Most of us are aware that water is coursing throughout our bodies—that we are around 60% water. But few may know that muscles are around 79% water—or that bones are 31% water. Being properly hydrated, then, becomes an important way to keep our muscles, bones and other body parts functioning well.
WHY DRINK MORE WATER?
There aren’t a lot of studies about this, save for an interesting one involving patients who had spinal manipulation designed to reduce pain and dysfunction. (Those who were properly hydrated had better outcomes than those who were dehydrated.)
But we do know many of us are walking around in some state of dehydration, and that is affecting how our body—and back—functions.
One example: Discs that act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae in the spine need water to stay supple. Water is what keeps them “spongy”—roughly the consistency of a marshmallow—and able to withstand shock to the spine. Being dehydrated can make those spongy discs brittle—and brittle discs can lead to disc degeneration, which itself may lead to more serious spinal problems.
SIMPLE WAYS TO GET HYDRATED
- Set incremental goals: First, assess how much water you’re currently drinking. It’s probably not enough. Add one glass tomorrow; then another glass the next day. Keep it up for a few weeks and you should start to feel better.
- Set a reminder: As you may have noticed after Week 1 of New Year, New Back, we’re big on setting reminders on Outlook or Google calendars. Set reminders, or install an app on your smartphone, reminding you to drink water hourly.
- Create drinking associations: If you are a three-square-meals-a-day person, you may focus on drinking three glasses around a meal. Try one before your meal (which may make you eat less); one during; and one afterward.
- Drink fruity water: For those of you who find water too boring to drink, a few slices of lemon or a handful of berries might juice things up.
- Drink lots of tea: Tea is primarily composed of water, and if you drink green tea you get the added benefit of painkilling antioxidants.
- Buy an insulated container: Carrying an insulated container has two big benefits. It can keep your liquid warm or cold for a while so you’re more likely to drink it; and since containers come in specific sizes, it can help you to keep track of your water intake.
- Drink carbonated water with a splash of juice: This is another tactic if you find water boring. Add just a small splash of juice, or a handful of fruit, to carbonated water to keep you interested.
- Don’t overdo coffee and soft drinks: While drinking coffee and soft drinks does provide water, they are both mild diuretics, meaning they will slightly dehydrate you. Too much of these drinks and you will have to seriously compensate to replace what you’re losing.
- Avoid getting thirsty: If you become thirsty, chances are you’re already dehydrated. Take a preemptive attitude by making water-drinking part of the fabric of your day.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU DRINK?
Take your weight and divide it in half. This figure is the number of ounces (1 cup = 8 ounces) you should aim for each day. So, if you weigh 160 pounds your goal should be 80 ounces of water a day. Of course, if you’re exercising, you’ll need more liquids to replenish what you are losing.
So drink up. It will take several weeks to truly rehydrate, but you should feel like you’re functioning better overall soon.
Already tried everything but still feeling debilitating back pain? Contact us online or give us a call and we will be happy to help.