I need some water!

Water, Water, Water…. After you get a massage, or talk to a personal trainer it seems like, “Are you drinking enough water?” or “Don’t forget to drink plenty of water today!” is the statement that you routinely hear.  Why?!  Is it really THAT important?  Why do you have to drink water anyway?  Most of us drink a lot during the day (coffee, tea, pop (soda), energy drinks, etc.; isn’t that enough??!!!

Water has a role in everything we do biomechanically. 

Your body will use water as a solvent for chemical reactions and to transport dissolved compounds into and out of cells.  Your body’s cells are the place where a variety of chemical reactions, many are catalyzed (something that speeds up a reaction) by Enzymes. Enzyme activity is very temperature sensitive.  Water will help to regulate the temperature inside your cells.

Reactions inside a cell as a collective are called metabolism (all the chemical and physical processes within a cell). One of the “metabolites” in a cell is water. Water is either considered a reactant or is a product of a reaction. Believe it or not water is involved in the photosynthesis, digestion and aerobic respiration (when oxygen is not use as a major energy producer player).

water man



Did I peak your bio-mechanical interest?  Great!  Here’s an overview for you science geeks!

Every single one of our bodies requires energy to walk, play sports and even sit at a desk! Nobody is immune to water’s effect on ATP production. This specific form of energy called ATP (Adenosine Tri Phosphate) is made up of a base known as adenine along with a sugar called ribose, and 3 phosphate groups. As the process of energy production in the cell begins, ATP releases one of its 3 phosphate groups, leaving ATP to only have 2 phosphate groups. This step causes the energy ATP to change its name to ADP (Adenosine Di Phosphate). Therefore, this release of phosphate is exerting energy. After this transaction of energy, water’s role becomes essential to the energy production cycle. An OH (part of the water molecule) or a hydroxide bonds and attaches to the second phosphate of the ADP, thus replacing that third phosphate we had mentioned earlier. This process is called hydrolysis in which water is responsible for breaking down the high-energy compound. Therefore, water’s involvement in the process of energy production is not only important but also essential. This is because the energy production process could not be complete without the help of water’s assistance. We all thrive on the energy released and created inside our cells.  So, it is no surprise that we are told to drink water on a daily basis by anyone that has ever learned about this process!!

***If reading the fore written paragraph has given you a flashback to any biology, chemistry or mechanical kinesiology classes, I full heartily apologize!  I will have to admit to doing a little research to remember the exact sequencing of chemical reaction events!***

Ok, Sharon, now that you have geeked out; just tell us what we want to know!  How much water do I need and what happens if I don’t drink it after a massage?

Dehydration and massage

Massage Therapists can usually tell if you are dehydrated.  The ‘feel’ of you skin will be wrinkly, dry or loose; as in, you could pick it up and it doesn’t immediately go back down. (You can do this on your pets too, by the way!) Now, barring any major weight loss, or effects of aging (think geriatric, not 40s), your skin if well hydrated will have a nice elastic feel to it. So, if this is happening on the outside, just imagine what is happening on the inside!

Without the proper amount of water, the whole chemical side of how your body works comes into action.  The nutrients you eat will probably not be absorbed correctly, you will not be as efficient in creating energy to run all your bodily functions and your muscle fibers will not slide over each other (due to lack of interstitial fluid, or fluid between cells) as freely as they should.  I once read it described as the difference in spaghetti noodles in water moving freely verses cooked noodles that have been sitting in the sink for 10 minutes being allowed to dry out.  We don’t want our muscle fibers to be sticky noodles, right?!

How does this affect the body post massage??

Lined with those same principles; if you do not enough ‘fluid’ in your cellular level to help lymph move freely, you can have a deposit of lactic acid buildup which can cause sore muscles. Massage in and of itself increases circulation in anybody part worked on, so if you have a build up of these waste products that haven’t moved out through your lymph (that system piggybacks on your blood vessels to move wastes products out) the increase circulation that massage gives you will finally move out the bad stuff.  If you have a lot of it, most will be dumped into your digestive system (easiest way for you body to get rid of lots of toxins at one time) and make you sickish or queasy. Yuck! This is also why massage therapists will suggest a Epsom salt bath after a massage.  If you have lots of toxic buildup, the salts will draw them out through your other large excretory system; your skin! The salts will draw out toxins through the process of osmosis and the magnesium will have a relaxing effect for the muscles.  This Epsom Salt bath thing is a whole other chemical biology lecture that I will spare you from today…. Just trust me! Orrrrr; you can use the handy dandy internet to read about it.

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 muscle 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 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.

Side note:  Drinking water before a massage makes it easier for the massage therapist to perform deep work. By hydrating the muscles, they are easier to manipulate.

How much should I drink?

“I am drinking pop (soda) all day”, “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.  I will freely admit to my caffeine problem (ok, ok, addiction!) so I tend to suggest that for every cup of coffee, or beverage, you drink, you should also drink two of those same cups, containers of water. Yes, there IS water in soda, tea and coffee, but their individual diuretic effects will negate the amount of water that is actually in them.

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.

Suggestions for Fluid Intake

  • Voluntary drinking before the thirst signals. Initially, one experiences thirst and discomfort when they lose 1% of body fluid. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
  • Try to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, while they do supply water to the body initially, contain diuretics that cause the body to lose water.
  • Cold beverages are more palatable during and after exercise, and this greater palatability will increase fluid consumption by athletes. Drinking cold beverages (8-12°C) causes a slight transient cooling of the upper digestive tract.
  • Sports drink consists with minerals, Sports drinks are intended to replenish electrolytes, sugar, water, and other nutrients, and are usually isotonic (containing the same proportions as found in the human body). Non-athletes who use sports drinks should also be aware that sports drinks for athletes typically contain high levels of carbohydrates which will result in weight gain if consumed without a corresponding increase in exercise activity.
  • Try to avoid concentrated juice, sweetened drinks, chocolate milk and soda. These sugared beverages will lower the re-hydration rate.
  • The choice of drink will depend on whether you need a drink to replace fluid losses or to provide more energy / carbohydrate or both. Either plain water or sports drink which contain 4 to 8% carbohydrate are suitable.


General rule of thumb? 

After a massage, try to drink at least an extra 20 ounces of water.  After exercise?  Depends on how vigorous you worked out and if you were sweating profusely.  A general rule: One to two hours before your workout, drink 15 to 20 ounces of water.  15 minutes before you begin, drink between 8 and 10 ounces of water. During your workout, drink another 8 ounces every 15 minutes.  Also, try to weigh yourself before and after exercise.  For every pound of loss, drink 16-20 ounces of water.


Hopefully, you enjoyed this blog?  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.  I am here for you!!!

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