Sore feet, swelling, inflammation and related foot complications can be a product of various sources. If you experience any of these, it’s important to see your podiatrist or primary care physician so that s/he can properly diagnose what you’re dealing with. One of the more common diagnoses for foot swelling and discomfort is a condition known as peripheral edema.
Edema is most commonly characterized by a swelling in one’s feet and ankles. There are a lot of things that can cause this, from high blood pressure, pregnancy, excessive standing, etc. But what’s really causing the underlying problem? Simply put, edema is your body’s response to gravity. Every day, from the moment you get up to the moment you get into bed, your body and your feet are dealing with gravity’s pull on your body. For some, the heavy wear of being on one’s feet can cause internal trauma. In response, as the body struggles to move blood and fluids through your lower extremities (i.e. feet, legs, ankles), an inflammatory, swollen response can arise.
That uncomfortable swelling is not actually a disorder. In most cases, it’s a preliminary symptom that requires some proactive treatment. The best way to address this sort of problem is to identify and treat the root cause. Whether it’s your first time feeling discomfort and swelling or it’s a recurring issue, you should always speak with your physician. However, a few helpful, at-home tips can help keep these symptoms at bay.
The following remedies may help give you some relief while you sort out the root cause of your edema –
A magnesium deficiency in the body is one of the many possible causes of edema. Using a supplement (generally available over the counter) can help provide some relief. Magnesium supplements are normally recommended at roughly 200mg, twice a day. If you would like to consider taking this supplement, please speak with your primary care provider first (and for any dosing recommendations).
As a general matter, exercise is an excellent tool for improving circulation within the body. For those who are able, yoga presents a method by which our body’s limbs (including feet), muscles and bones can exercise in unison to promote a full, healthy blood flow. When done properly and carefully, yoga can help target tension and pain in specific, isolated areas of the body, including your feet and ankles.
As with any other potentially strenuous activity, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before starting a yoga practice, especially if you haven’t been doing it before. If you’re totally new to yoga, we highly recommend taking a beginner’s class. A yoga instructor can not only help you overcome any hesitations you have about yoga, but she or he will make sure you are doing the poses properly and might even be able to suggest additional postures to help with your edema.
- Tonic Water Soaks
This one might sound a little odd, but we recommend giving it a shot! Simply find a comfortable area in your home where you can sit down and fill up a container with lukewarm (or room temperature) tonic water. Allowing your swollen feet to rest and soak in this water for 10-15 minutes can offer some relief for the swelling or discomfort you’re feeling.
- Salt Water Soaks
If you can’t find any tonic water, don’t worry! Plain water with a bit of salt (or Epsom salt) will do the trick! For swelling in your feet and ankles, a bucket with warm water and Epsom salts will work wonders. If your calves are swollen as well, a full bath is probably your best bet.
Epsom salts can work like magic for swelling. Several of our own Anodyne employees use Epsom salt baths after long runs to promote muscle relaxation and alleviate any related aches and pains.
- Leg and Foot Massage
Whether it’s your back or your feet, a massage therapist can help to alleviate the discomfort you’re feeling, while also promoting circulation within that area of the body. Make sure to tell your therapist exactly where you’re feeling pain and experiencing swelling so that he or she can properly focus on that region of your lower extremities.
- Support Hosiery and Compression Socks
Support hose or compression gear can be used to prevent swelling in your legs as you go about your day. Support stockings or hose help to maintain an all-day compression upon your legs to prevent any unnecessary fluid build-up that may otherwise lead to avoidable swelling. Depending on your needs, compression socks are normally available in knee, thigh-high or full compression stockings.
- Elevate Your Feet
When it comes to edema, gravity and the everyday hustle and bustle can cause your feet to feel some undesirable aches and pains. Something as simple as lifting your feet onto an ottoman or nearby chair for a short rest can offer a significant relief in that moment (or after a long day). When you’re relaxing in the evening, prop your legs up on some pillows. Ideally, you want your feet above your heart. If you’re able, try laying on the ground and placing your legs up a wall for several minutes. This will help to reinforce the circulation that your body and lower extremities need.
If you work a day job, try to find a way to prop your feet up under your desk. Even elevating a bit can make a big difference in your swelling.
Swimming, or even floating in water, can help with swollen feet and ankles. The pressure from the water can help get things moving in your legs, and floating gives your circulatory system a break from gravity’s constant pull.
- Drink Up!
Excess salt is a big contributor to swelling, and upping your fluid intake can help dilute the salt in your system. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water per day to flush things out. You could even try making cucumber-lemon water for additional, anti-inflammatory properties. Just drop a couple of cucumber and lemon slices in your glass.