Wanna Be More Flexible? Drink More!
When I say drink more I don’t mean any alcoholic drinks that may make you feel (or made so many feel) like they can do splits and all sorts of acrobatic stuff once they have had one too many. What I mean is drink water. It is something that I can’t stress enough when talking to our clients, especially when they have been experiencing chronic stiffness and lack of flexibility.
Yes, water is the simplest and most frequently ignored reason why we are feeling stiff and inflexible. Even once you are free from subluxations because you have been getting adjusted for a while and you are trying to stretch and do exercise you can still find that really hard if you have been chronically dehydrated.
Water plays many vital roles in our system. It helps with temperature regulation, cushioning of organs and tissues, transportation of oxygen and nutrients, heat absorption from the muscles and lot more. Even mild dehydration can lead to significant problems: headaches, irritability, lack of energy, digestive problems.
The fascia layer which is the connective tissue that surrounds all the muscles and organs in our body is mainly made up of water. It allows it to smoothly glide over the muscular tissue and allow for easy movement. If it is dehydrated it sticks to the surrounding tissues restricting range of motion and giving you the feeling or stiffness.
Many studies have shown that dehydration affects collagen fibres.. When dehydrated the collagen fibres in the skin, vocal cords, intervertebral discs and joints become brittle. This leads to changes in their mechanical properties. Specifically, the studies have shown that when dehydrated, the collagen fibres’ ability to tolerate deformation, elongation and compression is compromised. When we consider how much pressure our intervertebral discs are to take each and every day as we sit, walk, lean forward, twist etc, for example, the importance of keeping them hydrated is clear to see. But this applies to many other collagen rich tissues in our body.
Dehydration not only affects fascia. A 2017 study published in European Journal of Sports and Exercise science demonstrated changes in posterior leg flexibility and stiffness based on hydration level. Subjects in the study had shown substantial decreased range of motion in straight leg raise and sit and reach tests (when you reach to your toes while sitting with legs straight) when dehydrated.
The changes observed are attributed to changes which occur in the collagen fibres as a result of dehydration. When dehydrated, the collagen fibres of the hamstrings, the connective tissue surrounding the musculotendinous unit of the muscle group, skin and fascia were more resistant to stretch. This increased level of stiffness has also been linked to higher risk of injury.
Why would we make so much fuss about your flexibility?
If thinking of your range of motion is not enough to get you to drink more water. First of all, consider that what we measure as range of motion in the clinic is motions that you need in your everyday life. Fingers to floor- you may want to use it when you are tying your shoelaces. Apley’s scratch test- you may want to use that range of motion to fasten your bra, brush your hair or dry your back and so on.
You don’t need to know the names of the test but the reason why we are working on the range of motion and are encouraging you with all the advice to improve it, is so that you can go about your daily life feeling confident and comfortable in your body no matter what you, and that simple everyday tasks such as putting socks on or a jacket are not a problem every again.
So there is it, one of the simplest ways you can improve your health and you can start from right now with no extra cost. Grab yourself a glass of water and take a few deep breaths. Yes, deep breathing is also something that we are big fans of, but that’s another blog’s story. Keep checking with us for more tips on how to live a happier and healthier life.