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Can Drinking Water Make You More Flexible?
What yogi wouldn’t want to improve their flexibility?
Exercise, proper breath work and technique can do a lot for overall flexibility. There is another factor that can help increase flexibility from something we EAT. WATER!
Water is probably the most underrated nutrient of all. Not only is it responsible for beautiful skin, but it is also responsible for all cellular functions such as:
- it provides cushioning for our tissues, joints and organs
- transport of oxygen and nutrients
- digestion and excretion of waste
- regulation of body temperature
- blood and lymph circulation
- absorbs heat from muscles.
Most people drink less pure, unadulterated water than they should for these processes to function optimally. In fact, it’s estimated that 75% of Americans are running around chronically dehydrated. Mild dehydration has been reported to slow metabolism, increase hunger, induce daytime fatigue, and hinder concentration.
Most people don’t realize that chronic dehydration can also affect flexibility or our ability to adapt to challenging vinyasas and sequences. As?
Throughout our body we have connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is a three-dimensional network of tissue that surrounds every muscle, tendon, ligament, bone, organ, gland, nerve, and every single cell. Our fascia keeps everything in its proper place. Animals have it too. Imagine an uncooked chicken leg. You may notice a thin, white, flexible and somewhat slimy layer of film that surrounds the entire leg, but also between the skin and muscle and between muscle segments. We have the same film tissue and when it is fully hydrated it is stretchy and slippery. When fascia is dry, it is dry and stiff. Our fascia can be compared to a saran wrap. If you try to slip 2 pieces of saran wrap around each other, it won’t work. They will stick together. However, if one of them is a little wet, they will slide on each other. No gluing.
As with saran wrap, the fascia sticks to the surrounding tissue after it dries, making it more difficult or limited to move with complete freedom or ease.
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 ounces of fluids per day. If you’ve lost water weight during exercise or an event, it’s important to also consume fluids to replace that weight. It is recommended that for every pound lost through exercise, an athlete should drink approximately 20 ounces of fluid.
If you are only drinking one glass of water a day now, don’t start drinking a few liters of water a day thinking it will 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 soon can even be fatal for someone who is either severely dehydrated or has been dehydrated for years.
If you want to gradually increase your water consumption, here are some useful tips:
Add just one glass of water a day to the normal amount of water you already drink. If you drink one glass a day, make it 2 glasses a day.
You should feel the need to urinate more. If this is the case, add another glass of water to your daily 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 progress. Instead of adding one glass at a time, add half a glass or even less until you reach your hydration goals.
As your tissues hydrate, your body begins 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 thanks to its electrolytes and balanced mineral content. Typical table salt often contains aluminum-based anti-caking agents and other additives that have been linked to water retention, kidney problems and high blood pressure. THIS is the type of salt to stay away from.
If you’ve already been drinking enough “electrolyte” water every day, you may be wondering how to increase water absorption for aspects of increased flexibility:
Drink one glass of warm water in the morning. This will rehydrate you after a few hours without water and help remove any accumulated waste from the night’s metabolic processes.
For better absorption, it is recommended to sip (vs. swallow) room temperature water throughout the day to ensure that the liquid is absorbed and used efficiently, rather than being quickly emptied from the stomach.
In general, water should not be consumed too close to a meal, as it dilutes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which aids in digestion. Water should be consumed 45-30 minutes before each meal and 1-2 hours after each meal.
It is ideal to drink salt/electrolyte enriched water after massage, body work (including foam/body rolling), yoga and other stretches. Your tissues are most responsive to water absorption after direct manipulation and fascia treatment.
Manage your stress. Both physiological and psychological stress can affect how we absorb water. Stress can actually dehydrate us more. So relax, rehydrate and relax!
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