Most of us would agree with this statement. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. We all know we have to drink more water; however, we struggle daily to reach our hydration goals. If we wait until we are thirsty to drink water, we’re already dehydrated. Did you know that being dehydrated can cause headaches, dizziness and muscle and joint pain? These are a few of the things that our patients come to physical therapy seeking treatment for!
Your spinal column is made up of 24 vertebrae (bones) and 23 discs; supported by many muscles and ligaments. The discs are made up of roughly 80% water. In a well hydrated spine, the discs and vertebrae move together and provide shock absorption. This leads to you feeling better and moving more efficiently! When the spine isn’t properly hydrated the discs aren’t able to do their job. There is more friction in the joints and movement can become painful. If someone already has degenerative disc disease or a problem with their spine, hydration is especially important to allow for proper joint mechanics and movement.
These concepts can be applied to other joints in the body. We all know someone whose knees are “bone on bone.” In order to maintain the health of the remaining cartilage, hydration is crucial. Fluid is essential for a joint to be able to move properly and without pain. Adequate hydration also assists in removing waste products and toxins from your joints. Increasing your water intake can help reduce the risk of muscle cramps and “Charlie horses.” Drinking plenty of water can also help aide in weight loss, which can help take unnecessary stress off of your joints.
The well known “drink eight glasses of water” a day is a good rule of thumb. Keep in mind that your hydration needs change with your activity level, environment and other medical conditions.
Here are some tips to improve your water intake:
-Carry a water bottle with you at all times
-Add a slice of lemon or lime to your water
-Drink a glass of water before you eat a meal
-Make a habit of drinking a glass of water when you first wake up (even before coffee)
-Eat foods high in water content (cucumbers, iceberg lettuce, celery, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, strawberries, broccoli, baby carrots, cantaloupe; to name a few)
-Keep track of your water intake! There’s plenty of apps that can help!
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