Blood circulation is something we expect to occur naturally. For many people, circulation, especially through the legs, becomes a problem. This could result from diabetes, obesity, and a variety of other factors. When the flow of blood is disrupted, the body provides numerous clues. If you experience any of the following, you may want to consider how you can improve your circulation.
Symptoms of poor blood circulation include:
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
- Cold hands or feet
- Swelling in the legs
- Muscle cramps, especially in the legs and feet
- Varicose veins
- Skin ulcers on the legs or feet
Improving Circulation May be Easier Than You Think
Often, the tips that are suggested for promoting better circulation involve some form of exercise performed outside or in the gym. Here, we want to offer tips that you can easily implement at home.
- Walk up and down the stairs. If you live in a multiple-story home, spend 5 to 10 minutes walking up and down the stairs. This exercise causes the calf and quadriceps muscles to contract and also increases heart rate.
- Calf raises. The calf muscles between the ankle and the knee are largely responsible for pushing blood back up to the heart. These muscles contract when we walk and exercise. To create a pumping action in the calf muscles, stand comfortably and raise your heals so your weight shifts to the balls of your feet. From here, pump your heels upward slightly. Perform 20 reps and repeat for 3 sets. Be sure to pump and release to avoid muscle cramping.
- Diaphragmatic breathing. Most people do not associate breathing with circulation, but the two are directly related. Diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the lymphatic system to flush waste materials. This exercise is performed lying on the back. Placing one hand on the chest and the other on the belly. Inhale slowly and deeply to raise the belly as much as comfortably possible. The rising belly indicates that the diaphragm is engaged. Continue this deep breathing for 5 minutes.
- Elevate the legs. There are a few ways to do this. One is to lie on your back with your legs raised up on a wall. In this position, the buttocks should be directly against the wall. The backs of the legs are also straight and flat against the wall in this pose. An alternative to legs-up-the-wall is to lie on a comfortable surface and place cushions or pillows under the legs to raise them higher than the heart.
- Stay hydrated. Adequate hydration helps the blood flow more easily through the body. Rather than drinking several ounces of water at once, it is more beneficial to sip water every few minutes throughout the day.
- Wear compression stockings. Compression stockings places graduated pressure on the legs, more at the ankles and less up the calf. This moves blood upward to support circulation.
Movement is key to supporting optimal circulation, and movement is not something we can only do outdoors. If you are experiencing the signs of poor circulation, such as varicose veins, contact our Sherman Oaks office at (818) 325-0400. We can help you address this problem.