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The Importance of Hydration

Enter most gyms nowadays and you’ll find just about everyone with a water bottle. If not, he or she will still make frequent stops to the water fountain.   There is a general sense that drinking water is important while working out, but do we know just how critical it is to our overall health and performance?

The roles of water in the body are invaluable. Think of it as the body’s transportation system, allowing chemical reactions to take place inside the 200+ types of human cells. It provides structure and support to all these cells and tissues while protecting multiple ‘moving’ organs such as the heart, lungs, intestines and eyes. Water also absorbs heat to help regulate body temperature and removes waste products from the body.

Did you know that adequate hydration can help ease chronic aches and pains and reduce the chances of soft tissue injuries? Yes, you heard that right. Water functions as a joint lubricant allowing muscles to slide smoothly without adhering to each other. However, when we’re dehydrated, priority goes to supplying our vital organs and therefore draws H2O from our soft tissue. What results is tissue that is stiff and less elastic, snagging easily on other tissue during movement. The consequence can be increased chance for muscle strains, cramps and the development of trigger points.

Water plays a vital role in regenerating the building blocks of our fascia as well. Fascia is the connective tissue enveloping every tendon, ligament, nerve, muscle, bone and organ in the body. A pretty important structure to say the least and water helps restore it after physical strain and allows for healthy renewal as we age.

When doing our active-isolated stretches (during/post-workout), foam rolling or regular exercises, water moves around in the soft tissue structures, re-hydrating these tissues. This process helps in the regeneration of healthy fibers and also clears inflammatory waste products from the area. However, when we’re dehydrated, this movement of water will be greatly decreased, limiting the body’s ability to reduce inflammation and repair damage.

Please take note that any time you feel thirsty, many of your body’s systems are already being deprived of their water supply. Muscles and tendons are some of the first structures to be victimized by dehydration. To avoid this, start each morning by drinking 1 to 2 big glasses of water to get ahead of your hydration requirements.

Additionally, dehydration can also make us fatter. Why? Your body’s muscle glycogen stores (sugar energy from carbohydrates) are stored along with water. For every gram of glycogen in the muscles, there should be three grams of water. Dehydration forces glucose to remain in the bloodstream instead of muscle until finally going to the liver for overflow storage. When the liver is full, this sugar has no place else to go but your fat cells….oh no!

So how much water should you drink? An easy rule to follow is half your bodyweight in ounces daily. H2O makes up 40-75% of an adult’s body weight. Muscle tissue is 70-75% water and receives its nutrients from blood which is almost entirely composed of water. Based on all the strength training we do together, you can see how critical adequate hydration is for growth, maintenance and repair of your muscles. So, what are you waiting for…drink it up!