Blood circulation in the body is very important to health. Blood circulates from the heart to every part of the body, including the legs and feet. As it circulates, it also returns the blood from the extremities back to the heart. The human heart muscle is one of the strongest, most resilient muscles in the body, but there are things that can’t in the way of its efficiency in regulating circulation.
Diabetes, atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease (PAD), blood clots, varicose veins, Raynaud’s disease, aging and immobility are some of the many disorders that can interfere with healthy circulation. A reduction in circulation to the legs and feet results in slower healing from wounds and tendon/ligament damage, increased build up of waste products like uric acid, which can cause gout, and loss of sensation.
You can make make positive changes to increase your circulation in your legs and feet, through better nutrition and exercise.
- Engage in regular exercise that aids blood flow – Exercise improves blood circulation in the body. Most effective are exercises that involve the feet and legs, such as walking, running, biking, hiking, yoga and weight training. And those are just the basics…if you’ve a sport like swimming, tennis, yoga, or practically anything that provides a cardiovascular workout, you will improve circulation over time. Establish a habit of working out 4-5 times a week for 30-60 minutes per session and your body will thank you for it.
Sorry, eSports fans… while your gaming achievements are out of this world, your fast-twitch reactions, button-mashing and keyboard skills aren’t enough in this case. However, you might enjoy the stress-reducing benefits of another activity during the course of your day.
- Avoid sitting or standing for long stretches– If you are prone to sitting or standing for long, uninterrupted periods of time, ensure that you move around at intervals. This will help the blood to flow through your legs, instead of pooling in the lower extremities, which is not good for health.
Another thing you can do is to stretch your leg out in front of you as you sit for brief intervals. Put your feet on a stool or raised surface to elevate them into a more neutral position for blood flow.
Didn’t know sitting could be be harmful? Recent studies point to the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle, namely as it contributes to certain types of cardiovascular disease. You can offset some of that risk by sitting for no longer than an hour, and getting into the habit of taking 5-minute breaks to get up, stretch and walk around. This goes for office workers who are seated all day long, and even applies to Netflix series binges and movie marathons. Now where is that pause button?
- Drink plenty of water daily –
Water helps to hydrate cells in the skin and also aids digestion. Drinking plenty of it will help the body to get rid of waste products more efficiently. An adult needs between 1.5 and 3 liters of water daily to stay fully hydrated. Ensure you drink lots of water to aid blood circulation in the body. Ever donated blood or had blood drawn at a time that you were not well-hydrated? It’s slower and more viscous. Keep the water flowing!
- Step up your nutrition and avoid processed foods – It is important for you to eat a balanced diet at all times to improve blood circulation in the legs and feet. You need lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Eat foods rich in fiber such as legumes, nuts, oatmeal, etc.Avoid eating fatty foods, especially if you aren’t exercising frequently. It increases the chances of clogging up the arteries. Saturated fats, especially from red meat and processed food sources, will add to cholesterol deposits that block the arteries. The only healthy sources of saturated fat that are safe for consumption are nuts, seeds, avocados and fish.
- Wear comfortable shoes – Wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes can hinder blood flow from the legs to the heart. To improve blood circulation in your legs and feet, wear shoes that are comfortable. You can wear low-heeled shoes with cushioning, tennis shoes, or loafers. These types of shoes will enable your feet to breathe. Avoid wearing high heels or pointy-toed shoes, as they hinder blood flow by pointing the toes down and constricting the foot.
These are all lifestyle changes that can improve your state of health over time. Are they easy? Some more than others, but they are worth implementing if you want to avoid or improve blood circulation. If you don’t know how to start, consider working your way down the list, as they have been prioritized to provide the most overall benefits.
At Houston Foot and Ankle Care, Gabriel Maislos, DPM, FACFAS, is dedicated to improving patient health through a full range of podiatry care services. Poor circulation is a fairly common problem, especially among seniors, diabetic patients, and those with cardiovascular disease. While we can address many foot and ankle problems, those with poor circulation will often see slower recovery or even a decreased likelihood of success from certain procedures. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, or even sensations of numbness or tingling in the feet or ankles, call (713) 541-3199 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Maislos. We accept most major medical insurance.