Edema or swelling of the feet and ankles is a common enough problem, particularly associated with certain types of activities or other factors such as pregnancy and age. You might be susceptible to swollen feet and ankles if you have any one or a combination of the following conditions:
- a) Age – As you advance in age, you are more likely to develop a tendency to retain fluid, especially around the lower limbs.
- b) Being Overweight – Overweight or obese individuals develop edema faster and may require more aggressive management of the condition
- c) Sedentary Jobs – Individuals working at sedentary or desk jobs are at a higher risk of developing swollen feet and ankles.
Certain activities can also lead to fluid retention in our lower limbs. We might have noticed that our ankles and feet begin to swell after a long flight or a particularly arduous day at work. If you are pregnant, you are more likely to develop swelling around your feet and ankles, especially as you advance into the third trimester.
A word of caution though – if the problem persists or if you have other associated symptoms, edema could be indicative or a more serious medical condition and you must then visit the doctor quickly to diagnose and treat any potentially serious disease condition. Some of the more serious complications that swollen feet could be indicative of are deep vein thrombosis, heart, kidney or liver failure.
Fortunately for us, most causes of swollen feet and ankles are temporary and non-threatening and there are some simple but effective home remedies that you can try to alleviate swelling around the feet and ankles.
Simple as it may sound, moving your legs frequently is the key to reducing edema. We are living in an increasingly sitting world. We sit to eat, we sit at our desks all day, and we sit and drive back in our cars.
All this sitting not only causes fluid build-up around our ankles and feet, the habit can also lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular complications. Make it a point to stand up and take a few steps every 10 to 15 minutes. Medical advice suggests exercising the legs at regular intervals to help pump the fluid away from legs and reduce swelling.
Hydrotherapy has been found to be especially effective for reducing swelling brought on by a long and hectic day, and for swelling developed during pregnancy.
You need to fill 2 tubs, one with warm water and another with cold water. First, soak your feet in warm water for approximately 3 minutes and immediately put them in cold water for about a minute. Continue doing this for roughly 15 minutes each day – you are sure to get relief in a few days.
According to health experts, the warm water helps increase the size of blood vessels, while the cold water constricts the vessels. This contrasting action creates a pumping action which clears excess fluid from the area.
If you are susceptible to swelling around your feet and ankles, nearly all doctors advise elevating your feet while you are lying down or sitting. The idea is to improve blood circulation by bringing your feet up to the level of your heart.
This is especially important if you a likely to sitting for a prolonged period, such as while watching a movie or sitting at a lengthy assignment. If your job involves sittings for extended periods, position a stool in front of your chair so that you keep your feet propped up from time to time.
In case of swelling due to an injury of a sprain, doctors advise RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation to get relief from pain and promote faster healing.
Any activity that stimulates blood circulation is good for you, especially if you have a tendency to develop swelling around feet and ankles. Swimming is especially considered to be a great form of exercise for providing relief for swollen feet; floating helps lift the pressure off the feet. While sitting, you can do these simple everyday stretch exercises for your ankles to keep edema at bay.
- With your heel planted on the floor, raise your toes to the ceiling and hold for about 2 to 3 seconds.
- Return toes back to the floor.
- Now place your toes on the floor and lift your heel as high as possible.
- Bring your heel back to floor level.
General exercise routines offer other immense benefits as well, so ensure that you incorporate enough exercise into your daily life to both improve the quality of life and reduce fluid build-up around your ankles and feet.
According to Mayo Clinic, you can use the help of a good massage to help alleviate fluid build-up around your feet. Ensure that the strokes are directed towards the heart during the massage to move the excess fluid from the area.
For those willing to try alternative massage therapy, Ayurveda offers time-tested massages with safe natural oils to treat pedal edema. For pregnant women suffering from swollen feet, there are specially designed prenatal massages to provide respite from symptoms.
(Buy it from Amazon) Epsom Salt is another great ingredient to help reduce swelling around feet and ankles. Simply take half a cup of Epsom Salt and mix in a tub of warm water. Soak your feet in this solution for about 10 minutes. The magnesium sulfate in the Epsom Salt helps improve circulation and provides quick relief. Several medical journals have references to the use of Epsom Salt as a risk-free option to reduce pitting edema.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Our bodies comprise chiefly of water. Excessive sodium in our diets leads to water retention, particularly along our feet and ankles. Drinking plenty of fluids is recommended by all medical practitioners for a variety of reasons, including reducing edema around our feet and ankles. According to WebMD, dehydration can cause swelling around ankles and therefore it is important to keep having enough fluid throughout the day. Water can help flush out toxins from the body and also helps the body release excess fluids.
The importance of magnesium in our diet has risen steadily over the years. Interestingly enough, magnesium is involved in nearly 300 vital enzymatic reactions in our body. Per a limited patient study, a 200 mg magnesium supplement was found to considerably reduce water retention in women with PMS. The other option is to include magnesium-rich food items such as fish, bananas, and nuts in your diet. Before taking supplements, ensure that you rule out any kidney or heart condition with your doctor. (Buy supplement from Amazon)
Compression socks are a safe, effective alternative home remedy for swollen and painful feet. Most doctors suggest using compression socks as the first line of treatment. According to Mayo Clinic, compression socks maintain a pressure on your limbs and prevent fluid collection in the tissue area. Most compression socks are available over the counter. In case your edema is more severe, you can consult your doctor for a pair of prescription stockings for better relief. (Buy compression socks from Amazon)
Low Sodium Diet
Have you ever felt bloated and full after a particularly salty meal? Doctors over the world recommend a diet moderate in salt. Among other benefits, it also reduces fluid build-up, especially around feet and ankles. Excessive salt intake leads to fluid retention in the body causing your feet and ankles to swell. Avoid too much of highly processed foods that have hidden salt content. Maintain an ideal salt and fluid ratio for your body weight to reduce swelling in your feet.
Ginger and Dandelion
Ginger has the ability to remove extra fluid from our bodies and is also anti-inflammatory in nature. An easy way to have ginger is to add raw grated ginger to your daily cup of tea.
Dandelion is considered to be a natural diuretic that can help reduce ankle and feet swelling. In one small study of 17 volunteers, urine output was found to be significantly higher when the group was administered three doses of dandelion extract over 24 hours. You can combine ginger and dandelion in a brew or tea to maximize benefits and help reduce swelling.
Other preventive measures include wearing the correct kind of footwear. Shoes that are too tight may cause swelling, especially if worn for too long. Avoid very high heels if you are likely to be standing for prolonged periods.
Combine one or more of the natural remedies listed above for better relief from swollen feet and ankles. The comfort and health of your feet are important for a productive, relaxed and stress-free day.
Do let us know if you are liked our tips on natural remedies for swollen feet. Do give us your comments and suggestions. Don’t forget to share this article with others.
Lilly is the founder of ShoesTracker where she shares the journey of regaining her foot health after exercise injuries in 2015. She lives in San Diego, besides writing Lilly loves to read, run, and go to yoga classes. Follow her Twitter @lillyderrah to find more about her work.