Are you drinking enough water to properly hydrate the intervertebral discs in you spinal column? Okay, maybe you’re getting your recommended 6-8 glasses of water a day but can I ask you this question. Is that enough water to replenish the water you lose in your intervertebral discs on a daily basis? This may not be enough.
Our adult bodies are 60% water at best and an infant’s body is approximately 78%. Water is a vital nutrient to the life of every cell and has many important properties. Water acts as the body’s first building material, it regulates our internal body temperature, helps metabolize our foods, is an important component for our blood, helps deliver oxygen throughout our body, and helps flush waste from our body. Water also acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord and helps lubricate all our joints.
At my chiropractic office in Joshua, Texas I commonly see patients with disc injuries and herniations. The intervertebral disc is a fibrous pad between the vertebrae in our spines. Intervertebral discs have an outer annulus that is made of of rings of collagen fibers and a liquid gel-like central nucleus that acts like a ball bearing allowing for better movement of the spine. The disc separates the vertebrae and allows our body a greater range of motion and also acts to absorb a small amount of mechanical stress on the spine. Our discs require water such as every cell in the body does and when our bodies are dehydrated so are our discs. Being dehydrated is not good for the health of our discs and can lead to injury when stresses are applied to our spinal column. A disc that is poorly hydrated has a much greater risk for injury than one that is adequately hydrated. Staying properly hydrated can help avoid injury to the intervertebral disc. Below are some things you should know about your intervertebral discs, risks of injury, and how to stay hydrated.
THINGS TO KNOW: DISC HYDRATION
- During the day our discs lose water due to stress and the weight of gravity
- At night while lying asleep gives disc the chance to reabsorb water (We are taller in the mornings and shorter as the day goes by due to compression on the spine and discs causing them to lose water)
- As we age our discs lose their ability to absorb as much water
- Avoid sodas, teas, coffee, and alcohol that can dehydrate your body
- Avoid nicotine and other diuretics that can dehydrate your body
- Drink more water, double the amount recommended during the hot summer days in Texas heat
- Athletes playing summer sports or subjected to heat should drink water before, during, and after competition and practice
Written by Joseph J. Thomas, D.C., CCSP