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Back Pain

Drink more water

Published on – 3 minute read

The importance of hydration in taking care of your back.

Article by Sianna Lunn

- Specialist Ergonomics Advisor

Importance of Water

Importance of Water

Have you ever wondered why the school nurse always recommended water as the first port of call? 

Headache? Water! Muscle recovery? Water! Poorly tummy? Water! It turns out it’s not a coincidence or a cop out. 

Water, the big H20, is doing a lot more than you would think. So what exactly is it doing…?

So we are made up of 80% water, most of us know this. That water it vital in all of the systems in our body. It carries nutrients around the body and keeps us hydrated. One of a handful of equilibriums we have to maintain for all bodily functions.

A bit of Science

What happens to us when we lack this simple liquid?
Muscle performance is reduced because thermal regulation is impeded, altering water movement across cell membranes. Your heart rate and regulation of blood pressure are also relying on water, so when you start to deplete in water stores you can feel dizzy, dazed, confused. Extreme dehydration can affect your brain function and kidney function. The very system which transports nutrients and rids the body of waste product – the lymphatic system, is made up of 96% water. 

So if this isn’t enough to encourage you to reach for the bottle (water) if you start to feel dry in the mouth, let me relate this back to back pain and spinal health.

Now that we know the importance of water and the lymphatic system, let me tell you about how this directly links to your spinal discs…

Imagine your spine is a layering of a rock – vertebrae, then a sponge – disc, then a rock, and so on. This fantastic tower of 33 rocks and soft sponges together allow for general movements carried out by the back and is responsible for 80% of load bearing. Each sponge allows a degree of ‘bend’ which is the difference between us standing upright or bending over to touch our toes. 

Like a sponge, your disc should suck in nutritious water from the surrounding area, and as you move around, you will be squeezing different areas of the wet sponge allowing for some stagnant water and toxins to seep out. As the sponge is now a little drier relative to it’s surroundings, it sucks in the water again; and as we keep moving our spinal joints through range, you got it, it squeezes the sponge to release the fluid again. The waste product which leaves the disc is transported away from the spine by the lymphatic system and after being filtered by the kidneys, is expelled from the body via urination.

The Downward Spiral

The Downward Spiral

So what we know so far is that in order to keep the disc spongy, hydrated and highly functional, we need a working lymphatic system, plenty of water, and movement!

Without one of the key ingredients in the spinal health trio – movement; the sponge can’t draw in fluid and can’t squeeze it out either… the discs slowly dry and flatten out. Now the weight is being distributed differently and more load is being applied to the facet joints – the bony nodules that sit at the back and side of the vertebrae. This might now bring about the first sign or symptom that you are having back issues, because these bones are not supposed to be carrying the load, so this is now painful! And therefore movement becomes more limited and we end up in the downward spiral. So importantly, the first time you might feel pain might already be several weeks, months or even years into the cause of the issue. As the disc starts to bulge more, the pressure to the disc wall may start to crack and leak. You might have a burning sensation, you might find that there’s a huge searing pain if the joint capsule gets trapped in facet joint.

There are a huge number of nerves passing through these joints and any number of sensations might now be obvious… tingling, shooting pains, pins and needles, often referred to as sciatica… sound familiar?

The Solution

All that said – the answer at a preventative level is really simple, drink lots of water, move around lots and remain as active as you can be – try a wobble cushion for periods of sitting, do daily stretches, mobilise your spinal joints. The same applies to reverse the early stages of disc degeneration and herniation. 

For more information about solutions to keep active, please call us, that’s what we are all about. And for More info about how to keep your spinal joints healthy, have a read of this blog: