Does Water After a Massage “Flush Toxins?”
If you have ever received a professional massage, you are likely to have heard from your massage therapist to “drink more water.” Perhaps you were even offered a small cup or a bottle of water to drink post-session. And there is no doubt – water is good for you! In fact, water makes up anywhere from 50-65% of the adult human body! Drinking water is necessary for survival!
But there are some thoughts, misconceptions & myths surrounding water consumption when it comes to massage.
IF you have ever questioned your massage therapist as to why you should drink water after a massage, you may have been told something about removing toxins such as lactic acid and metabolic waste from your system. This myth simply is not true. Massage and drinking water just does not work this way. And more and more articles (like this one²) and research is debunking this myth. In fact, massage can potentially stir up toxins, albeit a small amount, much in the same way that exercise can. These toxins, like most others occurring in the body, are generally miniscule and are naturally excreted, via sweat, urination, defecation, and-in the case of illness-through vomiting.
So why SHOULD you drink more water after a massage?
Water provides several essential functions to keep us all going¹:
A vital nutrient to the life of every cell, acts first as a building material.
- It regulates our internal body temperature by sweating and respiration
- The carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream;
- It assists in flushing waste mainly through urination
- acts as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord, and fetus
- forms saliva
- lubricates joints
Receiving massage, especially if in a warm room or with a heated blanket, may cause some sweating. Occasionally, massage work and modalities such as Myofascial Release or Range of Motion exercises and stretches, may also lead to sweating, as well as minor damage to the tissues (a necessary effect of breaking up muscle adhesions and reducing tightness). Other modalities such as manual lymphatic drainage can encourage urination. Water intake helps to replace the water that may be naturally excreted through sweating or urination.
Drinking water can also help to reduce pain levels by keeping you properly hydrated, and again, by lubricating joints.³ When you receive massage therapies to reduce stiffness and discomfort – especially in areas such as your neck and back – staying hydrated can assist by keeping the muscles and joints properly lubricated. Stretches are also more effective when muscles and joints are hydrated, helping massage to be more effective when recommended stretches are done with this hydration maintained, in-between sessions.
So while water (and massage) does not detoxify you, it does assist with several other things, and that is great! Staying hydrated can be fairly easy for most people, and mild dehydration is usually not much of a health risk–the suggestion to drink water and stay hydrated is a good one, even if not for the reasons you once were taught.
By Leslie Byrd LMT, Massage Therapist providing therapeutic and relaxation massage to clients at Heaven Sent Massage of Ellijay. Leslie is also a graduate of Cohutta Healing Arts Institute (CHAI), and a contributing author to the CHAI Massage Blog.