Monday, July 25, 2011

It's the (lack of) water, not the deadlifts! Part 2

Last week I started telling you about a client of mine that started experiencing low-back pain. She had asked me what she could do about it and at first I had given her a couple of back-friendly stretches and light exercises intended to get blood flow to the area. After insight smacked me in the face on my drive to my CrossFit box, I realized that dehydration may be playing a much greater role in her pain than I had first realized. I called her, confirmed my state-of-dehydration suspicions and recommended that she steadily increase her agua intake over the next few days.

When I saw her again I asked how she was doing with the water. I got a whimpering, "I'm TRYiiiiiiiing!" Almost in the same breath, "but I saw the doctor and he said it's sciatica" almost gleefully! I was surprised. She viewed drinking more water as a trial but having the diagnosis of a pinched nerve was a relief (?!). To develop some intelligent conversation and independent thought I asked her if he had mentioned the cause or if he had explained to her what sciatica was. On both accounts, "no". Awesome.

The Mayo Clinic explains that:
"Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve and its branches — from your back down your buttock and leg. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from your spinal cord to your buttock and hip area and down the back of each leg.
Sciatica is a symptom, not a disorder. The radiating pain of sciatica signals another problem involving the nerve, such as a herniated disk. Sciatica may develop when a nerve root is compressed in your lower (lumbar) spine — often as a result of a herniated disk in your lower back. Disks are pads of cartilage that separate the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. Filled with a gel-like substance, they keep your spine flexible and act as shock absorbers to cushion the vertebrae when you move."
I poked around and did some research and found that dehydration was indeed a possible cause of her sciatica pain. The Bad Back Guy explains how this works pretty well:
(One of the) factors contributing to degenerative disc disease; and, neck pain, back pain, and sciatica is dehydration or simply inadequate hydration. The intervertebral discs are made up of approximately 85% water. During the course of the day we lose a great deal of water through a variety of processes and functions. By the end of the day, providing we do not take in adequate amounts of water, we go into water debt. The debt is difficult to repay and the damage done, if this debt is ongoing, is substantial. Water is crucial to bodily function and is necessary for cell health, for rebuilding and repairing various anatomical structures, and for overall physiology. Meaning, without water the structure and the function of the body is negatively affected. When it comes to spine health, dehydration leads to intervertebral disc degeneration because the main component of the intervertebral discs, water, is lacking.
Now my girl had increased her intake from a measley 23oz a day (at most) to a whopping 46oz a day. At least she was about half way there and even that small increase had her feeling better already! I'm still on her about the water though and text her occasionally throughout each day to make sure she's up to speed.

In order to find out how much water you should be drinking each day divide your weight in half. This new number is how much you should take in (in ounces) each day. Again, everyone will vary a bit dependent on location, activity levels etc etc. If you happen to be chronically dehydrated (which a LARGE majority of Americans are) increasing your water intake can be slightly uncomfortable for a few days. The discomfort comes in the form of "I have to pee ALL the time!" This will occur for a few days BUT WILL REGULATE!!

Now just in case you didn't ever hear of this, yes Virginia it IS possible to drink too MUCH water! Water intoxication is a very real thing and you CAN die from it. So don't go pounding 4 gallons of water because "more is better". To allay your fears about how much is TOO much, studies have shown that a person can ingest UP TO 10 LITERS in a day (envision five of those 2Liter Coca-Cola bottles...yeah, I wouldn't wanna drink that much either).

So start with the half-your-body-weight formula. Work up to it over the course of a week and see how you feel after TWO weeks of maintaining this new level of hydration. If you really are driving yourself nuts running to the bathroom every hour ask yourself which is LEAST unpleasant: getting up to pee more than usual for 3 days or that searing pain in your back that runs down your leg every single day?

I'd rather pee every couple hours :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment