The Importance of Water & Massage Therapy

By Lisa Detres

When a person comes to my office for a massage and complains how tight and sore their muscles are, one of the first questions I ask is "Do you drink water?" Usually the reply is "Not enough" or "I drink a lot of tea", or "Does coffee count?" The answer is "NO". You should be drinking just plain water on a daily basis. Coffee is a diuretic so therefore, more water is eliminated from your body. So how much water should you drink? A person whose body is healthy with no severe illness should drink about half their body weight in ounces. The old myth 8 glasses of water a day is not true for everyone. The larger you are, the more water you need. For example: a woman weighing 100 lbs. should drink approximately 50 ounces of water a day. A man weighing 200 lbs. should be drinking 100 ounces of water a day. Always drink more if you're active with sports, in a very warm climate, or sweating a lot.

Water and Your Health

The most important glass of water is first thing in the morning. Your body has been dehydrated while you've been sleeping, so start your day with a tall glass of water. It'll boost your metabolism.

Water is the most important nutrient for health, growth, and development and it's the most abundant nutrient in the body. Although water does not provide energy in the same way carbohydrates and fat do, it plays a very important role in energy transformation. Water is the medium in which all energy reactions take place. Water also helps out with the lubrication of your joints. It's an ingredient in the makeup of the synovial fluid, which is the lubricating fluid between your joints. If your body is dehydrated, even for a brief period, less fluid is available to protect these areas. Muscles are 70% water. Your brain is 85% water. Just imagine how fatigued or tired you might feel during the day because you haven't replenished your body's water supply. Drink more water and you'll feel and see the difference in your body's health.

Dehydration and Massage

When a client is face down on my massage table, I do a skin rolling test to see just how dehydrated they are. When the muscle tissue is dehydrated, the skin will not "roll" as smoothly as it should. This gives me a baseline about what treatment should be applied next. A common sign of dehydration observed in my office is extreme muscle pain upon palpation of the muscle tissues when gentle touching of the involved muscles is applied. One of the most common signs of dehydration involves a loss of skin tone or loose, wrinkled skin. Without the proper amount of water running through your body, just imagine how thick your blood has become. Now imagine your muscle fibers sticking together like spaghetti that has been drained and cooled. Got the picture? So how can your muscles and body perform at their maximum potential when the muscle fibers are "sticky" and the blood is thickened? This causes the body's toxins to become trapped in the muscle tissue and remain there giving you aches and pains, headaches, etc.

Thirst is not usually the first symptom or the only symptom of dehydration. Other symptoms of dehydration include: fatigue, headache, dry mouth, dizziness, weakness, rapid heartbeat, dry flushed skin, muscle cramps, and myofascial pain to name a few.

When the body is fully hydrated, then the blood is thinner, moving efficiently and cleaning out the muscle tissue and bringing in the much needed nutrients. Now the muscle fibers separate, are fuller from hydration and perform to their highest ability, therefore no symptoms of fatigue or aches and pains. Drinking water after massage recommended. One reason is that water will help the kidneys and other organs process the various substances which move through the body on a regular basis and after a massage treatment, a lot of toxins have been released, so you need to flush them out. Drinking water before a massage makes it easier for the massage therapist to perform deep work by hydrating the muscles so that they are easier to manipulate.

Water and Muscle

In order to move and build muscle, you need water. Without enough water, your muscles are not getting enough electrolytes. Muscle strength and control are weakened. Muscles are 70% water. Fat is only 25% water. By drinking water, you add muscle weight, allowing the muscle to work more efficiently, which in turn burns fat.

Drinking a lot of water increases fat loss. Keytones, a natural byproduct of fat burning, are flushed out of the body through urine. Drinking water helps to flush them out, thereby improving the fat burning process. If you're not getting enough water, your body will not be metabolizing fat and digesting food as efficiently, your heart may be overworked, and on a hot day, there is danger of heat stroke.

Some of you will insist that water is bland and boring, and that you can't possibly drink 8 or more glasses per day, or that you're too busy to drink water, running to the bathroom is a waste of time or it's inconvenient. However you view water, once you realize how essential it is to losing weight, building muscle, and keeping healthy you will definitely take every chance you have to drink more of it, so raise your glass... cheers! To your health!

LISA DETRES is a licensed and certified massage therapist, specializing in Medical/Rehabilitative and Therapeutic Massage, Myoskeletal Alignment, and Fibromyalgia Pain Management. For more info, call 845-641-4791.