Why You Need To Stay Hydrated After A Massage

Picture this: You've just had the most luxuriating massage. With your head in the clouds and your debit card in hand, you walk out to the front desk to meet your smiling massage therapist. When she takes your card, she also hands you a water bottle and encourages you to drink up. You do as she says because — based on how your body feels right now — she seems to be the expert. But have you ever stopped to wonder why we need to rehydrate after getting a good old-fashioned rubdown?

Rumor has it that drinking water after a massage can assist our bodies in eliminating the toxins released from our muscles during the process. However, the American Massage Therapy Association insists that this is nothing more than a well-circulated myth. In fact, there is no scientific evidence that suggests any "toxins" are released during a massage at all! The Lexington Healing Arts Academy proposes that perhaps this spread of misinformation is linked to misunderstanding surrounding lactic acid – a chemical our muscles produce when we exert energy that can induce soreness. And yet, even that isn't quite right, as lactic acid is metabolized by our bodies within an hour of its production.

So if drinking water after a massage doesn't help to flush out toxins, why are we encouraged to do it? Let's take a closer look.

Benefits of drinking water after massage

Massage has a laundry list of health benefits, but if we aren't taking proper precautions it can leave us feeling pretty dehydrated. Achieve Health explains that during a massage, the fluid that keeps our tissues supple and spongy is quite literally "squeezed out" into our circulatory system and eventually released through urination. Drinking water after a massage allows us to replenish what was lost — much like after a strenuous workout! If you want to take it one step further and get nice and hydrated before your massage, Hackensack Meridian Health points out that well-hydrated muscles are more pliable and easier for massage therapists to get into.

While we now know that massage isn't eliminating toxins from our body, Body Balance Health and Wellness explains that when our muscles are tight and constricted, metabolic waste — or the stuff that's left behind after our cells take what they need from the nutrients we provide them — can have a harder time making their way to the lymphatic system. Massage not only helps to release the tension that keeps metabolic waste stagnant, but it also stimulates the lymphatic system which will ultimately expel the waste through our urine, stool, or sweat (per Body in Mind Massage Institute). By filling up with water post-massage we give our lymphatic system the juices it needs to keep things moving, which improves our immune system and adds to the benefits of the massage.