What is a muscle pump? What is their function? Which symptoms occur when the function of the muscle pump is more limited? These questions should be answered below.

What is the muscle pump?

The muscle pump supports the return of the blood in the lower veins that flow through the muscles. By tensing and relaxing the muscles, these low-lying veins are compressed. The return of the blood takes place with the assistance of the muscle pump and the venous valves directed to the heart.

Function & Task

The muscle pump supports the return of the blood in the lower veins that flow through the muscles.

In addition to the function of the muscle pump, there is the venous pump: The venous valves push the blood towards the heart. The function of the venous valves prevents the blood from flowing backwards: If the pressure above the venous valve is greater than below when the blood is passed on, it closes and thus prevents a backflow of the blood. However, the function of the venous pump alone is not sufficient to ensure the return of the blood to the heart. Support from the muscle pump is necessary, especially in the legs. Therefore, the return of the blood must be additionally supported by movements of the muscles in the form of the muscle pump.

The fascia, which pulls through the muscle tissue and surrounds the muscles externally, acts as a natural abutment, so that the muscle movement can always exert pressure on the veins. A contracted muscle doing work reduces the diameter of the vein. The blood that is lying there is pressed upwards and downwards, whereby it is transported further upwards through an opening venous valve towards the heart.

The blood, which is just above the venous valve at the bottom, will cause the lower venous valve to close and be transmitted from the top towards the heart. So there is a constant interplay between relaxed and tight muscles, opening and closing venous valves that ensure blood flow back to the heart.

A well-functioning muscle pump relieves the heart, because the heart needs to do less work to move the blood from the lower extremities into the veins and up.

The muscle pump may degrade or fail in quality under various circumstances. A plaster cast induces intentional lack of exercise and causes the muscle pump to come to a standstill. Even sitting in a plane or car for a long time reduces the return flow of blood in the leg veins. This supports blood clots, thrombosis or edema.

Venous disorders may be due to lack of exercise: the muscles have not been sufficiently stimulated to move and have lost their strength. The fasciae have lost their elasticity and practically fail as abutments on the leg veins.

A compression stocking or compression bandage must now act as an outer abutment to eliminate edema and restore the blood's return flow. For a healthy, functioning metabolism, a balance between arterial oxygen and nutrient supply and venous removal of CO2 and metabolic degradation products is of great importance. The use of external aids alone is not enough. The body needs to be animated for movement and metabolic activity.

Exercise always brings a higher calorie consumption. Applied to the legs this means: Especially rhythmic movements from the sole of the foot to the calves to the thighs with tension and relaxation of the muscles exert a pressure and suction effect and activate the vein pump and muscle pump. These movements, at least over active movement of the feet and calves, should often be done at the desk or at the standing workplace.

In addition, activities that require the feet and the entire leg muscles are even more useful: walking, climbing stairs, hiking, Nordic walking, jogging, swimming or cycling make a significant contribution to keeping muscles, vein pump and muscle pump active and functional and to prevent venous disease. In addition to edema, varicose veins or thromboses are another consequence of too weak a muscle pump.

Diseases & complaints

If people are so limited in their mobility that they can no longer mobilize themselves adequately or have peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD or intermittent claudication), polyneuropathy (as a result of diabetes mellitus or alcohol abuse), the measures are sufficient with external compression and guidance Exercise is not over. Manual drainage or hydroven therapy as decongestive therapy is added to the treatment spectrum here.

If the return of the blood is reduced, varicose veins and thrombosis may develop. In primary varicose veins, the muscle pump in the deeper veins is no longer sufficient. The blood there jams and flows in the direction of the feet. This causes edema and the feeling of having heavy legs. Itching and tension can add up. In more severe cases it can cause eczema and inflammation of the skin.

The ulcer is feared, the badly healing open leg, usually on the lower leg. The venous valves of the deep veins can not do the transport work to the heart alone. Now more blood flows back through the superficial veins to the heart and the varicose veins are forming. Secondary varicose veins are formed when a new bypass circuit is to be formed: in this case, a deeper vein is blocked by a thrombosis. The thrombosis can also form in the superficial varicose veins.

Symptoms of a thrombosis can be: The leg feels heavy and hurts. The affected area feels warm. The skin may turn bluish. The thrombosis must ultimately be resolved, surgery or blood clotting is inhibited.

Risk factors include smoking in combination with the contraceptive pill, overweight, surgeries, pregnancy and a sedentary lifestyle, even during long journeys. A well-developed muscle pump increases the likelihood that the thrombosis will not develop or delay its onset.

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