Blood Flow & Circulation
Why is good blood flow and circulation so important for our health and well-being?
First of all, we should explain how circulation and blood flow work. The blood circulatory system, also known as the cardiovascular system, comprises the heart and all the blood vessels that run throughout the entire body. Arteries carry blood away from the heart, while the veins transport it back. There are two additional circulatory systems that make up the cardiovascular system: the systemic and pulmonary systems. Systemic circulation is what transports oxygen and nutrient-rich blood through our arteries to our organs, tissues (that includes our muscles) and cells.
When it releases those vital substances, it takes on carbon dioxide and other waste substances (like lactic acid). Now low in oxygen, the blood is collected by the veins and transported back to the heart. Pulmonary circulation occurs when we breathe in fresh oxygen and in enters the blood stream, while carbon dioxide is simultaneously released from the blood. The heart acts as a pump, transporting oxygenated blood to our organs, then carrying de-oxygenated blood from our organs back to the lungs to get oxygenated again. This is how blood circulation should work in the body. The circulatory system is vital for everyone’s health.
Benefits of good blood flow & circulation
- Benefits the heart and the body’s muscles and arteries throughout the body, improving oxygen rich blood flow to extremities. It improves the capacity of blood vessels to dilate, which helps them work more efficiently, allowing the muscles to receive oxygen more easily.
- Promotes cell growth and organ function.
- Creates good distribution of nutrients, especially oxygen. With more oxygen flowing to our muscles, our time to fatigue in exercise is lengthened, which means we can exercise for longer until our muscles force us to stop to take a rest. Our daily activities may also be less tiring.
- Helps stabilise body temperature, maintain our pH balance and transports nutrients and waste products to and from cells. It helps you look and feel healthy, your skin will have a healthy colour and will feel warm. Healthy skin is also better able to fight off bacteria and infection with which it may come in contact.
- Helps improve brain function and keep your mind stay sharp. You will also be more equipped to handle stressful situations.
- Lowers your heart rate, heart muscles relax, and your blood pressure flows evenly and smoothly.
The impact of poor blood flow & circulation
Poor circulation occurs when the blood doesn’t flow freely through the body due to a blockage in the arteries. This means that your organs (including the heart and the brain) aren’t receiving all the nutrients they need in order to function properly. In addition, your extremities, i.e. your legs, feet, hands and arms, won’t be receiving enough blood either.
This can lead to many problems, some of which are very serious. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Vertigo and dizziness
- Muscle cramps
- Leg ulcers
- Blood clots
- Haemorrhoids / difficult bowel movements
- Carpal tunnel
- Painful cramping of the hip, thigh, or calf muscles after activity
- Legs or feet getting colder much more quickly than other parts of the body
- Slower toenail growth
- Erectile dysfunction
- Raynaud's Disease
- Loss of hair on the legs or slower hair growth on the legs
- Skin of the legs appears shiny or has a change of colour
- Weak or no pulse in the legs or feet
- Varicose veins
- Cardiovascular disease
- Organ damage
Causes of poor blood circulation
Poor blood circulation is often a result of lifestyle habits. Smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet (typified by high sugar, trans fats and alcohol intake) all contribute to different conditions that affect blood flow. For example, arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a side effect of diabetes and is brought on by smoking, excess weight, and lack of physical exercise. This condition comes about when fatty acids such as cholesterol build up in the blood stream and form hard plaques in the arterial walls. This narrows the arteries and restricts blood flow. In addition, prolonged sitting can lead to poor blood flow in the body. When your muscles aren’t moving, your circulation slows. This means that you’ll be using less glucose (blood sugar that the body uses for energy) and burning less fat. Slow blood flow allows fatty acids to clog the heart, which causes high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. It can also cause blood and other fluids to pool in the legs, which can lead to varicose veins and the formation of dangerous blood clots called deep vein thrombosis. It is said that people with sedentary lifestyles are twice as likely to develop a cardiovascular disease as those who are more active, however not everyone is able to be active, or have the time to be active. Poor blood flow affects many people who sit at a desk, or in front of a PC for long periods of time.
How to increase blood flow and circulation to keep yourself healthy
- Revs massage footwear is ideal for easily and effectively boosting your blood flow. The massage nodules on the soles stimulate your reflexes promoting blood flow and circulation to all the organs, glands and muscles in the body. If you are someone who works at a desk most of the day, wear your shoes and press your feet against the nodules. Or wear the Revs insoles so you can benefit from the massage in your work shoes whether you are walking or sitting. An experiment carried out by the Shizuoka Industrial Technology Centre shows how much the sole surface temperature increases after wearing reflexology shoes for 30 minutes, proving the boost in blood flow and circulation. (see image below)
- Stress management, e.g. yoga or stretching, helping to lower blood pressure and improve circulation.
- Massage – a great stress buster, any form of massage helps to improve circulation. Long stroking movements help fluid move through the circulatory system, and deep massages help to increase permeability in the fibrous tissues, allowing more fluids and nutrients to flow through the tissue.
- Eat well, reduce salt intake and drink plenty of water.
Decreased blood flow can be a symptom of diabetes
Diabetes can cause poor blood circulation throughout your body, but specifically in your legs and feet. Getting adequate exercise will help improve blood flow to your extremities and help reduce the risk for diabetic health complications. Wearing Revs reflexology massage shoes and insoles regularly or receiving reflexology treatments are also effective natural therapies to increase blood flow.