‘Ask Evan’: Do massages release toxins and should I drink water afterwards?

This week's 'Ask Evan' question deals with massages.  Alex P asks, "I've heard that massages release toxins from your muscles into your body, and that you need to drink a lot of water afterwards. Is this true?"

For years massage therapists told clients massage removes lactic acid buildup and to drink lots of water after a massage to remove toxins released from muscles into the blood stream.  They assert the water helps the kidneys and pancreas process those toxins.

I looked a several sources to get you an answer, and  at the end of the day science doesn't seem to support that line of thinking.  By definition, toxins are poisonous substances-- something like heavy metals that can enter the body.  According to Duke medical researchers, no reputable source claims massage can remove heavy metals from the body and in fact there is no solid base of research to support the idea that massage moves any actual toxins out of tissue.  So, most massage therapists are likely are talking about metabolic toxins or waste-- the chemical products of cellular activity.

Lactic acid was once thought to be a metabolic waste, but now researchers say these metabolic by-products often have useful functions.  Research also shows lactic acid is typically gone from the muscle within 15 to 20 minutes after a person stops exercising and doesn't buildup.

While research shows that massage is useful for many conditions -- from anxiety to several types of cancers-- medical experts say there`s no research that clearly illustrates how massage affects so-called toxins in the body.

Water is helpful and necessary for general good health and well-being.  So having a few glasses of water after a massage won't flush out toxins or prevent muscle soreness, but it won't hurt.  So if you feel like it-- drink up.

If you have questions you'd like to ask send me an email at AskEvan@FOX43.com  Put 'Ask Evan' in the subject line.  Or reach out to me on Facebook at Evan Forrester FOX43.  Whatever the topic I'll do my best to track down answers you are looking for.