Summer is here and across the Black Hills, folks are enjoying the warm weather. So many places to go, so much to see and do – and all of it putting us into the elements: wind, rain, hail, sun and heat.
We live in a four-season climate (well, three and a half seasons – we don’t get much of an autumn) but because much of the year is dominated by cold weather and snow, it makes us appreciate summertime that much more. You know that you feel warmer during the summer months, but did you know that your body has to acclimate to the change of temperatures? In fact, you may be noticing signs of stress on the body due to the heat. Those stresses can include:
- Joint discomfort or pain
- Loss of mobility/flexibility
- Swelling or inflammation
There are also stresses you may not notice, such as diminished organ function. Why do we experience trouble with these areas during the summer? It has to do with something called TBW: Total Body Water.
Water is the building block to every cell in your body, part of the system that protects your brain and spinal cord, the fluid that lubricates your joints, and regulates the body’s temperature. TBW fluctuates depending on your environment, behaviors, and body makeup. The body is designed to balance all systems but when you get overheated, it has trouble regulating these systems. This can cause fluid to build up in areas, especially legs and feet. Other contributing factors include sodium amounts, gravity (too much standing or sitting), obesity, and certain medications.
What is the single most important thing you can do to better regulate your Total Body Water: to drink more water! Hydration is key especially in summer. The hotter the temperature, the more susceptible you are to inflammation, swelling and other conditions that can impact your health.
Second best way to regulate your Total Body Water? Eating lots of hydrating foods! You’ll find high water content in fruits like watermelon, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, and vegetables such as cucumbers, spinach, and celery. Our recommendation? Make a salad that includes all the above. Squeeze a little lemon juice and olive oil, pepper and easy on the salt. Makes for a great summer lunch!
Exercise is also a great way to keep the body limber and all systems working. But we recommend walking or jogging and other exercise during the coolest parts of the day. Be sure to limit your sodium intake (nuts and sodas are common culprits of sodium spiking) and stretch the areas of the body prone to fluid retention and inflammation. Lastly, there are over-the-counter products that can help you retain the benefits of water. Check in with our front desk staff during your next adjustment or massage, to inquire about products that may help you this summer.
And one last tip about water: jump in it! Go for a swim on our beautiful lakes, rivers, or community pools. Let’s beat the heat together!