Many people accept swollen ankles, feet and legs as a normal part of everyday life, and very often this is true. However, it is wise to understand that this swelling could be a sign of serious illness.
For this reason, it’s important to take note whenever your feet, ankles and legs swell. It is equally important to know what to do about it so that you can take quick steps to resolve the problem.
In this article, we will discuss some common causes of swelling in the lower legs and feet and introduce some smart ideas for helping you cope with this common problem. Read on to learn more.
The Causes of Swollen Extremities Are Many and Varied
Sometimes swollen feet, ankles and legs may be the result of overdoing it. If you have to stand for long periods of time or spend the whole day walking, gravity is going to take its course.
Blood tends to pool in the extremities under these conditions.
Sitting for extended periods of time (e.g. at work, on an airplane, train or bus) can also cause swelling of the extremities. In any case, it’s important to get plenty of rest and to elevate your feet to help encourage better circulation.
This is especially true if you will be spending a lot of time outdoors in the sunshine. Staying well-hydrated can help you avoid a great many health problems, including swollen feet, ankles and legs.
When To Seek Medical Attention
If it seems that your feet and lower legs become swollen for no reason, this could be cause for concern. This is especially true if the swelling is accompanied by other symptoms such as:
- * Difficulty Breathing
- * Chest Pain
- * Cyanosis
- * Fever
If any of these symptoms are present, you should seek medical attention immediately. A trip to the emergency room is not an overreaction.
Additionally, if only one leg is swollen or is more swollen than the other, this could indicate a serious problem. For example, you may be experiencing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Again, a trip to the emergency room is not out of order in this case.
There are also medications that can cause swelling of the feet, ankles and legs. Among them are:
- * Medications for Hypertension
- * Birth Control Pills
- * Antidepressants
When you see your doctor regarding swollen extremities, he or she will probably review any medications you may be taking. Be sure not to leave anything out.
Try The “Press Test”
When determining the seriousness of your condition, one test you should perform is the “press test”. Press on the swollen area with your fingertips.
When you remove your fingers, the area may appear white but should soon return to normal color and resume its level of puffiness.
It’s easy to see that any time you experience swelling in your feet, ankles and legs it’s important to look at the entire situation to evaluate the cause.
The swelling may be temporary and harmless, in which case you can treat it with simple home remedies such as rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If you try this treatment with little or no result, you should see your doctor.
12 Things You Can Do To Avoid Swollen Legs and Feet
Developing good lifestyle habits can go a long way toward preventing swelling of the extremities in all circumstances. Here are a dozen things you can do every day to improve your circulation and prevent the discomfort of swollen feet, ankles and legs.
# 1 – Get In The Habit of Exercising Regularly
Good blood circulation is vital to prevention of swelling of the extremities. When you exercise every day, you improve your circulation and in turn, prevent having blood pool up in your feet, ankles and legs.
You don’t have to engage in extremely strenuous exercise to reap these benefits. Just remember to stretch and flex your feet and circle your ankles several times per hour whenever you must sit for long periods of time.
Get up and walk around every 20 minutes or so when you are at work or even when you are traveling on an airplane or other public conveyance. Just simply standing and moving your feet a little bit will help you to improve your blood circulation.
#2 – Use Compression Hosiery
If you have a very sedentary job or you must travel for a long period of time (e.g. an international flight) you may wish to wear compression stockings or socks.
The firm support you receive from these garments will help prevent blood pooling in your legs. Wearing compression hosiery can also help prevent varicose veins and ease any leg inflammation you may already be suffering.
#3 – Exercise for Fun!
In everyday life, be sure to engage in enjoyable exercise that will be easy to turn into a habit. Good examples include taking nature walks, cycling, swimming, dancing and yoga.
Swimming is especially good if you already experience swelling and inflammation in your extremities.
When you swim, it’s easy to exercise your feet and legs a great deal without putting a lot of pressure on them. The massaging action of the water also helps your circulation and reduces swelling.
#4 – Practice Inverted Yoga Postures
Yoga practice does not have to be intensive or strenuous either. Simply adding a couple of easy inversion poses to your everyday routine will go a long way toward reducing swelling and improving circulation. One excellent example is the “legs-up-the-wall” pose.
To perform this pose, simply lie on your back with your hips very close to the wall and prop your legs up straight with the soles of your feet facing the ceiling. Rest in this position for 15 or 20 minutes a day.
Legs-up-the-wall pose helps prevent and reduce swelling in your extremities and improves circulation throughout your body. It even helps boost brain activity by increasing blood circulation to the brain. Inversion poses also help improve your digestion and boost your immune system.
#5 – Put Your Feet Up!
Get in the habit of elevating your legs even when you’re not practicing yoga. Whenever you are relaxing and watching TV, listening to music or reading be sure to elevate your legs so that they are higher than your heart.
When you do this for half-an-hour, three times daily you are sure to notice a big reduction in the amount of swelling in your lower extremities.
You can also elevate your feet while you are sleeping by placing a pillow under your ankles. Alternately, try putting a brick under each leg of the foot-board of your bed. This will elevate the entire foot of your bed a couple of inches.
This simple adaptation improves your blood circulation and helps to drain excess fluid from your lower extremities. This prevents pooling of stagnant blood in the lower extremities and facilitates elimination of toxins from your body via your urinary tract.
#6 – Enjoy a Foot Massage Every Day!
When you are resting your swollen feet and legs, it’s also a good idea to massage them. Engaging in a little gentle, firm massage every day for 15 or 20 minutes can help improve your circulation.
Massage encourages toxins to leave the area to be whisked away in your bloodstream and eliminated through urination and sweating. Massaging your own feet and legs is definitely helpful. Getting someone else to do it is even better!
#7 – Give Your Feet a Spa Treatment!
Soaking your feet at the end of the day can also be extremely helpful, especially if you invest in a nice foot spa that can provide you with heat, bubbles and massage. 15 or 20 minutes of foot soaking coupled with aromatherapy or an Epsom salt treatment can be extremely relaxing and beneficial.
If you do invest in a foot spa, be sure to read all instructions and make certain that additions such as essential oils and Epsom salt will not damage the mechanism.
#8 – Boost Your Magnesium Levels
Simply soaking your feet in a tub of warm water with a few tablespoons of Epsom salt can be extremely relaxing and beneficial. Epsom salt causes the water to apply more pressure to your feet which helps with swelling.
Additionally, when you soak in water that has been treated with Epsom salt you take in a healthy dose of magnesium through your skin.
Magnesium is excellent for helping to reduce inflammation. It also helps correct a wide variety of health problems that may cause swollen extremities.
Supplementing with 350 milligrams of magnesium orally every day is advisable in all circumstances. You can also add magnesium oil to the oil you use for foot massage.
#9 – Watch Your Salt Intake
Be sure to eat well and avoid over-salting your food. Although your body does need some salt (and sea salt is best because it delivers other minerals, as well as sodium) it is easy to overdo it.
Excessive salt in your system can cause water retention, which in turn causes swelling of the extremities. Be sure to always taste your food before salting it and avoid processed foods which are always high in salt content.
#10 – Reduce or Eliminate Caffeine
It is also wise to avoid excessive caffeine consumption. Caffeine can also cause your body to retain fluids. Remember to drink plenty of pure, filtered water to counteract the adverse effects of both excessive sodium and caffeine.
Try adding some lemon or lime juice to your freshwater for variety and to add antioxidant properties.
#11 – Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you are overweight, following a healthy, whole foods diet that is low in salt will help you attain and maintain the right weight level.
This will also help you avoid swollen feet, ankles and legs. Excess weight puts undesirable pressure on your bones, joints and muscles. This can lead to inflammation and swelling.
#12 – Above All Else, Don’t Smoke!
If you have a health problem and you smoke, you can be certain that your smoking is contributing to your health problem. Smoking is one of the most detrimental habits (if not the most) in which you could possibly engage.
Smoking is costly and detrimental to every aspect of your health and the health and well-being of those around you. If you smoke, you must prioritize quitting as the most important aspect of reducing swelling in the extremities and improving your overall health.
Strong, Healthy Legs and Feet Will Carry You Through A Long and Healthy Life
If you want to stay active and healthy throughout your life, taking good care of your feet and legs is essential. Follow the 12 smart tips presented here to be certain of staying ambulatory, independent and free of swollen extremities as you enjoy your life and grow older gracefully.