Can drinking water make you more flexible?
What yogi doesn’t want to improve their flexibility?
Practice, proper breath work, and technique can go a long way for overall flexibility. There is another factor that can help increase the flexibility of something you EAT. WATER!
Water is probably the most underrated nutrient of all. It is not only responsible for beautiful skin, it is also responsible for all cellular functioning such as:
- providing cushioning for our tissues, joints and organs
- oxygen and nutrient transport
- digestion and elimination of waste
- regulating body temperature
- blood and lymph circulation
- absorbing heat from the muscles.
Most people drink less pure, unadulterated water than they should for these processes to work optimally. In fact, an estimated 75% of Americans run chronically dehydrated. Mild dehydration is reported to slow metabolism, increase hunger, cause daytime fatigue, and make it difficult to concentrate.
What most people don’t realize is that chronic dehydration can also affect flexibility or our ability to adapt to challenging vinyasas and sequences. How is that?
Throughout the 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 cell. Our fascia keeps everything in its rightful place. Animals have it too. Imagine a raw chicken leg. You may notice the thin, white, elastic, and somewhat slimy layer of film that surrounds the entire leg, but also between the skin and muscle and between muscle segments. We have this same sheer fabric and when it’s fully hydrated, it’s stretchy and slippery. When the fascia is dry, it is dry and stiff. Our fascia can be compared to a saran wrap. If you try to slide 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 a bit wet, they will slide against each other. without gluing
Like the saran wrap, when dry, the fascia adheres to the surrounding tissue making movement with complete freedom or ease more difficult or limited.
Your water needs are extremely variable and depend on your general health, activity level, metabolic rate, time of day, and the temperature (including air humidity) of your location. 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 be consuming 75 to 150 fluid ounces per day. If you’ve lost water weight during a workout or event, it’s also important to consume fluids to replace that weight. It is recommended that for every pound lost in exercise, an athlete should drink approximately 20 ounces of fluid.
If you only drink a glass of water a day now, don’t start drinking a couple of liters a day thinking it will benefit you. In fact, it’s best to gradually increase your water intake to avoid stress on your kidneys, eye puffiness, swelling around your ankles, or other signs of inflammation. Too much water too soon can even be fatal for someone who is severely dehydrated or has been dehydrated for years.
To gradually increase your water intake, here are some helpful tips:
Add just one glass of water per day to the regular amount of water you’ve already been drinking. If you are drinking a glass a day, make it 2 glasses a day.
You should feel the need to urinate more. If that’s the case, add another glass of water to your daily water intake.
However, if you do not have an increased urge to urinate, decrease by half a glass, and as you progress, increase your water intake more slowly. Instead of adding a glass at a time, add a half glass or even less until you reach your hydration goals.
As your tissues become more hydrated, your body will begin to eliminate 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, this won’t cause water retention like typical table salt. Celtic sea salt tends to do the opposite due to its balanced electrolytes and mineral content. Typical table salt often contains aluminum-based anti-caking agents and other additives that are linked to water retention, kidney problems, and high blood pressure. THIS is the type of salt you should avoid.
If you’ve already been drinking enough “electrolyte-enhanced” water every day, you might be interested in how to improve water absorption to improve flexibility aspects:
In the morning, drink a glass of lukewarm water. This will rehydrate you after several hours without drinking water and will help eliminate accumulated waste from nightly metabolic processes.
For best absorption, it is recommended to sip (rather than 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.
As a general rule, water should not be consumed too close to meals, as it dilutes hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which aids digestion. Water should be consumed 45-30 minutes before each meal and 1-2 hours after each meal.
Ideally, drink your electrolyte/salt water after a massage, bodywork (including lathering/body rotation), yoga, and other stretching sessions. Your tissues respond better to water absorption after direct manipulation and fascial treatment.
Manage your stress. Both physiological and psychological stress can affect the way we absorb water. Stress can actually make us more dehydrated. So relax, rehydrate and release!