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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

Massage Tips and Trivia: If you drink alcohol after a massage, you might get drunk faster

"If you drink alcohol after a massage, you might get drunk faster"

Plenty of chick flicks and rom coms show the same scene: a gang of girlfriends goes to the spa and spends the day sipping champagne, mimosas and cosmos while getting massages. Well, while that is a great girls' day out idea, it can create some complications.

First of all, massage therapists are not really supposed to massage anyone who has been drinking or has alcohol or any other "pleasurable" drugs in their system. The reasons for this is that if the person is intoxicated or under the influence of anything, they may not be able to give knowing consent for the treatment, which could potentially lead the therapist being charged with assault for putting their hands on someone. Also, in the case of massage, if someone is not in their right mind, they may not be able to feel and communicate if the pressure of the massage is too much, if a stretch has gone too far, etc - which leaves them the possibility that the massage could injure them. Being drunk is actually considered a contraindication for massage, so it shouldn't be done.

That being said, many people know and realize that one cocktail isn't going to impair them to the point where they will be in danger, so a sip of something has become a part of spa treatments in some locations. However, after the massage is also something to consider when alcohol is involved. Even if no alcohol is consumed before the massage, afterwards, the body is still in a very different state than before the massage, and that can have an effect on how quickly the alcohol affects the system. Massage speeds up the circulatory system, and alcohol can travel through the bloodstream, so the 'vitalized" circulation can carry the alcohol through the system more quickly, making the effects felt stronger, and come on faster. Also, both massage and alcohol can dehydrate the body, which drops electrolytes and can make you feel more drunk faster since fluid levels are all off. (There is a reason your massage therapist tells you to drink water after a massage!) Not only will the effects of the alcohol hit you harder, the effects of the massage itself might not last as long since through introducing a substance that is a little more on the toxic side into your system while everything in your body is working to flush out bad stuff, you are basically undoing a few things that the massage accomplished.

So there is nothing wrong with having a drink here and there, in moderation, or with a group of friends. (Honestly, I personally wouldn't survive if I couldn't frequently have a drink with friends), but be aware of how that drink and your massages are going to interact and plan your schedule accordingly.

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