Get Big Benefits From Increased Circulation And Oxygen Delivery: What To do & eat
August 11th, 2021
(6 Minute Read)
Find Better Strength, More Energy & Faster Recovery
Which of these doesn't sound good to you?
Anyone that is an athlete or does resistance training should be aiming for these goals. The more frequently you can compete and/or strength train, the faster you can progress and reach goals.
While there are multiple aspects to recovery and strength gain, there's one concept that every exercise enthusiast, from extreme novice to advanced vet, has experience with... Muscle soreness.
Lactic Acid - It's Not The Problem You Thought It Was
Many are under the impression that those days long sore muscles are caused by a build up of lactic acid.
The Truth: You're Sore Because Your Muscles Have A Ton Of Micro-tears In Them
While lactic acid might have been the reason you ran out of juice in the gym, or why you didn't have any strength left at the end of the day, its not the main reason you are feeling sore. Lactic acid buildup occurs when there's not enough oxygen in the muscles to break down glucose and glycogen. Aim to increase oxygen delivery, and you'll see better endurance.
Reducing Downtime From Sore Muscles
When you exercise, especially with resistance training, you are intentionally injuring your muscle on a very small scale. The healing process is what encourages growth and strength gain.
So The Key:Speed the healing process up as much as possible
To heal, your muscle needs fuel to repair itself, i.e. it needs proper nutrients. So your nutrition is going to have a significant impact on recovery. But assuming that you are properly timing your macro nutrient intake, they need to be delivered to your muscles. Enter circulation and vasodilation. These two components will make sure there is a steady, fast flow of nutrients to your muscle tissue. Effectively helping optimize your muscle recovery and growth.
More Than Just Athletic Performance
While increasing these two functions can certainly help boost athletic performance and recovery, they achieve more than that. Even if you are not concerned with athletic performance, there are reasons to add goals for circulation.
1. Improve Heart Health
Better circulation and blood flow means that your heart does not have to work as hard. Less strain on your heart on the daily is certainly a good thing, and promising for a longer lasting, better functioning, vital organ.
2. Increased Energy Levels
Increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood means that your body can break down glucose at a higher rate. Glucose is used by the body for many different things. At a cell level, it is used for the creation of ATP, which is your foundation for energy.
3. Better Endurance
So Lactic Acid might not be what’s causing you to get sore muscles, but it is a big reason you are running out of energy when using muscle. Like mentioned above, your body starts producing higher levels of lactic acid when oxygen becomes less available. If you increase Oxygen, you’ll decrease lactic acid, and find better endurance while active.
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There are a few things that you can do to help increase circulation and decrease downtime from sore muscles. Most aren’t looking to hit the gym when they are having a hard time walking up stairs. So, what we have done with clients in the past is give options for “active rest days.” Basically, you’re not exercising intensely, but you are finding ways to move and promote blood flow. Here’s a few active rest day activities...
Stretch those sore muscles gently and often. It will help shorten your healing time and increase blood flow on a localized level. This is one of the more gentle option for active rest days.
If you would like to do more than a basic stretch, yoga offers a nice “next tier” option that is only slightly more challenging and offers additional benefits past a light stretch. Improve your balance, flexibility, focus, and mind-body connection while increasing blood flow to your full body.
Yoga is our number 1 recommendation.
3. Body Weight Exercise
If you can handle some lunges, push-ups, pull-ups or any other body weight movements that target your sore spots, do a couple sets at 8-10 reps. It should be slightly uncomfortable, but don't over do it. Remember, you are trying to get your muscles to heal, not create more micro-tears.
4. Take A Walk
If all of this seems too much, take a hike... no, literally. Walking is a gentle, simple way to get the blood flowing. If you can find an incline along the way, that should help increase your heart rate and blood flow.
5 Foods That Will Boost Your Circulation and Oxygen Levels
So you have a great base now on why blood flow is important, and what you can physically do to improve it. But you can work on it from another angle also! There are certain foods out there that will signal your body to increase circulation and help improve blood oxygen levels. Here are 5 that we recommend:
A great, tasty treat, we recommend everyone to enjoy in the first half of their day. Berries contain Anthocyanin, which lowers blood pressure and increases oxygen delivery to muscle.
2. Cayenne Pepper
Find ways to work it into your cooking. Many hot sauces have a cayenne base. It contains capsaicin, which relaxes blood vessels and decreases blood pressure.
3. Fatty Fish & Fish Oil
QUALITY Fish Oil is the single best natural supplement anyone can take (in our not so humble opinion). Omega-3s boost circulation and lower your resting blood pressure. At the same time, they will fight to keep your arteries free from blockages a
Another source of Omega-3s, it also contains alpha-linolenic acid, which improves blood vessel health, makes them more flexible and lowers blood pressure.
It’s a vasodilator (widens blood vessels) which helps to reduce blood pressure and increase healthy circulation. A bonus? It also helps promote healthy digestive health.
A Passive, Work Free Option
We like to consider infrared sauna as a great supplement in any health and wellness program. An athletically based program is no exception. Infrared treatments can boost the results of all the remedies we mention above.
Infrared Sauna Blankets are an effective and reliable tool in helping with circulation. So much so, that they are being used in hospitals now to help patients who are immobile and need help promoting blood circulation.
Regular sessions will help to increase circulation, and promote not only muscle recovery, but also a variety of health benefits. Increased blood flow to the body will also help improve the function of all your internal organs, improve lymphatic flow so that cell waste is quickly and properly disposed, and help with healthier digestion.