In the realm of health and wellness, hydration is often discussed in the context of thirst quenching and maintaining overall body function. However, what hydrates the body extends far beyond these basic functions, particularly when it comes to body movement and pain management. It appears that no other methods account for the systemic root causes of muscular dehydration like Functional Patterns (FP) does. In this article, we will explore the correlation between hydration and pain, the best way to hydrate, and how movement plays a part in how to hydrate the body.
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A Cellular Perspective on Hydration
Hydration is not merely only about drinking water. It's about ensuring that every cell in your body receives the necessary amount of water and electrolytes to function optimally. When we talk about hydration, we're referring to the process of providing cells with water and essential electrolytes. Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluids than it takes in, leading to an imbalance in your body's water and electrolyte levels. The following are the main electrolytes, sodium being one of the most important.1
Dehydrated muscles often fatigue easily when they are dehydrated in the short term, say after a long day. This is because water plays a crucial role in muscle contraction and relaxation. Without adequate hydration, muscles lose their ability to contract effectively that can potentially lead to muscle cramps and discomfort. This could lead to a state of relative dehydration within the muscle, even if the whole body hydrates.
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The Hydration Paradox: Thirsty Despite Drinking Water
Water is the fundamental building block of our bodies. When we think about the best way to hydrate the body, we typically think of water consumption, but it's more than just satisfying your thirst. It's about replenishing our body's water reservoirs throughout our whole body. How you move could be the reason you feel parched even after downing several glasses of water. This could be a sign of inadequate hydration to the muscles. The practice of drinking water frequently alone may not be enough for optimal hydration.
Chronic dehydration can result in muscles that feel tight like there is a muscle knot which are typically hard to the touch relative to the surrounding muscle. A muscle knot can cause pain locally or refer dull pain to nearby muscles while resting or when pressure is applied. Both dysfunctional posture and inefficient biomechanics can constantly put excessive pressure on muscle and fascia, locally restricting blood flow causing chronic dehydration to these muscle knots.
Dehydration can also exacerbate existing pain conditions, making it more difficult for the body to heal and recover and reducing our bodies' water-holding capacity. This can create a vicious cycle where tight muscles hinder proper hydration, leading to further muscle tightness.
These tight muscles due to dehydration cause the muscles and fascia to lose their elasticity, making them more prone to stiffness and injury over months or years. This tightness can limit our range of motion and cause discomfort or pain during movement, including daily functions like walking or standing up from a seat.
Lack of hydration can also negatively impact our joints. Water is essential for maintaining joint lubrication, which helps reduce friction and ensures smooth movement. When we are dehydrated, our joints may experience increased friction and compression, leading to inflammation and pain. Regular physical activity improves circulation but doesn’t get to the root cause of chronically dehydrated muscle and fascia.
The Role of Movement in Hydration
FP optimizes around the core activities of human beings, the “FP Big 4” – standing, walking, running, and throwing. When these movements are performed correctly with high efficiency, they can play a crucial role in promoting hydration at the cellular level.
For instance, efficient movement through walking or running can be a vital step in how to hydrate your muscles to decompress joints and improve blood circulation on top of the benefits of regular movement. Additionally, maintaining an upright posture while standing can help reduce muscle tension, potentially increasing the body's capacity to hold water.
The myofascial release (MFR) and corrective exercises used at FP to optimize the FP “Big 4” are designed to decompress the joints in the body, promoting better fluid circulation and hydration. At FP, we hypothesize that efficient movement around the FP “Big 4” improves muscle and fascia elasticity, which can increase the body's capacity to hold water and utilize electrolytes.
FP provides a holistic approach on how to hydrate the body. By focusing on MFR and correct movement, along with adequate intake of electrolytes and water, you can effectively hydrate your body and alleviate muscle pain.
The Best Way To Hydrate The Whole Body
The following tips on how to hydrate your body include addressing the root cause of dehydration in the muscle and fascia.
- Drink Water Regularly: Hydration is not a one-time task. Drinking water throughout the day is the simplest way to maintain proper hydration levels. Aim for at least half a gallon or two liters per day. Consider using online water calculators to determine your individual needs based on factors such as age, weight, and activity level.
- Listen to Your Body: Thirst isn't the only indicator of dehydration. Watch out for signs like dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness. When you feel thirsty or sign of dehydration, it’s likely already time to drink a glass of water or about 250 mL of water.Image by macrovector on Freepik
- Consume Electrolyte-Rich Fluids: The main electrolytes - sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium - are essential for maintaining fluid balance and muscle function. Consider filtered water such as spring water or adding electrolytes to reverse osmosis or distilled water instead of tap water depending on your location. Consuming electrolyte-rich fluids such as coconut water and milk can help ensure your body retains water and stays hydrated.
- Eat Hydrating Foods: Many fruits and vegetables have high water and nutrient content to contribute to your daily hydration needs. Foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges are sources of both water and essential electrolytes.
- Avoid Diuretics: Beverages such as alcohol and coffee can have a diuretic effect, causing the body to lose water. Avoiding or eliminating the consumption of these drinks can help maintain proper hydration levels.
- How to Hydrate with Movement: Efficient and regular movement plays a crucial role in maintaining proper circulation and hydration of your muscles and joints.
- Myofascial Release: Incorporating MFR techniques into your practice can help improve muscle elasticity, promote healthy movement patterns, and is what hydrates the body. This practice can also aid in relieving tight muscles and reducing pain by locally hydrating muscles and fascia.
- Optimizing the FP “Big 4”: At the core of improving human movement are the FP “Big 4”: standing, walking, running, and throwing. Correcting these foundational movements is the best way to hydrate the body and ensures that our body functions at its best. This promotes better water distribution in the body and hydrates muscle and fascia. By focusing on these primary movements, you can improve muscle and joint health, support proper fluid balance, and prevent pain and discomfort caused by muscle knots.
How to hydrate your body plays a critical role in our body's function, influencing everything from how we feel to how we move. It's not just about drinking water regularly but ensuring consuming electrolyte-rich fluids, avoiding diuretics, and listening to your body before dehydration causes cramping.
The best way to hydrate your body in the long term is by implementing myofascial release and corrective exercise to optimize the FP “Big 4” - standing, walking, running, and throwing. What significantly hydrates most of our muscles and fascia is focusing on this foundation.
For more insights and guidance on maintaining proper hydration, myofascial release, and optimizing the FP “Big 4,” check out the 10 Week Online Course.
Learn more about Functional Patterns and hydration in the following resources:
- Naudi Aguilar: EZ water, fascia like a sponge, redox potentials, neurotic ticks, hydration, anxiety, and much much more
- Grains, the uncomfortable truth – Functional Patterns
- Get Better Results With FP – Functional Patterns
- 5 Ways to Stay Functional During the Holidays – Functional Patterns
- Naudi Aguilar: Why are we so dehydrated?
- Naudi Aguilar: Low Redox Potential
- Shrimanker, Isha and Bhattarai, Sandeep. "Electrolytes." PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, StatPearls Publishing, 25 May 2022, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31082167/