Should water dropping become an obsolete contest prep tool?

Water is important in a number of functions in our bodies, but one that is often overlooked is our body’s fascial network and the critical role that water plays in its function.

Fascia (if you’ve never heard of this bodily structure before) is connective tissue found everywhere in your body, and can take on many forms.

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The fascia connection

It wraps itself around individual muscle fibres, whole muscles and holds groups of muscles together. It forms tendons and ligaments and supports the internal organs, blood vessels and nerves.

In essence, it connects the body together and allows it to move and function holistically.

It also provides structures that transmit mechanical tension, whether its generated by muscular activities or external forces, throughout the body.

So, when you’re standing on stage under the spotlight and transitioning from pose to pose, your muscles initiate the movement, but your fascia transfers these movement forces throughout your body.

This enables you to move in integrated movements, and prevents you from looking like a cat with tape on its paws.

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Collagen and muscles need water

Fascia is made up primarily of collagen fibres. They are basically small, hollow tubes filled with a fine fluid that is very similar to cerebrospinal fluid, which has a high degree of photons or light particles.

Collagen has a unique property – it attracts water molecules and then arranges them around its strands, similar to scaffolding around a building. This process ‘lubricates’ the fascia, which enables the gliding and sliding action for muscle fibres and, subsequently, the fluid (no pun intended), free movement of the body.

Research has shown that you can generate a small charge within fascia by stressing the collagen fibres.

These charges are called piezoelectric charges (piezo means “to squeeze or press” in Greek), and because fascia is liquid crystalline in nature, these charges move through fascia that is properly hydrated much easier than dehydrated fascia. Proper hydration is, therefore, essential for movement, not merely optimal health.

With the ‘water dropping’ required for contest prep you’re intentionally dehydrating your body to deliver the vascularity, striations and conditioning required to be competitive on stage.

You essentially trick your body into getting rid of water that it really should be keeping by initially flooding the fascia and body tissues with water, then reducing your water intake systematically until show time.

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Cramp concerns

This, however, is not healthy for your body as it places extreme stress on your physiological systems, as well as your myofascial network.

Cramp is a major concern for competitive athletes on stage because of how dehydrated the body’s fascia is.

If you consider how much friction there is between two pieces of sand paper when rubbing them together, you get some idea of the stresses placed on your fascia when you aren’t properly hydrated.

If you add in a long day spent under stage lights, the mental stress and the maximal isometric contractions required during posing, then cramp becomes a very big possibility.

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Rehydrate properly after shows

However, there is no way around it. That is why rehydrating properly after a show is vitally importance, as it returns your body’s systems back to a state where they can once again perform their self-regulatory functions.

The quality of the water you drink can play a major role in the speed at which your body recovers from the dehydration and water deprivation.

Tap water, for example, has water molecules that group together in groups of 10 or 12, while more alkaline or ionized water molecules group together in groups of 5 or 6.

People in the health industry claim that the smaller grouping means it passes through cell walls much quicker and more efficiently. This helps to rehydrate the body much quicker, and also helps to remove toxins, chemicals and metabolic waste from cells.

Other claims include the notion that the body only benefits from drinking ionized water for about a week, or until detoxification has ended.

Another way to promote hydration in fascia is by gently stretching it. This is the complete opposite to what bodybuilding entails as sometimes the heavy compressive forces of lifting weights causes the fascia to become “fixotrophic”, or more stuck.

It seems that the fascia becomes less liquid and more crystalline in nature, and it then loses its malleability, as well as its ability to respond.

Since bodybuilding could really be called body sculpting, having pliable and malleable fascia is the basis on which we should build symmetrical physiques, and this means that fascia needs to remain well hydrated.

A healthier approach

I heard about a growing number of progressive coaches the other day, who don’t use water dropping to dial in contest shape as they believe that the correct preparation makes water dropping obsolete.

This sits more comfortably with me based on my understanding of the nature and role that fascia plays in the body, and my focus on correcting body asymmetry and injuries, while trying to optimise fascial health.

It was, after all, Andrew Taylor Still, who said: “The soul of man, with all the streams of pure living water, seems to dwell in the fascia of his body”.

Keep that it mind when you start to plan your next contest prep phase.

By Sean Johnson, Remedial Manual Therapist &Alternative & Holistic Health Services Provider at the Centre for Structural Medicine

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

When he's not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He's worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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