Many processes and systems are involved in injury healing, but none would be possible without the circulatory system. The circulatory system includes the heart, blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries), and blood, which is made up of red and white blood cells, plasma, and platelets. Blood flow is required for healing as it brings many crucial components to the injured area.
Upon injury, the body initiates an inflammatory response. This response starts on day one of the injury and can last up to day 14. This phase is where the circulatory system really shines. Blood flow increases to the injured area to increase oxygen delivery and nutrients essential for regeneration. The increased blood flow delivers cells called leukocytes that help to dispose of the damaged cells and help to prevent infection. Chemical mediators are also brought to the area that helps limit the swelling, and platelets form a clot to seal off the injured area. If circulation is compromised, these cells and nutrients cannot be delivered efficiently, and the healing process is hampered. Good circulation and blood flow are vital for healing. Individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, often have poor circulation, which impedes healing. Certain body tissues also have little blood flow and thus take much longer to heal than other tissues. Movement is one of the best rehab tools we can use to assist the circulatory system with healing! Very few injuries require complete rest or immobilization of the injured area. Complete rest slows down blood flow and slows healing. Controlled mobility has been shown to be better than immobilization for scar formation, revascularization, muscle regeneration, and reorientation of muscle fibres and tensile properties. Because of this, exercise and mobilization are necessary pieces for injury healing. This is especially important for tendon injuries or other areas with a poor vascular supply. Exercise used in rehabilitation must be appropriate for the stage of healing so that it doesn’t overstress the injured area. Along with exercise, modalities such as laser therapy and shockwave can also be used to assist the circulatory system in speeding up the inflammatory process and encourage blood flow and healing.
It is important to work with a professional when rehabilitating an injury so that you follow an appropriate program for you and your specific injury to assist the healing process. Contact our Athletic Therapist, Crystal, today to see how she can help you heal faster and stronger and get back to doing the activities you love!
Certified Athletic Therapist