Upwards of 70% of your body is composed of good old H2O. Some claim as little as a 2% drop in fluids can leave you itchy, groggy, constipated, and feeling generally rotten all around.
It certainly makes sense to stay hydrated. Drinking enough water helps ensure our bladder and kidneys flush toxins out of our bodies. It helps our bodies digest food. And it can even prevent headaches, joint aches and muscle pain.
So what does this have to do with your spine? Quite a bit it turns out. Not only is over 70% of your body made up of water, but a similar ratio exists in the discs that cushion the vertebrae in your spine. It turns out dehydration is a little talked about but significant factor contributing herniated and bulging discs.
A decrease in disc water content is associated with spinal disc degeneration. As the discs break down, cracks form in the fibrous outer ring of the disc leading to fluid loss. The inner core becomes weaker as it shrinks and comes under more stress until conditions become ripe for the disc to bulge or herniated.
Exactly how much water is enough can be a matter of significant debate. The most commonly given “rule” is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. It’s really more of a “rule of thumb” though as the amount your body really needs largely depends on your gender (males tend to require more water), weight (larger mass requires more water), activity level, and environment among other factors.
Allow me to make drinking water simple for you. If you’re thirsty, drink a glass of water. Seriously. If you’re not thirsty but are experiencing some of the symptoms of mild dehydration, try drinking a glass of water anyways. Normally if you’re drinking enough water your urine will be clear or pale yellow. Be aware that it’ll typically be darker first thing in the morning, after a meal, or when taking water soluble vitamins like riboflavin.
When your body is properly hydrated, your spinal discs are able to reabsorb fluids at night while you sleep. Many individuals with back pain have gotten fast relief by using inversion therapy tables which release pressure on the discs through gentle gravity-based traction. This allows fluid to soak back into the spongy interior of the disc so that it can heal and properly support your vertebrae.
So yes, water is the stuff of life. And the stuff that’ll help your spine stay healthy too.
H2O: Hydration; Marketing Health Promotion, Wellness, and Risk Information for Spinal Cord Injury Survivors in the Community. Craig Hospital. Englewood, CO.
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Written By: Updated: March 6,2010