A blog by runners. For runners.

Natural healing: baking soda


As athletes, we all run into sports injuries and ailments while training, from swollen ankles to chaffing, athletes foot to sunburns. In this new series we will explore some of the natural ways we can help heal what ails us. As always, make sure you check with your doctor before starting any type of regimen.

I can’t think of anything more neglected and lowly than baking soda. Sure, baking soda gets thrown into cookie recipes and shoved to the back of the fridge but I’m guessing most of us don’t think much beyond baking soda’s basic uses. The funny thing about baking soda is that years ago it was used for just about everything, from toothpaste to cleaning solutions. Here are five ways for athletes to rediscover baking soda:

  1. Soothe insect bites: Summer running means dealing with bugs, especially if you’re a dusk runner. My father’s favorite solution for bug bites was a little apple cider vinegar directly on the bite. I still use ACV but I’ve also found that mixing a little bit of baking soda with some water works wonders as well. Mix to form a paste then place directly on the bug bite.
  2. Foot soaks: Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 quart of warm water into a bucket then slip your feet in. The warm mix soothes tired feet. You can also soften calluses or rough skin by rubbing a little baking soda directly on the skin.
  3. Shampoo: If you’re like me and work out everyday, you probably take a lot of showers and feel like you’re constantly washing your hair. Over the last few months I’ve seen a lot of references to the “No poo” method. It claims that for cleaner, shinier, more manageable hair all we need to do is mix a tablespoon of baking soda with some water to make a thin paste. Rub the mixture directly into the scalp. (There won’t be a sudsy effect but it’s still working). Rinse. Then pour a mixture of one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and ½ cup of water directly on the hair. Simple as that. I did read some disclaimers that baking soda is very alkaline and it should not be used every day but I also never shampooed my hair everyday so this hasn’t been a problem.
  4. Clean smelly running gear: Running can be smelly. If you just can’t get the odor out of your gear, add ½ to 1 cup (depending on the load size) of baking soda in to your washer with your regular laundry detergent to help deodorize the smell. You can also pre-soak smelly clothes in a mixture of 1 cup baking soda and 1 quart warm water for 24 hours prior to tossing in the washing machine.
  5. Deodorize shoes: While we’re on the subject of smelly gear, baking soda can also help neutralize stinky shoes. Sprinkle a little baking soda directly into your sneakers after a run. Before using your shoes again, simply shake out the excess baking soda before slipping them on.

Have a favorite use for baking soda? Share it below.

Written by Lisa Chase.