Quitting smoking, controlling your blood pressure, eating a healthy diet and exercising are some of the ways for improving blood circulation in the legs and feet. Also, elevating your feet, getting a massage, staying hydrated, wearing compression stockings and soaking in a warm bath can improve circulation in your legs.
If left untreated, poor blood circulation in the lower body can lead to blood clots, heart attack, stroke, amputations and other life-threatening complications. Continue reading if you want to know how to get better circulation in your legs and feet.
How to Increase Blood Flow to Legs and Feet Naturally
Peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease), high blood sugar (diabetes), high blood pressure and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) are some of the common causes of low blood flow to your legs and feet. Lifestyle changes, eating a balanced diet and exercise can help improve poor blood circulation in your lower body.
Here are common, natural ways to increase blood flow:
Elevate Your Legs
Lying down and raising your feet helps improve blood circulation by allowing trapped blood in your lower body to flow back toward your heart. Try to elevate your legs above your heart level. Doing this for about 20 minutes several times daily can also help reduce leg and ankle swelling.
Get a Massage
The gentle push and pull of your muscles during massage therapy can enhance blood circulation by promoting blood flow throughout your body. If you’re on a budget, you can purchase a foam roller to self-administer muscle tension relief.
Nicotine in cigarettes, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco can damage artery walls and thicken your blood, affecting blood flow. Whilst it can be challenging to overcome nicotine addiction, there are many ways available that can help you quit smoking.
Moreover, limit your caffeine and alcohol intake as they can contribute to dehydration. Speak to your doctor so you’ll know how much fluid intake you’ll need every day to maintain proper hydration levels.
Wear Compression Socks or Stockings
Compression socks apply pressure to your legs just enough to prevent blood from pooling and encouraging it to circulate toward your heart. Speak to a medical professional as they can help you find the correct fit and strength of compression stockings that help improve circulation in your legs and feet.
Take a Warm Bath
According to a study, a warm bath can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Soaking in warm water causes your arteries and veins to enlarge, which can promote increased blood flow. While the effects are temporary, a warm bath can be a helpful way to kick-start circulation in your lower extremities.
Drink a Warm Cup of Tea
Drinking warm tea produces a similar effect to a warm bath by enlarging the blood vessels. Additionally, the antioxidants present in tea contribute to good cardiovascular health, improving blood circulation. Both black tea and green tea offer these health benefits.
Move Your Body More Often
Exercise that involves stretching the muscles is a fantastic way to promote blood circulation. Even simple stretching exercises can enhance blood flow by elongating muscles and tendons, allowing blood to flow more freely through the blood vessels. These movements also increase your heart rate, encouraging faster blood circulation.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Consume more fruits and vegetables, especially those known to increase blood circulation. Avoid foods containing saturated fats such as chicken, red meat, cheese and other animal sources.
Also, avoid consuming too much salt. Doing so can help maintain a healthy weight, and regulate cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It can also keep your arteries clear.
How Do You Check Blood Circulation in Legs at Home?
Here are a few simple tests you can do at home to check blood circulation:
Capillary Refill Test
The capillary refill test is a simple procedure that involves observing the nail beds. It is commonly used to monitor dehydration levels and assess the adequacy of blood flow to the surrounding tissues.
To do this, press your thumb or fingertip firmly against the tip of your toe for 5 seconds. When you release, the skin should turn pink again within 2 seconds. If it takes longer, it may be a sign of poor circulation.
A leg-elevation test checks how well your blood vessels can return blood to your heart. To do this, lie on your back and prop your legs up on a pillow or chair for 5 minutes.
Your circulation is good if your feet and ankles feel warm and tingly, and the swelling subsides. Contrastingly, it may be a sign of poor circulation if your feet and ankles still feel cold and numb, or the swelling doesn’t go down.
This test checks for the strength and regularity of your pulse as well as assesses the condition of blood flow. It requires no equipment and is painless.
To do this, find your pulse on your ankle. Manually feel the pulse and use a stethoscope to listen in specific areas such as the groin (inguinal region), behind the knees and ankles.
The pulse should be strong and regular. Otherwise, it may be a sign of poor circulation in your legs.
Does Foot Massage Help Blood Circulation?
Foot massage for blood circulation supports the healing process and maintains the health of your muscles and tissues. This is particularly helpful if you have an underlying condition like diabetes, which can contribute to poor circulation or nerve damage.
What Vitamin Helps with Circulation in Legs?
Effective blood circulation will depend on the functioning of the circulatory system, which includes arteries, capillaries and veins. But to ensure smooth circulation without hindrances, the body needs proper nutrition, including specific vitamins such as Vitamin E, Vitamin B3 (niacin) and Potassium (Vitamin K).
Does Walking Improve Circulation in the Legs?
Walking can improve circulation in the legs. You can start with short walks, even as little as 5 minutes daily. If you can do more, slowly increase the duration or speed of your walks.
Walking is a cardiovascular activity that raises your heart rate. It enhances blood flow and can reduce blood pressure. Walking can increase energy levels as it helps release hormones such as endorphins and promotes oxygen delivery throughout the body.
Does Elevating Your Legs Help with Circulation?
Putting your feet up can provide relief by reducing the pressure on your veins, especially after prolonged periods of standing or sitting. Elevating your lower limbs is beneficial as it aids in improving blood circulation. This allows your circulatory system to work more efficiently by assisting gravity in moving blood toward the heart.
Do Circulation Boosters Really Work?
The effectiveness of circulation boosters varies. Some with ingredients like ginkgo biloba or garlic may have supporting evidence, while others, like those using electrical stimulation, lack clear evidence.
Circulation Booster Dangers
Circulation boosters are devices that stimulate the muscles in the legs and feet. Supposedly, such devices improve blood circulation and relieve pain.
Yet, there are not enough studies that support these claims. On top of that, using circulation boosters can be dangerous.
Circulation boosters use electrical stimulation that can cause soreness, cramping, and even injury to the muscles.
The increase in blood flow may be too much that it could lead to blood clots. This can be dangerous to people with medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
Interference with Medical Devices
The electrical stimulation in circulation boosters can interfere with pacemakers and other medical devices.
Remember, circulation boosters are not a substitute for medical treatment. If you have circulation issues, consult a doctor.
Does Revitive Work?
Some evidence suggests that Revitive may be effective in improving circulation. However, other studies have found that Revitive and other electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) devices are no more effective than other treatments like wearing compression stockings for enhancing blood circulation.
It’s worth mentioning that circulation boosters are not a substitute for medical treatment. If you have a chronic health condition, such as heart disease or diabetes, speak to your doctor before using any circulation boosters. There are natural ways to increase circulation in the lower legs and feet.
How to Improve Leg Circulation Naturally
According to the Cleveland Clinic, you can improve poor circulation naturally through:
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Losing weight.
- Managing stress.
- Quitting smoking.
- Wearing compression socks or stockings
How to Improve Circulation in Feet While Sleeping
Elevating your legs while sleeping can be beneficial for circulation and reducing swelling. It is recommended to raise your legs above the level of your heart.
You can use wedge-shaped pillows to help you elevate your legs in bed. Alternatively, you can improvise with pillows or folded blankets you have at home.
Reach Out to Us for Personalised, Professional Foot and Ankle Care
If you have concerns about your circulation, experience leg swelling or pain, or want to improve your quality of life, speak to the podiatrists & podiatry team at Adelaide Foot and Ankle. As experts in lower limb assessments, we can evaluate your blood flow, and collaborate with you to develop a solution for improving circulation and enhancing overall functionality.
Don’t delay treatment. Contact us today.
What causes poor blood flow to the feet?
The most common causes of poor circulation in the feet include diabetes, obesity and medical conditions such as peripheral artery disease (PAD).
Can you reverse poor circulation in the legs?
You can improve poor circulation through lifestyle changes, medication, and if necessary, surgical intervention.