How alcohol and dehydration can slow down your injury rehab

Let’s face it, the Christmas and New Year period is one where Australians overindulge in lots of the things that aren’t necessarily great for our bodies. Alcohol, cigarettes and endless plates of delicious leftovers are more likely to find themselves on the menu and on top of leaving you with a crook guts, these things can also hamper your rehab efforts.

What are the effects of alcohol on rehabilitation?

According to recent research from the Australian National University, during COVID-19, 1 in 5 Aussies increased their alcohol intake over the lockdown months. Going by ABS data, this means that in 2020 Australians have spent an average of $1891 on alcohol – up $270 on 2019.

That’s the equivalent of at least 2 gym memberships on alcohol.

Alcohol can have many effects on physical and mental performance;

  • Decreasing reaction time and
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Speeds up dehydration
  • Increases blood pressure (Do not consume alcohol before a workout)
  • Slows down muscle recovery
  • Blood glucose levels can be affected, leading to hypoglycaemia

Imagine you’ve just come off the backyard cricket pitch injured with a side strain, there is some swelling and your shoulder is feeling very sore.

You notice there are drinks in the esky and you decide to have a few. Maybe a few more.

It is known that alcohol – no matter how much you indulge in – increases the bleeding and swelling around injured soft tissue. The alcohol is thinning your blood which makes the blood run faster to the injured area, increasing the swelling and the amount of toxins that will stay around the injured site which in turn will significantly delay healing.

This small injury that could have been looked after in a week or two with the R.I.C.E method and some physio, could now take four to five weeks due to alcohol and poor injury management.

The alcohol will also likely mask the pain you are feeling at the moment, increasing the chances of you standing or dancing on the injured area which again will increase the bleeding and swelling around the site.

If you are not sure whether or not your injury is “that bad” then it is best to be on the safe side and seek the advice of a musculoskeletal physio any way.

What are the effects of dehydration on injuries and rehab?

Alcohol consumption and the hot Aussie summer is a recipe for dehydration. Dehydration can contribute to several issues which have a negative effect on sports injuries, including:

  • Slower rate of nutrient absorption
  • a build-up of waste products such as lactic acid
  • thickening of the blood
  • impaired ability to regulate your body temperature

These dehydration effects mean that the body will not be able to get rid of toxins effectively and will not be able to get the body’s healing nutrients to the injured area fast, delaying the healing phase of your injury and causing you to spend more time out of action.

We’re not telling you not to drink, just remember that your injury is being affected by the alcohol you are consuming along with dehydration. It may add extra rehab to that healing time-frame your Physio gave you originally though…

If you have an injury that is not healing at the rate you would expect don’t hesitate to book in to see one of our Fixio physios.

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