“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” – Benjamin Franklin
Exercise, sleep, nutrition – these all play critical roles in our overall physical health and fitness. They also contribute to minimizing or preventing muscle and joint pain.
But did you ever consider that being properly hydrated is essential to avoiding joint pain?
The Role of Water in Physical Health
Water is essential for life.
Even our bodies are largely composed of H2O – water accounts for nearly 70 percent of a person’s body weight. In fact, water even encloses the nucleus of every one of the billions of cells in the human body.
[Image courtesy of BoneJoint.net]
Consequently, every body requires a significant amount of water intake to maintain its proper level of water content. For most of us that means drinking water. For some more than others, but for everyone the common advice is about eight cups of water each day.
Here are some of the specific benefits of maintaining a healthy, hydrated body:
- Maintains a stable temperature
- Metabolizes energy efficiently
- Enhances physical performance
- Increases muscle strength and stamina
- Supports a regular heart beat and blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of kidney stones
- Improves mental alertness
And how does this help our joints? According to Arthritis.org,
“Hydration is vital for flushing toxins out of your body, which can help fight inflammation. Adequate water can help keep your joints well lubricated and can help prevent gout attacks. Drinking water before a meal can also help you eat less, promoting weight loss.”
When a body loses just two percent of its fluid, dehydration sets in and begins affecting mental alertness and thinking. A loss of 10 to 15 percent of body fluid becomes a serious health issue and requires medical attention.
Normal fluid loss occurs regularly, which is one of the main reasons we must continually drink water and other fluids. In fact, it’s estimated that the average person loses nearly 10 cups of water. This happens naturally through respiration, sweating and urination.
As a result, a person must continually replenish this fluid In order for the major organs, muscles, brain and cells to function properly and to prevent dehydration.
Thirst and Dehydration
Being thirsty is the earliest stage of dehydration and is easily relieved. Initial signs of more severe dehydration, however, can include a dry mouth, dry eyes, headache, dizziness, nausea, slowness of thought, listlessness and even constipation.
One method for determining dehydration is urine. If you are relieving yourself every two to four hours and your urine is pale yellow, you are likely well hydrated. However, if If you urinate infrequently or not at all, or your urine is quite yellow or dark, it’s highly likely that you need to drink more liquids.
So, how much is enough?
Most of us have probably heard that we need to drink at least eight glasses of water every day, or about 64 ounces. The truth is that proper hydration is a bit more customized that that.
Consider a five foot two-inch tall woman weighing 130 pounds working in a climate-controlled office environment. She will typically require much less fluid intake than a taller man weighing 200 pounds who works outdoors pouring concrete.
The amount of fluid required by an individual for proper hydration is based on these factors:
As we’ve noted in our previous example, a larger person will need more fluid to maintain hydration than a smaller person, and someone working out or who is engaged in a strenuous job will require more water than someone who sits at a desk most of the day.
An environment that causes people to sweat contributes to fluid loss and electrolytes from the body, which can lead to dehydration. Diet is a contributing factor to hydration. For example, people who eat foods with high water content such as soups, salads, and fruits such as oranges and watermelon may get as much as 20 percent of their daily fluid through food.
To make your water intake calculations a bit simpler, the Mayo Clinic reports that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids for women.
Although we usually have ample access to water, whether from a tap or in a bottle, not everyone likes drinking water. Other liquids and beverages can provide the needed fluid intake your body requires, but keep in mind that coffee and most teas contain caffeine, which is a diuretic.
A diuretic is a substance that promotes diuresis, or the increased production of urine. What this means on a practical level is that, while you may be drinking more liquids you are also expelling more fluid.
Coffee, tea and fruit juices are acceptable options to plain water and, as we noted previously, eating juice-filled fruits and vegetables also counts as fluid intake.
Another option is flavored and carbonated waters. Aside from the chemicals found in some water flavoring additives, the carbonation in water is sometimes a suspect beverage.
Harvard Medical School reported that,
“Warnings about the harmful effects of carbonated beverages on bone emerge from time to time. The theory is that the phosphoric acid (phosphate) used to enhance flavor in some carbonated beverages can interfere with calcium absorption and result in the loss of calcium from bone. Fortunately, there’s no good evidence that a high phosphate intake affects bone metabolism or bone density.”
Normal daily activity only requires a normal amount of hydration for most people. However, there are many instances and situations that call for large amounts of fluids during the day, or even the consumption of specialty liquids.
People who work out regularly, or have physically demanding jobs, should consider drinking specially formulated sports drinks that replace the sodium and electrolytes that are lost through excessive perspiring. Being sick often demands more fluids, especially colds or bouts of diarrhea.
And one source offers advice about beverages that are less-than-helpful,
“There are a few beverages to avoid. Sugar-laden soft-drinks or soda may keep you hydrated but they also add unnecessary calories to your diet. Alcohol is also on the unfavorable beverage list. Alcohol not only increases calories but also acts as a dehydrating agent.”
Healthy Hydration Tips
Ensuring that you get enough water each day is largely a matter of intentional habit formation. In other words, you may need to be very conscientious about taking time to stop and drink liquids at certain times throughout the day. With consistency comes habit, and frequent fluid intake becomes a normal activity.
Here are some tips for establishing a good hydration routine:
- Begin your day with 16 ounces of water before eating or drinking anything else.
- Schedule time to stop and drink of water every two or three hours during the day. One way to do this is to drink a glass of water 15 minutes before each meal.
- Plan your last glass of water for at least two hours before going to bed to avoid trips to the bathroom during the night..
- If you have a physically demanding job, plan to drink a beverage every 20 minutes or so.
And what about when you’re working out?
The American College of Sports Medicine advises that drinking water before and after exercise is important. They also recommend drinking 16 to 20 ounces of water four hours before your activity begins and another 8 to 12 ounces about 15 minutes before your competition or workout.
During a competition, drinking three to eight ounces of water or a sports drink every 20 minutes is recommended. However, they warn that athletes should limit water consumption to less than a quart of liquid in an hour.
And, yes, you actually can drink too much water.
This is largely a matter of your body’s processing capacity. A human’s kidneys can process approximately four cups of water or fluid each hour. Drinking more than that can result in a condition known as water intoxication or hyponatremia.
Hyponatremia is a serious condition and it lowers the amount of sodium in your bloodstream while flooding the inside of your cells.. Initially, it produces symptoms similar to dehydration but can often progress to seizures, coma or even death in extreme situations.
If you know you’re well-hydrated, but you are experiencing dehydration symptoms, you may actually be taking in too much fluid and may need medical treatment. If this is the case, contact your primary care provider for advice.
Experience Joint Pain Relief With Pain and Performance Solutions
The first step in pain relief is letting us get to know you.
When you arrive for your first appointment, we ask you about your present pain experience as well as any history of discomfort. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body working properly and healthy is the only way to achieve pain relief, and that is our goal for you.