Almost every massage therapist will tell you to drink water before and after your massage — but why is that? To fully understand, we have to separate facts from fiction about the benefits of massage. There are plenty of myths about massage therapy, some of which are reasons for drinking water. Let’s dive into the most common myths, the real benefits, and why you should drink water before and after a massage.
Does massage flush out toxins?
First, we must address one of the biggest misconceptions about massage therapy. Some massage therapists will still claim that massage flushes out toxins from your body. Specifically, they claim that massage releases toxins into the bloodstream and that drinking water afterward will flush them out. There is no scientific evidence to back up this claim. When asked to be more specific about which toxins are released, they might answer with metabolic wastes like lactic acid. Cellular biology produces a lot of molecules, most of which are excreted or recycled. In fact, most metabolic wastes are not waste products at all and are safely and naturally processed by our bodies, including lactic acid. Furthermore, studies show that massage may even inhibit lactic acid removal, not promote it. Even if massage actually released toxins into the bloodstream, drinking extra water would not help flush them out. Unless you are dehydrated, extra water won’t go into your bloodstream — that just isn’t how our circulatory system works. Our main detoxifying organs are the liver and kidneys and they do not need extra water to operate correctly, either.
What are the real benefits of massage?
It might not flush away toxins, but it does still have its benefits. Massage therapy is utilized for relaxation, remediation, pain relief, and more. Different types of massage exist to treat specific things, but there are some general effects of massage that are common for all types. Most types of massage will make you feel more relaxed since it releases endorphins and lowers stress hormones. Other common benefits include reducing muscle tension and pain as well as improving blood flow, circulation, and flexibility.
Aside from the overall effects, specific types of massage therapy can be beneficial for certain health conditions. Deep-tissue massage and sports massage use remedial massage techniques to target injuries and promote muscle strength. Swedish massage is a popular form of therapeutic massage that may help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Similar to Swedish massage, hot stone massage can reduce tension and even relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia. There are also massage techniques designed for pregnant women and babies. Basically everyone can benefit from massage therapy, but it can be especially helpful for those with injuries, chronic pain, or anxiety.
So why drink water?
If drinking water doesn’t help flush toxins out of our bloodstream, why is it still important? The real reason actually does involve our bloodstream, but not in the way you might think. Our muscles don’t allow for good blood flow when they are tight and sore. One of the main benefits of massage therapy is that it increases blood flow to those unhealthy muscles and improves circulation. When this happens, your blood will deliver oxygen and fluids to the targeted muscle. Water is removed from your bloodstream and transferred to these muscles. This process can actually make us feel dehydrated, so that is why drinking water is important.
In short, even good things like massage therapy can leave us dehydrated. Make sure you are taking care of yourself by drinking plenty of water before and after your massage. Even if it won’t flush toxins out, staying hydrated is still one of the best things we can do for our bodies.