Hydration for your spine
Hydration for your spine is so important. Water is the source of life and there is a good reason for it too. The amount of water in the human body ranges from 50-75%. The water in our bodies serves a multitude of functions. Hydration keeps our spines in alignment and our vertebrae’s properly cushioned. When we feel thirsty, dehydration has already set to a certain degree. So, everyone should drink regularly throughout the day, before they even feel thirsty. Not drinking enough water can increase your risk of health problems, chronic back pain arthritis, joint problems and degenerative spinal conditions as you get older.
How Dehydration Causes Back Pain
Water not only helps lubricate the joints but insulates the brain, organs and spinal cord. Between the bones or vertebrae, in your spine lives a disc. These spinal discs act as shock absorbers. They also help to shield your back from the damage of daily use leading to wear and tear. These discs are spongy like a jelly donut. It has a tough but flexible outer layer surrounding a squishy, jelly-like center. The jelly, officially called the nucleus pulposis, is made up of water. Every night, our discs nourish themselves as our bodies regenerate in our sleep. When you lie down and rest, your body is best able to initiate the process of rehydrating your spinal discs via osmosis. So we need to keep your discs properly hydrated. Hydration keeps all of the tissues in the body and spine flexible.
The movement of your spine and gravity causes water to flow through your spine and be reabsorbed by the discs. Your discs are made to lose water and then rehydrate. If not enough hydration is available for the discs to absorb what they’ve lost, then it can’t function properly. Since most of the jelly inside the discs in your spine is made up of water, it will shrink if not hydrated adequately. When it shrinks it will cause the outer layer to take on more of the stress of absorbing shock and supporting your spine. Eventually, this can cause swelling, pain and even a bulge or rupture in the disc’s outer shell making it very uncomfortable. Dehydration may actually be the cause of your constant back pain.
As you go about your daily activities, each time you move, the spine compresses the disc, squeezing out the water within. Even walking or sitting upright can cause this as gravity causes the spine to compress. When the disc does not have adequate water, the result is pain and lack of mobility as well as increased risk of spinal injury. You need to make sure that you drink enough water every day.
How to Stay Hydrated
Here are a few tips to keep you hydrated:
- Drink enough water– You should be drinking at least half of your body weight of water per day. If you weigh 90 kilos, drink 3 litres of water each day.
- Choose water when working out– If your workout is under 60 minutes, water before, during and after exercise is good. If more than 60 minutes or in extreme heat, drink water along with sports drinks that contain sodium and potassium.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables – You don’t just get water through drinking, you also get it through foods. Try to work in at least five cups of vegetables and fruits a day. Who doesn’t like watermelon in the summer?
- Monitor your urine – You can keep tabs on how hydrated you are through the color of your urine. If it looks dark yellow, orange, cloudy or smells bad (not due to something you’ve eaten) you aren’t drinking enough water. Keep in mind that certain B Complex Vitamins can yellow your urine. Almost light and clear urine means adequately drinking enough. You should be urinating regularly (more than three to four times per day).
Unfortunately, when the body does rehydrate itself, the vital organs take precedence and the spine gets what is left over. If there is already a deficiency present, then there is nothing left over to rehydrate the spine. The trick is to drink water throughout the day instead of waiting until you feel thirsty. Maintaining proper hydration will promote a healthier environment for your discs and other spinal structures.
Just remember our chiropractors at Chiro & Sports Med are here to help promote ongoing wellness by improving spinal and joint function often resulting in a healthier, more active lifestyle.