Joe Strunk, LMT
If you’ve had massages before, you’ve probably been told to drink a lot of water after. But why? And is it really necessary?
To get to the bottom of this we first have to discuss a common myth concerning massage that is still being taught and spread to this very day, despite research to the contrary. If you ask some therapists why they recommend drinking water after a massage, they will likely repeat what they’ve been erroneously taught; to flush out toxins that the massage stirred up. This is completely and utterly false. Massage education is lacking in many ways, and this is one of them; outdated theories that have no foundation in science.
So, to set the record straight, massage DOES NOT release toxins from the muscles. That’s just not how it works. You also will not get sore after a massage because you didn’t drink “enough” water. That’s just another myth that coincides with the toxin myth.
But it may still be important to drink water after your massage. Why?
Massage does have a diuretic effect. As we push and pull on the tissues, we’re stimulating the lymph vessels just under the surface of the skin, manually pushing fluid through them and to the larger lymphatic vessels and to the kidneys to be excreted. We’re also stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body and triggers the bladder to signal that it needs to release. This is the reason many people need to use the restroom right after a massage.
If you’re getting rid of fluid due to your massage, you need to replace it to stay hydrated. And let’s face it, many people don’t drink enough water, so an extra cup or two won’t hurt.
Is it absolutely necessary to drink water after your massage? No.
Is it still recommended? Yes!
The reasoning behind the push for clients to drink water should be based on science, but regardless, drinking a little extra water to stay hydrated is always a good thing, so keep it up.