Headaches are a common complaint by just about everyone. In my last blog, I wrote about how stretching can help reduce and prevent a lot of neck pain and headaches. Tense and sore muscles that are too tight are not the only common source for headaches though. Dehydration can cause headaches, too. If you stop and think about it, it makes a lot of sense. First, your body is made up of about 70% water and your brain is about 90% water. Then think about what happens to your muscles when you are dehydrated. They tighten and cramp up, right? So if you are dehydrated and your brain is not getting enough water, what is happening? Your brain is contracting and compressing, which leads to the pressure and pain that you associate with a headache.
So how do you know how much water you should be drinking to help prevent headaches and dehydration? That is somewhat subjective. Everyone is different, as our bodies widely vary. No two people are exactly the same. To tell a 5’2”, 115 pound female that she should be consuming the same amount of water each day as her 6 foot, 285 pound male counterpart does not sound reasonable. So the general statement of consuming eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day is too broad and generalized to work for everyone. Some suggest a more realistic version of it by saying to take your weight in pounds and divide that number in half, and that number is how many ounces you should drink each day. As a better, more individualized guideline, pay attention to how you are feeling and your urine. If you feel thirsty, fatigued, foggy headed, getting muscle cramps, headaches, or have dry skin, you probably need to consume more water. If your urine is not clear or very pale yellow, then you should drink more water. When your urine is bright yellow, it means that you do not have enough water in your system to flush out your body’s waste materials.
Does the thought of constantly drinking water all day sound daunting to you? I will let you in on how I help keep myself hydrated and what my water consumption throughout the day looks like. Drinking enough water and staying hydrated does not need to be a difficult or daunting task. This is what I do for most days:
If you do not care for the taste of plain water, try adding fresh slices of fruit into your water. A lemon or lime slice is very common, but a slice of orange, cucumber, a sprig of mint, or even some fresh berries or a few small chunks of watermelon can add a nice little flavor to your water while still keeping it healthy. Caffeine-free teas are another great way to consume water with some flavor. Try to avoid anything with added sugars, carbonation, and caffeine, as they will all aid in dehydrating you.
The main point to helping you stay hydrated is to keep water nearby at all times and drink it frequently. If you ever feel thirsty, you are dehydrated. If you keep yourself well hydrated, you will find that you may have fewer headaches, if any at all. You may even feel more energized, can think more clearly, have healthier looking skin, and get sick less often. Just some of the many benefits of staying hydrated!
Cheers to consuming water and preventing those nasty headaches!
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.