Submitted by Dr. Jennifer Penrose for Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy
Quick question: how much water have you drank today? For most people, the answer is not enough. From everything we drink and swim in, to the ice that reduces swelling, water is all around us (and even in us). As a matter of fact, it basically is us! Water makes up around two-thirds of who we are and influences every single process in our body, meaning we usually feel a lot better when we drink enough of it.
Now, how many tips and tricks have you seen on “how to avoid a bad back” or “how to relieve pain,” I would assume quite a few, right? But, have you ever seen any on how drinking more water can help? If I had to guess, you probably haven’t! Dehydration can be one of the many culprits of back pain and one of the reasons why it says around for longer than it needs to.
I’m sure you are aware that water affects every organ and cell in your body, but it also plays an enormous role in the health of your back and spine. In between each section of the spine (the vertebrae) lies a disc – these are mainly made up of water. During the day while you’re standing, they slowly become dehydrated. Then, at night when laying down, they rehydrate themselves (so long as there is ENOUGH water in the body!). However, if you are already dehydrated, the discs may eventually start to cause pain, swelling, and even create problems in the future. Just like a car engine needs to be lubricated, your body needs water for your joints, organs, and muscles to function. See why your water intake is so important now?
So, let’s take a look at a few things that will help you live a life with less back pain:
- Signs that you’re not drinking enough water – so you can start drinking more of it!
- What you can expect when you start drinking more water
- Helpful tips to help you increase your intake.
Signs That You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
How do you know? Well, the most obvious is feeling thirsty, but here are some not so obvious signs:
- Feeling tired
- Dry skin and lips
- Mood swings
- Joint pain
The list goes on! But one of the best and most reliable signs is to check your urine – if it’s dark and not a light yellow color, get more water in your system!
What You Can Expect When You Start Drinking More Water
You already know that water is good for you, but after a few weeks of drinking more of it, what benefits can you expect to see? You may notice decreased soreness in your back for one. You’ll also feel healthier, your eyes may not feel as tired, and you’ll feel more alert! Additionally, water can help you lose weight, your skin will look clear, and you’ll have a natural glow! You’ll likely even find you don’t need to reach for the coffee four times a day because you feel more alert.
Besides using a larger-sized glass to down your water, here are some other tips that might work better for you. I’ll start with my favorite, drinking a glass of water right after waking up. To make this easy, I make sure to place a glass of water on my bedside table before I get in bed.
It’s a great feeling knowing that I’ve already consumed almost 15% of my daily water intake before my day has even started. Give it a go! After a week or two, it’ll be a new habit that will leave you feeling more energetic. Another way you can increase how much you drink is to switch it up. I get it, water is not exciting, but it doesn’t have to be. Switch between still and sparkling water. You can even add lemon, cucumber, or other fruits to add some flavor!
I certainly hope you learned some helpful tips and that you begin implementing them into your daily routine. That’s all I have for you this week, so have a great week and drink some water!
The author, Jennifer Penrose, is a Physical Therapist and owner of Penrose Physical Therapy in Lacey.
If you need some free tips about back pain please download our free tips report here on the Penrose Physical Therapy website.
If you want to hear more tips about back pain and how we have helped others please listen to the “Stay Healthy South Sound Podcast” and the episode titled “Back Pain, All Things Discs, Stenosis, Sciatica and My Own Low Back Surgery.”