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  • Writer's pictureSophie Beaudry

The Effects of Smoking on Your Muscles



In my practice, I quickly noticed a link between my clients who were smoking cigarettes and their muscle health. In other words, I noticed that my clients who smoked cigarettes had severe muscle tension and soreness and, would get very little release with a massage treatment. It didn't matter if I saw them once a month or twice a week, I would get very minimal results with them. Of course, other factors can play a role in an individual's muscle health but I started seeing a trend with my clients who did smoke. This sparked my interest,

What does smoking a cigarette actually do to your muscles?

We always learn that smoking cigarettes has a huge impact on the human body but, how does it specifically affect your muscles?


First off, a little behind the scenes of biology, what is collagen? Well, collagen is an important protein produced by the human body responsible for muscle growth and maintenance, as well as tissue repair. When smoking a cigarette, the nicotine breaks down the collagen found in muscles and tendons and lowers the body’s ability to regenerate those tissues. This causes the body to heal slower after muscle trauma or injury. Then, when the body can’t properly repair or heal itself, muscle inflammation is increased causing the affected tissues to be more fatigued and sore.


Smoking a cigarette also reduces the number of blood vessels produced in muscle tissues. These blood vessels are the muscles' way of receiving oxygen and nutrients and so, if fewer blood vessels are being produced, there is a decrease in the amount of oxygen and nutrients these muscles can receive. And, not only does it reduce the number of blood vessels but, the nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarettes can too cause your blood to stick to your artery walls causing them to become more narrow. Narrow arteries mean less blood to the muscles, which again means less oxygen and nutrients to these tissues. Therefore, during physical activity, this reduces the muscles' ability to properly use the energy being produced, affecting its ability to regenerate and grow stronger. This process results in a decrease of the muscles' capacity to contract properly causing a loss in muscle mass and strength. In other words, fewer blood vessels and narrow arteries mean the muscles are weakened and have more difficulty growing bigger and stronger.


It is interesting to see that smoking a cigarette has such unfavorable effects on muscle health. If you are a client receiving massage treatments and are getting little results, keep in mind that cigarettes could be one of the causes. If you a therapist treating a client who smokes cigarettes and you feel that you are seeing very little results, it is important to relay this information, educate your client.

Your client may not be aware of the effects smoking could have on their muscles.

Please keep in mind that a cigarette contains several hundred harmful chemicals. Further research is needed to determine other ways these chemicals could be causing other harmful side effects to your muscle health.


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RECAP:

Smoking cigarettes affects your muscles in the following ways;

- Delayed recovery time after muscle trauma or injury

- Muscle fatigue & soreness

- Increased muscle pain

- Reduction of muscle mass

- Muscle weakness


RELATED ARTICLES:

Cigarette smoke directly impairs skeletal muscle function through capillary regression and altered myofibre calcium kinetics in mice by NOGUEIRA, L. et al. URL: https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1113/JP275888


Cigarette smoking and musculoskeletal disorders by ABATE, M. et al. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3711704/


Relationship Between Cigarette Smoking and Muscle Strength in Japanese Men by SAITO, T. et al. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3514468/


Smoking-induced Skeletal Muscle Dysfunction. From Evidence to Mechanisms by DEGENS, H., GAYAN-RAMINEZ, G., & VAN HEES, H. W. H. URL: https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.201410-1830PP


The Effect of Tobacco Smoking on Musculoskeletal Health: A Systematic Review by AL-BASHAIREG, A. M. et al. URL: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2018/4184190/

 

This blog-post should not be interpreted as a systematic review. The information posted here was built on the scientific articles that I had at my disposal, which were interesting to me and relevant to the topic. Please feel free to comment below any links to scientific articles that are related to the subject.

 

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