Often during a massage the question is asked: what do you recommend to help with back pain?
While there are many answers to this question, one that always generates a few “excuse me’s?” is water. That’s right clear, pure, natural water may be the edge you’ve been looking for in keeping that back pain away.
Our Body – Fat, Muscle, Bone…. & Water
Looking for a quick way to lose weight? Try draining your body! The human body is near on 60% water, or at least, it should be. A low water intake, combined with excessive use of diuretic substances (caffeinated drinks, tea and coffee) and poor cellular integrity, lead to many of our first time clients being either mildly dehydrated, or having much of their water content occupying interstitial tissues rather than in the cells.
Intervertebral Discs – A Water Bed For the Spine
You wouldn’t sleep on an empty water bed
Our spine has its own in built water bed. In between each vertebrae in our spine is a nice, comfy, fluid filled capsule. They provide a cushioning and lubricating effect between the vertebrae, preventing them from grinding across each other and compressing on the nerves that run out from between the vertebrae. If you’ve ever had, or know someone that has had, a slipped, herniated or bulged disc, this is what they are talking about.
Looking at our clients spinal x-rays, one of the most common structural faults that leads to back pain is a narrowing of the gaps between the vertebrae. A situation that leads to pain, muscular spasm and potentially digestive and reproductive dysfunction, depending on the actual nerves involved.
Dehydration is Like Having a Leaking Water Bed
When the body is dehydrated, we automatically begin a water conservation program. Fluids are taken from less important activities and used for what our body considers important. One common area the body will take water from is intervertebral discs and joint capsules. Like sleeping on a leaking water bed, we get closer and closer to the floor the more the mattress goes down; so too with our vertebrae. Less water in the discs, means less height and is one of the causes of the narrowing of the gaps between the vertebrae.
Dehydrated Muscles Look Like Grandpa’s Old Socks
If you’re too young to remember when socks got darned, ask your grandma
Cross linkages in our connective tissue, like darned holes in a sock, create muscle pain.
Dehydration affects muscles too. Our muscles are surrounded by a sheet of connective tissue, you might hear our massage therapists refer to this as fascia. Fascia, encapsulates the muscles and is the part of the muscle that narrows and forms the tendons that connect muscles to bones.
Our fascia, likes water. In fact, we will often feel dehydration in a tightening and hardening of the fascia before it impacts the discs and joints.
As fascia becomes dehydrated, the individual fibres lose their separation and cross linkages between fibres begin to form. Under a high powered microscope this looks a little someone has darned a pair of socks.
Tight Fascia Restricts Movement Causing Imbalance
The problem with dehydrated fascia is that the cross linkages prevent the fascia from moving freely. This leads to restriction in the muscle. As muscles work across joints (knee joints, vertebral joints) this in turn causes restriction in the joint and a cascade effect that results in pain.
Ensuring regular and sufficient fluid intake prevents these cross linkages and allows unrestricted movement of the fascia and muscle.
Is Dehydration Causing You Pain? How to Test Hydration Levels
There’s many ways to test whether your dehydrated or not. Both the skin pinch test and your urine colour, provide quick point in time tests of how hydrated your muscle tissues and fascia is. How about something a little more quantifiable though?
Try Body Composition Testing Today
This clinic offers body composition testing based on bio-impedance analysis. This scientifically tested process, involves running a small electrical current through the body to measure:
- your actual fat mass;
- your lean muscle mass and muscle quality;
- your fluid and hydration levels;
- your real cellular age;