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Can Drinking Water Make You More Flexible?
What yogi doesn’t want to improve their flexibility?
Practice, proper breath work and technique can do a lot for overall flexibility. There is another factor that can help increase flexibility from something you ALL. WATER!
Water is probably the most underrated nutrient of all. Not only is it responsible for gorgeous skin, but it is also responsible for all cellular functioning such as:
- providing cushioning for our tissues, joints and organs
- transporting oxygen and nutrients
- digestion and elimination of waste
- regulation of body temperature
- circulate blood and lymph
- heat absorption by muscles.
Most people drink less pure, unaltered water than is necessary for these processes to function optimally. In fact, it is estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Mild dehydration is reported to slow metabolism, increase hunger, cause daytime fatigue and impair concentration.
What most people are not aware of is that chronic dehydration can also affect our flexibility or ability to adapt to challenging vinyasas and sequences. How so?
Throughout the body we have connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is a three-dimensional network of tissue that envelops every muscle, tendon, ligament, bone, organ, gland, nerve, and every single cell. Our fascia keeps everything in its place. Animals have it too. Imagine an undercooked chicken leg. You may notice the thin, white, elastic and somewhat slippery layer of film that surrounds the entire leg, but also between the skin and the muscles and between the muscle segments. We have the same film tissue and when fully hydrated, it is stretchy and slippery. When fascia is dry, it is dry and stiff. Our fascia can be compared to saran wrap. If you try to pass 2 pieces of saran wrap next to each other, it won’t work. They will stick to each other. However, if one of them is slightly damp, they will slide past each other. No climbing.
Like saran wrap, when it dries, fascia adheres to the surrounding tissue making full freedom or ease of movement more difficult or limited.
Your water needs are extremely variable and depend on your overall health, activity level, metabolic rate, time of day and temperature (including humidity) where you are. The standard recommendation for daily fluid intake is to drink one-half to one ounce per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume 75 to 150 fluid ounces per day. If you’ve lost water weight during an exercise session or event, it’s important to also consume fluids to replace that weight. It is recommended that for every pound lost during exercise, an athlete should drink approximately 20 ounces of fluid.
If you’re only drinking a glass of water a day now, don’t start drinking several liters a day thinking it’s going to do you good. In fact, it’s best to increase your water intake gradually to avoid stress on your kidneys, puffy eyes, swelling around your ankles, or other signs of inflammation. Too much water too quickly can be fatal for someone who is either severely dehydrated or has been dehydrated for years.
To gradually increase your water consumption, here are some useful tips:
Add just one glass of water a day to the regular amount of water you already drink. If you are drinking one glass a day – make it 2 glasses a day.
You should feel the need to urinate more. If so, add another glass of water to your daily water intake.
However, if you don’t have an increased need to urinate, cut back by half a glass and increase your water intake more slowly as you go. Instead of adding a glass at a time, add half a glass or even less until you reach your hydration goals.
As your tissues become more hydrated, your body will begin to remove excess salt. Now is a good time to start adding a small pinch of unrefined sea salt, such as Celtic sea salt, to your water. If you can taste the salt, you’ve added too much. And don’t worry—it won’t cause water retention like typical table salt. Celtic sea salt tends to do the opposite due to its electrolytes and balanced mineral content. Typical table salt often contains aluminum-based anti-caking agents and other additives linked to water retention, kidney problems and high blood pressure. THIS is the type of salt you should stay away from.
If you’ve already been drinking enough “electrolyte-enhanced” water every day, you might just be interested in how to improve water absorption for aspects of enhanced flexibility:
Drink a glass of warm water in the morning. This will rehydrate you after not having water for a few hours and help you remove any accumulated waste from the night’s metabolic processes.
For better absorption, it is recommended to drink (versus sipping) water at room temperature throughout the day to ensure that the liquid is absorbed and used efficiently as opposed to rapid emptying from the stomach.
As a general rule, water should not be consumed too close to meals as this dilutes the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which aids in digestion. Water should be consumed 45-30 minutes before each meal and 1-2 hours after each meal.
Drinking your salted/electrolyte-enhanced water after a massage, bodywork (including body foam/rolling), yoga and other stretching sessions is ideal. Your tissues are more responsive to water absorption after direct fascia manipulation and treatment.
Manage your stress. Physiological and psychological stress can affect the way we absorb water. Stress can actually make us more dehydrated. So, relax, rehydrate and let loose!
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