I’m glad you asked! So here’s the thing, there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what toxins actually are, so let’s tackle that first.
The truth about toxins.
Toxins is a word that is thrown around a lot. Too much in fact. Without really being understood.
When it comes to the human body, any and all substances can be toxic. Water in large quantities can kill you and oxygen in too great a concentration is toxic, and yet those two things we also need to live. At the same time, substances that we commonly classify as being toxic can be beneficial – like lithium! If you eat the contents of a lithium battery, it’s clearly not going to end well, yet lithium is used in small dosages to aid in treatment for certain mood disorders.
So rather than referring to a substance that is entirely bad for you and foreign in nature, the word “toxins” most commonly refers to dosage or amount. [Note: there are a few substances like arsenic, that really have no physiological benefit in any amount, but rarely are we referencing these substances when we use the term “toxins”]. What we’re really referring to is “too much of _____”. These substances could be good and useful in proper amounts, yet toxic in too great a concentration. And mostly we’re talking about substances the body produces, not foreign agents.
This is especially important to know when we talk about toxins in the body.
Side Note: About that juice cleanse –
It basically means that the juice cleanse you’re doing isn’t designed to remove substances from your body that shouldn’t be there. They are designed to remove the excess of substances that should be there. It might be a small change in words, but that’s a significant difference in physiology to consider. [Note: no comment is being made as to the efficacy or indication of juice cleanses].
Does massage release toxins then?
Now that we know that toxins are actually regular substances in the body that should be there, that may have simply become too concentrated, we can start to answer this question.
Without our definition of toxins, the answer would be NO.
However, with the clearly defined parameters of “excess”, the answer becomes YES…sort of. [the proper answer is “yes, that’s what the predominant theory is currently…and with a catch”].
When we massage the soft tissues of the body (muscles) we have the ability to release pockets of waste build up. It’s almost like we burst a little package of highly concentrated “regular stuff” that causes an issue because it’s in excess.
When we think of these packages now, the way we should be visualizing them is as chemicals/compounds that are regular bi-products of energy production in the cell. All our cells in some way or another produce “waste” as a result of generating energy to fuel the assembly of proteins and other things the cell is designed to make! Normally our bodies are great at removing this waste (when we are happy, healthy and peaceful). Just like any biological system though, things can go a little bit wrong, and when that happens these waste products accumulate.
It’s these little packets that are commonly referred to as toxins. And it’s these little packets that we, as practitioners of massage, can help your body clear-out through manual disruption of muscle tissue. This is also where the “sort of” comes into play. Technically a massage is both toxifying and detoxifying.
Ultimately we view it as detoxifying because it aids the body in the removal of these excess concentrations of metabolic byproducts. However, massage is briefly increasing the “toxicity” of our body because it releases the contents of a toxic packet into our system.
And you thought that would be a simple answer, didn’t you? I do think it’s important to be thorough in responding to questions like this. (Evidently). 😉
Keep reading: “What Are Trigger Points? You Might Be Surprised.“