Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. W. H. Auden
While that quote is a bit dramatic, it’s true that water is critical to the survival of all species. It’s important to your whole body and plays a major role in the health and wellness of your spine. Are you experiencing back pain? Are you dehydrated? Two “yes” answers could mean one is contributing to the other.
Without getting too technical, here’s a simple explanation of the connection between water and your spine. Between every two vertebrae is a disc that functions as a shock absorber for everything you do whether strenuous or easy. The disc has an outer, flexible ring and an inner part filled with a substance that is primarily water. As you go about your day, regardless of activity level, water slowly leaves the disc.
Your discs hydrate primarily during sleep when you’re lying down. They also draw on available water in your body during the day, whenever possible. If there is not enough water in the body to fully re-hydrate the disc, the whole thing becomes compromised. Conversely, if you become dehydrated, your body looks for water in other places like the spine.
Age can also play a part in the dehydration and disc relationship. As you age and activity levels decline, the decrease (and lack of replenishment) of spinal water can lead to disc degeneration and loss of motion between the discs. The loss of mobility causes further degeneration which causes more loss of motion–you get the picture. It’s a vicious cycle.
What’s your take-away from this? Water can be one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce back pain. Drink it before you become thirsty. Drink it before, during and after exercise. Just drink it*. You’ll learn how much you need each day and your spine will thank you.
*There are many opinions as to how much water a person should drink and no one rule that applies to everyone. If 64 ounces each day works for you, do that. If half of that is better, go with it. Some days you may need more, some days less. It really is as individual as you are.
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