Optimising Injury Healing – Effects of Alcohol

Immediately after an injury there is bleeding from damaged tissue, which forms a bruise. There is also an influx of fluid from the blood stream (swelling), which brings nutrients and cells into the area to begin clearing away the damaged tissues and to fight any infection which may have entered through a break in the skin. Although this swelling is a necessary and important part of the healing process, the formation of new tissue to repair the damage cannot begin until the swelling has subsided and the bleeding has stopped. This process takes from three days to a week. Alcohol is known to increase the diameter of blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow, in a process called vasodilation. Increased blood flow can increase the amount of swelling and bleeding into the injured area, ultimately prolonging the duration of the healing process and recovery time.


Alcohol is an analgesic and can mask the pain and injury. Pain is an important indicator of injury severity – after an injury, pain serves the frustrating but useful purpose of stopping you from moving or putting weight on an area that can’t cope with the increased load. Drinking after an injury allows you to do things which would otherwise be limited by pain, and subsequently increases the amount of damage by overloading the injured area too soon.


Tissue healing requires vitamins, minerals, fluids and rest. Alcohol decreases the efficiency of nutrient absorption for the gut and is a diuretic, which means that it increases the amount of urine you pass. Consumption of alcohol after injury therefore depletes the body of essential vitamins and minerals and causes dehydration at a time when the body is most in need of good nutrition.


Unfortunately, the effects of alcohol consumption do not subside when you sober up. The repercussions of alcohol consumption on the body can last up to five days after two consecutive nights of drinking.



Bike Injuries – Sports & Exercise Physiotherapy Bulletin

Some very interesting reading in the Sports & Exercise Physiotherapy bulletin on mountain biking injuries. Below is a summary of points:

  • Although the number of mountain bikers is increasing each year and the total number of biking injuries are rising, the actual frequency of injuries per hour riding is decreasing.
  • But, the number of injuries are still high – 50% of recreational and 80% of competitive bikers report at least one severe/major injury related to the sport.
  • Bike park injuries have been reported to be as high as 15 in 1000 exposures with 87% of riders being male and 86% of injuries requiring local emergency attention.
  • Fractures made up a large portion of presentations to medical centres with a 2:1 ratio of upper limb to lower limb fractures seen.
  • As we move from XC –> Trail –> DH disciplines, relative injuries change from more overuse injuries towards an increased risk of trauma from falling.
  • The most common and often preventable overuse injuries are knee pain (patellofemoral pain or tendonopathies), arm/wrist nerve issues (cyclist’s palsy) and neck and lower back pain.
  • Improper bike fit is one of the top causes of overuse injuries in mountain biking.

It is a very interesting read with the full article being found here.

Let’s hope everyone has one of those injury free days like 985 per 1000 rides should be, but if you have one of the unlucky 15, make sure you get that injury dealt with promptly so you can get back on the bike and have fun again. Our team members are all highly experienced with optimising your recovery and getting you back on your bike quickly.

Plus, don’t let that niggle turn into an injury. If you want to get the most out of you bike, book in with Paul for a 2 hour Bike Fit session to prevent injury and maximise pedalling efficiency.