At this time of year it may be easier to indulge in a few more drinks as part of the celebration of holidays and spending time with family and friends, but you may be wondering, how does that affect my injury? Or you may feel like everything was getting better with my injury but it seems to have slowed down.
We now know that alcohol definitely affects healing time in a couple of ways. In a recent study participants were asked to carry out intense exercise that damaged the muscle, they then followed that with the equivalent of 7 standard alcoholic drinks (yes 7!). The strength of the damaged muscle was then tested over the next 3 days and there was a clear difference in recovery between the drinking alcohol group and a second group who drank only orange juice.
In a similar study they looked out how alcohol affected recovery and how the body produced force. Again the participants were given the equivalent of 7 standard alcoholic drinks following intensive, muscle damaging exercise. They were then asked to produce a voluntary contraction and the force of that contraction was measured. The same damaged muscle was hooked up to electrical stimulation, effectively bypassing the brain, and the force the muscle was able to exert was measured (an involuntary contraction). The study found that the voluntary contraction produced less force than the electrical stimulated contraction. This shows that alcohol dampens the central nervous system activity…so where you may think you are working at your maximum level, your central nervous system or brain is limiting you!
We also know that alcohol effects the local healing at the site of a wound. A single dose of alcohol can impair the early inflammatory response that begins the healing cycle, as well as limiting the collagen/connective tissue production and therefore slowing down your healing time. This will also make your more vulnerable to re-injury as your ligaments will remain unstable and the muscular contraction normally used to protect you will be slower and weaker!
So while we are not telling you not to drink, remember that your injury is being affected by the alcohol you are consuming. It may make you feel weaker for a longer period, or it may just simply add extra time to that healing time-frame your Physio gave you originally!
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 Bend + Mend Sydney CBD Physio’s!