Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's the (lack of) water, not the deadlifts! Part 1

A client of mine asked me last week what I would recommend for her to do about her recurring morning back pain. So first my brain starts going over her muscle imbalances and which would be the most likely culprits. Sounded like sciatic nerve pain actually. But I put together a few light exercises and stretches to do, led her through the series and wrote them down for her. I asked her to do the series each morning for 3 days and then get back to me.

Now, I have a tendency to mull. Ask me a question today and I'll be thinking about it in the car next week.
The next day I was driving to my home box, CrossFit 203 when Insight smacked me in the face. I had Paul Chek's book on CD You Are What You Eat playing and was on the chapter about water. The thing that hit me was when he said that we can experience localized pain or discomfort from being dehydrated.

Say what?!

I'm simplifying here but stay with me: our bodies have a PHENOMENAL preservation mode. If we are starving (or eating and drinking tons of b.s processed foods & sodas thereby taking in very few nutrients), our body will snag whatever nutrients and whatever moisture it can and shuttle it to the brain or the heart etcetera. Survival is our body's number one duty. So if it only gets a small amount of water the body will give it NOT to the organ with the greatest need but that with the greatest role in our body's survival. For a silly example, the tonsil can remain thirsty forever as far as the brain is concerned. If the tonsil isn't working optimally, that's kind of okay. If the brain isn't working optimally, that is most certainly a serious problem.

As perfect as it was, Paul Chek started discussing how chronic dehydration could manifest itself as low back pain. The reasoning was that your body was taking whatever water you were giving it and shuttling it to the most critical organs first. With chronic dehydration the demand for water may be so bad that even something like the digestive tract becomes secondary to the brain. So let's think about how it'd feel if your intestines have been given something to digest but there is no water to assist either the food's breakdown or it's passage through roughly 25 feet worth of intestines. Sounds like a pain right? EXACTLY! Low back pain!!

Oh my gosh: so was my girl that dehydrated!? I called her to ask her what she had to drink that day and she said, "one of those sport bottles of Poland Spring they sell at the gym." It was 4pm and she had only had 23oz of water that WHOLE day. No soda. No coffee. No liquids had passed her lips but that meager 23 fluid ounces. (If you weren't aware, an easy standard baseline recommendation is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces a day.) Yup, she was certainly dehydrated. I immediately changed my prescription for her to include a steady increase of fluids over the next 3 days and to keep me updated on any changes.

I will keep you updated with It's the (lack of) water, not the deadlifts! Part 2.

Homework for You:
Do a Dehydration Body Check. Think back a couple days and consider the following:
1) Do you have any recurring pains? ie back pain, knee pain, general aches
2) Do you suffer from headaches? Dizziness?
3) Do you suffer from fatigue? Muscle weakness?
4) Do you have dry skin OR chronic acne? 
Any and All of these symptoms may indicate that you are dehydrated. 
5) Review how much pure clean water you are drinking each day. Take your bodyweight, divide it in two and then use that number as ounces to find your baseline (everyone's requirements will vary due to personal variances, work load, environment etc.)

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