By Sarah Costa, CMT
Water – a subject near and dear to a massage therapist’s heart. How many times have you heard your massage therapist to tell you to drink lots of water after a massage? Some of us even harp on you to drink lots of water all the time, not just after a massage. Why do we do that? Well, one of the many functions of water in our body is to detoxify our cells and tissues. Massage can break up sticky proteins (toxins) built up on and in between muscles, and drinking water after a massage can help flush those toxins out of your system. What you may not realize is if you drink a healthy amount of water on a regular basis your muscles will be better prepared for the work you receive during your massage session, not just after. Therefore, you will get the most out of your massage sessions if you come in adequately hydrated and sustain that hydration regularly.
As mentioned, detoxification is only one function of water in the body. There are many other functions of water in our bodies; it transports nutrients and oxygen into our cells, moisturizes the air in our lungs, aides in metabolism, protects our vital organs, helps our organs to absorb nutrients, helps to regulate our body temperature, and protects and moisturizes our joints. After all, our bodies are anywhere from 55% to 75% water. Most importantly, our brain is 90% water. There is no denying the importance of water to the daily functioning of our bodies.
So, how much water should you drink? Good question. Depending on who you ask and where you look, you will get many different answers. There is the old standard answer of (8) 8 oz. glasses a day. You will hear people use the equation of half of your body weight in fluid ounces. Others claim that you get enough hydration from the foods you eat. So what is the answer? You have to find it for yourself by listening to your own body and looking for not only the signs of dehydration, but also the signs of good hydration.
How do you know if you are dehydrated? The easiest indicator is the color of your urine. Urine is generally pale yellow to clear when you have sufficient water intake. Urine that has a dark color or strong odor indicates that you need to drink more water. Dry skin, thirst, hunger and fatigue are also indicators that you are not getting enough water. Chronic or severe dehydration can lead to migraines, constipation, muscle cramps, irregular blood pressure, kidney problems, and dry skin.
What you can expect to feel like when you are properly hydrated on a consistent basis?
- You may lose weight. Water is an effective appetite suppressant, a detoxifier, and it has zero calories.
- Less headaches and back pains. Not all headaches and back pains come from dehydration, but it is a common cause.
- Healthier, more youthful skin. Water helps replenish and moisturize skin tissues and increases skin elasticity.
- Improved brain power. Remember your brain is 90% water. Proper hydration can help you think better, be more alert, and have better concentration.
- Greater athletic competence. During exercise, water helps regulate your body temperature, gives you more energy and helps fuels your muscles.
- An effective digestive system. Water helps you metabolize and digest your food and with the help of fiber, keeps you regular.
- Less cramps and sprains. Water helps keep our joints and muscles well lubricated.
- Healthier in general. Good hydration fights against the flu, colds, kidney stones, and heart attack.
- Improved energy. If water is properly detoxifying your body of waste, then your organs and tissues can work more efficiently; using less energy.
- Mood. If your body feels good, you feel good.
- Reduces the risk of cancer. Proper hydration of the digestive system overall, can specifically reduce your risk of bladder and colon cancer.
So, take a look at your water intake; you can even chart it for a week if you want. Are you drinking enough? Are there items on the lists above that you would like to improve in your body? If you aren’t sure how much you should be drinking or have limitations on how much water you can drink due to a medical condition then talk to a physician or a nutritionist about the quantity of water that is right for you. The nice part about water is that it’s a low cost, low risk, zero calorie, easily assessable way to help get your body happy and healthy. No wonder why massage therapists are always trying to get you to drink it!