Blood Circulation and Bodybuilding

Blood Circulation and Bodybuilding

Both the upper limb and the lower limb, the venous circulation is assured from the periphery to the heart, it is the venous return. We can distinguish a superficial network and a deep network (within the muscular masses). The purpose is not to do a course in anatomy, but rather to insist on the notion of muscle-vein interaction, favoring at first by contiguity and contraction the venous return (pump phenomenon) and, in a second time, limiting this return by exaggerated compression (edema of effort, prolonged contraction, hypertrophy). Another important concept is the presence of valves along the venous path, capsules-shaped valves, the convexity of which is opposite to the blood stream. They are therefore closed automatically in case of return of blood to the periphery, thus avoiding the troubles of this blood system at low pressure.

Mechanisms of adaptation

By studying many sports, which requires the maintenance of cardiac activity at a fairly high level, and this, for a relatively long period of time, it is easy to think that the venous system must adapt to this overload, as much as the efforts are repeated and daily most often.

Thus, there has been an increase in the peripheral network, corresponding to four to five times the basal herd volume in the unit of time. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to note the enlargement of the caliber of the vessels. This is accompanied by an increase in the tone of the wall to maintain intact the pressure gradient between the periphery and the right atrium, ensuring adequate venous return. Morphological and functional changes, resulting from this sporting practice, must be interpreted as a physiological phenomenon of adaptation. They should be sought after in the athlete who has been training for a few months with a high muscular intensity.

Particular location of these phenomena

Thoracic

The mere reading of a chest radiograph clearly shows an increase in the caliber of the pulmonary hilum vessels, as well as cardiomegaly. This increase in circulation allows a certain reserve of volume, as well as rapid increases in cardiac output at the beginning of the sporting activity.

The members

The inspection is enough in itself. The increase of superficial venous circulation is noticeable to the eye nor. The vessels concerned have a rectilinear course, a larger caliber, the collaterals are also significantly increased in volume. In addition, an increase in the perfusion microcirculation of the tissues and muscular masses involved in the sports activity practiced has been demonstrated.

And varicose veins?

In no case should this phenomenon be reduced to the processes of varicose ectasia. Indeed, the widening of the venous network caliber does not involve any alteration, nor valve devices, nor the structure of the wall. In addition, no manifestation of insufficiency of the venous circulation is to be noted. It should be added that the frequency of varicose symptoms in athletes is very low (less than 5%).

Regarding the practice of bodybuilding, we must still be wary. The frequency of the varicose processes is important and has a pathophysiological genesis. Indeed, the practice of this sport activity is characterized by the explosive contraction of large muscle masses and the need to maintain a high voltage over time. In addition, the position of the lower limbs during the effort adds an obstacle to the blood flow back and therefore a considerable increase in the pressure in the venous circulation. So, all the conditions for a functional overload are met: increase of pressure, volume and obstacle to the return of the deep system. Of course, the situation should not be dramatized, but for people suffering from venous insufficiency disorders or with a family history, some advice must be respected:

  •  Elevation of the feet of the bed.
  •  Soft centripetal massage of the legs.
  •  Cold shower in the evening.

It should be noted that the varicose symptomatology takes in the practitioners of bodybuilding a much more painful and more embarrassing aspect than usual. The unsightly appearance is clearer because of the underlying muscle hypertrophy and reduction of the supporting cell tissue. We must then move towards a preventive treatment of predisposed subjects.

In any case, this concerns only a small proportion of the sports population. One should not worry about a very developed superficial network, corresponding to the most hypertrophied muscle zones. This is in most cases a physiological reaction.

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