There are multiple theories about how athletes can achieve their best performance, but most of them include physical, technical, tactical, theoretical, and psychological principles. As a health and wellness proponent, my focus is always on the physical aspects first. In this spirit, I want to highlight how critical good blood circulation is for anyone involved in sports.
Whether you’re a professional athlete or simply a hobbyist, maintaining an efficient circulatory system is one of the primary requirements for performance. Here’s why:
How Blood Circulation Works
Our circulatory systems consist of blood vessels that transport blood to and from the heart. The arteries carry it away from the heart, while the veins carry it back to the heart. Oxygen, nutrients, and hormones are carried in the blood that travels from the heart to our cells, and the veins transport the deoxygenated blood back to the heart in a continuous cycle.
Without robust circulation, our bodies won’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, which will result in a lower level of fitness and difficulty achieving the physical condition needed to excel. Having efficient circulation benefits athletes in several ways.
Enhanced Mental Performance
Studies by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) McGovern Institute for Brain Research show that blood flow affects the activity of brain neurons, changing the way signals get transmitted between them. This action impacts the flow of information through the brain, the speed with which we think, and the ability to make complex decisions. In most sports, performance is determined by athletes’ skill at making quick, decisive choices that dictate the flow of the match or game.
Stable Body Temperature
Maintaining a stable body temperature during sports helps to optimize athletes’ endurance and use of energy, both of which affect performance. To achieve this, it’s vital to have a strong, regulated blood flow through the circulatory system. Strong, healthy circulation supports thermoregulation, which is the natural process by which our bodies maintain their core internal temperature, which is essential for good athletic performance. When your body temperature is too high or too low, various other physical effects develop such as sweating, breathlessness, and fatigue, all of which can have an adverse result on your performance.
Transports Nutrients to Cells
The harder your body works, the more nutrients are needed to keep the cells in tip-top condition. Vitamins A and C and minerals like calcium and iron are essential for the growth, development, and maintenance of tissues and cells. Oxygen helps cells to break down sugar to produce the energy you need to deliver peak performance. Without a powerful blood circulatory system, cells can be starved of the nutrients they need to achieve the kind of performance you want.
Blood flow is closely connected to tissue metabolic activity in most organs of the body. For example, an increase in tissue metabolism occurs during muscle contraction or changes in neuronal activity in the brain, leading to an increase in blood flow (active hyperemia). Increases or decreases in metabolism lead to increases or decreases in the release of vasodilator substances like carbon dioxide, lactate, etc. Speeding up the removal of these waste products from your body improves your metabolism and enables faster utilization of energy and enhanced athletic performance.
Maintains pH Balance
Controlling blood pH is important for people involved in high-intensity physical activities because it helps to minimize inflammation. Carbon dioxide is an acidic waste product of metabolic processing, and releasing it from the body helps keep blood pH in balance. Since good blood flow enhances the release of CO2, it supports balanced pH and lowers the athlete’s risk of tenderness and infection that can result from inflamed tissues.
Improving Blood Circulation
People who play sports regularly should focus on learning how to improve microcirculation and maintain the operation of the circulatory system. Follow these tips on healthy nutrition that encourages blood flow. Increase your cardiovascular exercise, and quit smoking. Get a sports massage, and drink enough water every day to ensure optimal hydration. You can also boost blood circulation with pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy, which uses wave forms and frequencies to stimulate your muscles and increase your blood circulation in the short term.