Getting a massage is often viewed as a luxury to be indulged in once in a blue moon. But as the health benefits of regular massages become increasingly lauded, the habit once thought of as merely a luxury has become more common amongst Americans each year. Clinical trials confirm that regular massages boost overall health, especially difficult-to-treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, and a host of other invisible illnesses. What many don’t know, however, is that a massage—in fact, any body work—should always go hand-in-hand with proper hydration.
If you’ve ever received a massage, the masseuse has likely offered you water, and probably advised you to drink water throughout the rest of the day. But why drink water after a massage? Turns out, it’s not just a hot health trend. In fact, here are five great reasons to keep your hydration in focus (can you say "Liquid I.V.?") while you’re pampering yourself.
Why Drink Water After a Massage? Our Top 5 Reasons
1. Water helps flush the ubiquitous “toxins” from your system, including those from your skin. Water is the fluid your kidneys like the most. While you can certainly get by for awhile with a nice iced tea, water is more beneficial because it provides all the hydration with none of the caffeine. After body work, particularly massages, your system is ready to eliminate toxins that have been worked out of your muscles via your skin, kidneys, and digestive processes (#1 and #2). This process requires water. The more you’re able to drink, the more quickly those toxins will be eliminated, and the less chance you have of feeling ill from their presence in your system.
2. Drinking water aids digestion. Along with the toxins that are released during a massage, your digestive system is also impacted when you receive body work of any kind. As you might know from the recent probiotic craze, your gut health dictates a large percentage of your overall health, and hydrating fluids are a vital part of that process--particularly after a lengthy massage or spa treatment. But after a massage, your whole system is poised to eliminate (see #1) and throughout the day, hydration helps the digestive system. If you’re running from a massage straight back to work, try mixing some Liquid I.V. into your water for about 2 - 3x the hydration of water alone. It’ll jumpstart the hydration process and prep you for the long day at work.
3. For many, massages tend to increase fatigue along with relaxation. Lots of us leave body work more ready for a nap than the rest of the day’s activities. Why drink water after a massage? Whether or not you have a demanding day ahead of you, maintaining your hydration increases energy, clarity of mind, and your body’s ability to rebound from intense body work like a massage. For example, in cases where you’re targeting a specific muscle group, massages can temporarily increase pain levels. Drinking water improves the body’s ability to deal with fatigue and pain in general. Along with hydrating, take a day to rest after a massage, and try to avoid intense exercise to give your muscles a chance to catch their breath.
4. Why drink water after a massage, as opposed to coffee or soda? If you are up on health news, you probably already know the answer to this one, but we’ll briefly review three well-established facts on problems with caffeinated, potentially sugary beverages. One: sugary soda manufactured with (very common) high-fructose corn syrup has been found in recent studies to promote bacteria growth. Two: sodas (regular or diet) and most coffee and tea, are full of caffeine. Traditionally, massages are for relaxation, so post-massage is not necessarily the best time to wire yourself up again! Three: the consistent consumption of diet soda is associated with both weight gain and obesity in American adults. Craving some bubbles post-massage? Try a sparkling water instead!
5. Staying hydrated is the best way to prevent headaches. Paradoxically, massages can sometimes trigger headaches. Hydrating is a great first step to prevent and reduce headaches. Before reaching for a painkiller, consider drinking a large glass of H2O with some Liquid I.V. mixed in. Why some individuals get headaches after a massage is somewhat of a mystery, but headaches are generally not well understood. If you tend to get headaches, we advise drinking two large glasses of water within one hour post-massage, and avoiding fluctuations in blood sugar (i.e. don’t drink sugary sodas to satisfy your thirst).
Overall, learning how to tell if you’re dehydrated can be as important as taking the appropriate time to recover from a massage. While massages can (and should) be a relaxing experience, staying hydrated afterwards is a critical step to extending your relaxation!