Why should I drink water after a massage?
The American Massage Therapy Association recommends drinking water immediately after a session, and so will any massage practitioner worth her salt. But the curious among us may be wondering why that is, exactly based on the abundance of contradicting rationales on the Internet.
Begin At The Beginning
Water is essential to good health, so heed any advice to consume more of it. It's thought to be beneficial in fact, to hydrate before a massage as well as after, to make it easier for the therapist to manipulate the muscles. Visualize the difference between a dry sponge and a wet one, and this logic makes sense. Furthermore, pressure on the soft muscle tissue increases circulation and hydration to the tissues themselves, effectively unblocking nutrient deprived or "sick" spots in the muscle, and allowing for repair. It follows that a healthy, hydrated body is going to undertake the process of healing itself more efficiently than a dehydrated one.
Many massage practitioners believe that deep tissue massage releases toxins from the muscles into the blood stream. Exactly which toxins are released proves difficult to answer, however. Lactic acid often gets a large share of the blame, when in fact our muscles produce this acid from glucose intentionally, to use as energy. We metabolize lactic acid within an hour of physical exertion, so the long held belief that it's the primary cause of muscle soreness is a major failing in the scientific community's understanding of human physiology.
Still other therapists tell of clients re-experiencing anesthesia, nicotine, and other drug effects when a muscle is released during a session, even if a lot of time has passed since exposure to the substance. This further contributes to the widely held belief that massage releases toxins, which your therapist then suggests you flush from your system by drinking water. The truth is, there have not been enough conclusive studies to determine how massage affects toxicants in the body, or whether it actually causes their release.
Taking Out The Trash
What definitely is happening during a massage is just normal waste production caused by cell activity being stimulated, through pressure, to produce at a more rapid rate. These wastes include water, carbon dioxide, salt and other minerals. Lymphatic massage is especially likely to increase this output, as the lymph system is a line of defense against pathogens, and partners with our immune system to serve as our body's waste disposal center. After a massage, when more of these substances are flowing through your system, you may feel sick, tired or sore. Drinking water, both to replace what's being eliminated and to aid with the cleansing, seems a logical next step.
Water prevents our bodies from overheating, heals us when we're ill, and keeps our skin supple and youthful. While the reasons for recommending it may vary, the benefits of drinking water after a massage and any time are plentiful enough to remind us to grab an extra glass or two today.
Massage Wellness Fitness