Do you remember finding your first grey hair? I plucked that sucker so fast, my tweezers left a vapour trail. I was horrified to find concrete evidence that I was getting “old”.
Few of us welcome physical signs of aging. After all, few of them are comfortable, and fewer still are harbingers of improved physical performance. It’s a natural resistance.
But what if time itself isn’t the only culprit driving decline?
What if there was another factor at play in our aging process and it was one within our control? Wouldn’t that just quietly change everything?
Turns out the key to life, the universe, and everything is to hydrate! But before you yawn and turn the page, let me clarify. I’m not just here to tell you to drink more water. If that was enough, I could sum up with a bumper sticker (Drink Water!) and save you some reading time.
But here’s the thing: dehydration specifically affects the performance of one crucial element in your body. And drinking water alone isn’t always enough to resolve it.
The crucial element? Your fascia!
This fascinating and ubiquitous connective tissue is starting to take centre stage in many health-related fields as the missing link in our understanding of mobility, stability, pain, and the process of aging.
Fascia is the quintessential workhorse tissue.
Fascia is in every nook and cranny of your body. You are positively riddled with it. Every bit of you is suspended and connected in its 3D web of dynamic scaffolding.
It not only it supports and cushions your joints, it gives your skin and muscles their tone, it holds your spine upright, your guts in place, and it works closely with your nervous system to support, protect, and stabilize you both at rest and in motion. It is truly the workhorse tissue.
Dehydrated fascia performs poorly. Pain and loss of function are almost always the result.
Fascia can perform these myriad jobs because it is supremely adaptable and responsive stuff. But when dehydration reaches critical mass, it loses some of its responsiveness and adaptability. Your body begins to lose efficiency.
The cascade of compensation begins, creating symptoms we often associate with aging. Joint pain, muscle aches, poor balance, lost range of motion, mid-day fatigue, brain fog, poor digestion, elimination problems, waking up in the night to pee, inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. The list goes on!
Because we experience these things as we age, we assume they are an inevitable part of the process. But if you understand the role of fascia, it becomes clear that it’s not just the amount of time under your belt that drives your body’s rate and degree of decline. It’s also about how much dehydration you’ve acquired.
This is significant for two big reasons.
- Dehydration can cause you problems at any age.
- Dehydration is something you can influence.
Drinking water at regular intervals throughout the day is a great place to start. Having water readily available in your system is obviously a key part of the picture. When you’re under 25, your connective tissue is fairly forgiving. It can withstand and recover from dehydration fairly readily. But regardless of age, when dehydration accumulates in tissue, we tend to acquire more symptoms, no matter how much water we drink.
“I’ve tried drinking more water…it runs right through me!”
Sound familiar? When your cells reach a certain level of dehydration, a survival mechanism kicks in to prevent further loss of fluid. In this conserving state, nothing gets in OR out, so what you take in tends to pass right through you. Without fresh fluid or nutrients or the ability to expel wastes, cell death accelerates, causing even more decline in your tissue quality, and more stress in your system.
Yikes! Now what?
Fortunately, fascia, at any age, is beautifully renewable stuff. You can rehydrate fascia and return it to a more responsive state. Most importantly, if you stay on top of it, you can make lasting changes.
Body work techniques like massage are a perfect antidote to dehydrated fascia. Skilled practitioners manipulate your tissue in a way that facilitates a fluid exchange throughout the tissue cells, restoring them to juicy glory.
This is just one of the reasons we feel so good after an effective body work session. We’re not just relaxed—we’re rehydrated! Fluid and nutrients are able to enter our fascia cells, waste products are eliminated, and all is well in fascia-land.
But here’s the kicker…
Dehydration happens to us every moment of every day. Daily living is rife with repetition: walking, sitting, exercising, typing, texting, driving, running–and all repetitive actions dehydrate fascia and create wear and tear. The more repetitive action you have in your day, the more connective tissue dehydration you can accumulate, regardless of your age. Eventually, it accumulates to the point where simply drinking water isn’t enough to replenish what is lost.
Few of us have access to body work as often as we’d like. Fortunately, there are specific techniques that you can employ on your own, with fascia and rehydration in mind.
MELT is a fabulous example. This easy, painless system gives you the tools to be your own body worker. Using a soft foam roller and small treatment balls, you can learn how to rehydrate your fascia daily. You can help your fascia retain the juiciness required to do its many jobs.
The pay-off potential is huge.
Fascia ties in closely with your nervous system performance. Because of this, its functionality has major impact on all of your other systems. When your fascia is well-cared for, your nervous system is able to move more freely from fight or flight to rest and digest. Your reflexes are sharper. You stabilize more efficiently, which means you move more efficiently. You feel better, you perform better.
When your fascia is happy, your whole body is happier.
So, rather than fighting the war on aging, I suggest moving the battlefield.
Fight dehydration instead. It’s a battle worth winning. And it’s a battle you can win.
This article originally appeared as a guest blog for Moving Spirit Pilates in November 2018. See the original post here: https://movingspirit.ca/its-time-to-move-the-battlefield/