Did you know that our bodies are approximately 60% water? That’s hard to wrap your head around! It’s difficult to imagine our seemingly solid bodies being over half water- I picture more of a jello consistency! So, what does this mean for our joints?
Well, our joints are made up of cartilage. There are 3 types of cartilage: elastic cartilage, fibrocartilage, and hyaline cartilage. Here, we are concerned with hyaline, which is often referred to as articular cartilage when it is found in joints. All 3 types are composed of collagen, ground substance, and elastin– but, each type has their own specific ratio of these components.
Once you damage cartilage it will not repair itself…
Articular cartilage is designed to withstand and distribute loads by functioning as a low-friction and wear-resistant tissue. It consists of 60-85% water and does not have any blood vessels. The lack of blood vessels means it does not repair itself– which is why, if you tear your meniscus in the knee, you may have to have it surgically repaired.
Dehydrated cartilage can cause joint pain and injury…
Back to the 60-85% water content of articular cartilage……. When you are dehydrated areas of the body that are not important for survival are deprived of water in order to supply the brain and other vital organs. As cartilage is not a vital organ the body begins to pull water out of it, dehydrating it. When the water content of cartilage drops it begins to lose it’s nice smooth, low-friction, and wear-resistant qualities allowing it to be damaged.
–Imagine an old sponge… When the sponge is full of water it becomes soft and flexible. But, as it dries out it gets stiff and scratchy.–
And as stated above, once you damage cartilage it will not repair itself. You also feel your joints stiffen up due to the loss of the low-friction quality of cartilage. So, when you have that stiff achy feeling in your joints, ask yourself “have a I drank enough water (liquid) today?”. This is why that stiff feeling is so common in the morning after we have slept ~8 hours without drinking anything. We essentially wake up everyday with some level of dehydration.
Proper hydration for healthy joints…
After looking through the research on how much water a person should drink each day I find that the 50% of your body weight in oz is the best recommendation because it takes into account each person’s size and is easy to remember. The old 8×8 (drink 8- 8oz glasses of water/day) provides the same amount for everyone. However, a 250lb person will require more water than a 115lb individual.
|This number is just the daily recommended, if you are participating in exercise, outside in the heat, etc you may need to increase your fluid intake. So, how do you figure out your requirement?Your weight / 2 = x ouncesFor example, a 150lb man should drink at least 75 ounces of water per day:
150/2= 75 ounces
If you don’t like the taste of water try infusing it with fruit for even more nutritional benefit!If you are like me and dislike water that isn’t cold check out Amazon’s Hydroflask store. I have 3 of them and they keep your drink cold (or hot) for 12+ hours- even at the hot beach! Add a slice of watermelon and it’s even more refreshing!
Proper hydration can have many more health benefits such as improving skin complexion, increased energy, prevents & relieves headaches, aids in digestion and much more!
If you ever experience dizziness you might also be interested in this article on Dizziness & Dehydration.