We absolutely must consume water to survive. But how much?
According to “Dehydration: Risks and Myths” by Jane Brody, it depends on you — your size, weight, health profile, consumption of foods with high moisture content. Even knowing all that, there’s still no well researched answer based on whole body wellness. For most healthy people, thirst is a good indicator for when you need water.
How much water do you drink? How did you decide on that amount?
Then there’s the oft-repeated notion that massage releases lactic acid and “toxins” that water will help “flush.” But there’s no evidence to support either assertion.
Renowned holistic physician Andrew Weil, M.D., writes: “I know of no evidence suggesting that massage can remove toxins of any kind from the body.”
“What no persuasive science has shown is that massage releases toxins that then need to be flushed away.”
From the New York Times column “Ask Well: Massage and Toxins” by Gretchen Reynolds
Rather than an undesirable by-product, lactic acid is likelier to be a beneficial fuel for the body to perform physical activities. The lactic acid myth is based in old ideas. This has been known for years, and it’s time to move on.
As for the idea that lactic acid causes muscle soreness, Dr. Gladden said, that never made sense.
“Lactic acid will be gone from your muscles within an hour of exercise,” he said. “You get sore one to three days later. The time frame is not consistent, and the mechanisms have not been found.”
“Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles’ Foe, It’s Fuel” By Gina Kolata, New York Times, May 16, 2006
If you want to geek out on the science, I recommend the work of Keith Eric Grant, PhD, a scientist, researcher, and massage school instructor. He wrote about toxins for Massage Today in “Flushing Out Myths” and about lactic acid in his Ramblemuse blog post, “Lactating Mythers (Massage and the Lactic Acid Myth).”
On the other hand, there are indisputable benefits to being well hydrated as well as getting massage and bodywork. Dr. Weil continues:
“Massage can benefit health in many ways. It can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and levels of stress hormone, enhance immune function, boost levels of endorphins and serotonin (the body’s natural painkillers and mood regulators) and increase blood circulation – all this while easing sore and achy muscles.”
When it comes to massage, we can leave behind thoughts of toxins and lactic acid and enjoy the benefits of bodywork. Drink plenty of water. Get massages as often as you can and want to. Enjoy them together.