use, and proved to myself that my body can do it. Unfortunately, the migraine that followed came as no surprise, and neither did the stiff muscles that so often accompany them. But as painful as it all was, it gave me the perfect opportunity to put Westlab's muscle spray to the test.

   After sleeping off the migraine - a massive struggle since it struck at 9am Sunday morning quite literally 4 minutes after I'd gotten bored and finally gotten out of bed after a lazy lie-in - I put the spray to work on one leg. It made a quick and noticeable difference. Within 10 minutes my left calf had relaxed and the tightness had begun to subside. The stiffness didn't return, so after half an hour I sprayed it onto my other leg and got the same results. The stiffness was pretty bad and the spray didn't eradicate it, but it made me much more comfortable and able to walk about.
   I tried it twice more over the course of the week when my muscles were still a little iffy and found it to be quite effective - in fact, on Wednesday evening, it just about eradicated the stiffness.

   Using 1-3 sprays directly onto the affected area, the water-light mixture has to be left to air-dry, and while it does so in a few minutes, as with a swim in the sea, the salt will leave a white mark on your skin once dry. Perhaps I used too much. It can be easily washed off, but you want to give your body the chance to absorb it first, and the efficiency and effectiveness of the mixture is so wonderful that it's worth that little mark. If you're reaching for this stuff, you're probably too uncomfortable to worry about it.
   Westlab's Muscle Spray is available as a 100ml spray at £11.95, and a 50ml travel size spray at £6.95, which I can assure you will be glued to my side every four weeks and become a toiletry staple - though it seems that the 50ml will last me a while. I've only used about 5ml in the three weeks I've had it, during which time I've only needed to use it on four occasions (and a couple of others in minor cases for continued testing). It's a worthwhile gym bag staple!

   You know me - I always refuel and stretch after my workout. In fact, after a kettlebell or HIIT workout it can take me up to 20 minutes to hit every muscle used, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds. So I know my muscle stiffness isn't neglect, it's under-fuelling, over-working and 'that' time of the month, at which time I always try to up my intake of magnesium with nuts and leafy greens as well as the usual supplements. For the past 4 months I've succeeded quite well, but in my efforts to burn off the Christmas pudge, I ate too little and brought it on myself. Westlab's Muscle Spray is not an excuse to allow such conscious bad decisions or body-image neurosis, but it does ease the punishment.

Disclaimer: I was sent this product to review by the brand itself. The quantity and precise products sent were their choice, not my own. All opinions and images are my own, and all appropriate research has been done by myself from a range of sources rather than relying entirely on the product's website, especially where health products are concerned. I do not accept a product to review if I do not believe it is safe or worth my own time, regardless of any kind of reimbursement. I trial the products for an appropriate amount of time before writing reviews to check for wear-and-tear on physical items and side effects from edible (be it supplements or food). If I have negative points to voice, I will voice them, and I never, ever accept product reviews or reimbursement on the promise of a positive review. My reviews are and will only ever be honest.


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