Our bodies are made up of about 65% of it. And 85% of our brain is water.
People can survive without food for weeks or even months, but without water for only a few days. All our organs, including the brain, rely on water to function properly. We simply can’t live without it.
And the body also relies on water to ensure a Bowen treatment is as effective as possible. It’s essential to drink water in the days after a Bowen treatment. And for some, this really means drinking more water.
I’ve had a number of clients surprised that their body actually craves water in the days following treatment. Just last week, one questioned whether this was normal, to be incredibly thirsty for a couple of days after treatment. I assured her that it was not unusual, and was happy that she listened to her body and drank the water it craved.
If we review what happens in our body during and after a Bowen treatment, then it becomes quite logical that keeping up water intake (or often increasing it) is needed. Bowen moves stimulate nerve receptors to move the body to parasympathetic mode, can activate the lymphatic system, and influences the body and muscles along fascia lines.
The links between stress and water are strong. Dehydration puts stress on the body, increasing cortisol levels (among other things), with the body responding by staying in a stressed state.
Bowen helps the body’s nervous system, helping take it from that stressed, fight or flight, sympathetic state to the more relaxed, parasympathetic state. However, if the body remains dehydrated, even a little dehydrated (even only 1/2 a litre a day less than the body needs), then the cortisol levels can stay high and the body will be stressed – no matter what signals the Bowen treatment gives the body.
Drinking already good levels of water, or (for many) increasing water intake to what the body needs, will help keep the body toward that parasympathetic state that helps reduce pain and helps the body heal. Not drinking enough water introduces stress straight back to the body.
The lymphatic system is the body’s drainage system. A network of tissues and organs, it is constantly working to keep your body balanced. It helps rid the body of toxins and impurities, it helps keep the body’s fluid levels in balance, and helps defend the body against infections. Key to it’s effective function is water – lymph is 96% water. Chronic dehydration can slow and stagnate the flow of lymph.
Within a treatment, some Bowen moves may activate the lymphatic system, especially if it’s sluggish or carrying a high toxin load. This triggers the body to increase it effort to rid the body of toxins and impurities, helping to bring the body’s fluid levels back in balance. But, the body can’t do that if it’s dehydrated – drinking more water is key to help flush the waste from the body, especially if the lymphatic system is being triggered to increase it’s work.
When bodies become dehydrated or stressed, the body prioritises where water will go so that essential organs will remain hydrated. Connective tissue (fascia) will be one of the first to dehydrate.
Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, organs like a huge continuous spider web, keeping all structures in the body separate but connected. It connects organs to ribs to muscles to bones, structuring the parts to create the mobile, flexible body we have.
Fascia has often been described as like a sponge. When it wet and hydrated, it’s springy and resiliant, it’s strong and able to stretch, and allows key body parts to easily slide as you move.
Like a sponge, when it is dehydrated, it can become hard. When trauma occurs, water can be pushed out of the fascia, resulting in fascia losing it’s pliability, becoming tight and restricted, and becoming a source of tension to the rest of the body – leaving you feeling stiff, achy and tired. This trauma that impacts fascia can be sudden physical trauma (like a fall, injury or surgery), or happen over time such as habitual poor posture.
Of course, just drinking water won’t resolve fascia tightness – the body needs some kind of manual therapy to help. Bowen moves have a profound effect on on fascia, encouraging fluid through the fascia to areas that are “dry” but the impact will be limited if the body remains less than optimally hydrated.
Net, drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated after Bowen treatment can enhance its effectiveness – helping the body stay de-stressed in parasympathetic state, help the body flush the lymphatic system of toxins, and have enough water leftover to ensure the fascia system still has enough to become a supple sponge.
There are various schools of thought about the quality or type of water to drink.
Personally, I drink tap water. It’s cheap, safe and tastes pretty good where I live. I never run out and I can refill my re-usable bottle anywhere, without increasing the impact on landfill.
In my travels and past homes, this hasn’t always been the case. I’ve been sick from microbes in tap water in some countries, not been game to drink heavy-metal-laden water in other places, and have seen water leave limescale marks in glasses within a day in another. In those places, bottled water or filtered water had to be the choice.
A key thing to remember when we’re talking about hydration is that “drinks” are not considered water. When we talk about drinking water, we really do mean just water. Tea and coffee contain water, but are not water, acting as diuretics and dehydrating the body even more. The same for alcohol. And the sugar content of soft drinks (often with added caffeine) make these another unhealthy choice.
I’ve had clients in the past who claimed to hate water, refused to drink it, believed they were healthy enough without it, and fluid intake as coffee, tea or soft drinks were all that they needed. Needless to say, these were the ones who saw little or no improvement in their pain.
One client saw me with lower back pain, and had tried “everything”. Massage had helped a little in the past, but the back was sore again by the evening after treatment. This client also didn’t like the taste of water, but preferred to drink only that black-coloured soft drink. Unfortunately, “everything” was not going to help if he continued to drink soft drink instead of water. And Bowen will have been in the same camp as massage – helped for a few hours, but chronic dehydration will bring back the pain – and I never saw him again.
Another complained that their shoulder and neck was not improving much, despite the Bowen treatments. Again, this client refused to drink water, insisting that fluid intake of about 10 cups of black tea a day was sufficient “water”. Their whole body remained stiff and aching…
If only they’d done something as simple as drunk water ! The result may have been so different !
How much water do you need ? Conventional wisdom is about 2 litres per day for a typical person (although no one seems to know where that figure came from), and that’s a good starting point unless you’re doing heavy exercise (when I hike, I target at least 3 litres), it’s a hot day, or you’ve drunk too much coffee/tea/alcohol (you’ll need at least the volume of those drinks again).
Various calculators are available online. Some take into account your weight, others factor in climate and exercise. Most based only on body weight recommend an ounce of water for every 2lb of body weight (which is easy to calculate but meaningless to us metric-minded people). The metric version requires a calculator – your weight in kg divided by 0.024 gives the recommended millilitres of water a day. Some of that water will come via your food, so if calculating is too hard, then at least 2 litres of water remains a good guide as a starting point.
The colour of your urine is a good indicator of how hydrated or dehydrated you are and whether that amount is enough. A pale yellow/straw colour is good, but a strong yellow colour or darker indicates you need to drink more water.
Having a drink bottle that you know the volume of works well, knowing how many bottlefuls to drink throughout the day. Fill it first thing in the morning, and make sure that you refill through the day to ensure you’re drinking enough.
and listen to your body – if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated – definitely drink more water ! NOW !