My Surgery Guide: Improving Leg Circulation Exercises
How to Improve Leg Circulation
Poor circulation is caused by a reduced blood flow to a specific part of your body. This condition is most common in your extremities, particularly your legs. Proper leg circulation is important, because it allows your leg tissue to take in nutrients and get rid of waste, and is essential to long-term leg health and strength. Fortunately, leg circulation can be improved by starting simple habits. You can start making positive changes to your leg circulation right this moment.
Starting Leg-Healthy Habits
Don't sit or stand for too long.It's important to move around during the day to get the blood flowing through your legs. Sitting or standing for long periods of time allows the blood to collect instead of flowing, and is detrimental to your health over time. If you find you've been in the same position for an hour or more, move around for a few minutes before resuming your position.
- If you work in an office and are required to sit for your job, get up and take breaks every hour and a half or so. Even if all you do is walk to the bathroom and back to your desk, you're moving your legs, which helps circulation.
- You could also look into getting a stand-up desk, which allows you to stand instead of sitting while you work.
- If you need to fly, try standing up directly in front of your seat for a few minutes at a time. Repeat this every 30 minutes. If you are unable to stand for any reason, try seated ankle rotations to help encourage circulation.
Position your body to aid circulation.Do you tend to cross your legs when you sit? That common position cuts off the circulation to your legs, making it more difficult for blood to get to your leg tissue to keep it healthy. Make a habit of sitting in a position that's better for blood circulation.
- Sit with your legs spaced slightly apart and your feet on the floor. Remember to get up from time to time so you aren't in this position for too long.
- You can also slightly elevate your legs to help your circulation. Put your feet up on a stool 6 to 12 inches (15.2 to 30.5 cm) above the ground.
Start an exercise routine.If you can work some exercise into your schedule, your circulation will certainly benefit. Any exercises that employ the legs will help your circulation. Try power walking, running, biking, swimming, hiking, and other exercises you enjoy that get your feet moving.
- Exercise daily for maximum benefits. Even a 30-minute walk 4-5 times a week will improve the health of your legs.
- If you're looking for a low-impact exercise, try yoga.Many yoga poses engage your legs and stimulate the circulatory system.
Wear comfortable shoes.Wearing high heels, pointy-toed shoes, or other tight shoes can impede blood flow from your legs to your heart. When you're focused on improving leg circulation, it's important to wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes with plenty of cushioning.
- Wear tennis shoes or loafers that give your feet room to breathe.
- Go for dress shoes with rounded or almond-shaped toes instead of pointy toes. Choose wedges instead of heels if you want extra height.
Wear compression hose.These are similar to panty hose, and they're specifically designed to stabilize the leg tissues and help blood circulate more easily. You can pick them up at the drugstore or see your doctor about ordering hose specially fitted for your legs and your individual needs.
Stop using tobacco products.Smoking can actually lead to peripheral artery disease, a condition in which the arteries in the legs harden and can no longer circulate blood. If you have poor circulation, stopping smoking and use of other tobacco products is an important way to regain leg health.
- If you are in the U.S., you can call the national Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. The Quitline can help you with practical quitting advice, counseling on quitting, and referrals to other stop smoking resources.
Taking Herbs and Supplements
Try birch bark tea.This herb is said to help stimulate the circulatory system. It can be taken as a supplement, but it's also great as a tea, especially brewed with a little ginger. Incorporate a cup into your daily routine.
Take gingko supplements.Gingko has long been used for a number of medicinal purposes, and there is evidence that it can help to open up the blood vessels and improve circulation.
- A dosage of 120-240 mg per day of ginkgo leaf extract is recommended. Divide it into two or three doses.
Drink cayenne pepper tea.This spicy pepper is said to help open blood vessels and improve circulation. You can sprinkle it over your food or stir it into some tea with honey. Consuming some cayenne pepper every day should improve your circulation over time.
Take fish oil supplements.Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for a healthy lipid profile. Having a high level of "good" cholesterol improves circulation.
- Fish oil supplements come in pill gel capsule form and are usually made from mackerel, tuna, cod liver, salmon, or herring.
Keeping Your Diet Healthy
Eat less salt.Salt causes your body to retain water and swell, which can put pressure on the veins and lead to poor circulation. Try halving your salt intake and avoiding sprinkling extra salt on your food after it has been prepared. You should aim to get no more than 2,000 milligrams of salt a day.
- Do most of your own cooking, rather than eating out or buying packaged foods. Restaurants and food manufacturers commonly make food with far more salt than you think. Avoid this by cooking your own dishes from whole foods whenever possible.
- Avoid salty snack foods, fast food, and microwaveable dinners and snacks.
- Drink plenty of water to flush the salt from your body. You need 2 or so liters a day to stay fully hydrated.
- If you really like salty foods, consider using a salt substitute. These are available in many health food stores.
Maintain a healthy body weight.An important part of keeping your legs and feet healthy and improving circulation is maintaining a healthy body weight. Having extra weight places stress on your circulatory system. Follow a balanced diet and work with your doctor to reach a weight that is right for your body type.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
- Make sure you're getting a good amount of fiber through legumes, nuts, oatmeal, and other fiber-rich foods.
Getting Medical Treatment
Ask your doctor about treatment options for the cause of your poor circulation.Poor circulation is generally a symptom of a larger medical condition. Talk to your doctor about what could be causing your poor circulation.
- Common conditions that cause poor circulation include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arterial complications, and peripheral artery disease.
- Many of these conditions can be managed or treated with a combination of medication and healthy lifestyle adjustments to lower your blood sugar and cholesterol.
- Left untreated, peripheral artery disease may result in a heart attack or stroke.
Take note of your symptoms.Your doctor will be able to help you best when they have a clear idea of your symptoms. Track what symptoms you experience, when you experience them, and how long they last. Common symptoms of poor circulation include:
- Tingling in your leg
- Numbness in your leg
- Throbbing or stinging in your leg
- Pain in your leg muscles
- Muscle cramps
QuestionHow do I stop night-time muscle cramps?Erin MurphyCommunity AnswerStart by trying 4-6 oz of tonic water a night before bed. It should settle down the cramps. Eating a banana a day is also good for it.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if I wake up with aching legs?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGet moving to get your circulation going, and do some light stretches. If this is a chronic and painful issue, you should definitely see a doctor.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I improve my leg circulation when it's swollen?Erin MurphyCommunity AnswerWhen your ankles are swollen it is best to elevate the leg. If it is the leg itself that swells try elevating. If that doesn't help, get to the ER or doctor, you might have a more sever condition that needs medical attention.Thanks!
QuestionWhat medication can I take for poor blood circulation?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo one can answer that without specific knowledge of your past and current health status. Talk to your doctor about potential medication options.Thanks!
QuestionWill it help to sleep with support hoses for severe, painful poor circulation?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGenerally they are recommended during the day when you are up and about. Sleep without them and with your feet elevated on a pillow if you can.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do while on a plane journey?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should consult your doctor to see what they recommend for your travels.Thanks!
Will air compression therapy on my legs help with circulation?
Will ion theraphy help for leg sores and circulation?
Can vibration plates improve circulation?
I am not able to sit properly and sleep properly due to severe leg pain. What can I do?
What do I do to prevent stinging feet and palm?
- Always ask your doctor for the most professional advice.
Sources and Citations
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of How to Improve Leg Circulation was reviewed by on March 23, 2019.
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