Your legs are always with you. Your legs – and the muscles in them – carry you from home to work to play. Help you lift your kids up and down. And help pump used-up blood back to your heart. They do all of this effortlessly. In fact, they take on their tasks so well that you hardly notice they’re there. But what happens when you take your leg health for granted for too long?
Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong if you don’t keep your legs healthy. Anything from collapsed arches, to bum knees, to unbecoming skin. But even worse, overlooking consistent critical care for your legs can lead to venous diseases, which could, in turn, lead to life-threatening situations.
Why Look After Your Legs?
Your legs are at the lowest area of your circulatory system, taking the brunt. And good circulation is crucial to keeping all of your skin and tissues healthy.
Your heart pumps blood to the rest of your body through your arteries and returns the blood to your heart through your veins.
Your leg and foot muscles, as mentioned, play a crucial role in returning the blood to your heart as you walk or simply move your ankles and legs. The contraction of the muscles in your legs squeezes your veins, forcing your blood to move. If you have healthy vein valves, the blood can only move in one direction, back towards your heart.
These vein valves therefore stop the backflow of blood towards your feet. If they become weak or damaged, they no longer function properly – which means blood is going to stop moving in the right direction.
Instead, it’s going to pool, and when it pools, the vein is going to stretch and twist to accommodate the extra blood. The next thing you know, you have spider veins or varicose veins. This can lead to other venous diseases like leg ulcers, blood clots, and deep vein thrombosis.
How Can I Improve My Leg Health?
You’re already on your way to improving leg health by reading this article! Here are seven more action steps you can take to keep your legs and veins healthy.
1 Strike the sedentary lifestyle
Moving your legs and the rest of your body promotes healthy circulation and improves your general wellbeing. Not only does exercise help keep your weight at a manageable range and support your cardiovascular health, but it also supports your vein health. Anytime you walk, jog, lift, swim, or run, the muscles in your legs squeeze your veins, keeping them toned and the blood circulating. Even if you cannot walk, rolling your ankles and doing foot exercises can be just as effective. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine as much as you can supports leg health.
2 Heels are your enemy
We know you want to show off your favorite pair of heels – and what they do for your calves and buttocks. But think twice before donning a pair for long periods. Wearing comfortable flats or joggers that provide support, flexibility, and adequate cushioning will make you and your legs feel better. There are plenty of stylish shoes on the market that can support good leg health. And as Emma Thompson consistently shows us, sneakers can be worn with anything – even suits and dresses.
3 Elevate every day
Your job and leg health can work together or against each other! So, whenever possible, enlist gravity to help move the blood back to your heart by getting your feet above your heart. This is particularly important if you work in a job that requires you to sit or stand for long periods. Ways that you can enlist gravity to help with circulation include
- putting pillows on a footstool,
- placing pillows under your legs when lying on the sofa, or
- sleeping in a bed rather than a chair at night
Not only will elevating your legs help with blood flow, but it can also relieve leg fatigue.
4 Soothing skincare
Taking care of your leg skin is just as important as taking care of your leg veins and muscles.
When you shower or bathe, avoid using perfumed soaps. These dry your skin and strip it of its natural oils.
When you go to dry off, dry carefully and gently because harsh rubbing with rough towels can damage the skin.
After your skin is dry, apply a non-perfumed moisturizer to keep your skin nourished and hydrated. Take care of your feet and toenails, too, and maybe even treat yourself to a trip to the spa!
5 Stop with the smoking
There are really no health benefits to smoking, including for your skin. When it comes to leg health, smoking can damage your circulatory system, increase the risk of damage to your skin, and result in leg ulcers. Smoking can also make it more difficult for ulcers and sores to heal.
6 Watch your weight
Overweight and obesity are one of the leading causes of venous disease. Maintaining your target weight can do wonders for leg health. However, being overweight or obese makes your body’s job more difficult, especially when it comes to blood flow. Take the steps necessary to maintain a healthy weight for yourself.
7 Commit to compression
If the idea of compression socks, sleeves, and stockings makes you cringe, take another look. There are so many choices in compression wear that you’re bound to find something for every occasion.
Compression garments like socks and stockings provide graduated compression, which helps direct your blood flow in the right direction. This allows you to improve your circulation even when you aren’t exercising.
They’re also perfect for people concerned about the effect of their occupation on their leg health. If you have a job that requires standing for long periods, your risk of venous disease immediately increases. Compression socks can help.
What to Watch Out For
How would you know if something was going wrong with your leg health? Here are some very good reasons to be concerned and make an appointment with a provider.
- A leg ulcer or sore is not getting better.
- You notice changes in your foot color and/or temperature.
- You experience leg pain.
- Legs cramps or restless legs bother you at night.
- Your legs are excessively itchy.
- Your legs are consistently swollen or your leg becomes hot, swollen, red, and painful.
- You have swollen, irritated varicose veins
- You have a bleeding varicose vein.
We Specialize in Leg Health
If you’re concerned about your leg health or are in need of vein removal treatment, we can help. Contact us for a consultation today!