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Myth: Massage Releases Toxins

bahamas massage male mobile therapist airbnb hotel paradise island baha mar atlantis palm cay swedish deep tissue sports lymphatic massage

Detoxes and cleanses have become very popular and come in many forms, often with hefty price tags.

The wellness industry has taken the term “detox”, the medical treatment for individuals with drug and alcohol addiction, and commercialized it.  Detox products are marketed as ‘body cleansers’. Many of the marketing schemes prey on our insecurities and fears by promising cures, slimmer physiques or healthier lifestyles. The reason why this sounds appealing to us is because it’s rooted in a lack of understanding of how our body works. 

Our bodies do a good job keeping us balanced and removing unwanted waste. Through sweating, our bodies cool and remove excess salt. Our liver assists the immune system, creates proteins and processes harmful substances. It takes nutrients from substances that we consume (food, drinks and medicine) and breaks them down so they can be used by the body, or processed as waste to be expelled. The kidneys filter the blood, balances our body fluids, release hormones that regulate blood pressure, and remove drugs and wastes from the body. Detoxes and cleanses do not ‘clean the pipes’,  and do not help your liver or kidneys work better or faster.

A common myth is that massage helps with the release of ‘toxins’. 

One of these ‘toxins’ that’s often referenced is lactic acid; a chemical that builds in the muscles as a byproduct of rigorous exercise . Muscles hold this lactic acid for less than 60 minutes, and it’s broken down by the body through metabolism. Substances like hormones and enzymes diffuse in and out of the tissues all the time. Vital materials are delivered to the tissues and cells through a network of capillaries, the smallest of the blood vessels. Cells respire, meaning they use these materials as energy to fuel their processes and create waste. This waste is then diffused out of the cells and tissues, into the capillaries where it is transported through the blood, and expelled from the body. 

Adipose tissue (fat cells) not only stores energy for the body but Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs are toxic chemicals that adversely affect human health and the environment around the world. These chemicals can be transported in the air or water and find their way into the products we use, food we ingest or the air we breathe. POPs accumulate in fatty tissue and are broken down slowly over time and expelled from the body. Findings from some studies on the effects of manual massage on fat reduction are inconsistent and mixed. Factors such as preexisting conditions, age, gender, activity or fitness levels, and body fat percentage influence individual results.

How therapeutic massage affects the body, depends on the type of service. Soothing, therapeutic techniques help the body relax and rest so it can perform many crucial and necessary functions. Deeper, manual techniques to the body promote the release of histamine which acts as a neurotransmitter, increasing the permeability of blood vessels. Histamine dilates the blood vessels and increases blood flow in the area that is manipulated. Targeted techniques, mechanical pressure and friction to the tissues generates heat. Receptors in the skin detect this increase in temperature and the blood vessels dilate to release heat from surrounding tissue. Acupressure and neuromuscular techniques help to relax hyperactive muscles, releasing restrictions that can cause a contraction of the surrounding tissues that can develop into imbalances and maladies. 

By understanding the true physiological and mental affects massage has on the body, we can dispel myths and misinformation that cause more harm than good.

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