Most people, when they think of circulation, consider the heart, arteries, veins, and possibly the lymphatic vessels. These are all key components of the circulatory system and can have a variety of problems associated with them. However, there is another aspect to the circulatory system that is more central to long-term health.
All of our bodies’ cells require fuel and oxygen to function, and all cells create waste product. The fuel and oxygen are transported through the arterial side of the capillary beds, and the waste product is removed through the venous side of the capillary beds and the lymphatic vessels. To get from the arterial side of the capillary bed to the cells fuel and oxygen have to travel through an area called the interstitial space, the space between our bodies’ cells. Likewise, waste product must travel through the same space to get from the cells to the venous side of the capillary beds and the lymphatic vessels.
This is the core problem with circulation, the effective transfer of fuel, oxygen, and toxins (waste product) through the interstitial space. Fuel, oxygen, and toxins are pumped through the interstitial space, primarily by skeletal muscles contracting and relaxing. When muscles contract the interstitial space is squeezed smaller, and toxins are pushed into the venous side of the capillary beds and lymphatic vessels. When muscles relax, fresh blood is drawn into the interstitial space from the arterial side of the capillary beds.
An added issue here is the removal of dead cells. Cells die constantly and are replaced with new cells. The dead cells break down and are removed through, primarily, the lymphatic system. The design of the interstitial space is such that the removal of waste and supply of fuel and oxygen from fresh blood will occur, as long as the interstitial space functions properly. There are many factors that can affect that space, but the number one circumstance that will compromise this function is skeletal muscle hypertonicity.
Hypertonicity, or too much tone in the skeletal muscle, does not allow the muscle to fully relax between contractions. This means the interstitial space does not open as much as it would if the muscle did fully relax. The ‘pump’ is compromised; not as much fuel and oxygen can be supplied, and not as much waste can be removed. The hypertoned muscles are working harder, requiring more fuel and oxygen and producing more waste. The situation is at contratemps, and has the potential, through rising discomfort and other factors, of becoming worse.
“Disease is nothing else but an attempt on the part of the body to rid itself of morbific matter.” -Dr. Thomas Sydemham
Effective massage therapy may very well be the most effective solution for the situation. By manipulating the muscles and surrounding structures the interstitial space is squeezed and released, manually moving fluid through it. Waste is routed to the veins and lymphatic vessels, making more room for fresh fuel and oxygen. Muscles are relaxed, increasing the volume of the interstitial space. The core of circulation is moved toward health and away from the breeding ground for disease.