According to the Mayo Clinic, your leg can swell for various reasons. For example, swelling in one leg alone may indicate an injury causing inflammation in the inflicted area. However, swelling in both legs may be the sign of a kidney or heart issue contributing to excess fluid in the body. Once you have determined the cause, seek adequate treatment to prevent further swelling.
By keeping your legs above the heart, gravity will help to keep fluids from draining and collecting in the lower region of your body. In fact, the Ohio State University recommends elevating your feet on a bed of pillows at least three to four times a day for 45 to 60 minutes to prevent additional swelling. Because your leg muscles may be weaker due to an injury, they will have a harder time pumping blood back to the heart. As a result, your legs swell and require the force of gravity to aid in fluid circulation.
The Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia suggests exercising your legs to help pump fluids back to your heart. Of course, take precaution not to injure your leg further. For example, the Ohio State University Medical Center advises to do ankle pumps, where you repeatedly flex and point your foot and toes, to increase circulation safely yet effectively by exercise. Additionally, you can walk throughout the day to help ease swelling. As the muscle repairs and strengthens, it can better assist in removing fluids from the swollen leg.
Continuous Leg Activity
A problem with the kidney, lymphatic or circulatory system may cause fluids to backup within the body, contributing to a condition called peripheral edema, according to the Mayo Clinic. To offset the effects of gravity and poor circulation, consciously move your legs every now and again. For example, on long plane flights, take a walk to the bathroom, bounce your legs in your seat or continuously switch from one seating position to another. Likewise, try not to stand long in one place. As gravity takes over, it can exacerbate the effects of a fluid imbalance within the body.
Most drug stores sell support, or compression, stockings that fit around the legs and knees to compress the surrounding tissue, aiding in circulating lymph fluid and blood throughout the legs. The stockings come in a variety of colors and can be concealed easily by clothing.
Reduce Salt Intake
The Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia says increases in sodium to your diet may cause enough fluid retention to swell part of the body. If you feel that your swelling may be due to an unhealthy diet, minimize your use of salt and increase your consumption of water. Water will clean the kidneys of excess sodium.