The majority of the people we treat at our city and North Shore physio clinics are non-smokers but there are still a few who have yet to kick the habit. We’re not here to judge anyone but as far as injury recovery goes, smoking is not good at all. As it is part of our mission to produce superior results so that people can get back to doing the things they love, then we think that injury recovery time should also be quit smoking time.
We all know that smoking is bad for your health and is the underlying cause of many serious health issues that are highly preventable. Each cigarette contains over 4000 chemicals and 70 of them are known to cause cancer. Furthermore, it has been calculated that every cigarette takes 11 minutes off your life expectancy. But let’s focus for a moment on the more specific issue of how smoking affects recovery from injury.
Every lungful of smoke that is inhaled will extend your recovery time from any injury. This is because our lungs should be filled with air that is rich in oxygen. This air should pass from our lungs into our blood and then flow around our bodies, which in turn keeps tissues healthy and promotes the effective healing of damaged tissues. A common analogy is that oxygen is food for our bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments. However, if you smoke, you are starving your injury of the oxygen-rich food it needs to heal. By inhaling smoke into your lungs and then into your bloodstream, you are essentially feeding junk food to the injury – and we all know that too much junk food is bad for you!
Something else to keep in mind is that nicotine is a vasoconstrictor; as the word suggests, it closes the blood vessels and restricts the flow of blood to the body’s extremities. And to make things even worse, smoking makes your blood thicker so it further slows its progress through the already narrowed blood vessels.
As we’ve already said, we are not here to judge. We are here to make you feel better and if people choose to smoke, then that is their choice. But smoking is a real hindrance to a fast and full recovery from injury and that’s why your rehab period is the perfect time to quit and for so many reasons.