(Updated March 17, 2017)
The title of the post is massage OR alcohol because you can’t have both. Not at the same time at least. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and a lot of people (massage fanatics included) will be partaking in excessive amounts of alcohol. That’s fine, so long as you are of age and pace yourself. This, however brings up the topic of getting a massage while intoxicated. If the first sentence didn’t get the point across: don’t do it!
First, it’s important to understand what alcohol does to your body in the short term. Of course, you probably heard all of this for four plus years from your high school teachers and college professors. However, it’s still important that you fully comprehend what happens in your body when alcohol is consumed, and how that can impact your massage.
Alcohol causes dizziness, and can also cause nausea or vomiting. It lowers your perception and coordination, causes blackouts, and impaired judgement. It will distort your vision and hearing, and cause dehydration and anemia.
These are only a few symptoms of alcohol intoxication, but what does it mean for your massage? Because alcohol desensitizes your nerves, your sense of feeling is impaired. This means that if your massage therapist is working too deep or over an area, you may not be able to feel how painful it really is, and therefore you wont be able to ask your therapist to ease up. This can lead to injury. Alcohol impairs your judgement, lowering your inhibitions, heightening arousal, and increasing your likelihood for impulsive behavior. On top of all of this, it has been suggested that because massage increases circulation, it can also exacerbate the effects of alcohol.
So what about drinking alcohol after your massage? What are some possible risks that could pose? Most massage therapists will tell you not to drink for up to 24 hours after your massage; or if you do, you should make sure to drink lots of water as well. It is never a bad idea to drink a glass of water after each alcoholic beverage. Staying hydrated is good for your body, and helps keep your muscles flexible, lean, and healthy. It can also stave off a hangover, and keep the drunkeness at bay for longer, allowing you to enjoy more of your night. Water has amazing benefits for your body in general, but there is no extra need to drink water after your massage, or to abstain from alcohol after your massage.
If you do drink after your massage, you should keep in mind that because massage increases your circulation, alcohol can have a stronger effect after your session. Please keep this in mind, pace yourself, and drink responsibly.
It is important to remember that you absolutely should not receive massage if you have already consumed alcohol. With lowered inhibitions, you may make some poor in-the-moment judgements, or worse – you could get seriously injured. If you plan on making massage part of a date night or girls’ night out, make sure you begin the night with massage and start drinking later.
You should also remember that your massage therapist will be able to tell if you arrive intoxicated, and will refuse to go ahead with the massage. She has an ethical – and in some states legal – obligation to refuse service to anyone who is not sober. Most massage therapists chose to charge clients who book their time and do not use it appropriately, although each massage therapist has different policies on this. At your very first session, the intake form that you sign will state whether or not this is your therapist’s policy.
For your own safety, and the safety of your therapist and the integrity of her practice, remember it’s best to make sure you do not consume alcohol before your massage session.
Please drink responsibly and always designate a reliable sober driver.