Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Importance of Water

By Troy Vander Molen, PT (Work Systems Rehab & Fitness; Pella, Des Moines, and West Des Moines, Iowa)

Water is an essential part of our diet. A person could live without food for about a month, but only about one week without water. The human brain is composed of 95% water; blood is 82% water; the lungs are nearly 90% water. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page! Mild dehydration is also one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue. Estimates are that seventy-five percent of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration.

Still not convinced about the importance of water? Here are several more interesting facts:

Water is an appetite suppressant. Plus, it has shown itself to be beneficial in losing weight and body fat percentage. Here’s why: The kidneys can’t function properly without enough water. When they don’t work efficiently, some of their load is dumped onto the liver. One of the liver’s primary functions is to metabolize stored fat into usable energy for the body. But, if the liver has to do some of the kidney’s work, it can’t operate at full throttle. As a result, it metabolizes less fat, more fat remains stored in the boy, and body weight gradually increases.

Drinking enough water is the best treatment for fluid retention. When the body gets less water, it perceives this as a threat to survival and begins to hold on to every drop. Water is stored in extracellular spaces (outside the cell). This shows up as swollen feet, legs and hands.

Drinking eight glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%. Drinking enough water can also reduce the risk of bladder cancer (by 50%) and it can potentially even reduce the risk of breast cancer. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

An overweight person needs more water than a thin person. Larger people have larger metabolic loads. Since we know that water is the key to fat metabolism, it follows that the overweight person needs more water. The overweight person needs one additional glass for every 25 pounds of excess weight. The amount you drink also should be increased if you exercise briskly or if the weather is hot and dry.

Water should preferably be cold. It’s absorbed into the system more quickly than warm water. And some evidence suggests that drinking cold water can actually help burn calories. To utilize water most efficiently during weight loss, follow this schedule:

· Morning: 1 quart consumed over a 30-minute period.
· Noon: 1 quart consumed over a 30-minute period.
· Evening: 1 quart consumed between five and six o’clock.

The best news about drinking water for health benefits? It’s virtually free. You can drink more than 4,000 glasses of tap water for the price of a six-pack of soda. That’s great news to a Dutch guy like me!

All and only the best!

Troy Vander Molen, PT
Work Systems Rehab & Fitness, PC
Pella, Iowa

Troy is a physical therapist with Work Systems Rehab & Fitness, PC (WSR&F). If you have any questions regarding this topic or any other issue related to health and wellness, contact a knowledgeable health professional at WSR&F by calling (641) 621-0230.

Running Sideways!

By Todd Schemper, PT, DPT (Work Systems Rehab, P.C.; Des Moines, Iowa)

Why do we always run straight forward? Our bodies are designed to move in so many other directions. Running is a great activity. However the fact that we always run in the same plane of motion may be causing weakness patterns and overuse strains in our bodies. I am not recommending that we all start running sideways or backwards, but including cross-training, warm-up activities, or even tweaking to your running a few times during a workout may be a great way to help prevent injuries.

There are three main planes that our trunk, neck, legs, and arms move through. The sagittal plane is the plane that we run in, straight forward. This plane also includes movement that is backwards, as in walking backwards, or reaching straight behind your body for the baton in a relay race. The frontal plane is the second of the three planes. This plane includes all sideways motions, or movements like reaching to the side to grab a cup of water at an aid station during a race. Last is the transverse plane which includes all the rotation that our bodies are able to do. Examples of transverse plane movements are turning your head to look behind you and turning around the cone during an out and back race.

Since we mainly run in the sagittal plane our bodies may weaken in the frontal and transverse planes. As your body weakens you become less stable with not only movements in those planes but also in the sagittal plane. So what can you do about this potential problem?

One way is to cross-train with activities that incorporate frontal and transverse plane movements. Examples that come to mind are ultimate Frisbee, swimming, golfing, tennis, basketball, and weight lifting. Moving your body in different directions helps to keep your muscles balanced and strong in all planes of motion.

Other options for runners are running drills before or after a few of your runs each week. Ideas here include backwards running and lateral shuffle or crossover running, and even skipping, bounding, and kick butt drills are all great. Find a track, a quiet street, or a football field, and run each drill a few times for 50 meters.

If you are really wanting to get into multi-plane running and feel safe with the above drills, try throwing a few of them in during a run. Turn around and run backwards for a while. Shuffle sideways or run around a pole or tree (to the right and left). I have a friend who was passed in a marathon once by a guy running backwards, so there are some people who really take this seriously.

However you explore moving in the frontal and transverse planes within or alongside your running program, your body will thank you for targeting muscles and joints in a way that normal sagittal plane running will not. Enjoy running sideways!

Todd Schemper, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist, co-owner and clinic manager with Work Systems Rehab, P.C. in Des Moines. He enjoys running with his wife Denise, triathlon training/racing, and helping other runners stay injury free. Todd can be reached at (515) 309-4706 or todds@worksystemspc.com.