A sip of water, a cup of tea
We offer water and tea to clients. They quench thirst and provide the simple pleasure of sipping a beverage.
But do clear beverages “detoxify” us?
Starting back in massage school more than 20 years ago, I’ve been hearing clients and massage therapists advise, “Drink lots of water after a massage.” The reasoning is usually something like, “Massage releases toxins that the water flushes out.” Some cite sources saying that humans are chronically dehydrated and should be drinking 64 oz. or more daily.
We at Massage Vermont have found no research to support either the toxins theory or the dehydration epidemic.
This short video by longtime massage therapist Laura Allen addresses the issues simply and clearly.
First, what “toxins” are we talking about? My massage school physiology and pathology teacher Tracy Walton, M.S., LMT, delves into massage myths and the existing research in her booklet 5 Myths and Truths about Massage Therapy: Letting Go Without Losing Heart.
According to both Allen and Walton, there’s little agreement about what toxins mean in this conversation. Are we talking about metabolic wastes (e.g., lactic acid), exposure to poisons (e.g., pesticides), or perhaps residual medication (e.g., chemotherapy)? Gold-standard research studies do not show that massage increases lactic acid release into the blood. There is simply no evidence that massage releases or moves other toxins that may be stored in the body’s tissues.
What about the notion that most of us are walking around dehydrated? Air Force physician and flight surgeon Harriet Hall, M.D., writes:
A study in 1945 found that people need about 2.5 liters of water a day. Overall. But it went on to say, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.” The 2.5 liters was simplistically translated into eight to ten eight-ounce glasses of water, and the clarifying sentence was ignored.
There’s much more about massage, toxins, water, and science at the PainScience.com blog post, “Should You Drink Water After Massage? Only if you’re thirsty! Hydration and massage are not detoxification treatments.”
Does this raise questions for you?
We’re happy to talk with you, perhaps over a refreshing glass of water or a nice cup of tea. Like massage, water and tea can refresh us in ways that leave us feeling “cleansed.” That is a clinical result (a client’s self-reported experience), not a mechanical result (experimentally measurable).
Clinical results — how you feel during and after treatments — are what inspire Chris and me to offer you bodywork and to receive it ourselves.