Massage has been in use for thousands of years. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, references to massage appear in writings from ancient China, Japan, India, Arabic nations, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Massage was popular in Sweden and other parts of Europe as well. Two American physicians introduced massage therapy in the United States in the 1850s. Massage became popular and is now used for a variety of health purposes. Massage therapists commonly recommend drinking water after a massage. This intent is to help the body flush out toxins. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says numerous theories exist about how massage therapy may affect the body. These theories include neurological connections, bio-chemical changes and other physiological mechanisms. Research has shown that massage may benefit some patients, but additional studies are needed to test the various theories and to determine how massage affects the body.
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Functions of Water in Body
According to MayoClinic.com, water is used for a variety of functions in the body, such as moistening tissues and protecting internal organs, dissolving nutrients to be absorbed by the body, lubricating joints and regulating body temperature. Water is important because it makes up about 60 percent of your body. In addition to the functions listed above, water helps the kidneys flush out waste products as well as help in oxygen transport to the cells of the body.
Daily Water Needs
The human body needs water on a daily basis, and the amount depends on the body composition of the individual as well as the activity level. According to MayoClinic.com, water is lost daily through perspiration, breathing, urine and during bowel movements. Proper body function requires replenishment of the water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. Massage may cause a person to perspire, and the movement of blood through the tissues may cause an increase in toxins that need elimination. Research is needed to confirm this theory, but massage therapists base their recommendations on the body’s daily need for water and its importance in the proper functioning of the body.
Daily water recommendations vary from different sources. MayoClinic.com says three strategies are common: replacing the amount of water lost based on urine output, drinking eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day, or consuming a specified amount--roughly 0.75 gallons for men and a little more than a half-gallon for women.
Benefits of Massage
The American Massage Therapy Association has created several position statements on the benefits of massage therapy, ranging from pain reduction to overall improvements in health and wellness. It is not clear what role water plays in the overall massage process, but it is important to replenish the body’s water supply.
Massage can help with stress reduction and pain complaints for many people. Drinking water is healthy, and until research identifies the exact mechanism of massage and water’s effect on the body, it is still a good idea to drink water daily to supplement the normal loss of body fluids.