Have you ever wondered why you are told to drink extra water after a massage?
Your therapist is not honing a nurturing instinct or lecturing you on good health. When your muscles are manipulated during a massage waste materials and other toxins are released from the muscles and into the bloodstream. Just like when you exercise, massage, especially deep tissue or sports massage, dehydrates muscles and removes electrolytes. In order to help your kidneys and liver process and flush out these toxins, it is important to drink extra water. Water will help prevent unnecessary soreness, possible nausea, pain, and an overall sluggish feeling. Your body is happy to get rid of all the “junk” it has been storing but you need to help it along with extra H2O. Keeping your muscles hydrated regularly helps keep the tissue supple and healthy reducing tension and spasm.
How does drinking water after, and even before a massage, help prevent these symptoms? These answers lie in your body’s physiology.
Why are these toxins building up in the first place?
As your muscles activate for everyday function they produce waste that gets removed by the circulatory and lymphatic system (Be sure to check out our lymphatic massage to help keep your lymphatic system in top shape). Tight or knotted muscles can constrict, reducing blood flow to the area. This constriction inhibits your body’s ability to flush out waste and toxins, and causes them to build up in your muscles. Drinking water after massages helps to break up these pockets of toxins and remove them from your body. But what exactly are these toxins?
What toxins are released during a massage?
It’s often mentioned how water helps flush toxins out of your body, but what exactly are these toxins?
The primary toxin associated with muscle soreness and fatigue is lactic acid. Lactic acid is a byproduct of anaerobic respiration, so when your cells need energy but there is no oxygen to produce it, they take this alternative route to produce what they need. It is the quick and dirty way to fuel your body, as it is not as efficient as aerobic respiration (using oxygen), and it produces the lactic acid byproduct which needs to be processed by your liver. As we mentioned before, the constriction of your muscles can reduce circulation, leading to less oxygen being available to your muscles. This can produce a negative feedback loop where your tighter muscles are producing more lactic acid, with no way to remove it. The presence of lactic acid in your muscles has been proven to cause water to flow out of your muscles, leaving them dehydrated and increasing your blood pressure.
Lactic acid isn’t the only toxin that can build up in your muscles. Salts (electrolytes) and phosphates, processed in the kidneys, and nitrates like ammonia, processed by the liver, can also build up in your muscles. Massages can help break up these pockets of toxins allowing your body to flush them out and send them for processing in their respective organs. You don’t want to overload your organs with a rush of toxins to process, that’s why you want to drink extra water after your massage. Drinking more water after a massage will help dilute the concentration of these toxins, making it easier for your body to process without overloading your organs.
What happens if you don’t drink water after a massage?
The simple answer is you might experience pain, fatigue, and what is commonly called the DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, after your massage. Here are some symptoms you may experience.
- Reduced range of motion due to pain and stiffness
- Muscles tender to touch
- Muscle fatigue
- Short-term loss of muscle strength
- Swelling in affected muscles
DOMS are typically experienced after high-intensity exercise, which can cause micro tears in your muscles. Your body responds to this by sending blood flow and nutrients to the area to heal, which in turn helps your muscles grow. Massages can lead to these same microtears, leading to similar symptoms. These symptoms usually appear 12 to 24 hours after your workout or massage. Drinking water after your massage will help your body heal faster and ease these symptoms, but how much water is the right amount?
How Much Water Should You Drink After a Massage?
There is debate about the actual amount of water that is considered the right amount. A good way to know you are hydrated is to make a point to drink your 8 glasses a day and if your urine is clear then, you are hydrated. If you are already a pro at staying hydrated, then go ahead and tack on an extra 3-4 glasses of water after a massage. Every body is different s
o you might have to test it out and see how much is enough for you. If the day after a massage you are stiff, feeling pain or fatigue, add on a couple more glasses the next go around. We would even reco
mmend drinking extra water before your massage, as hydrated muscles are easier to manipulate and work than dehydrated ones. Hydrate properly, and you will find your body feeling renewed and rejuvenated. You can sip it milk + honey style by adding cut citrus or cucumber to your glass.
Book an appointment today!
Cleanse your muscles of their toxins today at your local milk + honey spa. With our signature massages such as our deep tissue, swedish, or sports massages, and more options depending on your body’s needs! Schedule your appointment today!