Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Question for Exercise Types and Such

I had a really nice ride today, 30 miles, didn't fall, and at a few points for a while, just felt right with the bike. Very nice! The weather was cool enough to feel great, warm enough to feel great. I stopped at a rest stop at about mile 20 and sat in the shade to eat part of an orange, and it was just yummy! (The other part had to go to the deck to see if some cardinals or such would come visit. Yes, I saw at least one!)

Afterwards, I went to an open air arts thing at a local park, meeting a friend there.

A couple of the local massage businesses (parlors sounds a tad naughty) had intro type chair massages for 15 minutes, and I thought, hey, that would feel good. And it really, really did. (I haven't had a massage in about 10 years, and wow, it was great!)

The friend I was with said that I should drink lots of water today. Okay. But here's the question: she said I needed lots of water because a massage releases toxins and you need to drink lots of water to get rid of them.

Is that like lactic acid from working muscles? Is that a "toxin"? Is there something else? Or is my friend pulling my leg in some sense?


  1. I've heard that too, but I'm not sure why you're supposed to do it (the evil "toxins" are always mentioned; however, that's not very specific). So I can't help you out with the explanation, but your friend probably wasn't having a laugh at your expense--I think that this is a common belief. And it may be true, for all I know.

  2. I'm not an athlete, but I think the theory is that muscle holds certain types of toxins and the massage forces them out...

  3. I've also heard this, and have also not heard what "toxins" really means. But I do know that my dad got a massage one week before running a marathon and he had excruciating leg cramps for most of the marathon -- supposedly because he was not supposed to release all those toxins so close to race date. Drinking tons of water sounds like good advice no matter what, though, especially after a 30 mile ride -- nice job!

  4. Anonymous5:59 PM

    Whenever I hear "toxins" I suspect lack of real evidence.

    Hydration is always good, and it is fairly hard to overhydrate although it can be done.

    This sounds to me like one of those alternative medicine "just buy our expensive supplements" claims that someone has heard, conflated with the known (but probably not really understood or much remembered) problems with lactic acid, and bingo. Maybe someone then told that to your friend.

    You might want to wander off to Respectful Insolence at and check out his "Friday Dose of Woo" posts. They'll give you pointers on spotting medical silliness.


  5. Hey B,

    I've had massage therapy for a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) over a long period of time. I've always understood two of the main benefits to be a) breaking down of scar tissue and b) increased/improved blood circulation, which I suppose in some scientific sense -- someone help me out here -- does make it all run more smoothly. Whether or not either of these two benefits can be linked to the purging of "toxins", I'm not so sure ... but my RMTs have always encouraged hydration post-massage ... and the funny thing is, I'm always thirsty after a good deep tissue massage. Probably more of a Pavlov's dog thing, but you never know.

  6. "To examine the effects of leg massage compared with passive recovery
    on lactate clearance, muscular power output, and fatigue
    characteristics after repeated high intensity cycling exercise, with
    the conditions before the intervention controlled and standardised...

    Conclusions: No measurable physiological effects of leg massage
    compared with passive recovery were observed on recovery from high
    intensity exercise, but the subsequent effect on fatigue index
    warrants further investigation."

    British Journal of Sports Medicine: Effects of leg massage on recovery
    from high intensity cycling exercise

  7. JB, I think you're right. I don't think my friend was joshing me, but I don't know about toxins, either.

    Inside, That sounds like what my friend said. It just doesn't really make sense to me.

    Kate, thanks :) The massage felt as good as the ride!

    Zeebee, thanks. I think you're probably right. And Respectful Insolance is a great lead.

    Amanda, Interesting! I think the main benefit was that it felt GREAT!

    StyleyGeek, AHA! So it's just a feels good sort of thing, maybe? It DID feel good!

    Thanks all :)