Poor circulation in your calves, ankles and feet is typically heralded by a prickly feeling or even complete numbness in the lower extremities. While sometimes the problem is a result of sitting in a position that inhibits proper blood flow, poor circulation is also sometimes the sign of a more serious health issue, such as peripheral vascular disease, varicose veins or even diabetes. See if you can improve your leg circulation with small lifestyle changes; if not, a visit to your doctor is in order.
Move around to stop the temporary sensations of poor or stilted circulation. When you're sitting a position which pinches veins and arteries, blood flow to your legs, ankles and calves is limited, giving that pins and needles feeling. Simply standing and moving your legs should relieve the feeling, so keep your legs moving, especially if you're required to sit and stand in one position over a long period of time, such as when working or on a long flight.
Wear compression socks or stockings that stretch over your ankles, calves and feet. Compression stockings place pressure on your lower veins, which helps your body circulate blood more efficiently. Just choose a pair that is snug without being so tight that they cut off circulation and negate any possible benefits. Wear compression stockings when you'll remain in one position for a long period of time to relieve poor circulation.
Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water plays a vital role in ensuring that blood circulates efficiently and, if you're dehydrated, you're more likely to suffer from more serious problems, such as a blood clot. Play to drink around 2 liters of water on a daily basis for the best circulation to the lower extremities.
Exercise for a myriad of benefits, including weight loss and better circulation. Just like the muscles in your body, your cardiovascular system needs to be exercised to stay strong. When you exercise with your legs, such as walking or using a leg machine, blood pumps to the ankles, calves and feet to help support the movement of the muscles used. This in turn helps to improve circulation and improve your weight, which acts as a marker for poor circulation issues.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor if lifestyle changes and remedies don't seem to affect your poor circulation. Poor circulation could be the sign of a more serious problem which makes you more prone to blood clots and other dangerous issues. In some cases, prescription medication is used to improve your circulation as your doctor works to help relieve the cause.
Is This an Emergency?
- Cleveland Clinic: Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and Exercise
- MayoClinic.com: Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?; April 2010
- Hospital for Special Surgery: Avoiding Blood Clotting Complications When Flying Long Distances Before Surgery; Anne R. Bass
- Harvard Medical School: Reducing Your Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis During Airline Travel