Many of us complain that the lengths that we go to in order to get fresh water are a pain in the neck, but is there really a connection between back and neck pain and the water your drink? The answer is yes, water can effect pain in your vertebrae but not in the way that you think. If you are not staying well enough hydrated during the day, you may be feeling it in your back. There is growing evidence to suggest that dehydration can have a direction correlation to back pain. If you are not consuming enough water for good hydration, you may be making already existing back pain that much worse.
Between every one of your vertebrae is a structure that is called a disk. It is a spongy like pocket that is there to absorb shock and to cushion the bones from hitting up against one another. There are two different components to the disk. There is the outer layer which is made up of a very resilient outer shell. Within it there is a gelatinous type substance which is called the nucleus pulposis. The second component is the inner portion which is primarily composed of water. As you can imagine all day long those disks work very hard to cushion the vertebrae and to keep them strong. With gravity working hard in opposition, there is a lot of wear and tear that is imposed upon the disks. Throughout the day the water that is contained within the inner layer of the disk is slowly dissipated.
When you sleep at night, the fluid that is lost throughout the day, is replenish and your body rehydrates the disk for the next day ahead. It is actually a fact that the average person is a quarter, to a half inch shorter at bedtime than they are when the awake in the morning. It isn’t only during the night when we sleep that the disks are hard at work trying to replenish what is being lost. Throughout the day when you are doing regular activities, your disks are on a constant search to find water whenever the spine moves either forward or backward. It is a continual process of water in versus water out.
When you maintain proper hydration the continual process of rehydration works flawlessly to keep the disks strong and to not compromise its function to shield the vertebrae that it protects. The problem is that if you aren’t hydrating your body properly, you are limiting the ability of your disks to replenish the much needed fluid to keep your back working optimally. When your disk is fully hydrated the outer ring should be able to afford 25% of the weight load while the inner ring supports the additional 75%. You can see why if there is a shortage of water supplied to the disk, you can significantly be causing damage to the spine, especially overtime.
When the inner nucleus pulposis is not fully hydrated, it is possible that it cannot bear the weight of the load placed upon it. That can lead to more weight being endured by the outer ring casing inflammation which can result in pain, edema, or even rupturing of the disk or complete herniation of it. If you are a back pain sufferer who has gone to great lengths to curb your pain, it may be as simple as adding water to your daily routine to achieve proper hydration. Making sure to drink water throughout the day is the best assurance that your disks will be able to perform the job that they were created to do.
The best time to consume water is not only throughout the day, but before light exercise. If you are going to be lifting weights, or jumping around, it is going to put more stress onto your spine. Giving it the tools necessary to stay strong is a key factor for injury prevention. By drinking water before, during and immediately after exercising, you are giving your body the tools it needs to stay strong.
How much water should you consume?
A general consensus within the medical field about how much water to drink is about 8 8 ounce glasses per day. That may not be enough for every individual. Depending on your size, your sex, and your activity level, you may require more water than what is recommended. An athlete will have different hydration needs than someone who lives a more sedentary lifestyle. If you are someone who weighs more you are likewise going to need more water than someone who weighs less. The simplest way to ensure that you are getting all the drinking water that you need is to use the equation of drinking one cup of water for every 20 pounds of weight that you carry. Therefore, if you are 120 pounds you should use the target of drinking 6 cups of water a day for good hydration.
Water is not the same as other drinks. If you are counting caffeinated drinks, or sodas in your water intake, you are making a huge mistake. Not only can they not count toward your water consumption, due to the fact that they are diuretics, they actually may be contributing to you not being able to rehydrate effectively. If you want to substitute water for another beverage, always choose juice drinks or flavored waters.
To make sure that you are maintain proper hydration it is also important that you pay close attention to the signals that your body is sending you. There is a reason why the body has the sensation of thirst. It is the body’s way of letting you know that it is in need of water. Follow these general rules for good hydration:
- Drink over twice as much as it takes for you body to stop feeling thirsty
- Drink frequently throughout the day
- Follow the 20 pound rule consistently
- If you are exercising or living in hot climates, increase your water intake to compensate
If you workout strenuously make sure to replenish what is lost. If you don’t rehydrate your body not only are your muscles not going to be able to repair effectively, you are going to risk injury of various sorts, especially in the spine. Taking care of your back is the key to a healthy and long quality of life for the here and now, and for the future. Make sure to rehydrate to keep your spine, and your entire body, strong.