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What Toxins Are Released After Massage

What Toxins Are Released After Massage? Demystifying Detoxification

If you’ve ever had a massage, you’re probably familiar with the idea that it can help release toxins from your body. But is this really true? And, if so, what toxins are released after massage, exactly?

When it comes to this common misconception, there isn’t a lot of evidence to support normal massage techniques for releasing toxins. But it’s not as simple as you might think.

Keep reading to learn more about how massage might affect toxins in the body, which toxins are released, and which types of massage have the most potential for this elusive benefit.

Let’s get started!



Massage Therapy and Detoxification: Understanding the Process of Toxin Release

While it might be easy to jump to conclusions about the role of massage in toxin release from the body, if we want to understand the situation fully, we’ll need to talk about how massage could help with toxin release.

Of course, we should start by mentioning that the American Massage Therapy Association clearly states that the idea of “squeezing” toxins out of muscles and soft tissue during massage is a myth​1​. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s worth talking about what’s probably actually happening during a massage.

Throughout your day, many tissues in your body constantly accept nutrients from your bloodstream and release waste products as part of their natural metabolism. Because of this, the tissues of your body are typically releasing waste products and toxins at a regular rate – and that’s a very good thing for your health!

This means that the waste products or “toxins” being released during a massage are probably no different from what’s released on any normal day.

Now, let’s get into the details of this process a little bit more.

the hands of a professional massaging patient's leg to aid with detoxification
Massage aids natural body processes, potentially enhancing the regular release of waste products or ‘toxins’ that occur in our bodies daily.

From Lymphatic Drainage to Cellular Detox: How Massage Expels Harmful Toxins

When it comes to techniques like deep tissue massage, we know that the pressure applied to the tissues of your body causes an increase in circulation, which means more nutrients going in and more waste coming out. In theory, this also means an increased rate of toxin release from the targeted tissues. 

Keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the waste products or “toxins” being released are any different from those that would normally be released with normal blood circulation in the body; it’s just more likely that they’re being released faster due to pressure when massaging.

Your body does a very good job at regulating toxins on its own, and most waste products or toxins being released into the bloodstream will likely be removed by organs like your liver and kidneys quickly​2​, so there’s very little to worry about!

Okay, but why do so many people feel tired or sick after a thorough massage, and what can you do to minimize those side effects?

the hands of a professional massaging patient's back to aid with detoxification
Massage boosts circulation, possibly quickening the regular disposal of body ‘toxins’.

Avoid These Common Mistakes After a Massage for Optimal Healing

Regardless of whether or not toxins are truly being released from muscle and soft tissue during a massage, many people report feeling drained, tired, or slightly ill after their treatment. This can be due to several factors, but some of the most likely are circulation, hydration, and inflammation proteins.

As mentioned earlier, massage affects circulation because nutrients and waste products are cycled through tissues more quickly. While these changes in circulation are only temporary, they can contribute to symptoms such as a headache.

There’s no denying that massage affects hydration, and changes in hydration can impact how well our bodies function. You may feel weak, lightheaded, or tired when you’re not well-hydrated. Overall, this is probably the biggest reason many people feel sick after it.

Inflammatory proteins are an important part of your body’s natural healing process. Increased amounts of inflammatory proteins can contribute to an immune system response that feels very similar to when your body is fighting an infection.

To minimize the impact of these side effects, here are a few tips to better manage them:

  • Avoid exercising after your massage:
    This is because exercise results in further circulation, hydration, and inflammation changes that can worsen these symptoms.
  • Stay hydrated before and after your massage:
    Since it can lead to dehydration, maintaining normal hydration and blood volume will help offset hydration-related symptoms.
  • Limit alcohol consumption:
    Because alcohol impairs liver function, it can slow down your body’s ability to clear circulating waste products and toxins from the blood effectively, making post-massage side effects worse or longer-lasting.

From Relaxation to Detox: How These 3 Massage Techniques Help Eliminate Toxins

By this point, hopefully, we’ve made it clear that toxin release during a massage is an often misunderstood concept that should be talked about with a certain level of skepticism. Therefore, the best massage to release toxins is likely better to promote blood and lymph circulation throughout the body. 

Keeping that in mind, here are a few massage techniques worth mentioning that are more likely to play a role in releasing toxins compared to others:

Lymphatic Massage

This type of massage is designed to increase lymph circulation throughout the body​3​. Lymph is a fluid your body uses to carry many different waste products or toxins.

By focusing on a more gentle massage approach, lymphatic massage may be the best one to release toxins.

Related: Massage Gun for Lymphatic Drainage – Worth Using? Which One To Choose?

Deep Tissue Massage

Although less gentle than lymphatic massage, deep-tissue massage is designed to get maximal circulation through muscles and soft tissue using large amounts of pressure.

As a means of increasing circulation through tissues and potentially clearing waste faster, deep tissue massage easily earns our second spot.

Related: Best Deep Tissue Massage Guns – Our Experts weigh in.

Cupping Massage

Because this device uses suction to “lift” muscle and soft tissue layers, it can enhance circulation and clear waste products in a targeted area.

While cupping isn’t as popular as deep tissue massage, it can be combined for maximum benefit.

Related: We’ve covered a couple of cutting-edge cupping devices on our blog that are truly game-changers. Give them a look:


Do Massage Guns Really Help with Toxin Release? Exploring the Benefits and Myths

Let’s face it—many of us don’t have access to a personal massage therapist regularly. This is where massage guns come in! These devices use a percussing head to provide a therapy that the user can fully customize and control. 

For this reason, tools like massage guns have become incredibly popular for providing health and wellness benefits, making it easy to enjoy the advantages of massage therapy at home.

Here at MassageGunAdvice, we’re experts in percussive massagers. We’ve personally tested hundreds of devices, we provide trusted reviews and recommendations to help you find the best device for your specific needs, eliminating the guesswork from your search.

While we can’t say for sure that percussive therapy directly aids in toxin release, we can say that it’s possible to get many of the same effects from a percussive device that you would get from a traditional or deep tissue massage​3,4​.

This can be a total game changer for many people because it removes the access barrier we often face to get a quality massage when needed.

While your needs may vary based on factors such as your health history, weight, size, and response to percussive therapy devices, rest assured that many well-designed devices are available to help you enjoy many massage benefits from the comfort of your home.

TIP: The best place to start exploring our massage gun content is our best guide, which we encourage you to check out now.


Toxins and Massage – Final Thoughts

When it comes to the common question, “What toxins are released after massage?” it can be hard to find good answers. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will feel better prepared to answer this question and make the most out of your future massages.

While massage isn’t really a home run for toxin release, it can clearly impact the metabolism of our muscles and tissues. On top of that, certain techniques like lymphatic and deep tissue massage may have more potential for clearing certain types of waste from the body, promoting overall detoxification and well-being.

If you’re curious about how a percussive massage gun can benefit your overall health and wellness, be sure to check out some of our expert reviews to learn more.

Happy massaging!


FAQ

Here are some of the most common questions about massage and toxin release:

Can toxins released during massage make you sick?

While the effects of a massage will vary between people, it is possible to feel sick after a massage. This is likely due to a combination of changes in blood circulation, increased presence of inflammation proteins in the blood, and sudden changes in hydration, causing an immune system response. However, it is unlikely that this phenomenon is a direct response to a particular toxin or pathogen.

How does massage flush out toxins?

Although massage cannot definitively flush out toxins, certain types of massage are thought to assist the body’s lymphatic system in clearing waste products from the body by pumping muscles and fascia. However, it is very unlikely that massage can be used to remove any particular chemicals from the body or that there are toxin-related health benefits to massage outside of this potential example.

How long does it take for toxins to get released after a massage?

Because your body moves blood through the circulatory system very quickly, it is likely that any toxins potentially released from tissues during massage will be quickly taken into the bloodstream and then filtered out by other organs, such as the liver and kidneys. In theory, this entire process would take a few minutes to a few hours based on normal human physiology, the type of toxin, and the amount of waste product being removed from the blood.


References
  1. 1.
    Brown Menard, PhD, LMT M. Myths, Massage and Research How massage therapists can help separate fact from “massage lore.” American Massage Therapy Association. https://www.amtamassage.org/publications/massage-therapy-journal/myths-in-massage-research/
  2. 2.
    Kalra A, Yetiskul E, Wehrle C. Physiology, Liver [Last Update: May 1, 2023]. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535438/
  3. 3.
    Konrad A, Glashüttner C, Reiner M, Bernsteiner D, Tilp M. The Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment with a Hypervolt Device on Plantar Flexor Muscles’ Range of Motion and Performance. J Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(4):690-694. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/33239942
  4. 4.
    Imtiyaz S, Veqar Z, Shareef M. To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(1):133-136. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/7294.3971

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Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS

Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS

Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS
Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS

Alex Stone is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA). He currently practices orthopedics in Bellevue Washington and manages an online health coaching business via social media (@dr.alexstone). He is passionate about health science education and general health/wellness optimization.

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