Understanding circulation


Compromised blood flow (poor circulation) is the restriction of blood to certain parts of the body.

The blood circulation system is the prime method of getting needed oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body. If blood flow in an area is poor then the cells will find it very difficult to get all of the energy and food nutrients they need to enable the body to operate in a healthy manner.

Poor circulation can be very unpleasant. If it isn't treated, it can lead to a lifetime of discomfort and even more serious problems.

If you believe you have poor circulation, get it checked by your medical practitioner.

Potential causes

Peripheral Artery Disease - (PAD) can lead to poor circulation in your legs. PAD is a circulatory condition that causes narrowing of the blood vessels and arteries.

Blood Clots - partially or entirely block the flow of blood. They can develop almost anywhere in your body, but a blood clot that develops in your arms or legs can lead to circulation problems.

Varicose Veins are enlarged veins caused by incompetent venous valves. The veins appear gnarled and engorged, and they are most often found on the back of the legs. The damaged veins cannot move blood as efficiently as other veins, so poor circulation may become a problem.

Diabetes - can cause problems in many different areas of your body. Poor circulation caused by diabetes can cause leg cramping, as well as pain and cramping in your calves, thighs, or buttocks. People with advanced diabetes may have a difficult time detecting the signs of poor circulation because diabetic neuropathy can cause reduced sensation in your extremities.

Raynaud’s Disease - presenting as cold hands and feet. This disease causes the small arteries in your hands and toes to narrow. Narrowed arteries are less capable of moving blood through your body.


Water retention, also known as fluid retention refers to an excessive build up of fluid in the circulatory system, body tissues, or cavities in the body. Up to 70% of the human body consists of water and water exists both inside and outside our body's cells.

If circulation is compromised, fluid can remain in the tissues, causing swelling in various parts of the body, including the abdomen, ankles, legs and feet. (It is also called oedema).


The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph. Fluid that is forced out of the bloodstream during normal circulation is filtered through lymph nodes to remove bacteria, abnormal cells and other matter.

ActivBody TENS therapy

As part of your management plan for diagnosed poor circulation, you may use electrical nerve stimulation.

ActivBody is the TENS machine we suggest for circulation issues.

ActivBody electrotherapy can be used everyday - outside the clinic - for an effortless, regular aid to better circulation. Unlike the "circulation booster", you do not have to be sitting down to use ActivBody as it is designed to be used on the move. It is also suitable for use during long plane or car journeys.

  • RELIEVE mode:
    • Fast and lasting pain relief (modulated low and high frequency TENS; continuous, comfortable intensity)
    • Circulation and reduced stiffness (modulated low to medium frequency ECS; continuous, low intensity)
  • RELAX mode
    • Lasting pain relief (modulated low frequency TENS for release of beta-endorphins)
    • Relaxation (modulated low frequency TENS for release of beta-endorphins)
    • Circulation (modulated low to medium frequency ECS; continuous, low intensity)

Pad placement - circulation

circulation electrode placement
circulation electrode placement

Settings for Mode, Intensity, Time and Repeat frequency

Everyone has a different level of skin resistance; therefore we cannot specify an exact intensity setting for you. Simply choose a level of intensity where you can feel the stimulation but ensure it is below a level of discomfort. See the table below for examples.

Muscles should not twitch or spasm. So long as you avoid muscle twitching, you cannot overdose.

Purpose ModeIntensity TimeHow often
Acute pain BLOCKMedium 30 minutesas required
Chronic pain RELIEVELow to medium Minimum 60 minutesas required
Nagging pain RELIEVELow Overnightas required
Relaxation RELAXLow Minimum 2 hoursas required
Circulation RELAX or RELIEVELow 60 minuteswhen practical
Best TENS machine for circulation

Pain page links

ActivBody Complete TENS Kit
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