How can I get rid of swollen feet and ankles?
If you’ve never experienced swollen feet and ankles, chances are you have seen many people with them. Swelling in the lower legs, also known as fluid or water retention, or medically known as oedema is the abnormal accumulation of fluid under the skin, typically in the lower legs.
What causes swollen feet and ankles? Puffy, tender and swollen feet and ankles can make walking and moving around uncomfortable, and sometimes painful as well. Oedema or swollen feet and ankles can be caused by various reasons.
Modern day jobs require us to be on our computers or standing behind a counter for 6 – 8 hours a day. ABS Australia reports that 43.7% of adults describe their day as mostly sitting while at work1. This can cause fluid to accumulate in our lower legs leading to swelling in our feet and ankles. Experts advise that we should move our ankles every hour to help get the blood circulating.
45% of adult Australians do not meet the minimum of 150 minutes of exercise every week2. Where people used to go out to socialize, the rapid expansion of digital technology in the last decade means people now spend more time socializing on social media from the comfort of their home, thus encouraging them to walk less and be less active in general3.
Shoes that are too tight do not allow blood to circulate freely causing swollen feet and ankles. According to a 2018 study, between 63 – 72% of people wore incorrect width or length shoes4. Not only can bad fitting shoes cause foot pain, they can also aggravate symptoms of numbness for people with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy.
2 in 3 Australian adults (about 12.5 million) are overweight or obese. Excess body weight can put pressure on our blood vessels5. This makes it difficult for blood to circulate freely in our body, causing fluid to pool in the legs, ankles and feet. Being overweight and obese also increases the risk of other serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
We all want to be out walking more in summer but many older people experience more swelling in their legs and feet during this time. Swelling and puffiness of the skin in hot summer is commonly known as heat oedema. Our veins expand to carry more blood to the skin as our body’s natural way to stay cool during hot weather. People with poor circulation tend to experience this condition.
How to reduce swelling in the feet and ankles?
When sitting or lying down, place your legs on a foot-rest like a pouf or pillow to raise them above your heart. This helps blood work with gravity to flow back from your feet to your heart.
Move a little every hour that you are sitting or standing. Rotate your ankles, bend your knees. Go for mini walks during lunch. Schedule a brisk walk every morning or evening and aim for 150 minutes of exercise every week.
Heart Foundation Australia recommends no more than one teaspoon (5 grams) of salt a day, however we typically consume almost double that amount6. Besides a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, too much salt also increases fluid retention causing swollen feet and ankles.
If you’re overweight, losing some weight can help ease the strain on our legs allowing us to exercise more. More movement helps improve circulation and could help to reduce swelling in the foot and ankles.
What can help reduce swollen feet and ankles and also improve leg circulation?
Revitive Circulation Booster is a drug-free registered medical device which uses electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to stimulate muscles in the lower legs and get oxygen-rich blood flow to the feet and ankles.
Revitive is the only foot-plate EMS device to be endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association and is clinically proven to improve blood circulation during use7. Daily use of Revitive may help reduce swollen feet and ankles in healthy people, and reduce swelling from ankle injury. Find out more about how Revitive can help.
The content in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, follow your doctor’s advice and talk about a suitable treatment plan that includes physical activity and nutrition to keep you moving.
- Buldt, AK, Menz, HB. Incorrectly fitted footwear, foot pain and foot disorders: a systematic search and narrative review of the literature. J Foot Ankle Res. 2018;11:43. doi:10.1186/s13047-018-0284-z
- Varatharajan L, Williams K, Moore H, Davies AH. The effect of footplate neuromuscular electrical stimulation on venous and arterial haemodynamics. 2015 Oct;30(9):648-650. DOI: 10.1177/0268355514542682
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