8 Natural Ways to Improve Blood Circulation in Legs
Blood thinners and other medications can be a critical part of managing poor circulation and accompanying medical conditions. However, there are also complementary lifestyle changes you can make to support your medications, or to simply give your circulation an everyday boost. Discover eight natural ways to improve blood circulation in your legs that don’t require medication.
Sit the right way.
Sitting comes naturally to mammals of all types, including humans. However, just because we sit naturally doesn’t mean we do it correctly. Sitting can inhibit your circulation, especially if you cross your legs, sit on your feet or otherwise assume a position that impedes the healthy flow of blood. Try not to cross your legs for more than a few minutes at a time, and instead sit with your legs uncrossed, your weight balanced evenly between your hips and your feet flat on the floor.
Elevate your legs.
Elevating your legs above the level of your heart encourages blood and other fluids to return to the core, keeping them from pooling in your feet and reducing your risk of swelling and developing a blood clot. To achieve the proper position, lie flat on your back, with tilted thighs, a bent knee and slightly angled calves. A leg elevation pillow can help you hold this position while you watch TV or take a nap.
Go for a walk.
Walking is an excellent, low impact way for people of all fitness levels to get their blood flowing. Obviously, other forms of cardiovascular exercise will get your blood flowing as well, but walking can be done by almost anyone and only requires a pair of comfortable shoes. A brisk walk around the neighborhood in the morning or evening is a great way to boost your circulation—bonus points if you manage to squeeze in quick walks during the workday as well.
Stretch your muscles.
If you can’t go for a walk or the weather is nasty outside, you can still encourage your blood flow by gently stretching your legs. Roll your ankles, pump your calves, lengthen your hamstrings and engage in other exercises that will help shake out your upper body. You can also get your upper body involved in this as well, with arm swings, back stretches and more.
Try out yoga.
Yoga is a little more involved than stretching, which makes it an excellent, low impact way to get your circulation moving. Different styles of yoga offer different levels of intensity and difficulty, from gentle hatha yoga to challenging bikram yoga. If you’ve never done yoga before, start slow and work your way up as you build your body’s strength and stamina.
Wear compression stockings.
Compression socks apply gentle graduated pressure that is strongest near the ankle and then lessened as it moves up the leg. This pressure gradient encourages blood and other fluids to keep moving and return to the core rather than pool in your legs. Compression socks are ideal for those who sit or stand all day and don’t get blood moving a lot as a result.
Eat the right foods.
Consuming foods high in particular nutrients can help improve cardiovascular health and circulation. Key nutrients include vitamin E (found in leafy greens, olives and sunflower and pumpkin seeds), vitamin C (found in citrus fruits), and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, avocado and flax and chia seeds). Incorporating foods rich in these nutrients as part of a healthy diet will encourage better circulation.
Having the right amount of fluid in your blood helps it flow more easily and boost circulation. If you’re dehydrated, fluid will be drawn out of your blood, making it more viscous (or thick) and keeps it from flowing easily. Drinking plenty of water or decaf drinks such as herbal tea will ensure that you’re hydrated and your blood has enough fluid in it. Watch out for caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, as these have dehydrating effects.
From elevating your legs to eating more fish, these eight strategies will help naturally boost your circulation either alongside or without medication. If you’re trying to improve blood circulation in your legs, or prevent circulation problems before they start, try out one or more of these eight suggestions today.