Mild dehydration can be the cause of:
- dry mouth
- low blood pressure
- dry skin
- shortness of breath
- rapid heart rate
- hot flashes
- AND of course Myofascial PAIN!
What’s Myofascial Pain?
Myo = muscle,
Fascia = the connective tissue between the muscle, nerves, arteries and veins.
Pain = owie!
Fascia surrounds all the organs, bones, individual muscles and various other tissues in the body, extending from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, from the skin to the bones, in one three dimensional piece. Think of it as your internal skin; it is made up of very similar tissue. It is normally very gelatinous, pliable and stretchy.
As various stresses (good or bad; physical and/or emotional) act on our body this tissue may react by tightening and strengthening itself, laying down layers of collagen and elastin proteins in irregular patterns; creating a ‘scar tissue’, a thickening. Almost exactly in the same way the cut on your finger heals.
The other change we see in Fascia tissue is the gelatinous base will change to a sol. That is, it becomes less pliable and stretchy. Not solid, but very strong and much tighter. It is here that I find a palpable difference in my regular clients over short periods of time as their hydration changes.
At this time of year I find myself reminding folks that even though the air is much cooler, our need to hydrate can even be more important than the warmer seasons. Here is why…
We simply drink less water than the summer when we often provoke our thirst with hot temperatures and more activity.
Many of us stop eating as much in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables. We return to the comfort foods; greasy, fatty and warming and all too often out of a box or heat and serve container.
Out here on the West Coast it feels like everything is damp and humid, but in fact it has not rained much until recently and the humidity has been relatively low. In the interior the air is drying and extreme cold is on the way.
Add to that the fact that as the temperatures drop we force ourselves into manufactured heated environments; in the house, in the office and a big one is, in the car. Blowing warm, DRY air all over ourselves, sucking the moisture out of our skin. (Remember how I said the Fascia is like your internal skin??)
Colder season = increased hot beverages including coffee, tea and hot toddies, all of which are diuretics, sucking yet more water out of us.
It has been a common theme in the clinic over the past month that many of my clients who were making good progress or on maintenance programs have had a set -back. For no particular reason they are tighter, pain has returned or in some cases completely new and different postural concerns have shown up. My massage cream is being soaked into the skin at an unbelievable rate.
Common theme means common answer: Movement and diet.
Myofascial Release is a fabulously effective modality for resetting this tissue into it’s proper postural alignment. If you have not experienced it before, I will tell you that it is different then your average massage. This tissue is very strong, takes a relatively long time to engage and respond and can leave some soreness with the initial treatments. It is done without cream or oil, often holding tissues in stretch for several minutes. However the results can be spectacular.
More movement in the forms of walking, swimming and yoga are great. Actively moving tissues before strenuous activities such as running, sports or even dancing at the club is wise. Watch for future posts on Stretching vs. Active Range of Motion.
Then, we must make the effort to hydrate our bodies through diet. I learned a lot about this from my pets. When I switched my dogs from kibble and processed foods to real raw meats and bones, they drank significantly less water from the bowl. Especially in the summer when they were outside more, they would just eat/lick the grass to supplement. Now, inside the dry house they are taking a fresh bowl daily. Hmmm.
My pet lizards are interesting, in that both the Iguana and the desert lizards I keep are vegetarians (no worms or crickets for us, yeah!). Neither takes fresh water at all. They gain all their water needs through metabolism of their food. In the case of the desert lizards, they can metabolize seed into H2O. I know we are mammals and not reptiles, but surely we can learn something from the creatures that have been walking this planet the longest, no?
Some rules around water intake:
*Drink before you are thirsty. Studies have reported that once you are thirsty you are as much as 25% behind the starting line. Keep water beside your bed if you wake up thirsty.
*Alternate diuretic drinks and salty foods with water. Alternating H2O at the Christmas Party may reduce post-party dehydration headache (hangover).
*Keep up the fresh fruits and succulent vegetables.
*Watch your external skin and lips for the first signs of what’s happening on the inside.
*Fruit juice can be added to water total but watch out for sugar content, especially in concentrates and packaged products. Soda pop counts against you.
*Your urine color can help you to determine whether or not you’re hydrating well enough. Generally, your urine should be very light or clear. However, if you’re taking vitamins, your urine may be bright yellow or darker after you’ve taken them.
*If you are using hot baths or heat pads to soothe aching muscles and fascia, remember you are sweating in there. Hydrate before, during and after.