Q: Why is it important to drink water after a massage?
A: It’s not only important to drink water after a massage but before as well and for many reasons. Drinking water in general is incredibly beneficial to your body’s systems – essential really. Our body is made up of over 70% water and dehydration can occur at a cellular level way before you experience feelings of thirst. But how much should you drink? The general rule is to take half of your body weight in pounds and drink that many ounces of water per day. (ie. a 150lb person should consume 75oz of water per day). But why does massage make that more important?
First, a quick lesson on cellular metabolism. Every cell in the body has its own set of daily operations and requires certain chemical components to make those processes work. Water is one of them and without adequate amounts of it, the cell will begin to prioritize functions to essentials and slow down or eliminate whatever it can. Well hydrated tissue is soft and sponge-like in texture with good blood flow and oxygen/nutrient exchange. By contrast, dehydrated tissue is tight and unyielding with inhibited blood flow and a build-up of waste products that cause pain.
Chances are that you’ve gone for a massage to alleviate the discomfort of some problem areas and as those areas of tension are released and blood flow increases, metabolic waste products begin to flow into your circulatory system. The body needs water as a vehicle to transport those substances out of your body through your kidneys so the massage itself can be dehydrating. If you arrive hydrated, the tissue will not only respond better to the treatment but will recover faster afterwards, especially if you keep drinking.
Lastly, some people experience a foggy, disoriented feeling after massage that can last from minutes to hours or more. A drink of water after a treatment not only helps to ground the body back in the present but, more than that, discourages metabolic waste products from settling back into surrounding tissues by flushing them out of your system. Water, along with a hot bath and modified activities, will prolong the effects of the massage and keep you from developing soreness over the next day or so as your body adapts and accepts it’s new, and hopefully more relaxed, state of being.