One of the most crucial elements of athletic competency is flexibility. A flexible body enjoys a greater range of motion, performs better while working out, and is less likely to injure.
Many things can affect flexibility, but does drinking water improve flexibility?
Drinking water can improve flexibility by hydrating soft tissues of the body like fascia and muscles, plus the cartilage in joints. Dehydration leads to a tight fascia, limiting the muscle’s ability to move and contract. Dehydrated cartilage also loses its lubricating power, decreasing flexibility and range of motion.
Read the remainder of this article to learn more about how water can affect your body’s flexibility.
We’ll also show you how much water you need to drink and when to hydrate your body. As a bonus, some of the common symptoms of dehydration are mentioned, too.
Water and Improving Flexibility ?♂️
Many factors are at work regarding flexibility, such as how much stretching you perform or what you eat.
But did you know that water also can affect your flexibility?
It seems strange, but once you understand its functional role in our body, you won’t be surprised anymore.
Water Is Vital for Joint Cartilage
There’s a flexible connective tissue in our joints that covers the surface of bones, enabling them to move smoothly.
This tissue is called cartilage and allows for the smooth motion of the joints.
It cushions the bones and protects them against impact.
The cartilage in our joints is 80% made up of water, which is considerable.
The constituting materials of cartilage allow it to absorb lots of water and serve as a lubricant for joints.
As a result, it’s no wonder that in the absence of the required amounts of water, its ability to absorb impact and reduce friction in joints diminishes over time.
It Is Vital for a Healthy Fascia
We have another connective tissue called fascia, a thin web surrounding the body and every organ, ligament, tendon, muscles, etc.
It’s estimated that about 50% of our flexibility is determined by fascia, constituting a significant part of our joint capsule.
You can compare it with a saran wrap. If you try to glide two pieces of saran wrap on each other, that won’t work because they’re dry and stick to each other.
But if you make one of them wet, they’ll easily slip on each other without sticking.
Like the saran wrap, when the fascia is dry, it gets tight and sticks to the surrounding tissues, limiting your movements or making it more difficult.
A dehydrated fascia around a muscle reduces the space it has for movement and contraction, and as a result, its flexibility reduces, too.
In this case, you may feel stiffness or even pain in your muscles.
As a result, you may start compensating for this limited flexibility by changing your movement patterns and creating imbalances that lead to pain and other problems.
Water Is Crucial for Having Healthy Muscles
While tight muscles may result from various causes, one main culprit is lack of water.
You’ll be surprised to know that 75% of our muscle tissues are made of water, emphasizing their crucial role in our muscles’ health.
According to a study conducted by The National Athletic Training Association, athletic performance decreases due to dehydration because less blood will be available to carry oxygen and other nutrients to the muscles.
Besides, sweating depletes water levels in your body.
If you don’t take in enough water during exercise, this will increase the negative effects of dehydration on muscles by flushing electrolytes from your body.
Consequently, your muscles get tight, and you’ll feel stiffness throughout your body, reducing your flexibility.
How Much Water to Drink to Remain Flexible ?
Did you know your body comprises 50% to 70% water?
Water plays a crucial role in many vital body functions like transmitting nutrients, transferring neural messages, and eliminating wastes from the body.
While it’s commonly said that one should drink up to 8 glasses of water per day, your actual daily water intake depends on your health condition, activity level, and climate.
However, drinking about half to one ounce of water for each pound (50 gr per kilogram) of your body weight is recommended.
For instance, if someone weighs 150 pounds (68 kg), they should consume between 75 to 150 ounces (2-4 kg) of fluids every day.
The above formula is a good rule of thumb to remember for a typical day, but you should adjust it according to your activity level and the weather conditions.
For athletes, it also depends on factors like the intensity and duration of their workout session.
Here’s a simple way to calculate the proper amount of water an athlete needs on their rest days and activity days:
So, if you weigh, for example, 160 pounds, your daily water intake requirement would be between 80 to 160 ounces of fluids.
And if you want to calculate your water requirement in liters, you should multiply your body weight (in pounds again) by 0.03, and you’ll have it.
What Is the Best Time to Drink to Stay Hydrated ?
When it comes to hydration, everybody wonders how much they should drink. However, many forget to ask when they should drink water, which is also very important.
Knowing the symptoms of dehydration can help recognize when you need to take a drink.
However, the best strategy for hydration is to drink before you see any of these signs:
Your urine color is also a good indicator of your body’s hydration status.
The paler its color, the better hydrated your body, although its color can change for other reasons like your diet or some medications.
Generally, starting your day with an 8-12-ounce glass of water is recommended, whether it’s a typical day or training day.
However, on training days, you need to drink and hydrate before, during, and after the workout following this guideline:
As you’ve noted in this section, we talked about drinking fluids, not plain water, because you lose more than water when you work out.
This is especially important if the workout is intense and longer than 90 minutes as you don’t lose only water; you’ll also lose electrolytes when you sweat.
However, you still need to replace your lost nutrients with the right type of fluid.
It is best to drink something more than water, such as sports drinks, flavored water, or smoothies.
These drinks contain easy-to-digest complex carbohydrates, such as maltodextrin.
They can help restore the lost glycogen and salts and minerals, such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphate.
Our top three drinks below will help replace necessary electrolytes after your workouts.
You can also make a healthy homemade sports drink.
To do this, mix some salt, a natural sweetener, freshly squeezed lemon juice, add sugar-free flavorings and water.
Here is a helpful video on the importance of hydration during a workout:
Final Words ?
Drinking enough water and proper hydration is one of the most important factors for improved flexibility.
A substantial percentage of our body is made of water, and low water quantities can lead to tight and stiff muscles, tissues, and joints.