So in my last post I wrote about new research on the value of staying sufficiently hydrated…. but how DOES that really affect your back and joint pain?
Where does all that water GO?
You drink it and it goes to your stomach to be absorbed by the bloodstream or into the rest of your digestive tract – duodenum, intestines and helps to prevent you from becoming constipated.
However, research by a French surgeon, Dr Jean Claude Guimberteau in his book Architecture of Human Living Fascia, hightlights the importance of there being enough water to lubricate the fascia as it is this that helps you to move without pain or restriction. He filmed patients’ fascia to see the effect that water or the lack of it had on movement. He discusses how it is the fascia that acts as an interconnecting “irrigation system” for the body.
What IS fascia?
Fascia is connective tissue that connects all of our body together – from cellular level right up to muscles and tendons and where they join onto bones and joints. Until fairly recently it was thought to be a passive organ that just separated out the various layers of body tissues, providing protection and acting as a ‘wrap’ around muscles and tendons. However, now research has found that it is a living organ itself composed of collagen, elastin and a lot of WATER!
Fascia is the stuff that keeps us standing up and lubricates muscle groups so that they slide over each other and its lubricating action allows painfree, smooth movement.
Fascia also contains nerve endings that can cause pain and particularly joint pain – and you can imagine that if you have restriction in fascia in your foot or lower leg – how that can impact movement in your neck for example as that restriction will affect potentially the entire fascia network literally from ‘head to toe’ and can give rise to pain anywhere along the fascia as well as potentially contributing to headaches and constipation as we move less and less and slump more the longer we are inactive.
When the body moves, fascia requires water to keep it functioning. When you contract muscles and flex joints you stimulate the fascia to act as a hydraulic pump which allows the muscles to move freely but it also pushes water into the deeper cells of your body. It obviously requires enough water to do this!
How can you stretch your fascia?
Any movement involving turning, stretching or twisting activates this hydraulic activity – so you can see how when you are treated, we as chiropractors help keep the fascia system active too.
If YOU stretch gently – imagining the fascia linking all of your body together – you too can and should stimulate its activity.
Imagine how, when you sit in front of your lap top for hours the fascia obviously does not move either. You compress the discs in your spine by being sedentary for ages but you also cramp up your muscles and restrict your joints, all of which can cause pain or aggravate existing problems but your fascia cannot act to distribute water around your body efficiently either.
I am not talking about stopping what you are doing; changing into gym gear and finding a floor to stretch on – I am suggesting that you stop every half hour or so and stretch one or both arms out to the side and imagine the fascia starting in the cells of your fingertips and linking all the tissues up to your head and gently stretch your fingers and turn your wrists around and flex your elbows and roll your shoulders – be inventive and stand up and do the same with your legs and toes … this is not about strengthening but about keeping the fascia loose and active and keeping you pain free. Feel how stiff and tight you feel when you start and how much better you feel after just a few minutes.
Stopping to do this will help your concentration too and reduce the likelihood of developing headaches and that ‘foggy feeling’ that I mentioned in last week’s post on dehydration. Remaining hydrated impacts on so much of our body. Refer back to last week’s post on hydration and work with the recommendations there to help you to focus on your work better.
The temptation when you are working from home is to sit for far too long and not to go out for a walk at lunch time or go off to chat to colleagues – you probably sit there for much longer than usual.
This simple set of ‘micromovements’ may really help your day – give it a try and see how you feel and if it does help maybe share your experience on our Avenue Clinic Facebook Page .. we all need to be there for each other!