Drinking water is essential to your spinal health

Beautiful, hot summer time has arrived in the Algarve and everyone is enjoying the beach and a good swim to cool down. Bringing sun screen in your beach bag is a must along with a good supply of drinking water.

Water is your body’s principal chemical component and makes up, on average, 70% of your body weight. As a general tendency, we are prone to drink more fluids in the hot season compared to the amount we drink in the winter months.Even though you drink more than usual, are you really drinking enough?

Your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and where you live. If, like a lot of people, you do not drink enough, you may find yourself dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

Water helps maintain normal levels of body fluids, allows nutrients to travel to the major organs in the body, helps remove waste and works towards protecting joints and organs. If it is disrupted it may lead to many health problems and illnesses like headaches, muscle pain, constipation, kidney stones formation, recurrent urinary tract infections and severe low back pain.

Recent statistics show that humans drink an average of 75,000 litres of water throughout their life time. It seems like a considerable amount. For comparison sake we can have a look at the quantity of water held in a swimming pool. Last week in Barcelona the world swimming championships 2013 were taking place.Did you know that an Olympic size pool contains 2.5 millions litres of water? Our water consumption represents only 3% of that amount.

Our fluid intake comes from different sources. Drinking water only represents 43% of our total fluid intake as the other 57% comes from drinking juice, tea and coffee, as well as from eating yoghurts, fruits and vegetables.

If you have a healthy diet, it is generally recommended to drink at least one-and-a-half litres (eight large glasses) of water each day. On a hot summer day, at the beach or when you exercise, you should drink up to four litres of water daily to meet your body’s hydration needs. If you drink enough, your energy levels will be more consistent.

Water even plays an important role in the health of your spine. One frequent condition that we encounter in a chiropractic office are patients suffering from low back pain, which can be, in part, related to dehydration of the inter-vertebral discs.

A disc looks like a sponge. It separates the bones of the spine which are called vertebra. A disc acts like a shock absorber and keeps the vertebra from putting pressure on the nerves. The cushioning ability of your discs is based on their water content.

But if you are not getting enough water daily, then your discs may have trouble replenishing themselves with enough fluids. When this happens, the stress on them begins to build. They shrink, become hard and dry, and the nerves at the back of the vertebra become irritated and painful. If you never drink enough water, that nerve-and-bone pain can become a chronic condition.

We also know that a lack of motion in a segment of your spine may predispose the discs to dehydrate. Like the sponge analogy, if we keep squeezing the sponge, it will not absorb water. It is important to make sure that all vertebrae move properly to allow the disc to reabsorb its fluids. That is what chiropractic care excels at. Getting your spine well adjusted and balanced is essential for maintaining healthy discs.

A few tips may help you avoid dehydration.

Always drink water even if you are not thirsty. When the body sends the message of thirst, you are already a little dehydrated. You should react right away and drink. Another way to know if you are hydrated enough is to be aware of the colour of your urine; if it is dark yellow, it is a sign that you are not drinking enough.

Make sure you drink while exercising. With this increased demand on your body you really need to drink a lot more water to compensate the excess perspiration, the increased breathing and the body’s energy production. Without water you can become exhausted very rapidly and experience cramps or tendinitis, since lack of water has a direct repercussion on muscle and tendon irrigation.

Make a habit of drinking water on a regular basis and get your spine adjusted. Your bones and joints will feel much better than they do today and you may find that other health problems caused by spinal malfunction and dehydration will also improve.

Take advantage of being in the Algarve, which is the land of oranges and lemons, to drink fresh juices. A good alternative to plain water is to dissolve the juice of a lemon in one-and-half litres of water and drink it all on the same day. You can repeat it a few times during the week and it will help you to feel more energised.