Detoxification is one of the traditional benefits of massage. According to the website Positive Health, massage can improve circulation. “It is also utilised to enhance the venous return which is essential for the removal of toxins. To this end massage movements like effleurage and petrissage are applied to the superficial tissues and to muscles.” In other words, massage for detoxification.
Clinical Evidence Is Scanty
But I can’t find much clinical research to prove it. Furthermore, my search on the American Massage Therapy Association website for the term “detoxification” turned up nothing. So this blog post is an opinion piece on how and why I think massage can help detoxify your body.
It’s an important topic, because detoxification can lead to unpleasant symptoms. If you’re not ready for it, you might not understand it’s a good thing. If your massage triggers detoxification (they don’t always), you might feel fatigue, nausea, headache, or muscle soreness. The symptoms of detoxification depend on the level and location of toxins in your body, so they tend to be individual. Drink a lot of water after your massage, and check with your massage therapist if you develop symptoms. Massage therapists are trained to deal with this.
It’s Easy to Accumulate Toxins
Your body is very good at disposing of toxins. But sometimes it just isn’t fast enough. This is especially true in our modern industrial world. Anywhere you go, you can acquire toxins. They are in the air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, the skin products you use, the drugs you take. Some of them are the result of pollution, and some are more natural.
You take in toxins all the time, and it is the job of the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems to carry them away for disposal. When your lymphatic system fails or somehow gets blocked, toxins can accumulate. Massage can often offset that, particularly a specialized type of massage called lymphatic drainage.
A 2016 study of 64 migraine sufferers found that both traditional massage and lymphatic drainage massage lessened subsequent attacks. The patients who got the traditional massages and the patients who got the lymphatic drainage massages suffered less frequent migraines than the patients who got neither. The differences were significant. The massaged patients also took fewer pain relievers. Within the massaged groups, the researchers found a slight advantage for lymphatic drainage over traditional massage.
The study said nothing about toxins. So it doesn’t prove that massage helps with detoxification. But the superior results of lymphatic drainage suggest detoxification to me.
Massage for Detoxification?
In the end, I couldn’t find any clear scientific evidence that massage detoxifies your body. But there is good reason to believe it can keep your lymphatic system functioning, which may be the next best thing. Hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic have begun to integrate massage therapy into their care teams. At these places, massage therapists work with doctors to provide symptom control for patients who have had heart surgery, breast surgery, and even cancers (particularly rectal and colon). According to Cleveland Clinic, massage is especially effective at controlling swelling and lymphedema.
Whether or not massage detoxifies, it’s always worthwhile. Massage reduces pain, blood pressure, and stress. It improves sleep and increases mobility and flexibility. Promote your good health with a massage. Book one today.