The Water-Toxin Myth
You may have heard that it’s necessary to drink water after a massage because some massage therapists claim that getting a massage releases toxins directly into the bloodstream, and that the best way to flush them out is to drink plenty of water to encourage your kidneys and the rest of your digestive system to process these and remove them from your body. I admit I was taught this myth in school and used to tell my clients to drink plenty of water. It never hurts to drink plenty of water, so it can’t hurt to rehydrate after a massage session. But massages don’t flush toxins into the bloodstream, and water wouldn’t help if it did.
There are a lot of scientific reasons why this is the case, but know that massage doesn’t liberate environmental pollutants from cells or “squish” them into your bloodstream or excretory systems to be expelled. That’s what your kidneys and digestive system are designed to do.
The Lactic Acid Myth
Another myth about massages: That massage is a great way to release lactic acid in the muscles after a long run or hard workout. The soreness and stiffness you experience after a workout actually isn’t from lactic acid building up in your muscles, it’s what’s called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
When you work out your muscles rebuild themselves and become larger and stronger. Your muscles do create lactic acid, but this is something they do all the time, even when your body is at rest. So the idea that your muscles are sore from lactic acid buildup is false. When you exercise, your body needs fuel, and breaks down some of its stored energy to get this, becoming acidic. Lactate is just a by-product of this process that is created all the time.
That doesn’t mean you should give up your post workout massage! There are still plenty of benefits to a good massage. Your massage therapist can reduce the pain and stiffness after a hard workout, which moves blood and fluid around your body, helping to heal micro trauma from your workout. When you heavily work out a muscle group, it loses some of its flexibility and tenses up, making it easier to tear. A thorough massage eases this tension. It also reduces inflammation and swelling, and lessens fatigue, gearing you up to conquer your next exercise class.
No, Massages Do Not Cleanse Your Body of Toxins.
In truth? Your body does a pretty great job of flushing toxins all on its own. If you are in good health, your kidneys, liver, and intestines should already be doing a great job of removing toxins. Except for very rare occasions, like overconsumption of drugs or alcohol, your body doesn’t need extra help detoxing. It just needs time to do what it does best.
Massage does not really do much to release toxins from your body. This is just a myth. On the other hand, some people might fear that getting a massage, especially a deep tissue massage, might actually be toxic; that the toxins released can be harmful to your body. There is some truth to this - kind of.
If you’ve experienced an intense, deep-tissue massage that has left you feeling sore, tired, or disoriented, what you’ve actually experienced is post-massage soreness and malaise (PMSM). Excessive pressure like this can cause rhabdomyolysis, or “rhabdo,” which is the poisoning by proteins liberated from an injured muscle. This is only dangerous for extremely vulnerable patients, like the elderly or those with other health issues, especially renal issues.
If you work with an experienced, knowledgeable massage therapist, this should never be an issue. PMSM should only cause slight discomfort as a mild side effect of a strong massage, but for most of us, there’s no need to fear these kinds of natural toxins leaving your muscles.
Other Benefits to Massage Therapy
Don’t worry. There are still plenty of reasons for regular massages, and benefits to even the occasional massage. Each massage is a great way to reduce stress and pamper yourself, sure, but there are major health perks as well. With massage, you can:
Massage Therapist specializing in helping women 50 and over stay active and pain free as they navigate through their senior years.