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Myths About Massage: Massage and Toxins

The truth about massage therapists' ability to help you detox

Hanna Kim - November 7, 2018

Can Massage Remove Toxins From Your Body?

The short answer is no, massage does not remove or release toxins from your body. Something you might have heard about massage therapy is that it helps release toxins in your muscles or even detoxify the pollutants that might have accumulated in your body from the food you eat or air you breathe. Despite constant action from massage educators like Sandy Fritz, a founding member of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education who has also written a number of evidence-based texts for massage therapists, massage myths about toxins still persist.

Lactic Acid Is Not A Toxin

A common pseudoscientific version of the claim that massage therapy can help you detoxify lactic acid produced when you exercise is untrue as well. In reality, lactic acid is a metabolic by-product of energy production when the glucose (sugar) you’ve eaten is converted to a form of energy that is usable for your cells in a process called glycolysis.

The “burn” you feel while exercising is not from toxic lactic acid accumulating in your muscles, but much more obvious: you’re sore because your muscles undergo strain during a good workout. Same with muscle soreness a day or two after a workout: the sensation is simply fatigue.

Lactic acid disappears from your muscles and bloodstream about an hour after exercise, shown in a study dating back to the 1930’s in the Harvard Fatigue Lab (2). Furthermore, a 2004 study on the “Biochemistry of exercise-induced metabolic acidosis” found actually is aimed to diminish the burn.

Self-care like massage will help reduce tension and soreness by helping relax overworked, contracted muscles and fascia, but there is no research to show lactic acid is a harmful, pain-inducing toxin. It can be tempting to simplify what’s going on in our bodies, but sometimes words are used in the wrong context or misconstrued so far out of the realm of truth, which leads to confusion and misinformation.

Massage Has Many Other Benefits

Despite the disproven claim about the power of massage therapy to detoxify your body, there are still many other proven reasons to get a massage. Take a look at our massage therapist staff page to get an idea of the benefits of different modalities practiced at our massage studios. Both LoDo Massage Studio locations in RiNo and the Highlands are open from 9AM to 9PM mountain time each day.