Individuals may not be aware that back discomfort/pain symptoms can be connected to not staying hydrated. When the body is dehydrated, it reduces the amount of fluid in the spinal discs making them smaller, resulting in decreased cushioning and support for the spine. The stress can lead to swelling, causing further back discomfort, even a herniated disc. Individuals that experience frequent back pain could find relief by increasing their H2O consumption.
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Physical activity and healthy nutrition are important for healthy living. However, individuals can forget the basic need for water, often resulting in dehydration. The body needs to maintain hydration levels to function correctly. Dehydration can cause the body’s fascia/connective tissue which supports every cell and organ, to lose lubrication that allows the muscles to move, slide, and glide smoothly, causing stiffness, and tangled knots/trigger points, making movement difficult and painful.
The Body’s Overall Health
- The body is 60% water.
- Hydration replaces body fluids lost through exhaling, sweating, and waste elimination.
- The body loses and needs to replace around 2-3 quarts of water daily.
- Proper hydration regulates temperature, keeps the joints functioning smoothly, protects the spine, and facilitates waste removal.
Even being a little dehydrated is not healthy. Studies have shown that losing 1-2% of body weight without replacing fluids causes thinking and memory problems. A 4% deficit causes headaches, irritability, and sleepiness. Physical work or working outdoors without proper hydration impairs muscle endurance and strength. Dehydration stresses the spine even more which can cause painful swelling and bulged discs. Chronic pain conditions can be worsened by dehydration. This includes:
- Overall stiffness
- Joint pain
- All can be affected by dehydration.
Lack of water levels can lead to back pain because the discs between the vertebrae need fluid to cushion the bones. They begin to dry out when not properly hydrated, exacerbating back discomfort symptoms that could lead to similar symptoms in the neck or legs.
- The spinal discs are filled with a gel substance of around 75% water.
- The inner and outer rings/nucleus pulposus are made almost entirely of water.
- Water is slowly released from the spinal discs throughout the day.
- The discs absorb most of the shock from everyday movements while protecting the spinal cord.
- The discs rehydrate during sleep.
Indicators of Dehydration
Other than back pain and discomfort, other symptoms of dehydration.
- Muscle Cramps
- Dark Urine
- Dry Skin
- Dry Eyes
- Blurry Vision
- Bad Breath
Caffeinated beverages – soft drinks, tea, and coffee count partly toward daily fluid intake. They do not dehydrate the body, but they can increase urination and are recommended not to be the primary source of liquids during the day.
Throughout the day, drink plenty of water and move around and stretch to circulate the H2O.
Increase Water Intake
- Sixty-four ounces, eight glasses per day, is the common recommendation.
- Water intake encompasses all the liquids consumed in a day, including coffee, tea, and soup.
- Foods like cantaloupe and watermelon count toward daily water consumption.
- The best sources are water and drinks, primarily water sport replacement drinks, herbal teas, lemon water, and vegetable broth.
- Drink more when working out and being active. More water is needed on top of the 64 ounces when active.
- Keep hydrating long after the physical activity or workout is over.
- Check out hydration-tracking apps.
Drink Before Becoming Thirsty
- When the brain signals thirst, the body is already dehydrated.
- Stay ahead by sipping water throughout the day.
- Keep a water bottle close by at school or work, refill it twice daily, and increase refills on hot days.
Monitor Hydration Levels
- An easy way to assess dehydration is by looking at urine color.
- Light yellow or clear is healthy.
- Dark yellow or cloudy indicates dehydration.
The Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Team can realign the spine and body to optimal function and assist in developing a nutrition plan to maintain health and wellness.
Benefits Of Healthy Eating and Chiropractic Care
El-Sharkawy, Ahmed M et al. “Acute and chronic effects of hydration status on health.” Nutrition Reviews vol. 73 Suppl 2 (2015): 97-109. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv038
Johannaber, Kenneth, and Fadi A Fathallah. “Spinal disc hydration status during the simulated stooped posture.” Work (Reading, Mass.) vol. 41 Suppl 1 (2012): 2384-6. doi:10.3233/WOR-2012-0470-2384
Manz, Friedrich, and Andreas Wentz. “The importance of good hydration for the prevention of chronic diseases.” Nutrition Reviews vol. 63,6 Pt 2 (2005): S2-5. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2005.tb00150.x
Ritz, Patrick, and Gilles Berrut. “The importance of good hydration for day-to-day health.” Nutrition Reviews vol. 63,6 Pt 2 (2005): S6-13. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2005.tb00155.x
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