Each minute, the six quarts of blood in your body circulate three times and, in one day, your blood travels about 12,000 miles. This incredibly hard-working system not only relies on a healthy heart to do the pumping but also healthy blood vessels for the round trips. If there's a problem anywhere in this complex system, the first areas to show signs are those farthest from your heart, such as your lower legs and feet.
Our team of podiatrists at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle understands all too well how circulatory issues affect your feet, which is why we’re focusing on ways to improve circulation in this month’s blog post.
Here’s a look at the issues that can compromise blood flow to your feet and lower legs and what you can do to get more blood pumping through.
Many issues can impede the blood flow to your feet, but we’re going to concentrate on two of the more common:
When the arteries that deliver blood to your legs become narrowed or blocked by plaque buildup — a condition called atherosclerosis — peripheral artery disease can take hold. Approximately 6.5 million people aged 40 and older in the United States have PAD, placing them at greater risk for heart attack and stroke.
High blood sugar levels can damage your blood vessels and severely compromise the flow of blood to your feet. Our primary concern with diabetes is foot ulcers that don’t heal easily thanks to the lack of blood flow.
There are several steps that you can take to improve blood flow to your feet, and we review five of them here:
It should come as no surprise that getting up and moving is one of the best ways to improve circulation. Engaging in exercise helps your blood move and strengthens your heart muscle so it can pump efficiently. Furthermore, the blood vessels in your lower legs rely on muscles to help push the blood back to your heart, so any activity, such as walking or running, that involves your calf muscles is ideal.
Targeted exercises, such as calf lifts, lunges, and squats, are great for promoting better circulation in your legs.
If mobility is an issue, there are ways to exercise while you’re seated or lying down. For example, while you watch TV, stretch your legs out straight and flex your foot forward and back 10 times. If you’re lying down, bring one knee up to your chest and straighten it back out. Repeat this on both sides about 10 times and perform these knee bends often.
Whenever you’re seated or lying down, elevate your legs to improve your blood flow. At night, you can sleep with a wedge pillow under your lower legs.
Another great technique for encouraging circulation in your lower legs is to wear compression stockings, which you can find in most pharmacies or sports stores.
If you have diabetes or PAD, it’s imperative that you make some lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and improving your diet. Eating fatty or sugary foods can greatly harm your blood vessels, so we suggest ditching the junk food in favor of the Mediterranean Diet, which is full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
We’re happy to sit down with you to customize a plan for improving the circulation to your feet. Simply contact one of our offices in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, Columbia, Pulaski, Hendersonville, or Lebanon, Tennessee, to schedule an appointment.