The blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to every living cell in the body through a process called circulation (1). The circulatory system is responsible for supplying veins and arteries with much-needed oxygenated blood and taking away toxic substances.
Veins work by carrying blood toward the heart and arteries move blood away from the heart. Blood vessels require the muscles that surround them to pump blood efficiently throughout the body. The muscles in the legs and feet work to pump blood upward, so if there is a kink in the system, you can start to feel achy legs, fatigue, cold hands and feet, or pain and cramps.
Since blood flow and circulation are necessary for your overall wellbeing and to supply the body with much-needed oxygen and nutrients, keeping everything running smoothly is critical. So how do you know if your blood is pumping as it should be or if you have blood restriction (2) that might be starving your cells? There are nine subtle signs that might be giving you the answers you need about the status of your blood flow.
1. Painful Legs and Muscle Cramps
If you feel either a tingling or numbness in your legs or feet and they get swollen or tired after sitting or standing during the day, it might be a warning sign. The stinging pain of muscle cramps or inflammation might be your body’s way of warning you that things aren’t flowing as they should be. If there isn’t enough oxygen flowing to reach your limbs, they can become cold and you can experience muscle cramping.
If you start to notice unnecessary swelling in your feet and hands, then that might be a warning sign. If the circulatory system isn’t working as it should, it might have a hard time pushing the blood back from the limbs to the heart as it is supposed to. If that’s the case it can leave fluid in its wake, which will lead to swelling. Persistent edema is one of the clearest signs that you have a bloodflow restriction.
3. Leg Ulcers
Those who suffer from diabetes typically have leg ulcers, but those ulcers can be caused by poor circulation. More typical in women than men, they can appear as wounds that don’t seem to mend and are painful or are accompanied by redness, itching, discoloration or even a burning sensation. This might be an indication that blood isn’t getting where it needs to be.
4. Varicose Veins
That web-like appearance in the veins means that there is a blood flow problem. Varicose veins are a result of veins weakening, which causes them to turn and twist and become larger. All of those conditions point to poor circulation.
5. Discolored Skin
If you have a pale blue color to your skin, it can indicate that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen due to improper circulation. If your blood doesn’t flow well, then it can actually change the appearance of the skin to a different hue or color altogether.
6. Digestive Issues or Change in Your Appetite
If your blood isn’t flowing right, then you can experience weight loss or digestive problems like cramps or constipation. If your blood flow has slowed down it can affect your other body systems in the same manner. If there isn’t enough blood flow, then you aren’t going to get the nutrients you need for things to work correctly.
When you don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients to the cells of your body, it is natural to feel fatigue. If you feel like you just can’t ever get enough rest, it might be a blood restriction problem.
8. Poor Concentration
When your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it is difficult to concentrate on the things that you need to. Poor blood flow will also result in memory loss and not being able to get things done.
9. Chest Pains
When your cardiac muscles aren’t working well and moving blood around your body the way that they should, you might experience a tightening in your chest area. It is your body’s way of letting you know it lacks the necessary oxygen.
Blood restriction signals are typically not just one symptom, but a series of things that tell you that your circulatory system isn’t working the way that it should. If you have more than two of the symptoms above, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a medical professional.