At this time of year, most of us are out enjoying the sunshine and engaging in sports and other activities that, even in cooler temperatures, can work up a sweat. In the summer time, it’s even easier to overheat and become dehydrated. And while we all know the importance of being well hydrated by drinking lots of water, what some people may not know is that along with the usual consequences of becoming dehydrated (major thirst, dry skin, dry mouth, headache, digestion issues etc.), back pain can be a direct result of not drinking enough water.
How Hydration Helps
The body is made up of at least sixty percent water. This water helps the body function in many ways. It helps to maintain blood volume, helps with digestion, helps the organs function properly, and surprisingly, helps the spine and back function properly. In fact, the spinal discs (the cushions between each of the bones and vertebrae that comprise the spinal column) are mostly made of water.
When the body becomes dehydrated, the various stores of water throughout the body become depleted. As the body naturally attempts to divert its supply of water to the organs that need it most, the spine becomes neglected. And while the body is designed to recover from the occasional bout of dehydration, if a person continually fails to hydrate properly by drinking at least eight glasses of water daily, the results on the spine and back musculature can become disastrous.
How Dehydration Leads To Back Pain
Over time, a lack of hydration can lead to damage throughout the body including to the joints. Think of the body as you do your car – without motor oil, all of the mechanisms within the engine of the car will begin to break down. At first, the consequences may be subtle – the car runs a little rough, there is a faint rumble, the steering and brakes may be a little less smooth…eventually though, if the car runs out of oil completely, everything seizes up. This is true for the body when it comes to hydration.
Along with the spinal column, the muscles within the back will also become stiff and achy when the body is dehydrated. And as we all know, there’s almost nothing worse than a sore back. It usually leads to becoming less active, which in turn will cause other areas of the body to suffer as well.
Another important thing to keep in mind, is that as the body ages, most people become less active, not always but generally. Combined with the fact that older folks tend not to stay as well hydrated as younger people, the risk of developing degenerative disc disease becomes much higher with age. Together it may lead to a increased amount of low back pain, which nobody wants!
So now that we know how being dehydrated can affect the back, and lead to pain and muscle spasms, let’s take a look at the simple ways you can reduce your risk of becoming dehydrated.
How to Stay Hydrated
Sip sip sip! It’s no joke, drinking at least eight glasses of water each day is one of the best ways to keep your body working properly and in tip top shape. And while most people believe that their eight glasses have to be plain, it’s simply not true. Every little bit of fluid you drink each day counts. If you’re not a person who can stomach chugging that much water, try adding different flavorings or spices to make it more enjoyable, such as lemon, mint, cucumber or whatever you prefer, as long as you get that water on board.
As well as your eight glasses of water each day, you’ll also get extra hydration from other drinks such as tea, milk or juice. Coffee acts as a diuretic so if you have coffee you should increase the amount of water that you drink! It’s best to avoid sugary sodas though, as they have no good nutritional value. If you do prefer fizzy drinks, try flavored seltzer water, or mix fruit juice with club soda. This makes for a nice bubbly yet healthy alternative to soda.
Another way you can ensure good hydration is to eat lots of fruit. While most fruits have a high water content, the best one in terms of wetting your whistle, is good old fashioned watermelon! It’s delicious, low calorie, and an excellent way to stay cool on a hot summer day. Green leafy vegetables, celery, cucumbers and tomatoes are also excellent sources of water.
These days, there are many options available in the supermarket for sports drinks and vitamin-laced waters that are also excellent choices for hydration, and many of them include much needed electrolytes that are lost on particularly hot sweaty days. Think Gatorade!
In addition to getting lots of water, there are many other ways to stay cool in the heat. On hot summer days, ensure that you have a chance to rest in the shade. If you’re planning a day at the beach, along with your water, bring a beach umbrella so that you’re not exposed to the hot sun for hours at a time. And if the water is safe for swimming, nothing cools the body down like a nice dip in the ocean or lake. And of course any time you’ll be out in the sun, or doing a lot of activities like sports, that can work up a sweat, you should take time to drink often, as your body will be losing more water through sweat than it otherwise would.
Get Some Sleep
Another excellent way to help your body stay healthy is to get at least eight hours of sleep each day. The body actually is able to restore some of the water loss we experience each day, simple through a good sleep cycle. So be sure to get your ZZs!
Hydration is Essential
Hydration is key to a healthy body. Every part of the body including the spine is negatively impacted by dehydration. To reduce your risk of developing back problems, stay well hydrated. And of course if you are experiencing back pain, it’s wise to come in and see your Vancouver Chiropractor. An adjustment can be performed to get you back on track!
How Can a Chiropractor Help?
If you are unsure about your personal water intake, a Chiropractor could assess that for you! Also, if you are concerned about your headaches, neck pain, sleep disruption or back pain being caused by dehydration or something else, we at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage are happy to assist with a diagnosis of causation. Chiropractors are musculoskeletal experts and can diagnose the cause of your pain. Because we deal with many types of patients who have similar struggles, in this case with hydration, Chiropractors can give you easy to implement ideas of how to get enough water daily, weekly and throughout the year! It’s all about developing the right habits! So CALL US TODAY!!